No one will forget what happened on the final Sunday of the 2016 Open Championship in a jiffy, not least the victorious Henrik Stenson, though the man he pipped to the winning post at Royal Troon is probably chomping at the bit to make amends at the year’s final major.
Sometimes in sport you simply have to tip your hat to the better performer on the day and, despite his own brand of magnificent links-conquering golf, Phil Mickelson could only sit back and applaud Stenson’s phenomenal closing 63 to clinch the Claret Jug.
Luckily for Mickelson, whose eventual three-shot defeat to Stenson belied the epic nature of the tussle, the Olympic Games in Brazil will shorten the wait for his opportunity to ease the pain of that loss.
The 2016 edition of the PGA Championship, aka ‘Glory’s last shot’, has been brought forward by two weeks because of scheduling clashes, leaving just a fortnight from the last putt sinking at Troon, to the first tee-off at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey.
Crucially for Mickelson, who is one of a triumvirate of 25/1 shots alongside fellow major winners Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, the last time the PGA staged their flagship event at Baltusrol, the lefty lifted the trophy.
Although the revamped Lower Course has been upgraded since that 2005 triumph, it’s still a course that offers a challenge to every part of a golfer’s game.
The recent trend of big-hitting PGA Tour winners could well be compromised in New Jersey as the organisers of the professional game in America are keen to nullify the tournament being a procession of drivers and short irons.
Many of Baltusrol’s plethora of bunkers are placed in awkward spots for the modern driving distances and the rough which flanks the narrow fairways is designed to be a true, score-damaging deterrent.
As Mickelson showed by winning here a decade ago, percentage play off the tees, inventiveness with longer irons into the greens, and sand saving will be essential skills for any would-be champion.
According to the PGA Tour’s all-seeing stats compilers, the six-time major champion now features in the top five in a quarter of vital areas; scoring average, strokes gained total, SG-putting and scrambling.
Put all these facets together again in under two weeks times and Mickelson could be walking away with a second PGA Championship title of his glittering career.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.