PGA Championship 2022 Overview
The 104th PGA Championship will be played May 19-22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Champions Course at Southern Hills Country Club has hosted 7 Major Championships, including the U.S. Open 3 times (1958, 1977, 2001) and 4 PGA Championships (1970, 1982, 1994, 2007). Indeed it’s the only course to host the PGA Championship 4 times, a lead it will extend with this year’s renewal. Interestingly it also hosted the 2021 Senior PGA Championship won by Alex Cejka, with that tournament also being played here on the Gil Hanse-renovated golf course. Could we gain clues from those events as to how the course will be set up and play this week? I think so. The course is vastly different from the course that Tiger won on in 2007, so during my research, I have paid particular attention to the comments and insights coming out from last year senior’s event.
Southern Hills is the crowning achievement of architect Perry Maxwell. Almost every hole bends left or right. It’s used to require extreme precision of the tee, but from what we can read, that has changed since the 2019 redesign. The putting surfaces feature classic “Maxwell Rolls,” The majority are protected by simple but effective bunkers. Architect Gil Hanse and his crew rebuilt much of the course during the summer of 2018. Hanse’s signature isn’t to leave a signature; instead, he restores a course to its original design while also grasping what today’s greatest players can achieve with today’s technology. His detail changes reflect this, making the course more visually appealing while simultaneously increasing its difficulty. Bunker styles, green borders, and green surrounds/chipping portions were all completely restored. Pure Distinction Bentgrass was used to rebuild all of the greens complexes, and now we have the beast that is Southern Hills Golf & Country Club. I think we are in for a treat this week. One where the world’s best players and the strongest field of the 2022 calendar year are put through the wringer. I, for one can’t wait!
A top-level short game, with the ability to have majestic irons and show great discipline throughout the week, is the player profile I want onside. A mix of proven majors champions, and those with the pedigree to step up and claim their first. The bucket of potential first time major winners is plentiful. I have broken down the key contenders and all the reasons why, lets’s get to it…
Key Skills Set Required
- SG T2G – To lift a Major Championship trophy aloft requires elite T2G performance over 4 days. The foundation to stress-free golf comes from having a solid T2G game, and I want to look for players who have shown that over the past few months. This track is a long and demanding Par70 with only the 2 Par 5’s on offer which gives little rest bite to players who are fully tuned in with every club in the bag.
- Driving Distance– Since the redesign of this course in 2019. It has become apparent that the fairways have been widened. When reading the comments from players who participated in the Seniors PGA Championship this now favours players who can bomb it off the tee. Players described the course as unrecognizable off the tee from the early 2000’s. Here is a quote from one player;
“ The fairways are about double the width than they were back in 2001. The fairways definitely I remember number 10, it was one of the hardest fairways to hit on the golf course, and now it’s probably the easiest fairway to hit. But the course is made for the bombers, the long hitters are going to love it.”
- GIR gained – Major Championship golf is a grind mentally as well as demanding huge amounts of skill. Players who hit a high percentage of GIR are going to be a distinct advantage and even more so this week. The redesign to this course mentions how the greens repel the ball away from the pins and players who get greedy with their approach shots will see balls run off the green regularly. The course is considered difficultly around the greens, so we want to have players onside who are patient with their approach shots and can show the discipline to refrain from attacking pins. Hitting a GIR by default will give plenty of outside birdie looks, and that the aim in Major Championship golf. The players who fill the top 5 this week will be extremely high up if not at the top of the GIR charts if history at this track is anything to go by.
- SG Around the green – We are looking at a long course with small green and since the redesign in 2018/19 those green have become ever harder to hit. The edges of the green are sloped away from the hole causing even well-struck iron shots to find their way to the first cut and rough situated around these small targets. This will put even more emphasis on players’ shorts games this week around the green. To take down any Major Championship you will always need to perform well around the greens, this week will put even more pressure on that part of the game.
- Bogey Avoidance –
The feeling ahead of Thursday is this is going to be one tough nut to crack and the players won’t be making 6 or 7 birdies per round. When it comes to Majors par is always a good score in general and avoiding mistakes is always key. All the great major champions have an unrivalled ability to avoid mistakes, as the saying goes “majors don’t start until the back nine on Sunday”. Players need to minimise mistakes throughout the whole week. I have paid particular attention to players who have solid bogey avoidance stats on tough scoring tracks.
A top-level short game, with the ability to have majestic irons each day and shows great discipline is the player profile I want onside. A mix of proven majors champions and those with the pedigree to step up and claim their first. The bucket of potential first time major winners is plentiful.