Power Rankings: PGA Championship
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM fantasy insider
The lasting image of the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., plays out more like a timeless video than a still frame. Shaun Micheel's leave-no-doubt 7-iron on the 72nd hole seems to creep toward the cup closer on every review, but it still doesn't drop.
Even back in '03, Oak Hill's East Course was no stranger to hosting the game's elite. Jack Nicklaus' win here at the 1980 PGA Championship was sandwiched by a trio of U.S. Opens (1956, 1968, 1989). It's also served as site to two U.S. Amateurs (1949, 1998) as well as the springboard for Europe's extended success in the Ryder Cup. Prior to 1995 when Oak Hill hosted the biennial competition, the United States had lost only five times in the history of the event. Since Europe's 14-1/2 - 13-1/2 triumph at Oak Hill, the U.S. has lost seven of nine. All of the winners of the aforementioned individual events were American.
Donald Ross designed Oak Hill in 1926. As is customary with many of his original creations, this one has been updated, reviewed and modernized again. The most recognizable recent change occurred at the green of the downhill, par-3 15th hole. The camber of the putting surface was reduced, but the green, which pitches to the golfer's right, now shares a border with the pond on the right. The greens at 5 and 6 were also altered in varied degrees.
Only two holes have been lengthened since 2003. The par-4 17th was stretched 14 yards to a maximum 509, while the par-4 18th now reads 497 yards. That's 15 yards longer than listed on the card that Micheel signed the day he clipped lookalike Chad Campbell by two strokes.
Oak Hill plays as a par 70 at a manageable 7,163 yards, especially by today's technological standards, but the course will be set up as a textbook risk-reward to help defend itself. Narrow fairways and lush rough will have the field of 156 thinking twice at times of pulling driver. This mind game is enhanced with the knowledge that the area was pelted with several heavy rain storms in the last two months. A deluge in early July flooded the East Branch of Allen Creek, which snakes through the property. The storm damaged all of the 84 bunkers on the course, which required 150 tons of sand for repair.
This week's weather forecast improves as the tournament nears. A system could linger into Thursday morning, but no significant threat is expected the rest of the way. Temperatures should top out at a welcome 80 degrees. Moderate winds could add to the test.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners of the PGA Championship, please look for "Stats Suggest" in the Stats Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: PGA Championship|