Prepare for the final round of the PGA Championship with the TFE team.
Which player has impressed you most through 54 holes?
Andy Johnson – It has to be Corey Conners. Yes, he has been a good major player, but he has never had a real shot to win one through 54 holes. Oak Hill is a perfect fit for him; if you were going to spec out which current player’s game most resembles Jason Dufner’s in 2013, Corey Conners would be on the short list. Conners’s problems have always been on and around the greens and so surely the one-dimensional thick rough around Oak Hill has helped Conners’s great short game week. But I’m not sure he will have enough in the tank for Sunday, more on that shortly.
Brendan Porath – When Viktor Hovland made back-to-back bogeys on the two holes before arguably the hardest hole in PGA Championship history, I figured that would be it for his chances. But he steadied himself, making pars at the brutal 6th and 7th. He took the early punch in the face but was back at the top of the leaderboard by the middle of his round. It was super impressive, and indicative of his continued development at these majors. Now comes one more final-round chipping test at a major. Small sample size but so far, Hovland is in the positive in SG: ARG through 54 holes. His greatest weakness is perhaps protected by this Oak Hill setup, as Joseph LaMagna noted this week. That positive number and his rebound on Saturday have me most impressed by Young Hov.
Garrett Morrison – Look, I know we hold Rory McIlroy to a high standard, as we should. He’s a four-time major winner and probably the most talented player on earth. But he hasn’t played well—or played much, period—since March. He was abysmal at the Masters and listless at the Wells Fargo. He still isn’t his usual self off the tee (35th this week in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee), yet somehow he trails only six players at Oak Hill. I’m hopeful for LACC and Hoylake… and am ready to get hurt again.
Will Knights – Much to my chagrin: Bryson DeChambeau. The last 18 months of Bryson’s on-course play have been rough. He battled injuries in early 2022 before jumping to LIV, has played lackluster golf in the 54-hole events, and has only shown signs of life at St. Andrews in recent majors. But Bryson actually seems to be in a good place mentally and physically for the first time in a while. I won’t be rooting for him tomorrow, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive he’s been this week.
Who wins? Why?
Andy – I’m going to take Viktor Hovland. For most, winning is a process and there are a few disappointing learning experiences before a breakthrough. Hovland has been dynamite in recent majors (St. Andrews & Augusta) but wasn’t able to get over the hump on Sunday. That’s going to change at Oak Hill, a course that hides his weak short game thanks to the lush cabbage that surrounds almost every green.
Brendan – I am completely unscarred by the Masters, and am riding with Brooks again even after getting burned there. He played his way into a final group not with a prior major winner and world No. 1 like Jon Rahm, or even the Phil circus like at Kiawah, but the comparably untested Hovland. Old Brooks is back, as evidenced by his ball striking since that week at the Crooked Cat, and he’s the kind of tee-to-green ace and strategist who will bring it home. Some Sunday shortcomings notwithstanding, he’s still the best major championship player of the past five years.
Will – I started writing Viktor’s name but then Brooks made a 30-foot bomb on the 17th hole this afternoon. I can’t help but think Koepka is going to get this one done. He hasn’t been as solid with his iron play as Hovland has, but if Viktor gets squirrely with his tee shots at all tomorrow, that’ll leave Brooks free to run.
Garrett – I’ll go with Corey Conners, mostly because I want The Fried Egg to stay in Canada’s good graces. We love you, Canada! Really! (It will probably be Brooks.)
Which contender fades on Sunday?
Andy – I’m not sure how plugged in you were during last year’s Presidents Cup but Corey Conners was downright hard to watch (in a bad way) on the greens. I would guess that the pressure of closing out a match in a team competition rivals the pressure of trying to win a major, so I don’t have high hopes for Sunday.
Will – Agreed on Conners. I don’t think it’ll be a complete disaster or anything but I think he’s slated for a smooth 73 and a T-7 finish.
Garrett – Guys, are we trying to get Canada to invade or something?
Brendan – Even though he was my answer for most impressive so far, I am very nervous for Hovland. He does keep improving at these majors, but I am shaken from watching him play alongside Rory in the final group at the Old Course. He looked zonked out from the start and was never really in it. Now he’s in a final group with Brooks? I’m anxious about how this will go.
Garrett – Took the words out of my mouth, BP. Viktor melted like a creamsicle on hot asphalt at St. Andrews last August. I need him to show me he’s not that guy before I expect him to be somebody other than that guy.
Pick a player more than three shots back to make a final-round charge.
Andy – Rory. I mean, this is what he has done the last eight years. He gets just a little too far out of it and then a big Sunday makes it appear that he was closer to winning than he actually was.
Brendan – Michael Block. Kidding. Maybe? He’s playing with house money!
Garrett – Justin Rose. This is his kind of course, and he’s been striping it.
Will – Scottie Scheffler. He’ll get his woes figured out and shoot 66 on Sunday. Will that be enough?