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Column: PGA tourney has the chance to provide big finish to golf’s major season

The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.

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Football season is coming fast, but the golf season is slowly winding down.

Actually, there is still lots of golf to be played following the PGA Championship this week.

The year-ending play-off tournaments are coming up next. The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta will close out the current season, and the Ryder Cup that is slated for September will surely keep the attention of the serious golf fan and usually the casual one, too.

But for a lot of folks, golf ends this week with the playing of the last major championship of the season, especially for those who might trade weekend golf-watching for Saturday and Sunday football-watching.

These people frame the golf season around the majors – the Masters in April, the U.S. Open in June, the British Open in July and the PGA in August.

The tournaments that come before Augusta, along with all those in between each of the major events throughout the rest of the year, serve as warm-ups, tune-ups or lead-ins to the next major tournament on the schedule.

Regardless of who will and won’t be following golf any more after this weekend, the PGA has the chance to be something pretty good, what with so many of the game’s top stars playing well going into this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

Dustin Johnson. Justin Thomas. Justin Rose. Brooks Koepka and Rory McIroy. Those are the top five players in the official world rankings, and I wouldn’t bet against any one of those this week.

Then, there’s Francesco Molinari. Jon Rahm. Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. Those are the next five players in the world rankings, and again, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy come late Sunday afternoon.

Looking at all those mentioned above, Johnson, the world’s No. 1, could overpower this course and thus dominate. Of course, Thomas just topped a world-class field last week at the Bridgestone tournament.

Rose is a major champion. Koepka won a second U.S. Open back in June after quickly getting back into strong form after an injury and McIroy could win his third PGA title this week in the 100th edition of the tournament.

Molinari won the British, Rahm and Fowler are looking to break through and win that first major. Day is a major winner and Speith can complete the career Grand Slam with a win this week, which is one of the biggest sub-plots going into the event.

Of course, Tiger Woods keeps teasing us, and you would think he’s eventually going to win again, and just maybe he will win another major, too. He gave it a good run a few weeks back at the British, but a few hiccups coming down the stretch in the final round did him in.

Depending on what betting odds you might look at this week, Patrick Reed, this year’s Masters winner who played at the University of Georgia and Augusta State, has the best chance of anyone with State of Georgia ties as he will tee off at 30-1 odds.

Also former UGA star and Masters winner Bubba Watson is next in line at 50-1, and former Georgia Tech All-American and Golden Isles resident Matt Kuchar is listed at 60-1.

Kuchar also is considered one of those best players to never have won a major, so clearly it would be cool to see him get it done this week as well.

And, Kuchar is in the mix to make this year’s Ryder Cup team, so a big finish at the PGA could improve his odds of making the team as the top eight players in the team point standings after this week will be automatic qualifiers for the U.S. team.

Kuchar is currently 12th in the standings, but would figure to be a strong candidate for one of the four captain’s picks if he finishes outside the top eight.

For the record, former Georgia Bulldogs Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman rank 15th and 16th in the Ryder Cup standings and playing well at the PGA would benefit both of them as well.

And St. Simons Island resident Zach Johnson is currently 19th and needs some good results in the next several weeks to get in the mix and make U.S. captain Jim Furyk consider him for the team.

For what it’s worth, Tiger is 20th in the standings, and I can only assume that Captain Furyk will pick him with one of his picks based on his play in his comeback tour to this point. 

This week, all the stars are in St. Louis, and with the Cardinals playing out of town, the golf tournament will be the biggest show in town.

And it sure would be fun to have a crowded leaderboard full of big names come the back nine on Sunday afternoon.

That would spell a great finish to another season of the majors in professional golf.


Kevin Price is a freelance writer for AllOnGeorgia with more than 20 years experience in journalism and communications.

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