Jordan Spieth’s finishing flurry to claim the British Open title ended the revolving door of first-time major winners and instead put the Tour awesomely back on the doorstep of major history.
With a win at this week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, Spieth would become the youngest player ever to achieve golf’s career Grand Slam. Spieth has been installed as the co-favorite to do just that, along with Rory McIlroy, a past champion at Quail Hollow and the course record holder.
Were Spieth to pull it off, he’d bag an avalanche of career accolades the likes of which even Tiger Woods can’t match and also put himself squarely in the driver’s seat to be the Tour’s player of the year. He would also further threaten Dustin Johnson’s position as world No. 1.
Will Johnson, McIlroy or another world elite stand in the way, or will Spieth make some head-turning history and give the Tour a dramatic finish to the major season?
We’ll start to find out on Thurs. Here’s a look at the top storylines heading into the week.
By going 5-under over the final four holes at Royal Birkdale to claim the Claret Jug, Spieth put the Tour back on some refreshing historical footing. Only five men have claimed the career Grand Slam and Spieth is gunning to become the sixth and faster than any of them.
Spieth enters the PGA on a run of consecutive victories and aiming to topple Tiger as the youngest player ever to claim the career Slam, doing so with some Tiger-esque moments such as jarring a 50-foot eagle putt at the British to spark his final charge.
Spieth’s impeccable putter and short game have earned him his place in history. But on a long and difficult driving golf course, will it be enough to get him the career Slam up-and-down?
One of the few reasons to doubt: He doesn’t have a track record here (he’s only played once in the Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship); his co-favorite does.
Rory’s Quail Tale
Though he hasn’t won on Tour in 2017, Rory is listed as co-favorite largely because of track record at Quail.
Rory has two victories and six top-10s at Quail Hollow and holds the course record (61). After a slow start at the British, McIlroy rebounded to show flashes of his old self. McIlroy has battled a fractured rib much of the season, but he and his game finally look healthy again. At the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, McIlroy set a 54-hole record with 38 drivers over 300 yards.
That particularly matters going to the PGA at Quail Hollow, because …
Quail Hollow is a bomber’s course. The Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee noted to start the week that the majority of past champions at Quail can be found atop the driving starts for the week. The recently re-designed course sets the tone with an opening par 4 that plays to 524 yards. It’s one of three for the week playing over 500 yards.
That plays to Rory’s favor, but it will also have other tour big boppers, such as world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, looking to cash in and capture the year’s final major. Johnson’s driver is never in doubt, but will his putter hold up? Same goes for McIlroy, who’s playing with a new caddie, a switch that didn’t go so well for Phil Mickelson at the British Open.
In a close contest where every stroke matters, will Rory’s decision come back to haunt him? The door is certainly wide open for second-guessing. If Rory wins and slams it shut, he’ll have major momentum going for his own career slam again at the Masters in 2018.
Will There Be Reign or Just Rain?
As of now, the forecast for the week is a major bummer. A wet week seems in store, with a projected 100 percent chance of rain on Friday. The Charlotte Observer says a solid 50 percent chance is in the forecast for every day up to Sunday.
Who will dodge the bogeys between rains drops and make birdies when the sun shines? Will the elements even more favor a player with a track record at Quail Hollow? If so, besides McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson head that list.
Or will the wet Bermuda tilt the advantage to strong iron players? If so, advantage Spieth. But a soggy slog to the title seems certain for someone.
Hello, PGA in May
New PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is looking to shake up the Tour schedule, which has major implications for the PGA Championship.
The Tour announced the PGA will move to May starting in 2019, placing it between the Masters and the U.S. Open with its vacated August date allowing for early start to the FedEx Cup playoffs.
You’ll undoubtedly hear the change debated during the 2017 PGA broadcast, which seems ideal Thurs./Fri. rainy day talk. When it turns to the weekend, however, Spieth will be the most talked about Jordan since Michael in North Carolina if he’s got the Grand Slam in his sights. Can he just do it? We start to find out on Thurs.
Don’t just watch golf these next four days, book a round and get out on the course. Unlike Quail Hollow, the weather forecast at Arroyo Trabuco is looking nice: clear skies with highs around 82 degrees. After your round pull up a stool to watch the PGA Championship action on our TVs in O’Neill’s Bar & Grill.
Our own Michael Block is featured in the recent issue of the SCGA’s Fore Magazine in a piece that acknowledges our head golf professional’s accomplished playing career.
Block’s unprecedented four-year reign as the Southern California PGA Player of the Year is celebrated in the piece, which delves into Block’s 12 appearances in PGA Tour events, including three majors.
Reflecting on it all, even Block acknowledges amazement at the experiences and opportunities he’s enjoyed all while continuing to work as the Head Golf Professional at Arroyo Trabuco.
“Never in my life would I have thought I would play in this many Tour events and in three majors,” Block said.
Follow the link to read the entire article: Best Of The Best: A Look At The Impressive Resume Of Michael Block
Congrats to Michael on much-deserved recognition for his exceptional achievements!
Here at Arroyo Trabuco we are eagerly awaiting the British Open.
As the pros travel overseas to Royal Birkdale for the year’s third major, the name of the championship seems particularly fitting – The Open.
In a year lacking a dominate player, parity has become the norm on a wide-open Tour. That’s best illustrated by the majors, where we’ve now seen eight straight first-time major champions after Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open.
Will a former champion step forward to claim the Claret Jug or will first-timers continue to break through? And if so, who? Rickie Fowler? John Rahm? Tommy Fleetwood? Hideki Matsuyama?
Last year, it was Henrik Stenson’s turn after an epic duel with Phil Mickelson, who opened the tournament with a 63 and lost to Stenson’s 63 on Sunday. Conditions don’t seem so conducive for scoring this year. Blustery weather is in the forecast.
Who will weather the weather and the unique tests of links golf? We’ll start to find out on Thurs. Here’s a look at the top storylines going into the week.
Rookies rule right now when it comes to major championships. But rather than celebrate the depth of the Tour, the media has instead clamored for someone to seize the season.
A year ago, Dustin Johnson began a run of dominance after a win at the U.S. Open that led to him being named Player of the Year. If you had to vote right now, who’d it be? Rookie John Rahm? He’s one of the few to have multiple victories and consistent strong showings on Tour. Otherwise, many of the Tour’s best have either been hampered by injuries or inconsistency.
Stenson is among those having a ho-hum season. If he can get his game together, he has a chance to be the first repeat Open champion since Padraig Harrington in 2008-09.
But eyes will also be on last year’s runner-up because of …
Phil’s Major Change
Mickelson stunned the golf world after the U.S. Open (he didn’t play because of his daughter’s graduation) when he announced the end of his relationship with long-time caddy Jim “Bones” MacKay, who was on the bag when Phil won his last major at the British in 2013.
This time, Mickelson’s brother Tim will be on the bag and MacKay will be in the booth working for the Golf Channel. Having listened to MacKay on a few Callaway Golf podcasts, I for one am excited to hear his unique take on the game and insights from 25 years of touring with Mickelson. (What’s the over/under on Phil stories told during the tournament?)
Will the change help Mickelson rediscover his winning ways? He hasn’t won any Tour event since that victory in 2013, even though he’s played some of the most consistent golf of his career.
After skipping the U.S. Open, will Mickelson be rested or rusty? He’s professed a new-found love of links golf. Will it love him back again this week?
Can Rickie Shake His Case Of The Sundays?
Fowler was in contention on Sunday at the Masters and the U.S. Open – and never made a charge. Similarly, he failed to make a move Sunday at the Scottish Open.
A few analysts criticized Fowler for overly conservative play on Sunday at the U.S. Open. Will he find the formula to finally contend and close at Royal Birkdale?
At just age 28, Fowler finds himself carrying the mantle of best player to have never won a major. Will he change that at the Open or carry the title onto the PGA Championship and maybe into 2018? Sunday will be the key if Fowler contends again. Will he muster the effort to finally conquer a major?
When It’s Breezy …
It hardly seems like an Open without a spot of weather. This year, the forecast is dry but high winds are predicted.
Will that forecast favor the Europeans, who are used to these conditions, or possible a Texan (Jordan Spieth?) also accustomed to playing in the wind?
Given the usual penchant for parity that comes with the bounces and breaks of links golf, a windy forecast makes a wildcard winner seem an even more likely outcome.
Where’s The Beef?
Heavily bearded Brit Andrew “Beef” Johnston became a cult hero during last year’s Open and a running subplot amidst the Mickelson/Stenson duel.
Playing on home soil, Johnston is likely to have a sizeable and vocal gallery this week. That actually seems the only safe prediction coming into a week where the Tour and trophy are there for the taking if someone can rise to the occasion like Stenson did a year ago. As always, it’ll be great fun to watch it all start to unfold across the pond on Thurs.
Come on by and catch some of the Open at O’Neill’s Bar and Grill with fellow golf fans. And since golf is more fun to watch after you’ve played a round you should probably…
The South County Club Academy and Arroyo Trabuco are excited to host the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, the nation’s largest junior golf tour, in August. Click the button below to sign up your junior now for this exclusive event on Aug. 15-16.
The tour is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It was founded in 2007 “with the intention of providing junior golfers between the ages of 8-18 an opportunity to play exceptional courses in a competitive environment. The tour’s vision is to provide superb hospitality and make every event a memorable one,” according to www.hjgt.org.
The tour is open to both male and female players who compete in individual and team competitions. Juniors compete in six divisions. They are: Boys 16-18, Boys 14-15, Boys 11-13, Boys under 10, Girls 14-18, and Girls Under 13.
The event at Arroyo will feature stroke play and team competitions. See the flyer for tournament details.
The entry fee is $259 for members and $309 for non-members.
This is the first time the tour has come to Arroyo Trabuco and South County Golf Academy Director of Instruction Brian Schippel said it’s a unique opportunity for local juniors.
“We are honored to be partnered with this tour as it makes its way to the West Coast,” he said. “We are impressed with their ability to run professional, and college-type events, and are excited to bring that to our students.