“This is probably as wide open a major as we’ve seen in a long time,” said Steve Stricker.
How right that’s proving to be. As I write this, 17 players are within four shots of the lead and only three of them have captured major titles: Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, and Vijay Singh. Only one of those three, Furyk, is ranked inside the top 10 in the world.
“When guys see friends or individuals wining whom they consider equals, it’s easier for them to go out and win the first time,” said Padraig Harrington. “There’s no doubt there will be a number of Europeans who have seen Graeme win [the U.S. Open] and believe, ‘We can play golf like Graeme McDowell, so we can win a major,’” Harrington said.
That certainly seems to be McDowell’s fellow countryman Rory McIlroy’s take.
“The major championships have got a lot more wide open, it seems, in the past couple of years,” the 21-year-old McIlroy said Wednesday.
Right now, the Northern Irishman is within a few of the lead.
Five of the last six majors have been won by first-timers. And six of the last seven majors have been claimed by players outside of the top 30 in the world. There’s a lot of golf left to play in the 92nd PGA Championship, but the major that is known for often producing some of the most unexpected champions, is looking like it’s staying on trend. But it’s not exactly a surprise.
Current leader Nick Watney has finished inside the top 10 in two of the year’s first three majors. Dustin Johnson, who is tied for second at the moment, was the 54-hole leader at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. And Matt Kuchar, who led this week after 18 and 36 holes, leads the PGA Tour in scoring average and all-around ranking this year. It’s wide open, yes … but these players definitely have the game.