PGA Championship 101: Guide to the year's final major

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 7, 2017, 5:00 pm

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about the PGA Championship:

So, this is the championship of the PGA Tour, huh?

Sigh. You don't beat around the bush, do you? No, this is not the championship of the PGA Tour. That would be considered The Players Championship. This is the championship of the PGA of America.


Why the need to designate “of America”? What else would it be - the PGA of Timbuktu?

Obviously we need a history lesson here. We'll keep it as brief as possible. There used to be one PGA - the "of America" one, which was founded in 1916. In 1968, action was begun that resulted in an eventual split into the PGA of America and the PGA Tour. 


Why the split?

The original golf pros were the people who work at golf clubs. You know, the ones who sell us logoed ball markers and take our green fees when they're not trying to cure our slices by giving us lessons. The better players among them also played the national tournament circuit.

As golf grew in popularity and tournaments became more lucrative, a class of pros evolved who were tournament players first and foremost. If they held a club job, it was often ceremonial.

Over time, more of these pros discarded the idea of working at a club at all, instead devoting full time to tournament play.


OK, I follow you so far.

So now you had one organization, the PGA of America, trying to represent the interests of two entirely different types of "golf pros." No surprise that the root of the dispute was money, specifically what to do with what was becoming a windfall in rights fees from the TV networks. The tournament players, a group that included Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, wanted that money to go to increased tournament purses, while the club pros wanted it to go into the PGA's general fund. Eventually the touring pros broke off on their own. The PGA of America remained in place, representing the traditional "club" pros.


If the PGA of America was no longer going to represent the interests of tournament players, why does it still have a championship? And why is it a major?

It wanted to keep the PGA Championship alive for many reasons, not the least of which is that it generates considerable revenue. As for your second question, that is a big ol' can of worms for another day. We will say this, however. For most of the PGA Championship's existence, it has had a justifiable status as a major. Whether that will ever change, whether it will ever be replaced in the major rotation by The Players Championship is anyone's guess. But golf is a game that respects - and clings to - tradition.


OK, but it’s the fourth major, right?

Well, if you mean chronologically within a given year, yes, it's the fourth and last major of each season (with the notable exception of 1971, when it was the first major played because it was staged in South Florida and officials wished to avoid the extreme heat of a Florida summer). However, if by "fourth" you're making a comment on the quality of the tournament, you're both right and wrong. No, it isn't a national championship like the U.S. or British Opens. And no, it doesn't boast a permanent venue like the Masters and Augusta National, nor is it associated with an icon of the game like Bobby Jones. What the PGA does have going for it is competition. It's often the most hotly contested of all four majors. And players are often effusive in their praise for the course setups of PGAs, which they deem challenging but fair


Anything else about its history that sets it apart?

The most obvious thing is that from its inception in 1916 through 1957, the PGA was a match-play tournament. It has been periodically suggested that it return to match play, but that is not considered likely.


Why not?

Worst-case scenario - all the highly seeded "name" players get eliminated before the final. If you're a TV network that has spent big bucks to televise this event, do you want two guys you're never heard of in the final?


Speaking of the final, what's the name of the winner's trophy?

It's called the Wanamaker Trophy, and it was named after Rodman Wanamaker, a department store magnate who was influential in the formation of the PGA.


I probably should have asked this a lot earlier, but what does PGA stand for?

Professional Golfers' Association. Remember, in the early years of the 20th century, pros were looked down upon. It was only natural that they band together under one umbrella organization.


Let's get to the tournament itself. The Masters has Jack Nicklaus winning at age 46 in 1986 and Tiger Woods destroying the field in 1997. The U.S. Open has 20-year-old Francis Ouimet upsetting two of the top British pros in 1913 and Arnold Palmer's charge in 1960. The Open Championship has the Duel in the Sun in 1977 and  Woods destroying the field in 2000. So, what have been the most memorable PGAs?

It would be hard to beat a then-unknown John Daly winning in 1991. He got into the tournament as ninth - ninth! - alternate, then just torched the course with a combination of absurdly long driving and incredible touch around the greens. Then there was Bob Tway holing a final-hole bunker shot to beat Greg Norman in 1986 - something we didn't yet know would become a trend. And who could have predicted that the player who would give Woods his toughest test would be one of his former junior-golf rivals, Bob May, who did everything except beat him in 2000?


Who's the defending champion this year?

Jimmy Walker, who won last year at Baltusrol.


Is he the favorite this year?

No, for several reasons, but the biggest two are that the 2016 title was his first and so far only major win, and he has since been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which has wreaked havoc with his stamina and endurance. He says he never knows how he's going to feel from one day to the next.


So who is the favorite?

Look to the usual suspects - Jordan Spieth, who's coming off a win in The Open; Rory McIlroy, who has been inconsistent lately but lights out when he's on; and Dustin Johnson, who has a similar storyline. And don't overlook Hideki Matsuyama, who obliterated the WGC field at Firestone last week.


Where are they playing?

Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., a course the pros are familiar with because it's the annual site of the Wells Fargo tournament.


Who won that event this year? Seems like he should be favored.

Because Quail Hollow was being prepared for the PGA, this year's Wells Fargo Championship was played in May at another course, in Wilmington, N.C. So for your purposes, the winner (Brian Harman) is irrelevant.


In that case, I'm out of questions.

Good. Now you can start thinking of some for the Presidents Cup.


When and where is that being played?

Sorry, I'm afraid our time is up. We'll reconvene in September.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.