Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course is one of the more spectacular venues in America, a compliment that can also be applied to the host of the 2010 PGA Championship: Whistling Straits.
There are many parallels between the two venues. The are both links courses, the both run alongside large bodies of water, they are more susceptible to wind and natural elements than most other courses, they both feature wispy rough and large areas of sandy wasteland, both are Pete Dye courses and they are both more than 7,500 yards in length. I could go on.
It is for this reason I believe some faces that featured prominently in 2010 could do so again, using their positive memories from Whistling Straits as a catalyst for success on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
Martin Kaymer won his maiden major championship in 2010 and, despite a temporary resurgence last November – when he recorded nine birdies in 11 holes on Sunday to win the HSBC Golf Champions – he has fallen spectacularly from grace.
Kaymer, who became world number one in February 2011, is currently 18th in the Official World Golf Ranking – his lowest position since March 2009. He is 32nd in the Race to Dubai standings, with only one top ten since February.
He has far too much talent, though, to continue languishing in the golfing depths, and this could be the week he hauls himself back from the abyss. If he fills his mind with positive memories from 2010 and focuses on the similarities between the two venues, who knows what could happen this week.
Dustin Johnson is someone I fancy to do well this week. He memorably missed out in a play-off in 2010 after grounding his club in a sandy waste area deemed to be a bunker, and will no doubt be buoyed by the news that, this year, such areas will be treated as ‘through the green’.
His exceptional length off the tee will be an enormous asset, especially if the strong prevailing wind rolls in from the Atlantic. He performs very well on links courses, as he showed at Pebble Beach before his final-round collapse in 2010, at Whistling Straits and at this year’s AT&T Pro-AM.
Rory McIlroy has had a disappointing season by his high standards. That being said, he was in contention two years ago at Whistling Straits and grew up playing links golf. It’s only going to be a matter of time before he records a second major victory, and I wouldn’t be at all suprised if it happened this week.
Also look out for Nick Watney, another who has under-performed this season, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson – coming off a victory and a strong performance at the Open – to feature.