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BlogWho Will Win at Valhalla on Sunday?

PGA Championship

August 7 – 10, 2014

Valhalla Golf Club

Louisville, Ky.

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,458

Purse: $10 million

with $1.8 million to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jason Dufner

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Things you need to know before Sunday’s final round

Was there a lot of moving on moving day?

When you have a scoring average of 69.56 with 27 players shooting in the 60s, yes lot’s of folks took advantage of a great day of golf.  With all of the rain over 28 hours, then hot conditions in which the ball traveled further help make for a great scoring day.  Nine players shot 65 and 66 and of those in the top-41 of the leaderboard Jim Furyk was the only player to shoot over par.  You aren’t going to get any better conditions than today, and it’s looking like tomorrow could be some of the same.

Anything shocking about the third round?

The fact that there are so many marquee names in the half of the leaderboard.  Seven of the top-10 of the world rankings are either leading or within nine of McIlroy on Saturday evening.  Not bad considered that Matt Kuchar had to withdraw, Bubba Watson is just about in last place, and Tiger missed the cut. If there was anything shocking about Saturday, it was the great play of so many people.

So what about Rory’s play?

Hard to believe that he shot 67 and only had a one shot lead.  He is playing as well as he played at the British Open when he went to the final round six shots up.  McIlroy is also playing as well as Martin Kaymer was when he went into the final round at Pinehurst with a five shot lead.  McIlroy’s 200 total is not a 54 hole record (196, David Toms in 2001), but it’s pretty good and I find it hard to believe that he has eight players within four shots of him.

Why is Rory playing so well?

He is in the zone a lot like Tiger was in his prime.  Rory talked after the third round about how his game wasn’t the best, but he has been scrambling and putting well.  On Saturday, he had only 12 putts on the back nine, something like what Tiger did in his prime.  It was always hard to determine stat wise how well Tiger was playing, other than he made just about every putt inside ten feet.  This week Rory has made 44 of 49 putts inside ten feet and between 4 and 8 feet 11 of 12.  These are the kind of numbers that will win him this championship.

So realistically what are the chances of him winning?

I would say 50-50.  He knows that he shot 67 to just keep the lead, with so many close and good weather on Sunday he may have to shoot another 67.  Rory says that he feels fresh and eager to play, and that in itself is a sign that he will play good.  But he knows that it could be a dog fight, with all of the players around him.

So who does Rory have to fear the most?

Probably Rickie Fowler.  He shot 66 on Friday and 67 on Saturday   Fowler has been bogey free his last 27 holes and played them in seven under and has dominated the par 5s, playing them in seven under.  Fowler has finished T5th, T2nd and T2nd in his three majors this year and has been 34 under in his last 270 holes at the U.S. Open, British Open, Bridgestone and PGA.  Fowler has also shot rounds of par or better for his last 20 rounds going back to the first round 75 at the Wells Fargo.  Rickie is not going to play poorly on Sunday, and he could easily shot 67 or lower.

I also think that Phil Mickelson could pull what he did at the British Open last year.  He was four back there, he is three back of Rory going into the final round.  The only problem, Phil could shoot 65 and still lose, it could be that type of day.

What about Bernd Wiesberger?

He is a lot like Jim Furyk, scrappy player who makes a lot of checks but frankly he has no experience in the rarify air that he will experience on Sunday.  This is only his six major and only the second time he has made the cut.  I think that Sunday will be like running the bulls in Spain, but he will get trampled very early and become a spectator.

Anybody else that could make a run?

Sorry, but even if a Henrik Stenson or a Louis Oosthuizen shots a 64, it’s probably not going to be enough.  Could someone shot 63 or 62, hard to say the course is for the taking, but we haven’t seen something like that happen since Johnny Miller did it 42 years ago in the U.S. Open.  With the course playing easy and with a confident front runner like Rory, it’s just too hard to not only keep pace but to out power him.

Below is a list of the top-22 players on the leader board going to six under which is 7 shots back of Rory McIlroy

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Of the top-22 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best going into the PGA Championship for the PGA Championship

Player WGC Bridgestone Barracuda Champ. Canadian Open Russian Open British Open John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Classic French Open Quicken Loans BMW Intern. Travelers Champ. Irish Open
Rory McIlroy
(482.67 pts)
Win
(198)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(264)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Jim Furyk
(312.5 pts)
T15
(52.5)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP 4
(160)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(308.33 pts)
T8
(75)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Scott
(215 pts)
T8
(75)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(140)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(135.17 pts)
T19
(46.5)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(132.5 pts)
T15
(52.5)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(54)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(114.33 pts)
T12
(57)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP
Victor Dubuisson
(113.17 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP
Hunter Mahan
(92.5 pts)
T15
(52.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T32
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(86.17 pts)
T37
(19.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Danny Willett
(69.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T3
(30)
Kevin Chappell
(65.33 pts)
DNP T34
(16)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Mikko Ilonen
(46.67 pts)
T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
Bill Haas
(44.83 pts)
T41
(13.5)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Steve Stricker
(36 pts)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T35
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-22 on the leaderboard, who is playing the worst going into the PGA Championship for the PGA Championship

Player WGC Bridgestone Barracuda Champ. Canadian Open Russian Open British Open John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Classic French Open Quicken Loans BMW Intern. Travelers Champ. Irish Open
Jason Day
(-3.5 pts)
WD
(-7.5)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP
Ryan Palmer
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(0.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T41
(6)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(1.33 pts)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(19.67 pts)
61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(28)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Lee Westwood
(19.83 pts)
T19
(46.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Graham Delaet
(27.5 pts)
WD
(-7.5)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

In conclusion:

This won’t be easy for McIlroy.  No matter how fresh and confident he is, someone in back of him could have the round of their life and beat him.  I will place some money on the fact that I think Rory will shot 68 or better on Sunday, the question will be if that is enough.

Another thing that we haven’t talked about is what the PGA of America can do to make things harder.  Of course, they can tuck pins away behind bunkers, in the back of undulations in the greens and places that a shot goes five feet past he is in jail off the green.  I think that the course was set up too easy on Saturday, a classic example was the par 4, 4th hole.  It played only 292 yards from tee to pin and the flagstick couldn’t have been in an easier position for those wailing on a driver.  Seven eagles were made on the hole as he played to a 3.31 average making it a feast for the field.

Another thing to look at on Sunday is for those that are looking to make the top-nine of the Ryder Cup team.  One thing that is misleading about the standings, Dustin Johnson is 5th and won’t be playing so everyone behind him is one better.  Right now Jason Dufner is ninth (really 8th) and since he withdrew he is venerable.  In 10th place (ninth) is Zach Johnson, who is in 50th position and will pass Dufner tomorrow.  In 11th is Phil Mickelson, who is about 180,000 points behind and I think he will be a lock to get enough to get easily into the top-nine.  As for Patrick Reed who is in 8th place (7th) in the team standings, he is T42nd and will probably be looking just to get it into the house   The folks in 13th though 17th spots missed the cut except for Brendon Todd, who is in last place and will need probably 65 to have any chance of making the team.  Now don’t think that is impossible, in 1995 Brad Faxon shot 63 in the last round of the PGA Championship to just make the team.

Who to watch for on Sunday at the PGA Championship

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 Win T64 T3 T3

He is still fresh as a spring time daisy, even with all of the great play over the last three weeks. You would think he would be a bit tired, but as he said on Saturday night, he won’t be tired until Monday. I see him going out to doing whatever it takes to win, someone close to him needs some real dramatics like a 63 or 64. Even then, Rory could figure out a way to match that player. Sorry, he is the only best bet for Sunday.

Best of the rest:

Rickie Fowler

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T19 CUT T51 T58

Think he has the best shot at catching Rory. He is really motivated and has played great in the majors, I can see him going out and shooting 65 on Sunday.

Phil Mickelson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T72 T36 T19 T12 73 T7 T32 T16 Win T6 T23 T34

You just never know with Phil. I know that last year’s British Open will be on his mind on how he was behind but went out an attacked Muirfield to win. Only problem, Valhalla is playing a lot easier than Muirfield which will make his day even harder.

Solid contenders

Jason Day

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 CUT CUT T10

He stayed close to Rory most of the day, shooting 69 wasn’t bad except for the fact that it was the average score of the field. He needs to go a lot lower on Sunday for any chance. He has the fire power, just has to do it.

Henrik Stenson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
3 CUT T6 T4 CUT T14 T47

Has to make up four shots on Rory, tall order for a person who isn’t know for going low to win tournaments.

Louis Oosthuizen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T21 CUT CUT CUT 73

He has won a major before but he had a big lead. Just like with Stenson, think that Oosthuizen is out of his element to score really low to win.

Bernd Wiesberger

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT

Sorry but he will be completely out of his element. Of course we have seen these type of wins, but not up against the players that are close to him. I see a 72 or higher from him on Sunday.

Comments

  1. Paul Jones says:

    So realistically what are the chances of him winning?
    I would say 50-50.

    Oh please Sal, offer me $ 2.00 :-)

  2. I really think 50-50 is a good number. Rory is not going to boot it away, I don’t see him shooting anything higher than 69, depending on the weather.
    I have taken several bets in which I take Rory and give you the field, that’s how confident that Rory will win.

  3. I will say this as I wake up in beautiful Louisville. The morning is again wet but just like yesterday the sun will shine around lunchtime. Only problem is that it may be hotter than yesterday so a pop up thunderstorm could happen, odds are against it but you never know with mother-nature.

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