The defending champ is not here but this 2022 PGA Championship runneth over with players, dramas, and a venue you should be excited to watch over four days. We are two days through prep, have heard from many of those key characters, and processed the feedback on a Southern Hills course that should make for a fantastic test and viewing experience. So some of The Fried Egg team got together to bat around some topics and early themes from Tulsa, and then make a few predictions that are sure to come true by Sunday night.
What would be your ideal storyline or drama coming to fruition?
Andy Johnson: This is NOT because Rory called out The Fried Egg Southern Hills video at his press conference [Editor’s Note: oookkkkk], but I would love to see a Rory vs. Spieth duel on Sunday. With Phil out of the mix and Tiger likely playing a very limited schedule for the remainder of his career, it’s time for golf’s next two biggest stars to take the stage. These two have been MIA in majors in recent years but this year things seem to be trending in the right direction with Rory’s runner-up at the Masters and with a Spieth runner-up last week and win at the Heritage in his two starts since the Masters.
Meg Adkins: Another made cut by Tiger would be wonderful to see, but I could do without watching him grimace in pain all weekend long. Any setback physically this week would put St. Andrews in question and a Tiger-less Open would be a huge bummer.
Will Knights: The immediate thought is Spieth or Rory, but I would love to see the general public fall in love with the idea of more short grass around greens. They see it every year at Augusta National but it largely gets lost in the Masters hoopla. So much of the broadcast this week will (or should) hit on the course’s changes since 2007. A lot of players have talked about the importance of chipping this week and I really hope that gets through to the viewers at home.
Brendan Porath: Tiger vs. Spieth in the final group going back and forth down the stretch on Sunday. Either one of those guys in contention at the finish would suffice as an ideal scenario, but I’ll display “obnoxious greed” and just ask for it all.
Garrett Morrison: Oh man, I’d love to see Tulsa weather buck its head. The current forecast calls for heat and rising winds on Thursday, afternoon thunderstorms on Friday, and a 30-degree gap in temperatures between Thursday and Saturday. All of that sounds pretty fun (aside from the potential weather delay on Friday), but I hope the winds stay steady at around 15 mph throughout the weekend. I want to see the driving-range heroes ejected and the true golfers rise to the top.
Is there someone who you think has to prove something this week? Who would benefit most from a win?
Meg: As long as he keeps racking up top 10s, the “When will Justin Thomas win his second major?” question will keep being asked. The Masters was another letdown as a second-round 67 put him in contention only to play the weekend at a disappointing even par. Capturing major No. 2 two would not only silence any criticism of his recent performance at the majors, but would also put him in the elite company of multiple major winners.
Will: I am so mentally and emotionally invested in Rory that I think I have something to prove for him this week. The guy seems to be swinging so free right now and I can’t get over how happy he was after the Masters. We’re coming up on eight years since his last major title and I don’t think anyone else is buzzing quite like him. If he can get through a couple windy rounds, I’m sold on him winning by four shots. I think I’ve largely done a good job of avoiding the fake hype over the years but I’m all in on this one.
Brendan: Patrick Cantlay has seven PGA Tour wins, including an Ultimate Prize and and a couple playoffs titles. Unfortunately for him, in golf, the playoffs do not approximate the majors, where he has just two top 10s – one a T-9 and the other a T-3 in Brooks Koepka’s Bethpage runaway – in 20 starts. He has to start proving himself by at least getting in the conversation at majors.
Andy: This falls on three people for me: Spieth, JT, and Rory. Each of them have long major droughts going. If I had to pick one, it would be JT. It’s been head-scratching how irrelevant he has been in majors since his win at the PGA in 2017. The tournaments that should suit him the most have been where he disappears. A win would be great but just being a real contender on Sunday would be a welcome change.
Better chance at contending on Sunday: Tiger or Bryson?
Will: Tiger. We’re writing this on Tuesday afternoon and I think there is a better chance that Bryson WDs before this piece is posted than if he gets into contention. I don’t have high hopes for Tiger, but have I said that I don’t like Bryson this week? Because I don’t.
Andy: I don’t understand what Bryson is doing. It seems like he is trying to end his career early with the way he has approached his body and recovery. Southern Hills should suit Tiger really well as I talked about in our preview podcast. I think this is his best shot at a major in 2022 thanks to the combination of the wide corridors, warm weather, small approach targets, and short grass around the greens.
Meg: Tiger. It’s surprising and concerning Bryson’s going to give it a go just a few weeks after surgery on his wrist. Maybe the short grass around the greens will be less stress on the wrist, but with wedge play having a big role this week, I’ll take Tiger’s short game and uninjured hands over Bryson’s full length wedges and barely healed stitches.
One thing about Southern Hills you’re most excited to see:
Meg: Holes 10-12 will make or break a player’s back nine. With a solid breeze, 11 could wreak havoc on players as Andy discussed with Southern Hills Head Superintendent Russ Meyers back in 2019.
Andy: The cadence of the finish at Southern Hills. It’s a really nice mix of gettable holes and “hold on tight” holes. It really starts with 13, a scoreable par 5, followed by a brutal par 3, a shortish par-4 15th, a long par-4 16th, a short par-4 17th and the brute par-4 18th. It could lead to a lot of leaderboard jostling late on Saturday and Sunday.
Will: Someone is going to have a chip roll back to his feet two or three times and I cannot wait for the highlight.
Brendan: The creek component! I want to see some cocksure but intemperate pro send one out there, then incredulously watch the ball roll off toward danger once it gets on the ground on some of these slopes. Between that and the short grass, the #NoProtection Assembly used to predictability and comfort might provide some irate and aggrieved fireworks this week.
Up a creek at Southern Hills pic.twitter.com/W3tzoVwBcZ
— The Fried Egg (@the_fried_egg) May 18, 2022
Is there a club pro story you’re interested in? Should club pros even be in the field?
Garrett: To answer the second question first: yes. Like past champions at the Masters and amateurs at the U.S. and British Opens, club pros give the PGA Championship its unique flavor.
I’ll be rooting for Wyatt Worthington II this week. Not only does he have a great name that lends itself to numerous delightful nickname possibilities (WWII!), but he also has an inspiring backstory. When he qualified for the PGA Championship for the first time in 2016, Worthington was just the second Black club pro ever to play in the tournament. He learned the game on a driving range in east Columbus, walked onto the golf team at Methodist University in North Carolina, and now teaches at the Golf Depot in Gahanna, Ohio. He’s a credit to the profession. Check out Guerin Emig’s profile of Worthington for Tulsa World.
Will: Zac Oakley is a cool story. Thirty-nine year old whose dad won a Senior Open at Royal Portrush and played in the 1994 PGA at Southern Hills. Should club pros be in the field? Yes. Do their stories need to be shoehorned into the broadcast? No.
Brendan: The annual punching bag that is Omar Uresti is not around. Casey Pyne has a mustache that will give Erick Van Rooyen’s a catnip run for its money. There’s no one story I’m going to track, but one or two characters (e.g. The Marek Stretch!) do seem to emerge each year. The club pros, with the number capped at 20, should be a part of this championship and, as a group, might be as important to the game as anyone in the country.
Is the PGA better — interpret “better” however you want — than the U.S. Open?
Andy: What a question. Year in and year out, no. But this year, I think so. The presentation of Southern Hills in terms of the fairway lines and short grass around the green just makes for so much more compelling golf than the USGA’s long grass, hack-it-out fest. In a vacuum, The Country Club can be as exciting as Southern Hills but this year will be a contrast of a championship allowing a course to be what it wants to be and another making a course be what the tournament wants it to be.
Will: It’s less contrived, that’s for damn sure. But I don’t think it’s better. If you asked 100 tour pros which one they’d rather win, I’d be surprised if it isn’t unanimous USO. If the USGA was just a little more hands-off with their setups, the U.S. Open would have an even better representation than it currently does.
Brendan: Maybe? It’s been a conversation in some stretches now, for sure. It felt like the narrative around the PGA for decades was that it “lacked an identity” relative to the other three men’s majors. That criticism seems to have dissipated, and I’m not sure they needed to find one other than to try and not be anything and just let scores go where they may. The venues immediately after Oak Hill, however, do get a little dicey.
And last but not least, your lock to win the 2022 PGA?
Brendan: The No. 1 player in the world, on an incredible hot streak, at a course that suits his game and he’s expressed a fondness for – not exciting but seems like we should ride Scottie Scheffler, especially at this course, until the hot streak ends. That end may come this week but I’m going with Scheffler.
Will: RORY! RORY! RORY! RORY!
Meg: Jon Rahm. That huge win a couple weeks ago in Mexico has him coming into the PGA with all the momentum. I’m kidding about the Mexico Championship part, but don’t be surprised to hear it referenced quite a bit if he’s in contention this weekend. If Rahm just has an average week with the putter, he’ll have a solid chance at hoisting the Wanamaker trophy on Sunday.
Andy: I am going to take Cam Smith. I think the skill profile is going to be really similar to Augusta National and with the wind up, I really like Smith’s ability to scramble and make birdies in bunches.
Garrett: Collin Morikawa. Dude’s won two of the last eight majors, hasn’t finished worse than T-8 in a major since the 2021 Masters, and is the best iron player on the planet. How is he 16-1 when Rory and JT are 14-1? Maybe because his stock fade doesn’t seem to perform well in the wind? Actually, that’s a pretty good point…. But still! My pick is Morikawa.
MORE PGA COVERAGE FROM THE FRIED EGG
- A video with Gil Hanse on what the pros will confront at Southern Hills
- The Restoration: Southern Hills and the future of championship golf
- A PGA Primer on the traits and challenges of Southern Hills
- Paulie’s Picks: Attributes and players to consider for the PGA
- What to Know About Perry Maxwell: The life, work, and philosophy of the architect behind Southern Hills
- Oklahoma and Maxwell-themed T-shirts for the 2022 PGA