2017 PGA Championship Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Ah yes, it’s PGA Championship week, and Glory’s Last Shot.  Oh wait, I don’t want to irk the Ponte Vedra crew, as the PGA Tour ditched that nickname a couple of years back now, so “The Season’s Final Major” it is.  Whatever happened to good nicknames anyway?  In golf’s history, we had the King, the Golden Bear, the Black Night, the Slammer, the Squire and today we have, um, (had) Tiger, Lefty, Pink-shafted (and suddenly skinny) Bubba, flat-billed Rickie and yep, basically no nicknames whatsoever.  Come on boys, let’s pile up some trendsetting nicknames stat, ok?  Anyway, that’s enough of that, let’s hop into this week.

The host course for this week’s “The season’s final major” is Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC.  The course annually plays host to the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but sat out from the rotation this year in prep for its time to shine on the major stage.  The first three holes were overhauled (hole 1 is a par 4 that can play up to 540 yards, yowza!), its Rye grasses were switched to Champion Bermuda and the par was lowered to 71 (hole 5 went from a par 5 to a par 4).  After a visit to the new holes last summer, 2-time Wells Fargo champion Rory McIlroy called the new opening holes a “firm handshake.”  A bomb and gouge birdie-fest the openers seem to no longer be.

My picks last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational were blah, as two finished t-28th (Thomas, Reed) and Westwood shot himself out of the tourney on Friday, before a 68-67 rally on the weekend was too little too late en route to a t-47th finish.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Thomas t-28th)

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Rickie Fowler
– All eyes will be on Spieth, Rory and Hideki this week and understandably so, but Rickie is my pick to take home the hardware on Sunday.  It’s the perfect set of circumstances for him to capture his first major as Quail Hollow was the site of his first PGA Tour victory (2012 Wells Fargo Championship) and he arrives in great form having finished 9th last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, his eighth top 10 of the year.  Just looking at majors alone this year, Rickie finished t-11th at the Masters, t-5th at the U.S. Open and t-22nd at the British Open.  A major win seems inevitable and with the attention mostly focused elsewhere it’s Rickie’s time to shine this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Reed t-36th)

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
– Just when you thought it was time to write him off for the year, here comes Lefty!  Other than winning, Phil has everything covered here at Quail Hollow having never missed a cut in 14 Wells Fargo Championship appearances, and a whopping 9 top 10s and 7 top 5s.  He’s still plenty long off the tee for his age, so the length of the course shouldn’t be a concern and his good karma for skipping the U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation seems bound to pay off sooner than later.  Roster up on some Lefty this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Noren t-28th)

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter
– His story about keeping his card from earlier this season was cute and all, and no question about it, his play recently has been impressive–but, it’s not sustainable, as Poults never has and never will be a consistent player on Tour.  Simply put, his ball-striking is erratic and his putting is not as good as you think it is (his Ryder Cup craziness led a lot of golf fans to think otherwise).  Steer clear of the Englishman this week and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Westwood t-47th)

Brendan Steele
Brendan Steele
– Has yet to to post a major top 10 in his career, but his overall solid play and consistency as a player will soon pay off on the big stage, and I think this is the week.  Ten top 25s on Tour so far this season, including a t-13th at the U.S. Open where he actually flirted with contention early on Sunday before fading to a 73.  Also, he’s played here at the Wells Fargo Championship each year since 2011 and his results have been steadily improving, finishing t-9th and t-14th the past two years.  He may not seriously contend, but I like for Steele to post a sneaky top 10 finish this week.


Joel Harrington

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