With everything The 2016 Open Championship delivered to golf fans, it almost seems criminal to host another major in such rapid succession. Thankfully, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson’s Sunday battle will likely live for eternity in the history books as one of the greatest showdowns ever.
But of course, we’re only days away from the start of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, and from the crowning of another major champion. As the fourth and final big one approaches, we take a look at who is in form, who’s trending the right direction, and who we think could have a big breakout. Check out our top 5 picks for the PGA Championship, ranked categorically.
The Recent Major Winners Category
We’ve seen it before. A great player finally gets their overdue major win, and suddenly, they realize they know how to win. Stenson’s -20 performance at Royal Troon showed that the elite (even among the elite) ball-striker could carve up the fairways, and more importantly, put on a Top-5 putting performance. Now the question becomes, how many more, Henrik?
Others to consider: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson
The Long Bombers Category
Holmes is a hard guy to classify in a lot of respects. The 34-year-old hits the ball a country mile, even by PGA standards, and won as recently as April of last year, but he often doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Coming on the heels of a solo third-place finish at The Open Championship, where he proved his high-cut swing could work in any conditions, Holmes wrapped up his second Top-5 in a major in 2016. In a year that’s given us plenty of headlines, here’s one more: “J.B. Holmes Overpowers Baltusrol.”
Others to consider: Justin Thomas, Tony Finau
The Living Legends Category
Lefty has now finished in second place or tied for second 11 times in major championships. Eleven! And given that he’s gone 3 years without a win, isn’t it about time? Having last finished second at the PGA behind Rory in 2014, and currently looking the best he has in years with new swing coach, Andrew Getson, Mickelson sure looks poised to nab his sixth major. Add in the short, less-than-two-week turnaround between majors and his in-form swing should carry over nicely to Baltusrol. Oh, and he won this tournament on this very course in 2005.
Others to consider: Steve Stricker, Ernie Els
The Now-Smaller List of Guys Without a Major Category
In 20 appearances at the Open Championship, Sergio has 10 top-10s, which is impressive in its own right, but our pick here stems from his newfound, under-the-radar approach. With the rising of the new guard in the last three years, Sergio has played ostensibly the same level of golf. But with the pressure somewhat removed, El Niño has already racked up one win in 2016, and is putting terrifically. We don’t foresee Sergio holding the 54-hole lead necessarily, but a backdoor Sunday run to the top wouldn’t surprise us one bit.
Others to consider: Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler
The Up-and-Comers Category
We’re bullish on Beef. While the Open Championship saw us make a semi-lighthearted pick of the European pro, his 8th place finish at -3 proved he’s not some social media star with no game. Three bogeys on the back nine at Royal Troon took him out of the Top-5, but he clearly showed his prowess. And while his affable demeanor may be what makes fans love him, his positive spirit may also be the key to grinding out 72 holes of major championship level golf.
Others to consider: Tony Finau (again), Emiliano Grillo