There won’t be a Tiger in the field, but these other big cats could pounce.
It took the former Nationwide Tour Player of the Year 14 years as a pro and 187 PGA Tour starts to win his first PGA Tour event, this season’s Frys.com Open. He then proceeded to win two more times in his next seven starts, including this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The leader in FedEx Cup points for most of this season, he blistered the course during a practice round at Cherry Hills earlier this summer. Although casual golf fans couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, he’ll be one to watch.
Expect big drives and big galleries when golf’s new favorite lefty is in the box. With two first place finishes early on—one coming at the tight, classic, treelined Cherry Hills-esque layout at Augusta—Mr. Pinkshaft stands more than a puncher’s chance to win the Wadley. He also might outdrive the green from the Palmer tee with a 3-wood.
Ranked ninth in FedEx Cup points going into last year’s playoffs, the sweet-swinging Swede rode victories in the Deutsche Bank and Tour championships to capture the 2014 FedEx Cup. The world’s No.2-ranked golfer has only competed in a handful of PGA TOUR events this season, focusing more of his time on the European Golf Tour, whose championship he also won last year. He might be peaking at just the right time.
What the defending BMW Champion lacks in driving distance, he more than makes up for in accuracy, finding the fairway more than 70 percent of the time off the tee—good enough for sixth in the world. If he places his tee shots to give himself the best angle into the green (a must at Cherry Hills), he could go very low.
The colorful Spaniard has quietly had one of his best seasons in years. Spending the majority of the year playing across the pond, he has made the most of his 10 appearances in the States, notching six top-10 finishes, including runner- up at the Travelers Championship and a third-place at The Players. The British Open runner-up could be due.
The hotshot Texan has not won another event since taking last season’s John Deere at age 19. But he’s comfortably positioned in the FedExCup rankings with seven top-10 finishes, including two runner-ups. Spieth has demonstrated poise and consistency in big tournaments. Don’t be surprised to see his name near the top of the leaderboard and in one of the last groups on Sunday.
The fan favorite returns to the site of his 1990 U.S. Amateur Championship. He and the course have both evolved significantly since then, but few players have Lefty’s short game and flair for escaping trouble—both skills that will prove critical at Cherry Hills.
Since surpassing Tiger Woods for the number one world ranking, Scott has been taking it easy with his number of tournaments in the States. The end of May and beginning of June were stellar for the Aussie; winning in a playoff at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial, and two top ten finishes at the Memorial Tournament and U.S. Open. Can the number one player hold his position?
The Englishman is having a stellar season, putting up back-to-back wins at Congressional and Castle Stuart going into the British Open at Hoylake. His crisp iron play and skillful course management will serve him well on Cherry Hills’ old-school thinking man’s layout.
Known for his talent and ability to perform well under pressure, this year’s wireto- wire British Open champion has steadily climbed back into form since making big changes in his equipment, management and relationship. He’s been a birdie machine on both the European and PGA Tours this season, and his previous performances in FedExCup events—he won both the 2012 Deutsche Bank and BMW—suggest a strong showing at Cherry Hills.
More Players to Keep an Eye On…
Hard not to like because of his sartorial fluorescence and radiant game, which is rounding into form at the right time.
Immensely likeable, solid player but can break your heart on Sunday’s back nine.
He’s still learning the definition of humility but there’s plenty to like about his game.
Like BMW, he represents the finest in German engineering. As we saw at this year’s U.S. Open, he is more than the ultimate driving machine; he can chip and putt, too.
Strong performances on the tough-toread greens at Pinehurst and The Greenbrier this season suggest he could very well anchor-putt his way to a win, especially with a local, Pepsi Hale, on the bag.
The hometown hero has had a breakout season. Keeping his emotions from getting the best of him will be key.