Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Tyrrell Hatton and Louis Oosthuizen will be among the notables examined in Tuesday’s draws and fades.
To put the time since Southern Hills was last organized when the PGA of America descended here in 2007 into perspective, it would be another two months before Dustin Johnson made his PGA TOUR debut and the only Kim on the court was Anthony, then a PGA TOUR rookie and not far in time and space from his college home turf at the University of Oklahoma.
DJ has recorded 24 TOUR tracks, including two majors, and there are four Kims in this week’s squad, including Joohyung. Also known as Tom, he is this year’s youngest qualifier at just 19 years old. He was five at the 2007 PGA. (Insert ‘shocked’ emoji here.)
Of the 156 participants in the PGA Championship, all participants are professionals; it’s the only major non-amateur – 17 were in Southern Hills for the 2007 PGA. Woods left with the best memory of all – his 13th victory in a major – but remember the course tested is irrelevant this week.
Southern Hills is still a stock par 70, but the restoration in 2019 reintroduced wider fairways, a unique structure for each bunker, and thick rough-free greens around their perimeters. At 7,365 yards, it’s 234 yards longer than its previous round, but technological advancements in equipment and the way golfers use measured data serve as equalizers.
Approaches from the Bermuda fairways aim for bentgrass greens that average just over 5,000 square feet. In the context of target size and basic agronomy, this matches the Colonial Country Club, site of next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, so it’s not an unfamiliar combination.
Streams meandering through the property have also been salvaged, and only three holes are spared to some extent. As should be the case in every tournament worthy of this billing, routing will require patience, course management and a dash of heroism where the course allows. Emerging at the top of the leaderboard will require precision from tee to green and touch around the greens. The mystery of the putting surfaces will elevate the long game into the weekend.
While 90 degree heat and prevailing southerly winds will greet players on Thursday, there is no chance of a repeat of 2007 conditions. That week, daytime highs hit 100 degrees with heat indices higher high, so an excessive heat warning was in effect everywhere.
This week, a system will pass later Friday, and it could produce rain and possibly severe weather. Also, with it, the much cooler air will drop Saturday’s daytime high into the 60s thanks to a rotation of a strong northerly breeze. Sunday’s conditions should be so pleasant that the Chamber of Commerce could blush. The winds should also ease by then, but in these areas, don’t hold your breath.
The champion will be exempted for life in the tournament. He will also have reserved places in the next five editions of the other three majors, and his PGA TOUR membership will be extended until 2026-27 if it is not already the case.
ROB BOLTON’S CALENDAR
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews each tournament from many perspectives. Look for his following contributions as expected.
MONDAY: Power ratings
TUESDAY*: Preview of Pick ‘Em, Sleepers, Draws and Fades
SATURDAY: Medical Extensions
SUNDAY: Qualifications, Reshuffle, Rookie Ranking
* – Rob is a member of PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks panel for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.