You never know what’s going to happen at a major championship.
The top golfers in the world are in Rochester, N.Y., this week for the final major of 2013, the PGA Championship. Oak Hill Country Club is no walk in the park, and it’s going to be extremely difficult for the field to stay under par throughout the week. We’re bound to see some good, bad and ugly performances.
Last year, Rory McIlroy had the best performance at Kiawah Island, as he won his second major championship. McIlroy shot 13 under for the tournament, which was eight strokes better than anyone else. He did so despite shooting a 75 in the second round, which makes his overall week that much more impressive.
Brandt Snedeker was one of many golfers that week who didn’t shine his brightest. The American failed to make the cut after shooting a 77 on Thursday and a 78 on Friday. He’s one of the best golfers in the world, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going to perform at a high level.
That said, here’s a look at three golfers who are in the field for the PGA Championship this week, with a prediction of how they’ll play at Oak Hill.
Best Performance: Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood is still seeking the first major championship victory of his career, but he’s certainly come close on a few occasions this year. He finished tied for eighth at the Masters, tied for 15th at the U.S. Open and tied for third at the Open Championship. The waiting is over, as he’ll have the best performance of the week at Oak Hill.
Westwood was cut from the PGA Championship a year ago at Kiawah Island and will be looking to make up for his poor two rounds. He can do so by relying on what he’s done all season long: signing low scorecards. Westwood has the 13th-best scoring average on the PGA Tour this season.
The Englishman just needs to focus on making putts, and he shouldn’t have much of an issue finishing at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. He’s 173rd on the PGA Tour this year in strokes gained through putting. The closer to the pin he can get the ball, the better his chances are at winning his first major.
Mediocre Performance: Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson hasn’t had a strong week on the PGA Tour since finishing fourth at the Travelers Championship in back in late June. He’s entered in four official events since then but didn’t finish inside of the top 20 in any of them. He recently finished tied for 27th at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Watson also hasn’t been very effective at any of the three major championships this season. He failed to defend his Masters title after finishing tied for 50th. He tied for 32nd place at both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. It doesn’t seem likely he’s going to be breaking his recent skid this week at Oak Hill.
Watson will likely play the weekend at the PGA Championship, as he enters the tournament with the 12th-best scoring average before the cut (70.13) on the PGA Tour this year. But he has the 140th-best third-round scoring average (71.57) and the 125th-best fourth-round scoring average (71.64). He’ll fail to impress again.
Worst Performance: Sergio Garcia
It’s usually hit or miss for Sergio Garcia at the PGA Championship. He’s played the championship 14 times, and in those outings, he’s finished in the top 10 on four occasions and has been cut seven times. He was also disqualified from the 2007 PGA Championship for incorrectly signing his scorecard (h/t ESPN).
Garcia has been cut from the PGA Championship in three of the last four years. Since getting cut a year ago, he’s yet to miss the weekend at a major. He finished tied for eighth at the Masters, which was good, but he finished tied for 45th at the U.S. Open and tied for 21st at the Open Championship. He’s been wildly inconsistent.
While Garcia is the best putter on the PGA Tour in terms of strokes gained, those putts won’t make much of a difference this week. He’s 100th in driving accuracy and 85th in GIR percentage this year. If he isn’t getting to the green with a chance to make birdie, there’s no way he’s going to contend at Oak Hill. Don’t expect much from him.
All statistics in this article were obtained via PGATour.com unless otherwise noted.