One of the greatest weeks of the PGA TOUR season is upon us and I am very excited for what’s to come. I cannot think of many previous PGA Championship’s that I have had more anticipation for than this 2019 version. Bethpage Black, or “The People’s Country Club” is one of the most historic public golf courses in the country, and will be a tremendous venue for the often overlooked “4th major.” There was a bit of unfortunate news that came out earlier in the week, as it was announced that Justin Thomas had to pull out of the field with an ongoing wrist injury. The other 99 golfers in the OWGR top 100 will all be teeing it up, so despite Justin’s absence there will be no shortage of superstars. The storylines are plentiful, and the world’s best are poised to give everything they’ve got for a chance at the Wanamaker trophy. Let’s get into the rankings.
Standard Disclaimer: For non-major Championships I will be ranking 12 golfers a week, and for the Majors I will be going 20 deep. I don’t rank for guys that I think will be in the mix, I rank solely on likelihood of winning the golf tournament. Thus, whoever I give the #1 spot to each week, is the guy I feel is most likely to reach the winner’s circle, and so forth down the list. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Dustin Johnson- The world’s best continues to fly a bit under the radar as this week approaches. The talk has been on Brook’s title defense and Tiger’s run at a 2nd major of the season, but DJ is in very solid form and has had previous success at Bethpage. Would be shocked if he’s not firmly in the mix come Sunday.
2. Jon Rahm- It is time for Jon Rahm to go win a really big golf tournament. Jon is fresh off his 3rd career tour victory, and has been in the hunt in multiple majors already. The next step is hoisting a trophy and I believe he is more than capable of doing it this week.
3. Brooks Koepka- How can he not be in the top 3 of this list after what he has done in the last eight majors. The man has an affinity for the biggest of moments, and he has shown he has no problem going back to back. Bethpage should fit Brooks eye, and he’s arguably the most mentally tough player in the field.
4. Rickie Fowler- Seems like Rickie is in the mix at every major these days and this week should be no different. The question remains, can he get over the hump? Fowler acknowledged that getting the first one will be most difficult, but this just might be the week he finally breaks through.
5. Tiger Woods- The only concern would be that this will be his first competitive start since his infamous triumph at Augusta. With that said, the health appears to be in check and he continues to amaze with his shot-making. Hard to believe Tiger doesn’t play very well again.
6. Tommy Fleetwood- A man I feel very strongly about this week. Has been in the mix at every major but the PGA Championship thus far, and I think this is the year he contends for and potentially wins the Wanamaker. Bethpage fits his strengths, and he is more than capable of getting hot with the flatstick.
7. Rory McIlroy- Rory will attempt to raise the Wanamaker trophy for the third time in his career this week at a course that should seemingly really fit his eye. His length will be a big-time advantage this week as long as he can find the shortgrass off the tee. Time for him to get back in the mix at a major.
8. Jordan Spieth- I’m well aware of the struggles but Jordan has simply just been different in Major Championships. Spieth has an opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam and I expect that to motivate him, not weigh on him. His wayward driver is certainly a legitimate concern, but showed progress last week at Trinity Forest.
9. Sergio Garcia- Two really solid starts in a row for Sergio make him a sneaky very solid pick to contend this week. Ballstriking has always been his strength, and with the expected conditions his efficiency tee-to-green should be a big advantage. Look out for Nino.
10. Phil Mickelson- Phil should be a true hit-or-miss this week given his rock-solid history at Bethpage and his tendency to be extremely wayward off the tee. As of Tuesday night there haven’t been any signs of him even being at the golf course, which certainly raises some eyebrows. That being said, there’s always a method to the madness with Lefty.
11. Louis Oosthuizen– Notorious for being in the discussion at Major Championships and this week shouldn’t be any different. Louis has played very solid golf at Bethpage Black and he played well at the Masters for three days before a rough Sunday. Sweet Lou will challenge.
12. Justin Rose- Said two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo that he had no idea where his game was at and then proceeded to finish solo 3rd. Before that he missed the cut at the Masters for the first time in ages. A bit of a wild card, but Rosey tends to play very solid golf at Major Championships. Hungry for a second title.
13. Jason Day– Has become the most difficult player to predict as you never know what the status of the back is. That said, when he is healthy enough to tee it up, he has been very consistent in 2019. Has made a habit of stalking leaderboards at the PGA, and if healthy this week should be no different.
14. Xander Schauffele- Has been amazing to see the kind of success Xander has had at Major Championships as a youngster. Has all the shots and never gets rattled after a poor shot or hole. There’s not many safer bets in the field this week to play well than Xander Schauffele.
15. Adam Scott– Adam Scott has the ability to be one of the best ballstrikers on the planet and this is a week where he will need exactly that to add a second major to his trophy case. The putter has let him down many times before but he has been putting respectably thus far in 2019. Scotty has another run in him.
16. Ian Poulter– Poults lacks the length that Bethpage seemingly requires but he is a straight hitter and finding the fairways is of utmost performance this week. Can always get hot with the putter and he will need to pull out all of the magic this week to have a chance at finding the winner’s circle.
17. Thomas Pieters– Like Poulter, another sleeper for me this week. The Belgian can hit the ball a country mile and is sneaky good with the flatstick. Not afraid of the moment and very motivated to get his first win on American soil.
18. Henrik Stenson– Always a wild card at majors, the Iceman comes into Bethpage with sporadic form but he has found lightning in a bottle before and could easily do it again. That trusty three wood will be paramount this week.
19. Paul Casey– Paul Casey has been a factor on Thursday and Friday many a time in major championships, but is this week he puts it together for four rounds? Has all the shots, but many times the putter has let him down when it matters most. Crazier things have happened.
20. Patrick Reed– The winner in the Tour’s most recent stop at Bethpage, Patrick comes in with mixed results of late but always gets up for majors. Always sits near the top of the Tour in scrambing and that will be put to the test this week with how thick the rough is supposed to be. Expect to see the 2018 Masters Champ lurking around.
This promises to be another special week at the PGA Championship filled with Sunday drama and late charges. Who will emerge victorious when it’s all said and done on Sunday evening? Time will tell. Grab your popcorn and enjoy.