As far as major golf tournaments go, I prefer both the Masters and the U.S. Open over the PGA, and for that matter, I will also take The Players – the fifth major – over the PGA.
But the one thing I will give the PGA each year – the latest edition starts today and runs through Sunday at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma – is the tournament provides us with tantalizing pairings for the first two days of the tournament.
There are no less than six amazing groupings for the first 36 holes of the tournament. All times from the following are Central Daylight Time, an hour earlier than Pacific time.
Things start off early with the group of Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, and Tony Finau teeing off 7:38 p.m. Less than an hour later is what I consider the marquee group in Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods.
I was telling some friends of mine Wednesday that I could watch this group all day, every day. Two of my favorite players in Spieth and Woods, along McIlroy, a player I have grown to appreciate as he has matured and moved away from the brash young gun of his early days.
The afternoon has four consecutive groups that will draw the majority of the crowds, as well as the TV coverage.
At 1:03 p.m. the group of Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka, and Adam Scott will take to the course. They are followed in the next group by Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Justin Thomas at 1:14 p.m.
Next up is the trio of Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, and Harold Varner III. Finally, Jon Rahm, Colin Morikawa, and Scott Scheffler put to bed this afternoon blitz.
The two missing players from the tournament that certainly would have added some firepower, are defending champion Phil Mickelson, who is not playing for a number of reasons, and the polarizing Bryson Dechambeau, who withdrew Wednesday with an injury.
The tournament figures to be quite the test of golf with only one cut of rough, as well as greens with no collars, meaning balls will be rolling through and off the greens.
You may have heard the talking heads mentioning scrambling will be key this week and now you know why.
So, who wins this week?
In my national fantasy contest, we were tasked with $7 that we had to use on 3-6 players. If you use $1 on a player, you get his prize money won. If you use $2, then you two times his prize money. The contestant with the most prize money won by his picks is the winner.
For my team I went $3 on Tiger Woods, with $2 each on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
That’s going in pretty heavy on Woods, who few are giving a chance to win. Here’s my rational – Woods by all accounts looks much stronger physically than he did at Augusta during the Masters.
His ball speed is up, his irons are looking crisp and his putting solid. He won’t play a tournament unless he feels like he can win. It would have been easy to pass this one and focus on the U.S. Open, but here he is in Oklahoma ready to roll.
And another big reason – not a lot of the people are picking Woods, so I have a chance on getting a leg up on the field.
Spieth is looking like he has a chance to win every time he tees it up, and recent form stands behind that with a win and a second in his last two starts. Thomas? I feel compelled to pick him in each major as he always seems to figure to be in the mix.
That is beginning to drag on and it is close to see Thomas fish or cut bait when it comes to winning another big one. He took the 2017 PGA, but since then no major.
This is the PGA and it’s close to being a home game for the Texas-raised star.
It will be a great four days of golf mixed in with NBA Conference finals – making it a great weekend for the sports fan!
By Dennis Miller