News & Notes from Tuesday at Southern Hills
The best in the world tee off at this year’s PGA Championship in just two days, and the storylines are beginning to take shape.
From a busy Tuesday at Southern Hills Country Club, here are three key things to know as we inch closer to the first round.
Rahm and Thomas looking for major No. 2
Both Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have captured major championships, but now the challenge is to get over the hump to win a second.
Rahm and Thomas, both formerly ranked as the No.1 golfer in the world, will come into this week at Southern Hills Country Club eager to add to their major trophy case.
“It’s a lot harder to get the second than I thought it would be, internally,” said Thomas, who won the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.
“But just on me, it’s like, obviously when you win one, to get to where you want to go, you have to win the next one, and when you get on a little bit of a drought it can be frustrating.”
Thomas missed the cut at last year’s PGA Championship but comes into this week off a tie for 8th at the 2022 Masters.
Rahm, meanwhile, finished tied for 27th at the Masters, but finished tied for 8th at the 2021 PGA Championship. Amazingly, that was Rahm’s worst finish in a major last year.
He comes into this week at Southern Hills off a win in his last start on the PGA Tour, the Mexico Open at Vidanta.
“I had a couple of really good finishes but since (the Farmers Insurance Open) I wasn’t really relevant on the leaderboard,” admitted Rahm. “So, it was nice to be up there and get the win.”
But as far as trying to win another major, the last word will go to Thomas, who sums up the chase for majors nicely.
“I sure as hell would rather have one than zero,” he said.
Scottie Scheffler hoping to continue his major momentum
The world No.1 doesn’t really mind that the spotlight isn’t on him this week at the PGA Championship.
“Tiger’s here,” Scheffler said with a laugh, “so no one really remembers I’m here.”
Woods aside, Scheffler has given the golf world plenty of reasons to remember his name over the first half of 2022.
After finally breaking through for his first PGA Tour title at the WM Phoenix Open Scheffler has gone on a tear, winning three more times. He won the Masters in April for his first major title, topping two-time PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy by three shots.
“Well, it’s been pretty fun,” Scheffler said with a smile after being asked about his Green Jacket victory. “But after a little while it’s been back to business, so I’ve been preparing and getting ready for this week.”
Scheffler has two top-10 finishes in his two career PGA Championship starts and was quick to heap praise on Southern Hills Country Club on Tuesday – and the PGA of America’s venue selections.
“I think I’ve just got comfortable around the golf courses. I was comfortable around (TPC Harding Park), I was comfortable around (The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island) last year and I played some decent golf. And then this year, it’s a place I’m comfortable around as well. I think it’ll be a good challenge this week.”
Regardless of the challenge ahead, Scheffler, the world No.1 and the most recent major winner of 2022, said he’s been on a nice run recently and he’s hoping it continues at Southern Hills.
“I’m definitely not trying to stop it,” said Scheffler. “Hopefully I’ll keep it rolling this week.”
PGA Champions learn from YouTube
Just like weekend warriors, sometimes the best golfers in the world need to head to YouTube to check on a swing or a new course.
Rory McIlroy, a two-time PGA Championship winner, wasn’t yet a professional golfer the last time the Wanamaker Trophy was awarded at Southern Hills, so just before this week’s championship he watched a video online from the popular architecture blog The Fried Egg.
He sent the links to his caddie, Harry Diamond, and said he tried to gather as much information as he could before arriving this week. And, he said he learned something new.
“The flyovers… the course looked much tighter than when you get out here. I actually feel like it sort of opens up for you off the tee a little bit,” said McIlroy. “I didn’t expect to hit as many drivers as I actually did (on Monday).”
From course knowledge to confidence boosting, fellow two-time PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka took to YouTube after he missed the cut at the Masters to figure how what was happening with his putting stroke.
“I’ve never done this, but I went back and watched tape or video on YouTube of every major championship I’ve ever won and what I was doing when I was putting and picked up on a few things,” said Koepka. “Everything just didn’t quite feel right. But it’s getting back to what I feel it was, and it looks quite similar to what it was in years’ past.”
So, the next time you think you want to prepare just like a PGA Champion, don’t think researching on YouTube is out of the question.