The Championship will be held on the Ocean Course, first opened in 1991 to host the Ryder Cup during the same year. It’s revered as one of the best golf courses in the world, as it’s not only beautifully picturesque with views of Kiawah Island as well as the Atlantic Ocean, but also because it is very challenging, thanks to those strong sea winds. Additionally, the course boasts large slopes, numerous bunkers and very challenging grass, further emphasising its difficulty.
It’s a Par 72 course, measuring 7,356 yards in length, with a slope rating of 144. Designed by Pete Dye, the course resembles the links courses in seaside destinations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The wind factor will add another element to this year’s PGA Championship. The wind on the Ocean Course has been known to be so fierce, that a golfer can experience an 8-club difference on the holes depending on the direction and force of the wind.
Since it opened in 1991, there have been a number of changes to the course. Subtle changes have been made to increase the pace of play for the average player, yet add additional challenges for the more accomplished player.
The last hole on the course has been designed for a truly dramatic ending, with the entire green having been shifted out to the last dune near the Atlantic Ocean. The fairway bunkers on the 9th, 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th have all been realigned to their original positions after sifting dunes altered their lines over the years.
Other notable holes include the 16th which is a long par 5, measuring 581 yards from the 2012 PGA Championship tees; this hole has been described as a good risk/reward hole, meaning that we could see some aggressive play, either resulting in reaching the green within 2 shots, or deep within the rough and trees. On the outward line, the toughest hole is the 4th, a par 4, 458 yard hole. This will require a good drive to reach the green in two. With more room on the right-hand side of the fairway, it’s actually easier to play a second shot from much further left on the fairway, but this is tougher to reach.
How the Field has been decided
The players to have reached the 94th Championship have been established from a variety of different criteria. For example, all former PGA Champions make up a large selection of golfers, however, those golfers who no longer play are emitted from the list. In addition to this are the last five champions of the U.S Open, the Masters and the Open. Then there is the current senior PGA Champion, as well as a number of low scorers in both the previous PGA Championship and the PGA Professional National Championship. Along with a few more lists, as well as a full list of reserve players, this makes up the full list of golfers set to play in the 2012 PGA Championship.
Not surprisingly, the majority of winners have been American. Since the competition changed from a match-play based system in 1958, notable winners have included Jack Nicklaus, who went on to win 5 titles all together. Lee Trevino and Gary Player won their fair share, but heads were really turned when in 1991 an unknown reserve player by the name of John Daly took his chance and won the title, stunning the entire world of golf. Since then, the Fijian Vijay Singh has picked up the winners honour on two occasions and Tiger Woods on four separate occasions. Last year’s winner was Keegan Bradley of America.
Who are the favourites?
There are a number of favourites to win this year’s PGA Championship. A number of past champions have been selected, such as Germany’s Martin Kaymer, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and the mercurial Tiger Woods. It’s certainly not uncommon for a past winner to pick up the coveted prize again. In addition, there are the usual favourites, such as Northern Ireland’s Rory Mcilroy and England’s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. Then there are previous winners of majors this year, such as Bubba Watson who picked up the Masters, and Webb Simpson who won the US Open. Of course, there are always the unknown players who can spring a surprise. With the title wide-open, it could be one of the most entertaining Championships for years.
Where to watch
This year’s Championships have become some of the most sough-after tickets in Championship history. However, there are still tickets available, and you have a variety of options depending on your budget. The PGA website has the full list of ticket options if you want (and can afford) to make the trip over the pond. Alternatively, television coverage for the event has been provided by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.