It’s finally here. The season’s first major golf championship gets underway this week with the 102nd edition of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
Originally set to be contested in May as part of the revamped major schedule – first unveiled in 2019, the PGA of America was forced to move it out to an August date due to the COVID situation.
Despite its delay, and lack of raucous golf fans, this always-underrated major promises to be the season’s table setter.
The 156-player field includes most of the world’s top-ranked players, including the entire top-30, and 48 of the top-50 in the current Official World Golf Rankings. The field also features 34 major champions, and 13 players who have been ranked No. 1 in the world.
Can Brooks Koepka three-peat? Will Justin Thomas secure a second Wanamaker Trophy? Does a struggling Jordan Spieth even have a chance to complete the career Grand Slam? What about Tiger Woods… can he get major No. 16? The storylines are many, and over-flowing.
Will the winner be one who’s historic, or a one-time supernova who was part of history.
Since 2000, the list of players to hoist golf’s biggest trophy include the likes of Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker. But it’s also included Tiger Woods three times, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy twice, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, and Justin Thomas once each.
Here’s more on what to expect this week in California for the 102nd PGA Championship.
Tournament: PGA Championship
Dates: Aug 6-9, 2020
Where: San Francisco, CA
Course: TPC Harding Park
Distance: Par 70, 7234 yards
Architect: Sam Whiting, Willie Watson (1925)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,980,000
Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka
Top-10 Betting Favorites: 1. Brooks Koepka, 1. Justin Thomas, 3. Jon Rahm, 3. Bryson DeChambeau, 3. Rory McIlroy, 6. Dustin Johnson, 6. Xander Schauffle, 8. Patrick Cantlay, 8. Tiger Woods, 8. Webb Simpson
PGA Championship on TV
Rd 1: Th 04-10:00 pm (ESPN)
Rd 2: Fr 04-10:00 pm (ESPN)
Rd 3: Sa 01-04:00 pm (ESPN)
Rd 3: Sa 04-10:00 pm (CBS)
Rd 4: Su 12-03:00 pm (ESPN)
Rd 4: Su 03-09:00 pm (CBS)
PGA Championship History
Today’s PGA Championship can be credited to the work of business mogul Rodman Wanamaker 102 years ago in New York City, who gathered a collection of golf professionals, which led to the formation of the PGA.
The PGA’s first championship was held in October of that year (1916), and was won by a man named Jim Barnes, who walked away with the Wanamaker trophy, a check for $500 and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Wanamaker. The tournament would continue to evolve, and in 1958, it made a permanent switch to stroke play.
Notable winners of the Wanamaker Trophy in the match-play era include Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan. Legends who won the PGA in the stroke-play era include Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Hagen and Nicklaus share the record for most PGA Championships with five apiece. Two surprising names missing from the winner’s list are Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, who had close calls, but were never able to claim victory and close the door on the grand slam.
Harding Park has never hosted the PGA, but it has been the venue for two World Golf Championships (2005 WGC-Amex, 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play) as well as the 2009 Presidents Cup matches.
History: Recent Winners
2019: Brooks Koepka (-8)
2018: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2017: Justin Thomas (-8)
2016: Jimmy Walker (-14)
2015: Jason Day (-20)
2014: Rory McIlroy (-16)
2013: Jason Dufner (-10)
2012: Rory McIlroy (-13)
264 – Brooks Koepka (2018)
-20 – Jason Day (2015)
8 – Rory McIlroy (2012)
5 – Walter Hagen (1921, 1924-25-26-27)
5 – Jack Nicklaus (1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980)
4 – Tiger Woods (1999-00, 2006-07)
4 – Jack Nicklaus (1964, 1965, 1974, 1983)
The Course: Harding Park
TPC Harding Park, formerly Harding Park Golf Club and commonly known as simply Harding Park, is a municipal golf course, located in San Francisco, California. It is owned by the city and county of San Francisco, but is part of the exclusive PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Club (TPC) network of courses.
It is located in the southwest area of San Francisco, on the west side of San Francisco State University, and surrounded by Lake Merced on its other three sides. The entrance is at Harding Road, which connects to Skyline Boulevard on the east.
Harding Park Golf Course opened on July 18, 1925 and is named after President Warren G. Harding, an avid golfer, who had died in office while visiting San Francisco two years earlier.
The course covers 163-acre along the shores of Lake Merced, in the city’s southwest corner. Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also designed the nearby Olympic Club’s Lake Course, drew up a design plan for a course at Harding Park for a price of $300.
The Harding Park Course was substantially renovated in 2005 to better suit it for PGA Tour events. The restoration of Harding Park focused on maintaining the course’s integrity and unique characteristics while enhancing the original layout of Watson and Whiting.
Set against the cypress tree-lined Lake Merced, the current layout features soft bunkers and graceful undulating fairways. An additional 400 yards was also added to the course to make it a championship-caliber golf facility.
Name: TPC Harding Park
Owned By: City of San Francisco
Managed By: PGA Tour
Stats: 18 Holes, Par 70, 7234 Yards
Architect: Sam Whiting, Willie Watson (1925)
Defending PGA Champion
Brooks Koepka shot a final-round 74 at Bethpage Black course to capture his second-straight PGA Championship, and the fourth major title of his career.
Koepka finished at 8-under par, two shots clear of runner-up Dustin Johnson, who posted a 69 on Sunday.
With the win, the Florida State product became the first player in history to reign as back-to-back PGA Champion, and back-to-back U.S. Open Champion at the same time. He joined the likes of Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus on several other exclusive lists.
Final Top-5 Finishers
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Brooks Koepka -8 (+4)
2. Tiger Woods -6 (-1)
3. Jordan Spieth -2 (+1)
3. Patrick Cantlay -2 (+1)
3. Matt Wallace -2 (+2)
The PGA Championship Field
The field this week in California will include most of the world’s top-ranked players, headlined by two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, newly-minted world No. 1 Justin Thomas, and two-time PGA Champion Rory McIlroy.
The betting favorites are Thomas and Koepka, who finished 1-2, respectively, in Memphis last week. The top ranked duo are listed at 10-1. Koepka seeks a record third-straight PGA, while Thomas is looking to claim his second in four years to bookend Koepka.
Another trio of stars are essentially co-favs at 14-1, including a buffed-up Bryson DeChambeau, and the two most recent world No. 1 players: Jon Rahm (now No. 2) and Rory McIlroy (No. 3).
Another former world No. 1, Dustin Johnson, joins Xander Schauffele as the only other players in the field with odds better than 20-1. The American stars are offered at 18-1.
Additional top-10 ranked stars to keep an eye on this week include world No. 4 Webb Simpson, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed (No. 8), and Patrick Cantlay (No. 10).
All four of the reigning major champs – each ranked in the world top-30 – will be on hand this week at Harding Park: Koepka (PGA), Shane Lowry (British Open), Tiger Woods (Masters), and Gary Woodland (U.S. Open).
Several former PGA champions will be joining the likes of the aforementioned Woods, Koepka, McIlroy, and Thomas, including serious threats such as Phil Mickelson (2005) and Jason Day (2015) – who both enter off top-10 finishes in Memphis.
Other PGA winners of the 2010 decade, such as Martin Kaymer (2010), Keegan Bradley (2011), Jason Dufner (2013), and Jimmy Walker (2016), have a bit longer odds, but still have some game left, while legacy names such as Davis Love III (1997), Rich Beem (2002), and Shaun Micheel (2003) are the longest of long shots.
Finally, three-time major winner Jordan Spieth continues to fight through a two-plus season slump, and will enter California having not won since the 2017 British Open. In fact the 2020 season is shaping up to be even worse than 2019 – if that’s possible.
Despite all the recent struggles, Spieth is an historic player, and with a PGA title this week, he’s even more historic – a career Grand Slammer.
Full PGA Championship Field & Odds
Place your bets on the PGA Championship at Bovada.
Carey Hoffman contributed to this report. Credits: Tour Media, Getty Images