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2014 PGA Championship Staff Picks

Aug. 6, 2014     By     Comments (2)

The big guns of the PGA Tour are all in high gear making this year's PGA Championship very intriguing. Let's take a look at what The Sand Trap Staff expects for this year's event.

Thrash TalkThe 2014 PGA Championship brings us to back to a familiar spot: Valhalla. In 2000 we were dazzled here with one of the best playoffs in PGA Championship history. Tiger Woods defeated Bob May to cap off a fantastic 2000 season. After delaying until 1:16pm on Wednesday, Tiger finally arrived on site. Phil had a fantastic round to finish his weekend at Firestone. Rickie, Jordan, Justin Rose… there are many guys to choose from. Let's see who The Sand Trap staff likes this week.

A few notes as you read through. You will notice that we have added a few new members to the staff. Also, the third question was asked before Tiger's re-injury; some answered before and some answered after.

1. Who are you picking for this year's event? What do they shoot, and why?

Bill Chao
I was originally going to pick Dustin Johnson, but we know what happened there. From everything I've read about the course redesigns, Valhalla is going to require length and accuracy, so I'm going with Adam Scott. The world's (former) number one golfer is one of the best ball strikers on tour, and he is a perennial contender in majors. His putting is significantly better this year, too. I pick him to shoot 12 under.

Jaimeson Weiss
I've picked Rickie Fowler in each of the first three majors, and with finishes of T5, T2, and T2, I'll be damned if I stop picking the 2014 majors aggregate stroke leader now. I've got him taking home the Wanamaker at -15.

Scott Curry
I will have to go with Fowler as well. Rickie has show great poise in majors and has been very close. At the Open, he kept pushing McIlroy the whole final round know that if it went to a playoff, he could beat Rory as he did at the Wells Fargo in 2012.

Mike McLoughlin
I'm going with Rory McIlroy to win his 4th major at -16. He's playing well at Firestone and I see him staying hot into this week. When he's got that Rory strut going, watch out!

George Promenschenkel
The question is why wouldn't everyone be picking Rory? Well, for starters, he's won his last two starts, an unusual feat on tour these days. Winning three in a row hasn't been done since 2004 (Vijay Singh). The only other players to do it since 1980 are Nick Price, David Duval, and Tiger Woods (twice). So if he does win at Valhalla, it would be the kind of win that puts your name with some heady company. That, coupled with 350-yard drives that still find tight fairways, is why I'm picking McIlroy (and thus dooming his chances). Watch for receptive conditions and for McIlroy to target Woods' 2000 total. He'll get there: 266 (-18).

Tristan Hilton
This one was tough. There are a lot of great choices out there; it'd be easy to pick McIlroy to get his third consecutive win, and Fowler would also be a great pick with his performances in the majors this year. However, I'm going to go with the guy who finished second to Rory in the last couple events and say that Sergio Garcia finally wins his first major. He was so close at the British this year and at some point I do think he gets one; I don't see why that can't be now. I'll put the winning number at -15.

Michael C. Hepp
There are some many guys to choose from this week I am having trouble picking a winner. I like Henrik Stenson. I think he will be at -16 but it will be in a playoff against Justin Rose. Valhalla has a history of playoffs '96, '00 and even the Senior PGA was won by Tom Watson in a playoff. So look for a very exciting week.

Erik J. Barzeski
Rickie Fowler defeats Sergio Garcia in a three-hole aggregate playoff at -13. Why? Because I'll be wrong anyway, so I may as well go with some hot players.

2. This is the last big point event prior to this year's Ryder Cup. Which player on the bubble has a great week and plays his way onto the team?

Bill Chao
For the European team, I'm going with Graeme McDowell. He's been working hard to turn his season around and the results are there. Plus, he's already won a major, so he knows what he has to do to play well.

For the American team, I'll pick Keegan Bradley. He's a very talented player and I think he has what it takes to get there. Plus, he did well in 2012, so I'd like to see him on the team.

Jamieson Weiss
The obvious choice is Tiger, he of the four PGA wins and one back surgery. He's been trending upwards since coming back from the injury, and he's already won at Valhalla. He's comically far back in the points standings (69th as I write this), but a high finish should earn him a captain's pick. Phil Mickelson is also currently on the outside looking in, but Jason Dufner's injury and Dustin Johnson's suspension might let Phil squeak in on points regardless. Fellow major champions Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson would also likely earn a Cup berth with a win. On the European side, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, and Graeme McDowell are all currently on the outside looking in, and high finishes would go a long way to getting those established names onto the team.

Scott Curry
For both the European and U.S. team, experience counts. McDowell plays so well in team events, I could not see him being left off. For the US, Mickelson or Woods if they show anything at the Bridgestone.

Mike McLoughlin
Obviously Tiger and Phil have to show some signs of decent play. A good finish by Phil and he gets in on points, which he has done the previous nine team events. I think Keegan Bradley (15th in points) is rounding into form and will have a solid week. Would also be great to see Ryan Moore play well and earn his way on the team, he had a ton of match play success as an amateur

George Promenschenkel
Keegan Bradley is playing well of late, but I think he'd rather play his way on and eliminate any doubt. I expect a top 10 at Valhalla from him, which might just be enough move him into a slot on the squad. Even if he falls a little short on points, a strong showing likely gets him a pick from captain Watson.

Tristan Hilton
I wanted to go with Tiger here, but after his WD, that looks to be in doubt. I'll say Keegan Bradley pulls it together and makes the team for the US, and McDowell makes the Euro team.

Michael C. Hepp
I think that players like Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley live for events like the Ryder Cup. I will give Phil the edge over Keegan because I think Phil has the potential to win the event and move onto the list without needing the captains pick. I also like Lee Westwood to find his way onto the team as well. The wild card for me is Bernhard Langer, with a great week who knows.

Erik J. Barzeski
Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley will probably be popular picks. For good reason…

3. Tiger has won at Valhalla in 2000, however he is still rusty. What are your expectations for him at this year's PGA Championship?

Bill Chao
I don't expect too much fireworks from Tiger. He won't play too poorly, but I don't expect him to be in contention. Maybe a top 40 finish, which I guess is actually a poor showing, by Tiger standards. I really think he came back from back surgery too soon. I'd love to be wrong, though, because Tiger in contention is good for golf.

Jaimeson Weiss
I'm definitely higher on Tiger this week than I was before Hoylake. He's shaking off more and more rust by the day, and while he was a bit lucky to make the cut at the British, it would be a real disappointment if he didn't at least compete at the PGA. I think he's got a real shot to break through.

Scott Curry
Tiger will contend. That is what is remarkable about Woods. Even when he is playing poorly by his own standards, he is still playing better than most. He is like your buddy golfer who hooks it into the woods and always gets a great lie and a way to get it to the green.

Mike McLoughlin
Not sure, he seemed a bit down on himself last week at Firestone. I think he'll have stretches of good play but will finish just outside the top ten. I think his swing looks good but the two-way miss with the driver won't allow him to contend.

George Promenschenkel
Well, after Sunday at the Bridgestone, this question could now be, “Do you expect him to play at Valhalla?” If his back settles down to the point where he feels he can play, he will. Even if he can play and make it through the final round, I don't think he'll fare well. This past week, on a course (Firestone) where he has won eight times, he did not look very solid and was not truly in contention before his back began to spasm Sunday. There's too much to improve (including his health) for him to get it on track in one week.

Tristan Hilton
None. After his WD at the Bridgestone, I don't think he'll do much if he even plays.

Michael C. Hepp
If I were advising Tiger it would be to shut it down for the year. Rest the back and strengthen it to survive the multi-day event of a golf tournament. His injuries are mounting and I am worried he is injuring other things protecting his current injuries. He is in a vicious cycle of injury. I would like to see him get out of that with rest.

Erik J. Barzeski
The same as his: he wins. But, there's also about a 99% chance both of us are going to be disappointed. He'll make the cut if he stays healthy, though. I'm going with a T23.

Jason and Amanda Dufner

4. Last year's winner Jason Dufner has recently announced that he has an injury to his neck. Considering this news, what are your expectations for him this year?

Bill Chao
Dufner hasn't had the best year and this explains it. He really hasn't played well since before that missed cut at the Masters except for the 2nd place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, but now that he is getting treatment, things should turn around. He's one of the top players in the world, so as long as he is relatively healthy, I expect him to do well

Jaimeson Weiss
Not a whole lot. Neck injuries are no fun, and as Dufner described in his press conference, they can affect more than just your golf swing.

Scott Curry
Neck injuries take a long time to heal. It will affect him and keep him off the top ten list until it has healed to the point where he does not think about it anymore.

Mike McLoughlin
As I'm writing this Dufner is currently T-61st in the Bridgestone Invitational, obviously a lot can change in a week but I'm not expecting much. Mostly because his putting hasn't been that great this year, we all know what a great ball striker he is but his putter got hot last year at Oak Hill.

George Promenschenkel
If the steroids bring the inflammation down this week, who knows? Dufner might just return to form overnight and contend. But I don't expect the miracle cure. Even if the steroids have the desired effect, Dufner has been dealing with this injury since April and it may well take him a while to trust his neck and his swing.

Tristan Hilton
Not a whole lot. He hasn't had the greatest season to this point. I imagine he'd be somewhere around the cut line on Friday.

Michael C. Hepp
My advice to Dufner would not be all that different from the advice I gave Tiger. Rest. I constantly worry about injuring something else compensating for the current injury ala David Duval. Dufner has a very bright future in this game but he will need to be healthy in order to contend long term.

Erik J. Barzeski
I have no expectations. Neck injuries suck. I just hope he can get it together in time for the Ryder Cup.

5. In 2000 Tiger had to fend off unknown Bob May to win the PGA. In honor of Bob, which unknown golfer has a great week and contends for the title?

Bill Chao
I like Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The big Thai finished T25 last year at Oak Hill. He's no slouch in distance, so if he has a good week hitting greens and putting, who knows what could happen. YE Yang was ranked 110th in the world when he won the 2009 PGA Championship. I think Asia needs another major winner.

Jaimeson Weiss
Let's see … hmm … how about Thorbjorn Olesen. The Thunder Bear winning at a course designed by the Golden Bear!

Scott Curry
Not really an unknown to people paying attention, Sang-Moon Bae will surprise this year. He has been playing well and can quietly sneak into the top ten.

Mike McLoughlin
I'm going with Joost Luiten, he's unknown to most golfers on this side of the pond but with a good finish he could make the Ryder Cup for Europe on points.

George Promenschenkel
Hmm... to pick a PGA club pro (let's say, Bob Sowards) or not? Even though it would be a great story, it's a heavy lift for a club pro to catch lightning in a bottle and compete with the TOUR pros for a week, kind of like an amateur getting into contention at the Masters or U.S. Open. Instead I'll go with Russell Knox, who has shot a 59 in competition (2013 Albertson's Boise Open). He also finished second at the Honda Classic and has made a few other high appearances on leaderboards before falling back. So, why not? Oh, and Bob Sowards? He's the teaching pro at New Albany (Ohio) Country Club, which is in my neck of the woods. So I always root for him at the PGA Championship.

Tristan Hilton
These questions are always so tough because these guys are unknown for a reason. How about Matt Every? He put it together once this year, maybe he'll do it again.

Michael C. Hepp
I have been scouring the list of guys who could pop this week and surprise everyone. My pick is not really an complete unknown but someone who no one expects to contend this week. Jason Kokrak. He is long which is a big plus at Valhalla and he is ready for a break out performance.

Erik J. Barzeski
Is Billy Horschel in the field? If so, I'm picking him. He's a PING guy, after all.

Photo credits: © Getty Images

Discussion

  1. RJH999 says:

    Come on Asia's John Daly!!

  2. Assume the preview was written before the weekends results? re playing themselves into a Ryder Cup spot. Then again, there's enough references to Tigers injury to suggest it was written afterwards. Those of you who've picked McDowell, should know that he's in an automatic spot after the weekend, and doesn't need to play himself in. The one who has missed out is Luke Donald. The odd error we all make, but nearly every single one of you have done so. Not a mention of Luke? Can only assume it must have been put together between Sunday's final putt and the update on Monday morning which would have been in the middle of the night in the US anyway

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