Over the last decade and a half, the PGA Championship has seen its fair share of unexpected victors.
With his come-from-behind victory over Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National in 2009, Y.E. Yang stunned the world, and he is far from alone among those who have risen from obscurity.
Keegan Bradley in 2011, Jimmy Walker in 2016, even last year at Kiawah Island, Phil Mickelson was hardly on anyone’s radar — and anyone who claims differently is probably lying.
The PGA Championship has recently become a melting pot of challenging yet fair conditions, with the term “there’s no faking it” being associated with the tournament’s setting.
Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s chief championships officer, can be attributed with the PGA Championship’s ascent through the ranks of the season’s greatest majors.
This year’s site, Southern Hills Country Club, will not favor any candidates, and neither will we when we describe prospective successors to Yang and company.
Here are five sleepers worth considering farther down the odds. They all have issues — they’re called “sleepers” for a reason — but they all have a lot of potential, and some have even won big championships in the past.
In the Official World Golf Rankings, the PGA Tour rookie is now ranked No. 38. His name may be unfamiliar to casual golf fans, but that will change as he continues to compete on a weekly basis.
This season, he had four podium results, three of which were runners-up, demonstrating that his game can adapt to every golf course. From tee to green, he’s long, straight, and a complete threat.
Young, who has a history of being a great putter, has hit a speed bump on the greens in the last month, but if that club comes around in Tulsa, Young should be on the top page of the leaderboard.
Bradley is the last golfer to win a major event on his professional debut, defeating Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Atlantic Athletic Club 11 years ago. The following year, he tied for third but has not played in a major since.
Bradley has four top-10 finishes in his previous six appearances, including a single fifth at the Players Championship in the toughest field of the season. He’s more confident, and the putter is starting to feel like an old buddy.
Woodland has finished in the top 20 of the PGA Championship field in strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained approach, and strokes gained around the green during the previous three months.
After fighting ailments for the past two years, the 2019 US Open winner is finally fit, and his performance reflects that. He was snooping about Bellerive in 2018 and Bethpage Black in 2019, so I don’t see why he can’t do the same at Southern Hills in 2022.
Henley must be considered if Southern Hills is to be a tee to green event. His statistical profile is strikingly comparable to Bradley’s, and many overlook the fact that he shared the 54-hole lead with Louis Oosthuizen and Mackenzie Hughes at Torrey Pines last year.
He’s had trouble closing deals in the past, so he’ll have to shoot low on Sunday, sit on the clubhouse lead, and watch the leads melt in the heat of battle.
Noren finished his AT&T Byron Nelson campaign with an 8-under 64, adding to an already impressive season. Noren excels on and around the greens, but his ball-striking statistics are now catching up.
As an extra plus, the Swede played collegiate golf for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, so he should feel right at home in this part of the nation.