Scott Shapiro's 2021 PGA Championship Preview
The PGA Championship used to be the final major of the season, but for the first time in 2019, it was played in May, before the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. COVID-19 moved the event back to August in 2020, but the PGA Championship has returned to its new spot on the calendar this week, as Collin Morikawa looks to repeat, like Brooks Koepka did in 2018 and 2019.
The second major of 2021 will be conducted at one of the toughest tracks in the United States, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.
The Pete Dye-designed course will be the longest major championship in terms of scorecard yardage, but will demand far more than just being long off the tee. Hitting fairways, being in control with long irons, and making key saves from around the green will be a necessity for those who want to be in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon.
The PGA Championship was played at the Ocean Course for the first time in 2012. Rory McIlroy shot 6-under in the final round, which led to a tournament-record margin of victory (eight strokes) over runner-up David Lynn.
McIlroy heads to South Carolina off of a win two weeks ago, at the Wells Fargo Championship, and is listed as the lukewarm favorite (+1100) at TwinSpires. Seven other golfers are listed at +1800 or lower, in what should be a challenging and entertaining event.
PGA Championship 2021
Sun, May 23 2021, 10:30 AM
Jordan Spieth (+1400)
Speith played great as my top choice at Augusta in early April but not well enough to cash my outright ticket and earn his second green jacket. Since the third-place finish at the Masters, Spieth took some time to regroup and returned to the PGA Tour last week, when he finished ninth at the Byron Nelson.
The former University of Texas star has just one win this season, but has been one of the best golfers on the PGA Tour over the last five and a half months. His long iron play and short game are among the world’s best, but a major key for Spieth in 2021 has been limiting damage off the tee. If he can continue to avoid losing strokes to the field with his driver, he should be in the hunt this weekend.
Spieth heads into the PGA Championship in great form. The three-time major winner ranks fourth in the field over the last 24 rounds in strokes gained approach, first in par 5 scoring, eighth in par 4 scoring between 400 and 450 yards, and has one of the best short games in the world.
Look for him to become just the sixth golfer to earn the career Grand Slam.
Keegan Bradley (+6600, top 10 +500)
The 2011 PGA Championship winner heads to Kiawah Island playing his best golf in years. He has finished in the top 25 in four of his last six tournaments, including a runner-up effort to Sam Burns at the Valspar Championship earlier this month.
Bradley ranks fifth in the field over the last 24 rounds in strokes gained tee-to-green, 16th in strokes gained approach, third in strokes gained around the green, and for the first time in ages is not killing himself with the putter.
If he can avoid losing multiple strokes to the field on the greens, he should be in the thick of it Sunday afternoon, in search of his second PGA Championship title.