2013 PGA Championship Staff Predictions

The 2013 PGA Championship will be hosted at Oak Hill Golf Club in Rochester New York lets see what the staff expects for the event.

Thrash TalkThe 2013 PGA Championship returns to Rochester New York for “Glory’s Last Shot” the PGA Championship. This years event is now set up to be one of most exciting PGA Championships in recent history. Tiger coming off a seven stroke victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Championship will make him a huge favorite especially with The SandTrap staff. Phil coming off winning the Open Championship just a few weeks earlier means most of the big names will be on their game. There are a bunch of story lines, lets see what the staff expects for the event.

Who is your winner and why did you chose them?

Tristan Hilton
Tiger. But I swear that if he doesn’t pull it off this time I’m going to stop picking him. Through two rounds at the Bridgestone he looks unstoppable and I see no reason he can’t continue it into the PGA.

Jamieson Weiss
Tiger Woods, -2. No real reason, other than the fact that if I keep picking him, I’ve got to be right at some point.

Danny Ottmann
Geez, let’s go with Tiger again. He has been less than spectacular to say the least this year in the majors, but his blowout victory at Firestone gives me some confidence he might finally break through. I believe Tiger is the best player in the sport, but he is his own worst enemy as well, especially in the Majors.

Dave Koster
Tiger Woods. Why? Well, I always thought he’d win at least one this year. Right now he has that look about him that he’s invincible. Earlier this year he had a similar look but his putting wasn’t quite there. Now it looks like all the pieces of his game are coming together at the same time. I think he’ll win at -8. Second place goes to Hunter Mahan. He may have been the hottest guy on tour before Tiger played last week.

Michael C. Hepp
I have agonized over this decision for the past couple days. Right now it is between Luke Donald and Bill Haas. I am worried that Luke may struggle with the driver and not be a factor. I like Bill Haas because his father has played well at Oak Hill and he will know the course well and he has been playing decent lately. So my pick is Bill Haas.

Mike McLoughlin
Hunter Mahan. Oak Hill is a tough driving course and Hunter is one of the most consistent ball strikers in the game. He’s played in the final group on Sunday in two out of the season’s three majors and I think he’ll break through this week. The birth of his first child may also put him in a perfect frame of mind for the PGA.

Erik J. Barzeski
Tiger Woods at -3. I think he’s gotten into the funk of being too conservative at majors, and I’m hoping his dominant win at Bridgestone (i.e. get a big lead THEN play conservatively). I think that Oak Hill’s tiny greens set up well for Tiger. Given that you only need to hit driver two or three times, the fact that the fairways are narrow with graduated rough will play to Tiger’s favor.

Oak Hill has hosted three U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships and had a variety of winners from Hall of Famers like Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, to nobodies like Shaun Micheel. What type of player do you expect to play well here, a dark horse or a favorite?

Tristan Hilton
That’s tough to say, especially when there has been such a variety that have won there. I guess that I’d have to expect a favorite to play well since I’m picking Tiger to win it all.

Jamieson Weiss
Just based on logic it wouldn’t make sense not to expect better players to play better. Our three major winners so far have been Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Phil Mickelson, three pretty big names in the world of golf. That said, we’ll surely see plenty of no-names on the leaderboard as the first few rounds play out. (Shiv Kapur, anyone?)

Danny Ottmann
I always like favorites. They are favorites because they perform better than the rest on average. Oak Hill is a good golf course and I believe on Sunday we will have a winner for the upper echelon. That being said its always exciting to see a dark horse battle it out down the stretch on Sunday.

Dave Koster
I think they’ll have the course primed and play a bit tougher than normal. It won’t be U.S. Open hard but birdies will be a bit more hard to come by. Given that I think the bigger names will rise to the top.

Michael C. Hepp
The heavy hitters in golf have played well this year so I expect the PGA to bring out the big guns. That being said, I remember specifically watching the 2003 PGA and there was not much coverage of the favorites that year. Mostly Micheel and Chad Campbell who was a relative unknown at the time. So I would not be surprised to see an unknown steal the show.

Mike McLoughlin
I think you’ll see a lot of super star presence this Sunday. Tiger, Hunter Mahan and Phil are on a role and they’ll be playing well at Oak Hill. Jordan Spieth will be the dark horse to play well this week.

Erik J. Barzeski
I think the majors have done a good job over the past five years or so of eliminating the odd duck from winning. So I’m picking a favorite to win and to place highly. That’s not to say a no-name will be on the leaderboard on Thursday or even Friday, but they’ll sink come the weekend.

Last year’s winner Rory McIlroy has had a year to forget, do you expect him to turn it around at the PGA Championship, why?

Tristan Hilton
Not really. He has struggled pretty badly this year and to expect somebody to turn around a bad year at one of the biggest tournaments of the year is hard to do. I’m not saying that he can’t do it or that I would be surprised if he did (look at what he did at Congressional after imploding at Augusta in 2011), but I don’t expect him to do it either.

Jamieson Weiss
Not much. It’s just not Rory’s season. Whether it’s his head, his swing, or something physical, he’s clearly not right. But we have been down his road before with McIlroy, whether it was a shorter bout of poor play after his first European Tour win, collapsing at The Masters, or a long stretch over the middle of last season where he looked clueless. He broke out of a funk last year with a PGA Championship win, and given his level of talent it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to do some damage, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Danny Ottmann
Whatever’s wrong with Rory isn’t going to get straightened out at Oak Hill. I personally think his switch to Nike has caused much of his problems. He will be back one day, maybe he can work out his problems during the winter.

Dave Koster
I don’t see Rory turning it around this quick and at a major. He still looks like he’s months away from finding the form he had last year at this time when he dominated at Kiawah. He needs to start having fun again. His game look more like work to him right now.

Michael C. Hepp
I am looking pretty smart with my prediction that Rory was going to struggle this year with the equipment change. It is not the equipment itself but the pressure that everyone puts on a player when they make a change. I think he will miss the cut, and struggle for the 2014 season as well. I think he will start to make his presence known again in 2015, at best early 2014. He needs some time away from the game and to figure out how to play well again.

Mike McLoughlin
I don’t see much changing for Rory at Oak Hill. For whatever reason he hasn’t been to build any momentum and I don’t see him finding anything this week.

Erik J. Barzeski
Nope. It’ll be a year to forget for Rory McIlroy.

Rory kissing the Wanamaker

Tiger did not play all that well in 2003 at the PGA Championship finishing T39 and has already been complaining about the greens at Oak Hill, does this make Tiger fans worry about how he will play there?

Tristan Hilton
To be fair, I don’t think he was complaining all that much about the greens. He said that they were slow but that they didn’t have a lot of grass so it made sense not to speed them up until the tournament week so that they didn’t get too stressed. Obviously there are certain courses that Tiger plays extremely well and when tournaments are on those courses Tiger fans feel really good about his chances, but even on a course he hasn’t done as well on I think he’ll play well; look what he did at the Players this year.

Jamieson Weiss
I know I’m cheating a bit here since I waited until after Tiger’s Bridgestone win, but if I’m rooting for Tiger it’s not the golf course that worries me. Was Merion perfect for Justin Rose? Murfield for Phil? Augusta for Scott? We’ve been down this road a bunch of times over the last few years, where Tiger will look great going into a major, play decent on Thursday, and then fail to make a move as the tournament goes on. His record in majors, being 14/15 when leading after 54 and never coming from behind to win, mirrors the struggles we’ve seen from him lately in major tournaments. If he wants to reach 15, he needs to step on throats, constantly adjust to the golf course, and make the field feel pressed for birdies, not the other way around. 2013 Tiger in make-up mode on Sunday is not going to win a major, but frontrunner Tiger has a chance.

Danny Ottmann
Well, we will get to see what Tiger is made out of this week. Attitude is an important component in playing good golf. If he goes in whining about the greens he is probably not going to play too well.

Dave Koster
I think it makes Tiger fans worry a bit. As good as he has been putting this year (4th in strokes gained) I still think he’s been a bit streaky and putted well on courses he’s comfortable with. If he’s not comfortable or in the groove it won’t matter how well he’s hitting it.

Michael C. Hepp
For me, this is the true test of if Tiger has a mental block in the majors. There is absolutely no question of if he is playing well. He just lapped the field and played one of the best rounds of golf I have seen in some time. The 61 was a clinic. So now it really comes down to how he controls himself. I didn’t pick him this week because I think he has been too conservative of the tee lately and I think this will be a detriment to him winning the event. Certainly he will contend, but I don’t see him winning.

Mike McLoughlin
Tiger just won by seven at Firestone, tough not to say he’ll be in contention. He’s got four wins this year and he’s still capable of winning any major on any course.

Erik J. Barzeski
Tiger was not complaining about the greens. He said they were slow but had no doubts they’d be up to speed by next week (and they are). The course suits Tiger, but I’ve already elaborated on why that is, and he likes it, which is important, too.

In this season’s final major who needs the win more, Tiger or Rory? Why do you think that?

Tristan Hilton
I’d say Rory. A lot of people seem to think that Tiger needs to win a major to be “back” but I disagree. Look at what he’s done this year; if he can hang on to the 7 shot lead he has at Firestone as I write this, that will be 5 wins this year; in my opinion that is “back.” Rory on the other hand lost the #1 ranking and is having to deal with all the pressures of having the huge endorsement deal and not performing. A win at the PGA would do a lot to show people that he is just fine with his equipment, that he can handle the pressure and turn what has been a disappointing 2013 season into a good one.

Jamieson Weiss
No one needs it more than Tiger.

Danny Ottmann
Tiger needs to win more than Rory. Tiger is the one chasing Jacks record. Tiger is the one who is under pressure from the golf world to break his Major drought. Rory is just a young star having a bad year. The pressure on him is significantly less than it is on Tiger.

Dave Koster
Tiger. There will be added pressure for each major he doesn’t win. For Rory…well, he’s just going through a phase in his life where he has new clubs and (relatively) new girlfriend. I don’t give him a full pass this year for his play but next year the spotlight will be intense on both players. Nike is going to really want a couple majors out of their main guys.

Michael C. Hepp
Tiger, without a doubt. Rory has struggled but last won at this event last year. 2008 was the last time Tiger won a major. Five years is a long time for the games best player not to have won any events that he cares about the most. I think any ol’ win would help Rory. A win at the John Deere would help him, but Tiger needs a major now to say he is officially back.

Mike McLoughlin
Tiger. He’s the #1 player in the world, one of the best players of all time but hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. It’s no secret his goal is to break Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. Tiger isn’t getting any younger so he “needs” it more than Rory.

Erik J. Barzeski
Tiger, and it’s not even close.

Photo credits: © Chuck Burton

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