Back to Bethpage Black but for the first time as a PGA Championship.
The new PGA TOUR calendar kicks into gear as the second major of the season is already here. The PGA Championship will tee it up in May for the first time since 1949 at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmington, New York. The PGA of America has hosted their championship in nine different months since the inaugural event in 1916.
The Black Course, as golf fans and gamers all know, is extremely difficult and is only recommended for highly skilled golfers. A.W. Tillinghast wanted to create a test that would test the best-of-the-best, and today’s top players will get just that over the 7,436 yards (Par-70).
Off the tee, 64 of the top 65 players in the FedExCup standings (Justin Thomas, WD wrist injury) will have to contend with sharp doglegs, narrow landing areas and wet, thick, Spring rough approaching four inches.
Attacking the greens, massive bunker complexes will protect the smallish (5,500 square feet on average), perched bentgrass/poa greens. Errant approach shots will be swallowed up by the sand or rough, but those finding the green will have chances to score, as is always the case in the PGA Championship.
A handful of green complexes have been adjusted since the 2009 U.S. Open, but the fairway widths have been left alone. Wet conditions will help “expand” the fairways and hold shots approaching the greens. It will also make for difficult recovery shots.
Jim Nantz remarked during Media Day that he does not believe this will be similar to a U.S. Open setup because the PGA enjoys seeing birdies made. Kerry Haigh, Chief Championships Officer of the PGA, suggested that the players are the main focus, not the course or course setup.
The Black Course has hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens plus The Barclays in 2012 and 2016 during the FedExCup Playoffs.
Brooks Koepka will look to join Tiger Woods as the only players to defend their PGA Championship title this century. The field of 156 players will be playing for 600 FedExCup points and a prize pool that paid out last year’s winner $1.98 million from the $11 million purse.
The field of 156 consists of 64 of the top 65 players in the FedExCup standings and 20 PGA Club Professionals. The PGA Championship is also the only major that does not feature amateur players.
Recent Winners – Bethpage Black
2016 – The Barclays, Patrick Reed (-9): The cut was 3-over 145 on the Par-71 that played 7,468 yards. Rickie Fowler couldn’t close his one shot lead after 54 holes as he fell to T7, while Emiliano Grillo and Sean O’Hair finished T2. The course record, 64, was tied by Johnson Wagner and Sung Kang in the final round.
2012 – The Barclays, Nick Watney (-10): The cut was 1-over 143 as perfect conditions were seen over the four rounds. Watney began the final round two shots behind Sergio Garcia before winning by three over Brandt Snedeker. Garcia’s 75 saw him share third with Dustin Johnson. Padraig Harrington matched the course record with 64 in Round 1.
2009 – U.S. Open, Lucas Glover (-4): 60 players posted 4-over 144 or better to play the weekend as Mother Nature soaked Long Island all week. The Monday finish saw Phil Mickelson tie for the lead, but fall just short (T2), while Tiger Woods couldn’t recover from an opening round 74 (T6) from the “wrong” side of the draw. Garcia and Rory McIlroy both finished T10.
2002 – U.S. Open, Tiger Woods (-3): The only man under par eviscerated the Black Course from tee-to-green as he racked up fairways and greens for fun. Mickelson finished alone in second with even par 280, as the first U.S. Open at Bethpage played 7,214 yards, the longest in history at that point. Garcia, who was just one off Woods’ lead after 18 holes, fired 68-74-67-74 to end up in fourth.
Key stat leaders
Golfers around the top 25 in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. This is the 30th event of the season.
* – Top 10 at a PGA Championship since 2014
** – PGA Champion (year)
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
1. **Rory McIlroy (2014)
3. *Hideki Matsuyama
4. Tommy Fleetwood
5. Byeong-Hun An
6. Corey Conners
7. *Dustin Johnson
8. **Tiger Woods (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003)
9. *Paul Casey
10. Patrick Cantlay
11. *Matt Kuchar
12. *Gary Woodland
13. *Jon Rahm
14. *Sergio Garcia
15. **Keegan Bradley (2011)
16. Lucas Glover
17. Jason Kokrak
18. Webb Simpson
19. Xander Schauffele
20. *Justin Rose
21. Jhonattan Vegas
21. Luke List
23. Bubba Watson
24. *Jim Furyk
25. Matthew Fitzpatrick
Strokes Gained: Putting
1. Justin Harding (only eight measured rounds)
3. Kiradech Aphibarnrat
5. *Dustin Johnson
7. *Rickie Fowler
8. *Justin Rose
9. Graeme McDowell
10. Patton Kizzire
11. **Jason Day (2015)
11. Pat Perez
13. Andrew Putnam
14. Brian Gay
15. *Adam Scott
19. Brandt Snedeker
22. Cameron Smith
Greens in Regulation
1. **Tiger Woods
2. *Matt Kuchar
3. Charles Howell III
4. Corey Conners
7. *Ryan Palmer
8. Scott Piercy
10. *Jim Furyk
11. Ian Poulter
12. **Rory McIlroy
12. Cameron Champ
14. **Brooks Koepka (2018)
17. *Gary Woodland
18. Emiliano Grillo
18. Lucas Glover
22. **Jason Dufner (2013)
23. Aaron Wise
24. *Paul Casey
25. *Dustin Johnson
1. *Dustin Johnson
2. Lucas Glover
3. *Matt Kuchar
4. Patrick Cantlay
5. *Jim Furyk
6. Charles Howell III
7. Webb Simpson
8. Scott Piercy
9. *Justin Rose
11. Tommy Fleetwood
13. *Jon Rahm
16. Xander Schauffele
17. **Rory McIlroy
19. Jhonattan Vegas
20. Kevin Tway
21. Troy Merritt
22. *Jason Day
23. *Hideki Matsuyama
24. Si Woo Kim
25. **Tiger Woods
Recent Winners – PGA Championship
The PGA sets up their events a certain way, so I believe there is validity to inspecting who plays their events well.
2018: Brooks Koepka (-16): A wet Bellerive provided target practice, as Koepka won his second major in three starts and set the 72-hole scoring record of 264 along the way. Tiger Woods was two back in second and Adam Scott third as the powerful ball-strikers had their way.
2017: Justin Thomas (-8): Thomas picked up his first major championship as he overcame a two-shot deficit after 54 holes, while Kevin Kisner couldn’t close out his first major. Quail Hollow Club (Par-71) played firm and fast, and tipped out at 7,600 yards. It ended up being the most difficult track on TOUR in 2017.
2016: Jimmy Walker (-14): A wet Baltusrol, another Tillinghast track, saw Walker tie the 36-hole record as he opened 65-66. Jason Day finished one shot behind while Brooks Koepka, Branden Grace and Hideki Matsuyama shared fourth on the Par-70, 7,428 yard layout.
2015: Jason Day (-20): The Australian dismantled Whistling Straits to set the major scoring record in relation to par. Jordan Spieth was runner-up while Branden Grace took third. Justin Rose (fourth) and Brooks Koepka (T5) were also in the mix.
Select Past History
|Pos||2016 Barclays||Score||Pos||2012 Barclays||Score|
|Win||Patrick Reed||-9||Win||Nick Watney||-10|
|T2||Emiliano Grillo||-8||2||Brandt Snedeker||-7|
|T4||Jason Day||-7||T3||Sergio Garcia||-6|
|Gary Woodland||Dustin Johnson|
|Adam Scott||T5||Louis Oosthuizen||-5|
|T7||Rickie Fowler||-6||Brian Harman|
|Ryan Moore||Lee Westwood|
|Jason Kokrak||T10||Bubba Watson||-3|
|T10||Jordan Spieth||-5||T19||Padraig Harrington|
|12||Tony Finau||-4||J.B. Holmes|
|T13||Charley Hoffman||-3||T24||Jason Day||-1|
|Billy Horschel||Rickie Fowler|
|Phil Mickelson||Rory McIlroy|
|Ryan Palmer||Ryan Moore|
|Bubba Watson||Ryan Palmer|
|Sung Kang||Pos||2009 U.S. Open||Score|
|T22||Jhonattan Vegas||-1||Win||Lucas Glover||-4|
|Jason Dufner||T2||Phil Mickelson||-2|
|Brian Harman||5||Ross Fisher||-1|
|Scott Piercy||T6||Tiger Woods||E|
|T31||Paul Casey||E||9||Henrik Stenson||1|
|Rory McIlroy||T10||Sergio Garcia||2|
|Chez Reavie||Rory McIlroy|
|Pos||2002 U.S. Open||Score|
|T18||Charles Howell III||10|