Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the PGA Championship in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: With fog and rain softening the course, how low can the scoring go and whom do those conditions favor?
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: The course is pretty easy for the Tour pros. Huge, mostly flat greens. Generous fairways. Add in the soft, generally windless conditions, and we could see 12 or 15 under winning. If the weather whips up, scores will balloon. The benign conditions don’t favor any one player, but they do make it hard, if not impossible, to come back if you get too far behind.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I can’t see the winning score getting lower than about 12 under. I’d say a soaking wet course favors Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, two of the longer hitters on the board right now.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I agree with Cameron. If you’re asked to play lawn darts in a 7,500-yard backyard, you need to fly those suckers a long way. I’d add Bubba Watson to the the beneficiaries of a good soaking.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: If the course stays soft, there are birdies to be made, especially for the big hitters, but scores are not going to get crazy low. There are just too many places where you can make a big number. The player who should be licking his chops? Rory McIlroy.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The forecast sounds like a recipe for the bomb-and-gouge crowd. Just flipped on the telecast long enough to watch Dustin Johnson hit wedge into the 598-yard par-5 fifth. He eagled it. Remember when Tiger used to do that at Augusta back in the ’90s? Dustin, Bubba, Camilo and J.B. will feast on the four par 5s, and 14 under might win this thing. Whistling Straits might need to another 1,000 yards to really hurt these guys.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Damon nailed it. When firm and fiery, the Straits is a linksy test that would suit Zach Johnson, among others. The softer it gets, the longer you need to be. D.J., Watney and Bubba are all on the board, looking good.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It’s a race to see who can make the most birdies in the remaining holes. That’s if the wind stays calm.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The wind didn’t stay calm, and conditions were hardly benign on Friday evening. The wind was whipping like crazy — had to be 25-35 mph at times. Very tough. If the greens and fairways weren’t soft, scores would be brutal.