Golf

Bob Gillespie

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Strongest, first: Notes on next week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah’s Ocean Course

Posted 8/4/2012 8:42:00 AM

With the start of the 2012 PGA Championship less than a week away, the PGA of America offers these items of interest to give fans a deeper understanding of the final major of the year, and the first men’s major held in South Carolina. Tournament week begins Monday, Aug. 6.

Strongest field in golf: The PGA Championship, the only all-professional major championship, perennially features the strongest and deepest field in golf. Currently, all 108 of the top players in this week's Official World Rankings are in the field for The Ocean Course. The PGA Championship's highest number of Top 100 world-ranked players to complete the first 36 holes of play came in 2002 and 2011, with 98 of the top 100.

A first for South Carolina: The Palmetto State has been home to many PGA Tour events over the years, but the 94th PGA Championship is the first men’s major to be contested in South Carolina.

Will it be 17 straight?: Starting with Padraig Harrington's victory at the 2008 PGA Championship, there have been 16 different winners over the 16 major championships played in that time. And not one of those winners has been Tiger Woods or the top-ranked player in the world, Luke Donald.

Three straight first-timers: The last three PGA Champions -- Y.E. Yang of South Korea in 2009, Martin Kaymer of Germany in 2010 and Keegan Bradley in 2011 -- were all first-time major champions.

Bradley one of six PGA lineage: Keegan Bradley's father, Mark, is a PGA club professional, which makes Keegan one of six PGA Champions whose fathers were PGA club professionals. The others: 1956 PGA Champion Jack Burke Jr., son of Jack Burke Sr.; 1965 PGA Champion Dave Marr II, son of Dave Marr I; 1969 and 1982 PGA Champion Raymond Floyd, son of Loran B. Floyd; 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III, son of Davis Love Jr; and 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem, son of Larry Beem.

Master of the Ocean Course: Alex Cejka of Germany owns the competitive course record at The Ocean Course. Cejka posted a 9-under-par 63 in the 1997 World Cup. Cejka currently is not in the field for the 94th PGA Championship.

Barrier, what barrier?: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort becomes the third PGA Championship to be hosted on a U.S. barrier island. The previous two were each on Long Island, N.Y., with the 1919 Championship won by Jim Barnes at Engineers Country Club in Roslyn, Long Island; and the 1926 Championship won by Walter Hagen at Salisbury Golf Links at Westbury, Long Island.

Olazabal back from ’91: The 1991 Ryder Cup put The Ocean Course on the golf map worldwide, with the outcome decided on the final putt of the final singles match. Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal is the lone returnee among the 24 players from that '91 Ryder Cup who will compete in the 94th PGA Championship. Olazabal is the Captain of the 2012 European Ryder Cup Team, which will take on the United States next month at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club.

Ryder Cup reminders: At the conclusion of the 94th PGA Championship next week, the top eight players on the United States points system earn berths on the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team. Tiger Woods currently leads that points list.

Captain Davis Love III selects four players on Sept. 4, to complete the U.S. Team.

As for Europe, the leading five players on The Ryder Cup European Points List at the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, on Aug. 26, earn berths on the Team. The leading five players, not otherwise qualified (having selected the five players from The Ryder Cup European Points List) from The Ryder Cup World Points List at the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, also make the European Team.

Captain José Maria Olazábal will choose the remaining two players following the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Dobyns leads 20 PGA club professionals: By virtue of his victory in June at the 45th PGA Professional National Championship, Matt Dobyns leads a contingent of 20 PGA club professionals into the field next week. Dobyns, the PGA head professional at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., is making his first appearance in the PGA Championship. Dobyns works at a club that was host (though from a different location that no longer exists) to the 1930 PGA Championship and the 1932 U.S. Open.

Mitchum represents Carolinas PGA: Kelly Mitchum, PGA teaching professional at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, is the lone representative of the Carolinas PGA Section to earn a spot in the field. Mitchum was among the low 20 finishers in the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship, thereby earning a berth in his fourth PGA Championship.

Kestner like fine wine: PGA Club Professional Darrell Kestner is the oldest (58) player in the 2012 PGA Championship field and is also playing in a major championship for a fifth decade. Kestner, the PGA director of golf head professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., competed in the 1979 U.S. Open at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio and will make The Ocean Course his 10th PGA Championship appearance. In 1993, also at Inverness Club, he became the first player to make a double eagle in a PGA Championship. Kestner turns 59 on Aug. 15.