Jimmy Walker has a best finish of tied 30th in his last three tournaments but can put that form behind him with a strong showing in the Quicken National Loans tournament on the US PGA Tour. Tiger Woods has entered an event being played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club that hosted the Presidents Cup four times between 1994 and 2005. Even with some course experience things could get even worse for the former world number one this week.
Robert Trend Jones Golf Club
The layout has several links style features which does not augur well for Tiger. This year he missed two successive cuts in majors for the first time in his career. The US Open Chambers Bay track and the Old Course at St Andrews, venue for the British Open, are seaside courses susceptible to the wind and rain. The Open was severely disrupted by the weather but Woods was mentally on his way home before his delayed second round.
There will be some room off the tea in Virginia this week on a layout that puts a premium on accuracy from the fairways to well protected greens. Hitting the putting surfaces in the correct number of shots will be a key skill and longer drivers will be better placed to find the best portions of the greens. Strokes gained putting then becomes important in an event that could develop into a putting contest.
Women’s British Open
This week’s PGA event goes head-to-head with the Women’s British Open at the Trump Turnberry Resort. This is a classic links venue that is on the men’s Open rota and will provide a tough challenge foe the best female players in the world. The championship became a major in 2001 and now attracts one of the strongest fields of the year and often produces a quality winner. Cristie Kerr is proven at this level and can win the third major of her career.
Kerr has shown a liking for links golf in the past and has featured on the leaderboard in previous British Opens including on the traditional links course at Royal Birkdale. She has the mental strength to handle any adverse weather that can spring up on a course near the British coast. The lady who slimmed down significantly is now comfortable in her skin and becoming a parent has given her some perspective while taking nothing away from her career focus.
Charley Hull is the bright new thing of women’s golf in Europe and is a future major champion. She is destined to win the British Open at some stage of her career but this year may be too soon. Catriona Matthew is a more likely home winner and she is Scottish so will have huge support out on the links. The player to beat is still Inbee Park, the world number one, who has never won the British Open. She has won six majors including three LPGA Champions in a row but is unproven on a links course at the highest level and looks a favourite to take on.
Rose and Fowler
Justin Rose is one of just two players from the top ten in the world rankings playing in the States this week. Rickie Fowler competes on the back of a disappointing Open Championship in Scotland having won the Scottish Open in the previous week. Both players did not contend at the Open though Rose came off the pace for tied sixth while Fowler was not a factor.
Jason Day has been the highest profile player from the Old Course to get his season back on track, showing great fortitude in winning the Canadian Open last week. He was desperately disappointed after finishing one short out of the playoff in the Open but has refocused wonderfully and now will be relishing the PGA Championship next month. He has become a nearly man of the majors but surely his week in the sun will come, unlike Sergio Garcia who is let down by his putting too often now in the business end of major championship golf.
Jimmy Walker’s Profile
With so many stars taking a breather in the lull between the last two majors of the season Walker could prosper and win his sixth tournament in less than two years. He leads the Tour in stroke gained putting and is a top 50 player for driving distance and greens hit. That makes for a identikit potential champion on a course that requires long drives and accurate approach play allied to good putting on challenging greens. Hopefully it won’t be too embarrassing for Tiger as he strives to recapture former glories but sadly the game has moved on and he is again an also-ran this week.
Rose and Fowler are clearly the class acts in this field. However, they are now at a level at which they build their season around the majors. Winning any tournament is good for morale but both players will be honing their game for the PGA Championship which gives others a chance to shine and Walker is the best suited to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Kerr can do likewise in the Women’s British Open and add to her tally of major championships.
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