100th USPGA Championship: The Australians
156 of the worlds best descend on Bellerive Country Club this week for the 100th staging of the USPGA Championship. The centenary edition happens to be last held in August, as from 2019, the USPGA will be staged in May.
The St Louis, Missouri course measures out at 7,547 yards, which makes it the longest par adjusted course of the PGA Tour season. Deep rough and penal bunkers line Bellerive’s lush green fairways. Bellerive possesses large and drastically undulating bentgrass greens, which are incredibly firm and fast. In many ways, Bellerive is a US Open style venue, and scoring will likely reflect this.
Historically, Australians have been highly successful at the PGA Championship, with five champions, of which Jason Day was the most recent in 2015. There are five Australians in the field week:
Jason Day – OWGR: 10 – Best PGA Finish: 1st (2015)
Australia’s highest ranked golfer has put together another great season after a disappointing 2017. Day is currently fifth on the FedEx Cup standings and has two wins at Torrey Pines and Quail Hollow. Day amazingly ranks first in this field for strokes gained around the green and strokes gained-putting.
Day has five top-10s at the PGA Championship, including a win (2015) and a second (2016). In his last five starts at the final major of the year, Day's worst finish was a T15 in 2014. A strong finish at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week leaves Jason Day primed for another impressive showing this week.
Marc Leishman – OWGR: 18 – Best PGA Finish: T12 (2013)
The Warrnambool native again produced a solid performance at the WGC Bridgestone finishing tied for 14th. Leish has never finished inside the top-10 at the USPGA but has only missed one cut in his seven appearances. The Victorian has recorded two-second place finishes this year but has failed to record his fourth career PGA Tour title.
The expected difficult conditions at Bellerive will suit Leishman.
Cameron Smith – OWGR: 49 – Best PGA Finish: T25 (2015)
The Queenslander has begun to find some form again after a barren run following his T5 at the Masters. However, the young Australian has shown that he is player that can perform on the big stages, with two major championship top fives in his young career.
The emphasis on accuracy off the tee will put Smith at a disadvantage, but the Queenslander is one of the best scramblers on tour.
Adam Scott – OWGR: 76 – Best PGA Finish: T3 (2006)
The former world number one has been in a form slump for most of 2017-18. Since the PGA Championship in 2017, Scott has only had one top-10 finish. Shockingly, the Queenslander is 16th on the PGA Tour for strokes gained tee-to-green in 2018, but is 192nd in strokes gained-putting. Recently, he has returned to the long putter, but this has done little to improve his performances on the greens.
Craig Hocknull – OWGR: 2043 – Best PGA Finish: Debut
Born in Papua New Guinea, Hocknull is one of the 20 PGA Teaching Professionals in the field this week. The Kooralbyn graduate qualified for the PGA by finishing 12th at the PGA Professional Championship in June. The Australian is the director of instruction at Glenwild golf club, outside of Salt Lake City in Northern Utah.
Hocknull has had significant success on the PGA Southwest section, including winning the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship in July.