With three in the books, attention has turned to the fourth and final major of the golf season. Just a week from a thrilling British Open, the PGA Championship is here.
The PGA Championship doesn’t hold the distinction of being a National Open or bestowing the victor with the sport’s most coveted prize, but it’s still a big deal.
Like the US and British Opens, the field size for the 2016 PGA Championship sits at 156 players. All but three of the world’s Top 100 players will convene on New Jersey.
Beyond the all the names you’re overly familiar with, the low 20 scorers in the last PGA Professional National Championship have earned an invite, as have all previous winners of the PGA Championship. This is how the field gets to 156. Pay close attention since the PGA doesn’t release an official injury report like the NFL. These guys could easily pull out of the event the morning of.
In the US Open rotation, the 2016 PGA Championship returns to Baltusrol for the second time this millennium. Since the course has only been extended by 30 yards for this year, we could see the total sneak closer to double-digits below par.
Here are some of the best gambles for the 2016 PGA Championship.
It’s a safe investment. Left-hander Mickelson is coming off a runner-up finish in the Open Championship at Royal Troon two weeks ago, after missing the cut in the first two majors this year. That was his 11th second-place finish in the Grand Slam events, including six in the U.S. Open, the only major he has not won.
Leishman has been remarkably consistent this season, posting seven top 25s in 20 events. He’s getting it done thanks to his long irons and short game, assets that should come into play at Baltusrol. Couple that with a strong resume at majors and Leishman is our guy.
Go with a past major championship winner on this bet. Nobody has a better record in the PGA Championship in the last seven years than McIlroy. He has claimed two of his four major titles in the final major of the year. McIlroy’s the best player in the world off the tee, makes the most birdies, and has the best weighted scoring average of anyone.
Garcia might again be the best player in the world without a title in the Grand Slam events. The 36-year-old has been playing well this summer, with a win at the Byron Nelson and top-5 finishes at the U.S. and British Opens. Better yet, Garcia has made the most of Thursdays this year, owning the second-best scoring average on Round 1. The Spaniard has finished in the top 10 in the major a whopping total of 22 times over the course of his career, and he has finished second in the PGA Championship twice.
Dustin is the low-odd favorite for a reason here. He has the enough length, but it’s his improved flat stick and top grade from the key Par 4 range that push him above the other favorites.
Johnson had several big disappointments in the majors before breaking through at Oakmont, but he has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven Grand Slam events. He also has placed in the top 10 in four of the last six PGA Championships, among his 13 such finishes in the major championships.