The 100th PGA Championship

Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, 7,316 yards Par 70

Defending Champion: Justin Thomas

Weather: Been very hot in St. Louis. They got a good deal of rain on Monday Night so it's cooled it off a little but not much and  the fairways and greens will be soft and gettable for a lot of players, particularly the headliners. Thursday, sunny 92, wind 5-7; Friday, 92 Sunny, wind, 6-8; Saturday, partly sunny chance of t storm, wind 6-9; Sunday, 87, morning shower, but rest of the day sunny, wind 6-9.

TV: Thursday-Friday, TNT, 1-7 PM CT; Saturday-Sunday, TNT, 10 AM -1 PM CT; CBS 1-6 PM CT.

This is a course with 11 dogleg right to lefts so the player who draws the ball like Rory, will have an advantage off the tee and in the fairways. A lefty, like Bubba and Phil, who cut the ball will also have an advantage.

This is the last year the PGA Championship will be played in August. In 2019 and going forward, it will be played in May, 3 or 4 weeks after the Masters. The Players Championship will take place in March, and the U.S. Open and Open Championship will remain in June and July respectively. The Fed Ex Playoffs will start in early August and be done before football season starts which is good for golf as it won't interfere with college football, which is critically important in this part of the country along with other areas of the country, and it won't interfere with professional football where the big cities are passionate about their respective NFL teams. But nobody thinks the Fed Ex playoffs comes close to the majors or the penultimate event in golf, the Ryder Cup. The playoffs are important to the players due to the financial payout, $10 million to the winner, but not that interesting to golf fans as it's all about the players' wallets and not about the game, and the importance of majors and the Ryder Cup are for more compelling. Though the Ryder Cup is played in late September, and sometimes early October, and conflicts with football it's so captivating as the players are playing for no money and just for their countries. It's like a major football rivalry and the passion and intensity matches an Alabama-Auburn or an Ohio State-Michigan or Oklahoma-Texas battle. As I wrote last week, if you're a golf fan, I would highly advocate reading John Feinstein's classic look at the 2016 Ryder Cup and Ryder Cup human interest stories from many years, in his 2017 piece, First Major. You will really enjoy it.  Onto this week's winner.

Winner

If you look at it on paper, it looks like a 2 horse race between Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson. I like Bubba Watson and Rory to be in the hunt. I also see Francesco Molinari (Open Championship), Patrick Reed (Masters), and Brooks Koepka (U.S. Open), this year's major winners so far, to be there on Sunday. Sometimes the obvious choice it the right choice, so I'll take the best golfer in the game right now. Not world No.1 though, but the 25 year old, who as Brandel Chamblee of Golf Channel called him, the Mike Trout of professional golf. Trout, the great centerfielder for the LA Angels, is a 5 tool player. He can hit, he can field, he can run, he can hit for power and he can drive in runs. This young gun from Louisville, Kentucky and the University of Alabama is a 5 tool golfer. He can drive it, he can hit approach shots, he can chip, he can hit it out of the sand, and he can putt. I'll take the favorite at Bellerive to go back to back at the PGA and capture the 100th Wanamaker Trophy.

Justin Thomas

 After capturing the 99th PGA Championship, I like Justin to hoist the Wanamaker in the 100th PGA. (Photo, Twitter). 

After capturing the 99th PGA Championship, I like Justin to hoist the Wanamaker in the 100th PGA. (Photo, Twitter). 

 

Sleeper

Bubba

World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational

Firestone Country Club, South Course, 7,400 yards, par 70

Defending champion, Hideki Matsuyama, Shot 61 on the final day to finish -16, 5 shots clear of Zach Johnson.

Weather: Pretty decent. High mid to high 80's chances of rain. Wind 8-13 MPH.

TV: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-5:30 PM CT; Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel, 11 AM-12:45 PM CT, CBS 1-5 PM CT.

Prediction

I'm going to go with the 2014 champion. He finished tied for 2nd at the Open Championship, finishing -6 and falling 2 shots short of Francesco Molinari for the Claret Jug. He was tied for 5th here last year going 67, 69, 68, 69.  I'll take the 29 year old 4 time major winner from Hollywood County, Northern Ireland as he tunes his game up for the 100th PGA Championship next week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. 

Rory McIlroy

 I'll go with Rory this week (Photo, Golfweek).

I'll go with Rory this week (Photo, Golfweek).

Men's final prediction at the Championships of Wimbledon, World Cup Final prediction

Wimbledon Final

8 AM CT, ESPN

This one is interesting featuring Novak Djokovic (Serbia) versus South Africa's Kevin Anderson. Anderson defeated American John Isner in the fifth set yesterday, 26-24. Wow. It was a marathon 6 1/2 hour match, and too long quite honestly. John McEnroe is pleading for a tiebreaker in the fifth set now. I agree. The matches go far too long, it wears the players out for their next match and it held up the Djoker-Nadal match, which finished up this morning with Djoker prevailing over the ultimate warrior Rafa, 10-8, in the fifth. Djoker looks tough right now. He looks like the relentless player who has captured 12 Slams.

But I'm going to take Anderson in an upset. He had today to rest and Djoker going into extra innings with Nadal was the best thing to happen to the 32 year old Anderson. I like Anderson over Djoker. This will be a spectacular final.

Anderson 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-5, 9-7

 Anderson over Djoker in 5 sets (Photo, www.bbc.co.uk

Anderson over Djoker in 5 sets (Photo, www.bbc.co.uk

Ladies Final

In the Ladies final, Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated Serena, 6-3, 6-3. Quite an upset, but, quite frankly, Serena hadn't played 1 player seeded in the top 10 the entire tournament. All the 10 were eliminated by the quarters. Angelique was the 11th seed but showed her major winning prowess in defeating Serena. This was Kerber's third major championship victory. She also won the 2016 Australian and U.S. Opens. 

World Cup prediction

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, 10 AM CT, FOX

I'll go with Bo Jackson's team, that France thing. Goalkeeper and team captain Hugo Lloris and his Les Blues teammates bring the cup home to Paris. This would be the French's second Cup after winning it in 1998.

France 2, Croatia 1

 Captain Hugo Lloris and France over Croatia (Photo, Daily Mail).

Captain Hugo Lloris and France over Croatia (Photo, Daily Mail).

 

 

 

A Military Tribute at the Greenbriar, Irish Open predictions

Greenbriar

Old White Course TPC, White Sulphur Springs, West VA. 7,286 yards, par 70

Defending champion: Xander Schauffele, shot a final round 67 to finish -14, one shot clear of Robert Streb.

Key hole

No.18, 175 par 3

Sets up for a classic finishing hole. Pretty interesting having a par 3 as a finishing hole. There are 4 bunkers around the green. Stuart Appleby sank a 10 foot putt here in 2010 to shoot a 59. Schauffele hit a pitching wedge to 3 feet last year to close out the tournament. Four bunkers surround the green, but this is an excellent birdie opportunity that could clinch it on Sunday for the leader or the guy in pursuit if the leader falls back. 

TV: Thursday-Friday, 2:30-5:30 PM CT, Golf Channel

Saturday-Sunday, 12-1:45 PM CT Golf Channel, 2-5 PM CT CBS

Weather looks good overall. Maybe some rain tomorrow, but sunny Saturday and Sunday with highs in the high 70's. Wind 5-7 MPH.

Who I like to win

I'm going with the 31 year old from Chickasha, Oklahmoma by way of Kansas State University to capture the title at the Greenbriar. He shot 32 on the backside in 2015 putting with his 56 degree sand wedge as he had accidentally broken his putter on No.9. He converted 5 birdie putts on the back and shot 66 to earn a spot in a 4 way playoff, which he eventually lost to Danny Lee. Then last year he finished 2nd. I like this guy to break through. He's won once on tour at the MCGladrey Classic in Sea Island in 2014. I see him getting the job done this week.

Robert Streb

 Going with Streb at the Greenbriar (Photo, Heavy.com).   

Going with Streb at the Greenbriar (Photo, Heavy.com).

 

Sleeper

Taking the 27 year old from Los Angeles by way of San Diego State. He has threatened all season. He's ready to break through.

J.J. Spaun

 See J.J. making a run this weekend (Photo, Zimbio).   

See J.J. making a run this weekend (Photo, Zimbio).

 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Ballyliffin Golf Club, Gladhedy Links, Donegal, Ireland, 7,220 yards, par 72

Defending champion: Jon Rahm, won at Portstewart Golf Club

TV: Golf Channel, 4:30 AM-12:30 PM CT today on Golf Channel, Friday, 4:30 AM-12:30 PM CT, Golf Channel, Saturday-Sunday, 6:30-11:30 AM CT, Golf Channel

Weather: Good for most all of the weekend. Some rain maybe tomorrow, but sunny on Saturday and Sunday, wind 7-10. 

Winner

I'm going to take a little bit of a reach with Rahm and Rory in the field as the European players hone their games for the 147th Open Championship in 2 weeks at Carnoustie in Scotland. I'll take the 26 year old Belgian who is one of these guys who is on the verge of making a statement globally in golf.

Thomas Pieters

 See Piethers breaking through this week in Ireland (Photo, Golf Channel).   

See Piethers breaking through this week in Ireland (Photo, Golf Channel).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Championships at Wimbledon

The Championships at Wimbledon is the penultimate tournament in professional tennis just edging out the U.S. Open. I'd put the French and Australian right after that in order of importance of Slams. Every player in their childhood dreams wants to win at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club.

The grass is going to be drier as there hasn't been a lot of rain unusually in London and the forecast is for good weather during the fortnight. ESPN will televise with the women's final on Saturday July 14th at 8 AM CT and the men's final on Sunday, July 15th at 8 AM CT. ESPN, ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel will provide coverage throughout the 2 weeks every day. 

Men

Everybody is looking at Roger Federer to capture his 9th Wimbledon championship and record 21st Slam in his illustrious tennis career which looks like it's going to keep cookin for a while with the kind of shape Fed keeps himself in. Key competitors are Rafa Nadal, who is coming off his 11th French Open title and 17th major, which is something in itself. Rafa chose not to play on the grass in preparation for the Championships, so his ability to win it all is a question mark, though the great Nadal won here in 2008 and 2010. Other key competitors are Marin Cilic, who was a finalist here in 2017, losing to the great Federer. He won the U.S. Open in 2014. Alexander Zverev, the 21 year old German, is a factor as well as he keeps challenging now for majors. Juan Martin del Potro is always a contender. His power game is perfect for the grass. And you can't count out Novak Djokovic. Djoker has won Wimbledon 3 times, in 2011, 2014 and 2015 and has 12 Grand Slam championships on his resume.

With that said, here's who I'll go with to the 36 year old from Bottmingen, Switzerland. Like the King of grass to get it done over the 31 year old Spaniard. I see it as a classic Federer-Nadal match, one that'll be remembered for a while.

Fed over Rafa 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

I think it'll be a classic Federer-Nadal match, one we'll remember for a while.

 The King of Grass wins in a classic over Rafa (Photo, The Independent).

The King of Grass wins in a classic over Rafa (Photo, The Independent).

 Rafa gives it a heroic fight (Photo, Tennis World USA).

Rafa gives it a heroic fight (Photo, Tennis World USA).

 

Women

On the women's side, it's always interesting to see who is ready to play. Serena is still not in the greatest shape, so I see that hurting her when she gets to the fourth round. Both Petra Kvitova, the 28 year old from the Czech Republic who won here in 2011 and 2014, and 27 year old Caroline Wozniacki, who turns 28 during the fortnight on July 11th, are playing very good tennis right now, with Kvitova winning on the grass at Birmingham, England 3 weeks ago and Caroline winning in Eastbourne, England 2 weeks ago, so both are playing well on this surface. I'll go with the birthday girl to capture her first Wimbledon Championship and her second major in her career with the first coming at the Australian Open this year. I have Serena losing to Caroline in the quarters. 

Wozniacki over Kvitova 4-6, 7-5, 8-6

This should also be a classic. Looking forward to an electric fortnight in London. Hope you enjoy it as well. 

 Wozniacki captures her second major this year (Photo, Australian Open).

Wozniacki captures her second major this year (Photo, Australian Open).

Looking forward to an electric fortnight in London. Hope you enjoy it as well.