Golf’s first major is finally here. We have 17 answers to 17 questions about the PGA Championship
Here it comes, folks: the first major of 2020, the PGA Championship, with the first round on Thursday at Harding Park, a public course in San Francisco. You’ve got questions. (We make the rounds; we hear you.) We’ve got answers.
Question 1: How many men’s majors will there be this year?
Answer 1: We appreciate the inclusiveness. Now more than ever. There will be three, in this order: The PGA Championship, concluding on Sunday, Aug. 2. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot, concluding on Sunday, Sept. 20. And the Masters, concluding on Sunday, Nov. 15. The first two events will be played without fans. Augusta National has not yet made an announcement about fans.
Question 2: For many years, the PGA Championship was the fourth and last of the four men’s majors. Will this be the first time it is first?
Answer 2: Nope. In 1971, the PGA Championship was played in late February, at the original PGA National course. Your winner was Jack Nicklaus. Dan Jenkins, writing about the tournament in Sports Illustrated, wrote these words: “The fact of the matter is that Nicklaus, having been so successful already in his chosen field at so young an age, has nothing much to get up for now except the big ones.”
Question 3: Is it really OK to refer to the PGA Championship as a tournament?
Answer 3: It is.
Question 4: Is Tiger playing?
Answer 4: He is.
Question 5: Is it one of his big ones?
Answer 5: Let’s go to the videotape! This is from Woods’s Butler Cabin remarks after winning the 2019 Masters. He said then that his goal was to have “mind and body come together four times a year.” He’s all about the big ones. That’s why he plays so infrequently.
Question 6: Does the PGA of America give a special prize for the low former PGA champion in the field?
Answer 6: No, but the winner in that category is a likely contender for the big prize, the Wanamaker Trophy. Former PGA winners in the field include Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. Padraig Harrington is not playing. He’s staying home, in Ireland, in deference to the pandemic.
Question 7: Who is the defending champion?
Answer 7: Brooks Koepka. He won it last May, at Bethpage Black. Remember?
Question 8: Right, right! Who won it the year before last?
Answer 8: Brooks Koepka. He won the 2018 PGA Championship in August, by two shots over Woods, at Bellerive, near St. Louis.
Question 9: Right, right! Has anyone ever won it three times in a row?
Answer 9: Yes, Walter Hagen, in 1924, ’25 and ’26. Then he won it again in ’27. It was match play then. The Haig. He won the Western Open five times, which was as major as anything in his day. A giant of PGA Championship lore and the game itself.
Question 10: How big is that Wanamaker Trophy?
Answer 10: It is 28 inches in height, 27 inches from handle to handle and weighs 27 pounds.
Question 11: Shouldn’t they just give the trophy to Bryson DeChambeau now? He could do toe-lifts with it on the aisle of his plane when he brings it home.
Answer 11: Bryson DeChambeau has played in three PGA Championships. He had a T33 in his first and MCs in the next two. No, they should not just give it to him. They should play the tournament.
Question 12: What’s this Harding Park course like?
Answer 12: Like everything in San Francisco with enough money behind it, a meeting of natural beauty and intelligent design. It is a city-owned course that is short for Tour players (not even 7,200 yards) that never gets your blood stirring but is solid from start to finish, with sensible public-course greens. You may recall it from 2015, when McIlroy won the Match Play event there. Or from the 2009 Presidents Cup, where Tiger played with, and won with, Steve Stricker four times, before winning again on Sunday in singles, Michael Jordan often nearby for all of it. It seemed then like it would go on forever.
Question 13: Who broadcasts this event?
Answer 13: ESPN on Thursday and Friday, CBS on the weekend.
Question 14: Will there be fans in attendance?
Answer 14: There will not. No live fans. No cardboard cutouts or piped-in crowd noise, either.
Question 15: What will the weather be like?
Answer 15: Should be cool, dry and windy. This PGA Championship will be the closest thing to a British Open that you’ll see this year. The course should be firm and fast.
Question 16: By which you mean a men’s British Open, right?
Answer 16: Right. The Women’s British Open is being played at Royal Troon, in Scotland, from Aug. 20-23. Royal Troon is the real deal. Links golf. That’s going to be great. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is going to held at Aronimink, outside Philadelphia, Oct. 8-11. Philadelphia golf is spectacular in October.
Question 17: Isn’t 17 questions kind of an odd number for one of these listicles?
Answer 17. Yes, but this year has been an odd one every which way to Sunday. Golf can say that it has weathered the year’s various storms better than most other activities. And now comes the first major of the year. This should be good. Sunday, Sunday at Harding Park speedway.
Michael Bamberger may be reached at Michael_Bamberger@golf.com.