PGA Championship 2017 field: Seven bold predictions for Quail Hollow

With the 99th PGA Championship on deck, it’s time to make some sure-to-go-badly predictions about the year’s final major championship. Back in April, I predicted that Sergio Garcia would hold the first round lead at the Masters (he didn’t) but that he wouldn’t close (he did), so kudos if you’re still sticking around for these.

The PGA Championship is certainly the toughest of all the majors to predict, but it also provides the greatest opportunity to hit on some truly crazy prognostications. Its volatility of winners and missed-cut lists (Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both missed the cut last year) gives us a wide-open, sometimes-crazy golf tournament.

So let’s take a look at some of my predictions for this year’s version at Quail Hollow.

1. Thomas Pieters leads after Round 1: Pieters is coming off a tremendous performance at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he’s one of the longest in the world. He’ll fade late (I think), but he might hold the lead after 18 holes.

2. A top 10 player doubles the first on Thursday: The first hole is going to play as a nearly 530-yard par 4 this week. “It kind of hits you right out of the gate, the first hole is dramatically different than it was before,” Charles Howell III told Golf Channel. “The wind today, I mean it’s a really, really long par 4 to start the day.” I think a top 10 player doubles it to start the tournament.

3. Rory McIlroy averages 4.5 or better on the par 5s: There are only three par 5s in the week, but I feel confident saying McIlroy is going to play all three of them quite well given his track record at Quail Hollow. It doesn’t mean he’s going to win, but if he wins, he’ll have to make hay at these holes.

4. Phil Mickelson misses the cut: Lefty did not play well at The Open, and he’s coming off a so-so week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. I think sometimes we forget he’s almost 50, and the PGA Tour season is long (too long). I’m not saying he’s going to fall apart, and I hope he plays well given his track record here, but I don’t think Mickelson will make the cut here. It would be the first time since 1995 he didn’t make the cut at the PGA Championship.

5. Jordan Spieth never truly gets in the mix: I’m just not feeling it this week for Spieth. I though the was going to be at or near The Open lead on the weekend at Royal Birkdale, and he was. But it’s so tough to win back-to-back majors, and his driving could hurt him here. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong (he probably will!), but I’m out on Spieth completing the Slam this week at Quail Hollow.

6. Tony Finau holds the 54-hole lead: Come at me.

7. Jon Rahm wins: He’s flying so low, the radar is not even picking him up right now. But why? He’s the No. 6 golfer in the world, and he was one of the big favorites going into The Open Championship following his destruction of the Irish Open in July. This is a course tailor-made for his strengths (pardon the pun), and we’ve been ready for him to hit on the big one for a few months now. This feels like the perfect time.

Source: CBS Golf Feed

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