2022 PGA Championship: Trending Players To Watch
PGA Championship week has arrived, and with it, plenty of notables are looking to win the coveted Wanamaker Trophy.
With the PGA Tour season more than half complete, there’s a larger body of work to look upon to determine who may be trending in the right direction with another major championship on the docket.
As we move closer to Thursday’s opening at Southern Hills Country Club, here are five golfers – including two past PGA Champions – who are trending in the right direction.
Scottie Scheffler had won on every level before earning his PGA Tour card for the 2020 season.
Although it took him two seasons to find the winner’s circle, he has found it repeatedly in 2022 – tallying four victories since February.
Scheffler won the WM Phoenix Open, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play before notching his first major championship at the Masters in April.
The 25-year-old has a commanding lead in the FedExCup standings is comfortably the No.1-ranked golfer in the world. He’s showing no signs of slowing down his momentum from the Masters, however.
“After a little while,” said Scheffler, “it’s kind of back to business. And so I’ve been preparing and getting ready for this week.”
Scheffler comes to Southern Hills after a T18 finish at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (where he teamed with Ryan Palmer) and a T15 at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.
He’s also finished T4 and T8, respectively, at the two PGA Championships he’s played in so far in his career.
The PGA Championship is the lone major that has eluded Jordan Spieth in his career, but he’s playing well enough of late that this may be the week he achieves golf’s Grand Slam.
“If you just told me I was going to win one tournament the rest of my life, I'd say I want to win this one, given where things are at,” said Spieth.
Although Spieth missed the cut at the Masters, he turned a corner – rather quickly – and won the very next week at the RBC Heritage.
Last week Spieth finished second at the AT&T Byron Nelson, just one shot back of eventual winner K.H. Lee. After his runner-up result in Texas, Spieth has moved to No.8 in the Official World Golf Ranking – his highest position since 2018.
Spieth’s ball-striking so far this season has been fabulous, but he’s waiting for his putting to catch up. Still, he said Sunday at TPC Craig Ranch he saw some good signs on the greens.
The two-time PGA Champion is coming into the week at Southern Hills well rested and after back-to-back top-5 results.
McIlroy finished runner-up at the Masters after a sizzling Sunday 64 (tied for the lowest final round in tournament history) and about a month later he was the defending champion at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he finished fifth.
“I feel good about my game… one of the things I’ve tried to work on and I’ve done well – I’ve led Greens in Regulation the last two tournaments I’ve played,” said McIlroy. “That’s something that hasn’t quite been there, and that’s something you need to do, especially around here.”
McIlroy hasn’t won a major in what seems to be too long (PGA Championship, 2014) but so far this season every part of his game is clicking. He has finished outside the top-25 just twice so far this season and sits fifth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Total.
If there’s any sign of good mojo to start a major championship week, it’s got to be when you make a hole-in-one.
Enter Collin Morikawa.
The 2020 PGA Championship winner aced the par-3 6th at Southern Hills Country Club Sunday during a practice round and now looks to continue his fabulous major-championship run this week.
Morikawa, the third-ranked golfer in the world, has finished inside the top-10 at the last four majors in a row, including a fifth-place finish at the Masters. In Morikawa’s two PGA Championship starts he’s finished 1st and T8.
“Hopefully I can get back to that mentality and get back to that state of ‘let’s just go out to win,” said Morikawa. “We’re here to win.”
He’s had a steady season to this point, with his lone missed cut happening when he got the worst of the draw, with respect to the weather, at The Players Championship.
Morikawa, who is near the top of the Tour in all the key ball-striking and driving categories, has six top-10 finishes so far this season in just 10 tournaments.
While there was a bit of an early-season injury at play for Hideki Matsuyama (he withdrew from the Valero Texas Open the week prior to his title defense at the Masters after pulling out The Players Championship before teeing off), he seems to have recovered well enough.
This is Matsuyama’s 10th PGA Championship appearance and he’s made the cut every year, a stretch that was highlighted by T4-T5 in 2016 and 2017.
“I really enjoy playing in the PGA Championship,” said Matsuyama.
Japan’s first male major winner ended up T14 in his Green Jacket defense in April and then took some time off before finishing T3 at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week thanks to a solid Sunday 62.
Matsuyama is already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and sits sixth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green and Southern Hills is the kind of place where good ball-striking will be key.