(Thursday at 1pm ET on TNT)
This year’s PGA Championship is being played at Baltusrol, in beautiful Springfield, NJ. It’s among America’s oldest courses, and probably the only one named after the victim of a sensational murder that was later immortalized in fiction.
Baltusrol is notorious for its brutal finish, as it’s the only major golf course to end with two par 5’s, the monstrous 647-yard 17th hole, followed by the comparatively demure 18th hole, which weighs in at 553 yards. Those two holes bring the course to an impressive 7,400 yards, but is still just a par 70.
Phil Mickelson was the last to win a major here, going wire-to-wire at the PGA Championship in 2005. After rains caused a suspension of play on Sunday, Mickelson would finish Monday just a stroke ahead of Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington.
The forecast for this weekend in Springfield, NJ, is a bit unpleasant, as Thursday is expected to bring highs in the low 90’s and humidity hovering around 50%, with a bit of cooling on Friday courtesy of thunderstorms, followed by a partly cloudy Saturday and a rainy Sunday.
World #1 Jason Day returns to defend his 2015 PGA Championship title, but this being a major, there’s no shortage of stiff competition. Here are the top 5 favorites, according to GolfOdds.com:
Henrik Stenson (15/1): Fresh off his first major championship, a 3-stroke win over Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon, Stenson is keen for #2. “But when you’ve got the momentum and you’re playing well,” Stenson told the New York Times, “it might not be bad to get straight back at it.”
Jordan Spieth (12/1): Spieth couldn’t get his game together at the British Open until it was too late, finally beating par on the final round with a 3-under 68 to finish tied for 30th at +2. He had a particularly hard time on the greens, as he came into the tournament averaging 27.4 putts per round only to average 30.3 at Royal Troon.
Jason Day (10/1): The defending champion, and always a favorite to win at the majors, Day also had a hard time getting going at the Open, shooting 73-70-71-71 to finish at even par, tied for 22nd, though he remains ranked #1 in the world. Day, however, hasn’t gotten much practice in this week, as he’s been dealing with his sick kids, who were kind enough to pass a bug on to him. “So I’m kind of running on E right now,” he said on Wednesday, adding “I haven’t played a practice round. I haven’t seen the course. I don’t know what it looks like.”
Rory McIlroy (9/1): McIlroy finished tied for 5th at -4 thanks to a strong final round 67, but he was never really in contention, given that he was at even par through three rounds.
Dustin Johnson (8/1): Though he finished tied for 9th at Royal Troon with 2-under 282, Dustin Johnson was chosen as the favorite this week by three of five experts at PGA.com, with Jonathan Wall declaring, “It’s impossible to go against DJ the way he’s driving the ball.”
Thursday’s tee times
Watch the 2016 PGA Championship on Thursday starting at 1pm ET on TNT by subscribing to Sling Orange or Sling Blue.