It would be hard to imagine coming into the last major of the year on a hotter streak than Tiger Woods. Victories in his last two tournaments, albeit almost by default last week at the WGC-Bridestone Invitational, bode well for fine performance from him at the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, MN. 99 of the top 100 world ranked players are here, so this is no cakewalk. Regardless, Woods seems to be the best equipped for the challenge. Factor in his obvious desire to snag one major to complete his year and continued chase of Jack and this should be riveting. 91st PGA Championship Full Field.
Hazeltine will play as the longest major in history at 7,674 yards. That's 4.36 miles in layman's terms, longer than 10th grade math. Many players interviewed however have commented that the course is "right there in front of you", meaning the length is mitigated somewhat by be able to see where you need to position yourself to hit fairways and greens. Longish clubs into par four greens will be the order of the day with the difference being Tiger's 3 iron vs Jim Furyk's hybrid, neither club described as a scoring implement. So, as fitting in a major, par should be precious with expected bogeys figuring into the mix. Weather and wetness will be the unknown. A wet course will decidedly favor bombers, while if the fairways dry, the field should crowd up.
Tiger, defending champion Padraig Harrington, and Rich Beem, the 2002 winner here, will share a pairing for the first two days. Interesting group considering what transpired at the end of last week's event. I'll be paying attention to the pace of play, although I doubt it will be foremost on PGA Tour official's work lists on Thursday. Average Golfer knows that pace of play is a hot button issue and negatively affects the game in general. Still, as in other sports, I feel that officials should never become part of the outcome or even the story. The answer? Of course I have none.
Stayed tuned for picks and odds tomorrow.