By Paul Myers
The final major of the year – “Glory’s Last Shot” as it is often called – will be contested this week at Baltusrol when the PGA Championship gets underway. While there are plenty of important rounds still to come this year once the PGA is complete, such as the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, this is really the last chance for a golfer to make his mark on history in 2016. It is the majors that really define the career of a golfer, so you can bet that all of the top players in the world will be giving it their all in New Jersey.
A Great Field
When looking at the field that will compete at Baltusrol, it is difficult to identify a favorite from the crowd. Right off the bat, there are the three previous major winners from this year – Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, and Henrik Stenson – who all could be in the mix at the end of the week. Of course, defending champion Jason Day is the top ranked player in the world and is always a threat to win any tournament he enters. Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are always near the top of the favorites list, as is Phil Mickelson, who put on an incredible display at The Open Championship despite coming up just short.
It is possible that the weather will play a factor in deciding the PGA Champion for 2016, so that is another factor to keep in mind when looking at the field. Forecasts are calling for warm temperatures and perhaps thunderstorms, so the player who can pace himself best during what could be a difficult week will be in good position. Delays are difficult to deal with in a golf tournament, and often the timing of those delays has a lot to say about how the event will wind up in the end.
Another First Timer?
Each of the first three majors of the year have been won by a first-time major champion, and there is certainly a chance that the trend could continue at Baltusrol. Rickie Fowler is a player capable of making a run at the trophy who has not yet claimed a major, and you could easily put Matt Kuchar in that category as well. Other quality players with not major titles to their names include Ryan Palmer, Patrick Reed, Scott Piercy, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, and others.
In many ways, the PGA Championship features the best field of the golfing year, so this event is always a treat for golf fans. While The Masters remains the favorite event of many pros and fans alike, the PGA always seems to put on a great show and the list of winners proves the quality of test that is put forward year after year. Regardless of who happens to come out on top this week at Baltusrol, golf fans around the world are likely in for a great ride.