If you’ve been reading about the wind and difficulty at Kiawah Island and are giddy with anticipation, you’re not alone. We could be in for some first-rate television!
It’s time for a major championship! Well, almost. The PGA Championship kicks off at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island tomorrow morning, and Pete Dye’s Ocean Course appears to be playing difficult, but most are unsure of exactly what to expect. Let’s dive in and see what we find, shall we?
You won’t have to memorize the yardage because you’ll hear it a few hundred times this weekend, but the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is long. 7,876 yards, to be exact. The longest major championship venue ever.
But don’t expect the yardage to touch that number during any of the rounds. Pete Dye routed the Ocean Course as a figure eight, with Nos. 1-4 heading east, No. 5 turning south, Nos. 6-13 backtracking west, and Nos. 14-18 traveling east toward the clubhouse. While many of the holes look long on the scorecard, they play much shorter downwind, and tees will likely be moved up on the holes that are into the wind.
“I seriously hope they use some forward tees,” Jon Rahm said Tuesday. “From No. 14 on the shortest iron I hit into a green was 5-iron. I was playing with Zach Johnson yesterday and he was pulling the head cover off a fairway wood on every approach.”
The numerous teeing grounds at Kiawah will not only allow Kerry Haigh and the PGA setup team to adjust for the wind but also provide for plenty of day-to-day variety. Players will face different shots on different days, which is a big plus for fans.
Another notable feature of the Ocean Course is its abundance of sand. Every bunker and sandy expanse will be played as a waste area this weekend, meaning that players will be free to take (non-Patrick-Reed-ish) practice swings, ground their clubs (in a non-Patrick-Reed-ish manner), etc. This also means there won’t be many rakes on the course, so players could draw nasty lies in the sand. With the firm and fast turf bouncing balls every which way, expect the waste areas to be a major factor this week.
For more on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, watch our course preview video on YouTube with golf architect Troy Miller.
At a long golf course that is relatively generous off the tee but requires accuracy approaching and around the greens, just about every player in the PGA Championship field theoretically has a chance. First & Second Round Tee Times
That said, here are a few we’re keeping an especially close eye on:
The Euros – Led by Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, the European continent at Kiawah is strong. This is particularly notable because at the 2012 PGA Championship, the last major hosted at the Ocean Course, the Euros did rather well. McIlroy ran away with the title, while David Lynn (2nd), Carl Pettersson (T-3), Ian Poulter (T-3), Justin Rose (T-3), Jamie Donaldson (T-7), and Peter Hanson (T-7) all finished inside the top 10. Whether that’s a coincidence is up for debate, but perhaps courses that require creative shotmaking are a bigger part of a golfer’s training in Europe than in America. (Yes, we’re aware that most of today’s top European players live in the states full-time. Don’t email us.)
Mr. Spieth – With seven top 10s in his past nine starts plus a win this spring, Jordan Spieth appears to be back to his old self. A PGA victory would complete his career grand slam, and no upcoming PGA venue suits his game quite as well as the Ocean Course does.
The boys in form – Two not-as-famous names to track this weekend: Daniel Berger and Sam Burns. Both have performed brilliantly over the last couple of months and are rock solid tee-to-green. Given the unpredictability and variety of the wind conditions expected this weekend, don’t be surprised see Berger or Burns in contention.
Improve your game
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PGA Championship TV Schedule – The PGA doesn’t mess around when it comes to coverage. Every day of the event will feature at least 11 hours of televised action across ESPN, ESPN+, and CBS.
Greyson Sigg, Dylan Wu, and Nick Hardy headline the field at the AdventHealth Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. Tee Times
Paula Creamer makes her first start since 2019 at the Pure Silk Championship on the LPGA Tour. Sei Young Kim, Brooke Henderson, and Nelly Korda are among the other notables. Tee Times
All six NCAA men’s regional championships are either done or will finish up on Wednesday. See if your favorite team makes it through! Huge shoutout to Sam Houston State, which made it through the Alburquerque regional despite losing its top player for the final round because of Covid contact tracing.
Geno Bonnalie, caddie for Joel Dahmen, is back with another rousing edition of Caddie Cribs, in which he reviews the budget hotel room he’s staying in for the week.
Lee Westwood is the latest player to drop out of the running for the Tokyo Olympic Games, citing a busy summer schedule. Our founder is crushed.
Jim “Bones” Mackay is filling in as Max Homa’s caddie this week after Joe Greiner, Homa’s longtime caddie, qualified for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Greiner will be back for Homa’s next appearance, hopefully with a USGA medal in hand.
Bryson and UFOs. And world peace. Whatever, just read Adam Schupak’s run-down of the latest ridiculousness that came out of the big man’s mouth.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
TFE Weekly Pool – PGA Championship – Our weekly pool goes major this weekend! Pick the winner and the winning score at Kiawah Island for your chance to win Fried Egg or Shotgun Start merchandise.
Paulie’s Picks: PGA Championship – Who is best equipped to survive the Ocean Course? Fried Egg fantasy genius Paulie has some ideas.
Tuesday Notes from Our On-Site Correspondent – Two days ahead of the PGA Championship, Andy Johnson took a lap around the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. He wrote down some thoughts on the mowing lines, skills required to win this weekend, and more!
The Fried Egg Podcast: Five Things about the PGA Championship with Kyle Porter
Kyle Porter, golf writer for CBS and co-host of the First Cut podcast, joins Andy Johnson to preview this week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Kyle and Andy each run through five things they’ll be paying attention to as the action gets underway at the Ocean Course. They speculate on who will thrive at the difficult Pete Dye design and why so many top players don’t seem to be in particularly good form. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: 2021 PGA Championship Preview: Wind, Super Leagues, UFOs, and cheapskates
Andy and Brendan are together in Kiawah for their first in-person recording in almost two years. They immediately jump into some impressions from a day spent walking The Ocean Course, people-watching at the PGA, and pondering the big stories (snake impacts) of the second men’s major championship of 2021. There will be wind, and they discuss the impacts it will have even as you’re about to be hit over the head with wind talk the next five days. There’s a reading of testimony from several players on all the long irons they’re hitting during practice, a welcome development and change from the usual pro game. The other nooks and crannies from a course they’re hyped to watch are also highlighted. They relay what they’re hearing of the moving and shaking happening on the island as well, with delegates from the Super League in town and meeting with managers of several players. Favorite, and in some cases most underwhelming, tee times are nominated and discussed. Bryson’s chat on UFOs and time travel is reviewed. There’s also more intel on Dylan Fritelli’s penny-pinching ways after they’re told he’s playing with an alleged SGS listener in the first two rounds. And some one-and-done picks are made for what feels like a very open major. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
*Sale Alert!* All of our Kiawah Island Ocean Course prints are 20% off through the weekend. Shop the full collection!