The year’s final major begins today, and with it come a number of interesting stories. As you follow the action from Baltusrol, here’s what people will be talking about.
The Weather. In a word, yuck. Just like the rest of the country, the New York metropolitan area has been hot and sticky the last few days. Baltusrol is only 25 miles from midtown Manhattan, and the local forecast calls for heat (high 80s to low 90s) and humidity Thursday and Saturday, thunderstorms Friday and Sunday.
The Olympics. The teams for Rio have been set, and a number of notables—including Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, and all four players from the U.S. (Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar)—will be heading south soon after the PGA is over, and after a busy season that also included travel and tough conditions at Oakmont and Royal Troon. Furthermore, a number of PGA/Olympic players are committed to next week’s Travelers Invitational first, including defending champion Bubba Watson, Kuchar, Reed, and Harrington (and probably others, as well, who have yet to commit), meaning there may be some very tired globetrotters on the greens the next few weeks.
The Not-So-Big Three. Among the players we thought would have had a major by now this year are Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day. This is their last chance in 2016.
The First-Timers. One reason the trio above hasn’t added a major this year are Danny Willett (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open), and Stenson (Open Championship). Three majors, three first-time winners. Will another first-timer win at Baltusrol?
Is It Their Time? The best players yet to win a major in this week’s PGA field include Garcia, Fowler, Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, and Lee Westwood.
More Fight In Phil? After his sensational week at Troon, can Mickelson find the magic again?
Continental Drift. Of the four majors, the PGA is the least welcoming to winners from across the Atlantic. Only six players from Europe and the UK have won the championship since it began in 1916 (Jim Barnes, in 1916 and ’19, and McIlroy ,in 2012 and ’14, won it twice each). Harrington’s victory in 2008 was the first European win since Tommy Armour in 1930. And there has been only one winner from Continental Europe, Germany’s Martin Kaymer in 2010.
Baltusrol’s Past Champions. Past winners of majors at Baltusrol include both heavyweights and lesser-knowns. Which category will add a name on Sunday?
1903 U.S. Open Willie Anderson
1915 U.S. Open Jerome Travers (amateur)
1936 U.S. Open Tony Manero
1954 U.S. Open Ed Furgol
1961 Women’s Open Mickey Wright
1967 U.S. Open Jack Nicklaus
1980 U.S. Open Jack Nicklaus
1985 Women’s Open Kathy Baker
1993 U.S. Open Lee Janzen
2005 PGA Phil Mickelson