The PGA Championship 2017 Preview

The 2017 PGA Championship heads to Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina for the fourth and final major of the season. This is the first time Quail Hollow has hosted a major championship but it does host regular PGA Tour event – The Wells Fargo Championship, which is regarded by the players as one of the best courses on tour. It boasts one of the toughest finishes in the game with holes 16, 17 and 18 termed the “Green Mile”, which could make for an exciting finish coming down the stretch.

  • The overall average for the past 10 championships is -11, with the lowest major championship score set by Jason Day in 2015 when he scored -20 (equalled by Henrik Stenson in the 2016 Open).
  • Notably, the previous three PGA’s have averaged -16.6, whereas the seven previous winners averaged -8.7 – nearly half – suggesting The Professional Golfer’s Association of America now prefer course set-ups to yield lower scoring.
  • The average winning margin sits at just under three strokes (2.75), with play-offs occurring in 2010 and 2011. Rory McIlroy tied the major championship winning margin record in 2012, but without this margin, the average sits at just two strokes.

The Wells Fargo Championship was hosted at Quail Hollow from 2003 – 2016, but was moved for the 2017 event due to course alterations for this year’s USPGA.

Every player who has placed in the top-10 since then was recorded, and those who had two or more top-10’s were logged.

Six players ranked inside the world’s current top 50 were left:

  • Phil Mickelson has finished in the top 10 a staggering nine times from the past 13 occasions he has competed at Quail Hollow, recording seven top-five’s and one runner-up but surprisingly, no victory, recording an average finish of 4.6.
  • Rory McIlroy however has recorded two victories and one runner-up (play-off) around Quail Hollow, and is somewhat of a course specialist with an average finishing position of 4.3.
  • Two players outside the world’s top 50 (highlighted red) have shown significant course form over the years. Veteran Jim Furyk averages the lowest position of 3.8, while ex-U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover has contended regularly here over the years, averaging fifth place.

Let's now take a look at the recent form of these six players:

In recent times, those who have performed well in The (British) Open and/or the WGC Bridgestone – typically the two tournaments before The PGA Championship – have gone on to perform well in the final major of the season.

  • Mickelson and Rose have averaged 59th place over the two championships and appear to be not quite firing on all cylinders heading to Charlotte.
  • Moore hasn’t pushed on since forcing his way into last year’s Ryder Cup team and has averaged 53rd over the two events.
  • Scott has been consistent with two top-25 placings, averaging 18th, but is not showing the signs that he did a few years ago when he became Masters Champion.

TSZ Contenders
With these statistics in mind, here are our two favourites to take the PGA Championship title this year:

  • McIlroy has recorded two top-five’s in his previous two tournaments and is starting to show signs in his tee-to-green game that he could produce another dominant victory where he overpowers the course and his competitors. His last major victory came in this championship three years ago and his form around Quail Hallow is impressive. If - and it is always a big if with Rory – he can find form on the greens, it is hard to see how anyone could beat him this week.
  • Fowler’s consistency and all-round game will one day produce a major championship. He has averaged 16th place in his previous two starts without ever really getting out of second gear. His form during this season’s majors has been strong. averaging 13th., and he has been in contention to win heading into Sunday in both The Masters and the U.S. Open. Having won around here in 2012, birdieing the 18th during a play-off which included McIlroy, the memories of success could come flooding back this week.

TSZ Outsiders
We’ve identified two outsiders in the form of past major champions Lucas Glover and Jim Furyk:

  • Glover’s form around Quail demonstrates that he has ball-striking capabilities that few in the game can actually match. One of his three PGA Tour wins came at this course and he has also finished as runner-up here, demonstrating that his game is perfectly suited to the tee-to-green demands in Charlotte. A top-10 finish would be a big result at 18/1 with Paddy Power.
  • Stalwart Furyk has managed just one top-10 on the PGA Tour this season but has the ideal game for majors and tough courses that demand accuracy. Again, a top-10 placing at 18/1 with Paddy Power would be good money on someone who even at his age can still perform on the biggest stage.