2009 PGA Championship Predictions

Everyone has an opinion… but at least ours are right! Joking…

Thrash TalkFor this year’s edition of The Sand Trap‘s PGA picks, we are both predicting and responding to the pressing questions you’ve been mulling over as of late, including, but not limited to, “Was Rich Beem’s dance at the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine the worst victory celebration ever?”

More pertinent inquiries and speculation inside.

Will Tiger win? Why/Why not?

Erik
Sure. He’s looked better as the months have gone by, the knee is no longer an excuse, and Tiger – despite what he tells the press – probably really won’t consider this year a success if he doesn’t bag a major.

T.M.
Tiger, once again, is my pick to win a major. I didn’t pick him to win at Augusta because I thought that it was too soon after his knee injury. I picked him to win the U.S. Open because I felt that he was hitting his driver well enough to compete on a long and difficult course. I picked him to win the British because I thought he was due and rarely does a nobody win at the British. I am picking him to win the PGA because I quite simply don’t have as much respect for the PGA. It’s a tournament that seems to have random winners every few years and frankly isn’t set up as difficult as the U.S. Open or British Open. Sure, it’s a major but I just don’t feel that the pressure is the same as the others. With that said, I think that this is where Tiger gets over whatever is bothering him in the majors and wins convincingly.

Donald
Tiger will win. Hazeltine sets up perfectly for him, he almost won there in 2002, and his putter is cooperating with the rest of his game. Hazeltine is one of the longest courses ever used for a major at sea level, and Tiger is still one of the longest players in the game through the bag. Add in the redass he has to have after missing the cut at the British Open and you have the table set for a Tiger-ific week.

George
I’m at 51% “no,” and that’s probably a mistake. Tiger is the best player in the world, by a lot, so he can win anytime he tees it up. However, his head just might be getting in the way for the first time in his career. With the majors record that he has focused on his entire career now within reach, I think he’s trying too hard to win majors when all he has to do is go out there and play to be in the hunt. That, and the fact that winning three straight in consecutive weeks is a fairly daunting task. Then again, he is Tiger. I half expect to be 49% wrong.

Alan
He’s the hottest player on the planet right now so that would make him a lock, correct? Wrong. I think we’re in for someone completely off the radar who ends up winning. Whoever is the oldest guy in the field or who just came off an injury or major surgery, go with them.

Ben
In an interview the other day, Tiger was asked whether or not he would label his 2009 season a failure if he is unable to secure a victory at the PGA this week. In his response he basically stated that since he had such a substantial layoff coming in to the season and because of the process of getting used to his newly repaired left knee, he would still be happy having won as many times as he has this year and not having won a major. Intellectually, I am sure this is how Mr. Woods frames the situation. Emotionally, I am sure he would be both angry and disgusted if he were to finish the year without a major.

Mainly, Tiger is playing his best golf of the year (which, obviously, he wasn’t going into any other major this year) and he is more emotionally invested (read, “determined to win”) in this contest. I expect Tiger to win. Taking the long view, I think the chapter entitled “Tiger Woods post knee surgery dominance” begins with the win at the Buick contains a victory at the PGA as the first “major” bullet point.

Rich Beem’s dance at the 2002 PGA Championship… worst celebration ever?

Erik
No. Tom Watson’s victory dance last month was the worst. Wait, what? That half-assed shovey putt wasn’t part of his his victory dance? Well, crap.

I’m still going with no, though. Phil’s two-inch vertical leap tops the Beemer.

T.M.
Haven’t seen every other celebration but my impulse is to say most awkward celebration ever.

Donald
No. The worst celebration ever in golf is any Colin Montgomerie fist-pump. True, you don’t see them very often. But they are cringe-worthy. Also bad was Shaun Micheel’s celebration after winning the 2003 PGA Championship. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it caused him to become invisible and no one’s seen him since.

George
The Beemer Shuffle was a beautiful thing. OK, maybe not. But in a sport filled with guys who show as much emotion as bunker sand, it was cool (if a little awkward) for Beem to do a little celebratory dance.

Alan
It makes the top five for sure. That should be a rule for the PGA: if you win, no dancing.

Ben
They should have refused to give him the trophy. You can’t blame the Beemer for not knowing how to react, though, since he had little experience with winning (and has had little since). I do commend him though for managing to standout amongst his fellow one-time major champions.

Pick Three of the Top 10 Finishers

Erik
Tiger Woods. Steve Stricker. Zach Johnson.

T.M.
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Hunter Mahan. Hey, I know they are easy picks but do you blame me?

Donald
Tiger, Kenny Perry, Henrik Stenson.

George
Even if Tiger doesn’t win, he’s almost a sure thing to finish in the top 10. He certainly won’t miss another cut. That one’s easy. Steve Stricker has been playing very well so I’ll take him, too. The way majors have gone this year, I really should pick someone we’d never expect to be there, but I won’t. I’m going with Hunter Mahan. He’s fourth in scoring average on the PGA Tour, and he’s starting to show up fairly regularly on weekend leaderboards at the majors.

Alan
Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson, and Hunter Mahan.

Ben
Other than Tiger, I am joining my associates in predicting that Hunter Mahan will finish in the top 10. Sergio Garcia has to finish 10th or better for me to have any faith in him going forward. Also, I think Phil will manage to produce a top 10 finish.

Does Ryo Ishikawa make the cut?

Erik
Who?

Yeah, I know who he is, but until he does something here in the states or on a stage somewhere other than an island famous for sushi and Godzilla, but flip a coin for my answer. Heads he misses the cut, tails he comes up short. 😉

T.M.
Yes. Ryo is a good player and as stated above, I just don’t think that the PGA has the same pressure as other majors. I look for him as well as a few other young players to have a good week.

Donald
Say no go, Ryo.

George
Ryo really hasn’t shown a whole lot yet on this side of the Pacific. The 17-year-old phenom has a great looking swing and enough media following him to be one of the Jackson kids. But his game has not matured to PGA Tour standards yet, let alone major championship standards. I sense a trunk slamming coming on.

Alan
Nope. Misses by 1.

Ben
I don’t think so. To both assert a platitude and over-simplify, the majors are a different game than Ye Olde Weekly Tour Event. I think he will card enough birdies to make the cut, but that bogeys and worse will have him missing out on weekend play.

If Anna Rawson took over event planning for the next PGA Championship…

Erik
Adam Scott would finally make the cut in a major on a special exemption for “hot Aussies”!

T.M.
She would mic all the players and their caddies. I think she understands that golf is a sport but it’s meant to be entertaining. If you mic Tiger though I would highly suggest a ten-second delay.

Donald
… there’d be a lot more photographers looking for credentials, and it would be the first time Maxim sent a writer to the event.

George
Each player would have a Wilhelmina caddy. Weekend television ratings would go through the roof.

Alan
Fashion shoots, miked players, and music blaring at the first tee and the 18th green on Sunday. Sounds like Animal House to me.

Ben
I don’t know how I feel about Rawson’s shameless and downright silly self promotion, or how much of what she says she actually believes. Regardless, I think she’d call for something absurd, like a Burberry Print Wannamaker Trophy or models as marshalls.

If the Championship reverted to a match play format would it be more or less entertaining?

Erik
A bit of both depending entirely on who the final players were. They say the PGA lacks its own identity, though – I almost think they should try it for five or six years. Plus it comes right before the Presidents and Ryder Cups, so it’d get some guys warmed up…

But I can see the arguments for a 72-hole stroke play event for a major, too, and if the PGA went back to match play you never know – The Players might step up and try to claim “fourth major” status.

T.M.
I am a little conflicted on this. The Accenture Match Play is pretty entertaining and I think that a lot of players want to win it but it isn’t a major. The PGA is a major and has some of the drama of a major but it definitely isn’t the Masters, U.S. Open, or British. If you went back to match play it might be a little gimmicky at first but perhaps the PGA needs that. If it did go to match play though I would do it like the U.S. Amateur though. Have 36 holes for seeding and a cut then start the matches. That I would watch.

Donald
Less entertaining. Match play is only exciting in the Ryder Cup, when you have multiple matches that mean something. The World Golf match play event is fun for a day or so, but seldom keeps my attention for all five days. And if you end up with a Paul Goydos-Vaughn Taylor final, CBS Sports would probably go off the air. Match play works as a gimmick for a less-important event; the PGA is big enough to deserve a stroke-play champion.

George
I think having a match play format for the PGA Championship would create a better set of majors. Currently, the PGA is too much like the U.S. Open (and even the Masters of late). Taking the Championship back to its roots would give it a character of its own. It won’t happen, however, because, unfortunately, match play finals are far too often snooze fests. Close matches are great theater, but they don’t come along regularly enough to make match play good TV.

Alan
It would be more quirky but much more entertaining. It would make the PGA Championship stand out from the other majors and provide a nice break from stroke play.

Ben
I don’t really think the PGA Championship, in it’s current format, is any more difficult for players or entertaining for patrons than other top-tier Tour events. This doesn’t necessitate a return to match play,
but it would distinguish the event from the other majors, for better or worse.

6 thoughts on “2009 PGA Championship Predictions”

  1. IMHO- Tiger’s going to win.

    IIRC- this is the 1st major all year he hasn’t taken the week before off, and he’s coming in hot.

  2. don’t remember the dance, but Rich hugged a car after winning it by making a hole in one, as I recall. He’s got flair, I guess.

    I’d have to agree with others, this is Tiger’s tourney to lose.

    Regardless, I hope it’s not a runaway. I’m ready for some drama on Sunday!

  3. looking fwd to a runaway win…little drama but no less a clinical exhibition of golf by the best golfer on the planet of this generation.

  4. I can’t remember ever feeling more uncomfortable than watching Ian Woosnam “drinking” champagne after captaining the winning the Ryder Cup team.

    Oh wait, maybe it was another Ryder Cup moment – Justin Leonard’s awkward victory lap (and dance) around the green -while his before his opponent was still lining up his birdie putt. That was extremely cringeworthy.

    Someone who finished in the top 10 of the Bridgestone will win or I’ll eat Ann Rawson’s . . . hat!

  5. Stewart Cink has been on a bit of a hot streak lately.

    Not a great first round, but not so far behind he can’t rebound.

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