US PGA Championship: Glory for Rory or relief for Rahm? – The experts have their say

By Sports Desk May 19, 2021

Major glory awaits for one man at Kiawah Island on Sunday, when the winner of the US PGA Championship will be confirmed.

With such a stacked field it is hard to pick out the most likely victor, but that has not stopped Stats Peform's team of expert writers from having a go.

Last year it was Collin Morikawa who prevailed, snapping American compatriot Brooks Koepka's run of consecutive wins.

Who will it be this time?

IT'S OFFICIAL, RORY IS BACK! – Peter Hanson

Okay, I'm officially calling it – Rory McIlroy is back! At the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020, the Northern Irishman was flying. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Then there were some questionable decisions to start trying to match the bombs Bryson DeChambeau can nail off the tee. Then there were some ugly results – including missed cuts at the Players Championship and the Masters. But forget all that, McIlroy – just six weeks on from starting work with renowned coach Pete Cowen – was back in the winners' circle at Quail Hollow last weekend, his first title since November 2019. A McIlroy in full swagger is a joy for any golf fan, and crucially he knows how to get it done at Kiawah Island having won the first of his two PGA Championship titles at the South Carolina course back in 2012 – doing so by eight strokes, a record for the tournament. It's time for Rory to finally get that fifth major.

SCHAUFFELE HAS GOT THIS ONE – Russell Greaves

If you have this notion that Xander Schauffele always seems to be in contention at the majors, it's because he is. His tie for third at the Masters this year represented an eighth top-10 finish at a major for Schauffele, with two of those coming at the US PGA. His record is one of remarkable consistency, with only one missed cut across 14 entries in the sport's four headline events. Schauffele is one of the most adaptable players out there, as evidenced by his PGA Tour-leading sand save percentage of 69.35. At just 27, it seems inevitable he will eventually clinch a title at one of those quartet of tournaments.

HIDEKI WILL DOUBLE UP – Ben Spratt

Hideki Matsuyama had been waiting a long time for his breakthrough triumph at Augusta last month, with seven top-10 finishes at majors without reaching the winner's circle before that Masters victory. "It was a relief, really," he said last week. But having got that monkey off his back and shown he is good enough in his approach play that a poor putting game need not be a hindrance, Matsuyama can no longer be written off so easily. The Japanese will be heading to Kiawah Island full of confidence and ready to win. A second straight success would really lay down a marker.

IT'S RAHM TIME – John Skilbeck 

Sooner or later, or so goes the theory, Jon Rahm will win a major. Let's tilt towards sooner then, because Rahm is top of the PGA Tour's ball-striking chart this season, fourth in terms of finding greens in regulation and top 20 in average driving distance and scoring average. On a course set to measure over 7,800 yards, those ingredients in his game look more than useful, but Rahm will need to putt well too and that is not a given. He is down in a share of 192nd for putts per round this season, so needs to get something going with the short stick. He is developing a reputation as a Masters specialist, with four successive top-10 finishes at Augusta, and the Kiawah Island conditions will be a world away from those in Georgia. But this breakthrough at a major is going to happen sooner or later, isn't it?

RAHM'S THE ONE FOR ME – Chris Myson 

Aside from a tie for fourth at the 2018 US PGA Championship, Rahm has not made a huge impact at this event. But he is rightly among the favourites for victory this week on the back of his tie for fifth place at the Masters and his continued consistency on the PGA Tour. With six top-10 finishes to his name at major championships, Rahm has proven he can get himself into contention at the biggest events. And he comes into the latest major in form. While the world number three is yet to win this year, he has missed the cut just once in 10 events. Rahm says the recent birth of his son Kepa has helped to take the pressure off his pursuit of a first major, an occasion which is surely not far away.

Related items

  • Sean McVay reveals Rams extension, waiting on deal for Les Snead Sean McVay reveals Rams extension, waiting on deal for Les Snead

    Sean McVay has announced he signed a contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams over the offseason, but talks are ongoing with general manager Les Snead.

    Head coach McVay guided the Rams to a Super Bowl win last season, and tying down his long-term future represents a major boost for the franchise.

    Yet McVay revealed he and Snead were waiting until both men were committed to the team before formally confirming the deals.

    "We are in a good place," McVay said at training camp. "I feel really good about the direction that's going in, and I think it'll be something where it'll be me and Les, and you guys will know when that is finalised for us.

    "We wanted to be able to announce that when both of us got it done.

    "It is something that we've been taking care of, but it is very important for Les and I to kind of have that represented as we're a partnership and a pair."

    McVay has been Rams coach since 2017, with this his first head coaching role after holding various assistant positions in Washington.

    Earning his first title against the Cincinnati Bengals at Super Bowl LVI earlier this year, McVay, 36, became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl.

    McVay has a 55-26 career record, with his winning percentage of 67.9 the seventh-best of all time among coaches to oversee 80 or more games.

    Snead was the man who brought McVay to Los Angeles, having been the Rams GM since 2012, when the team were in St. Louis.

  • Judge denies LIV Golf signees entry into the FedEx Cup Judge denies LIV Golf signees entry into the FedEx Cup

    The PGA Tour has won their first legal battle against the controversial LIV Golf brand, with a judge ruling on Tuesday that LIV Golf players are not eligible to play in the FedEx Cup starting this week.

    Specifically, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford were the three golfers seeking the temporary restraining order to play at the FedEx St. Jude Championship – but a judge ruled that their cases did not prove they were victims of "irreparable harm" due to their highly paid contracts.

    The LIV Golf lawyers argued that the FedEx Cup is about "more than money" – even going as far as calling it "the Super Bowl of golf", and comparing former FedEx Cup winners to all-time greats Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.

    They claimed the PGA Tour was attempting to use monopoly powers to stamp out fair competition, to which the PGA lawyers countered with the facts that five of their top-10 most famous players – based on their Player Impact Program – have already jumped ship, and that Gooch, specifically, signed a contract worth significantly more than the $18million awarded to the winner of the FedEx Cup.

    LIV Golf were queried about how they could project a 20 per cent market share while also calling the PGA Tour a monopoly, and that being a monopoly is not illegal, only using monopoly powers against another organisation is.

    The judge explained that the breakaway golfers would have ample opportunity to play on the alternate tour; that their upfront LIV Golf contracts took into account the possibility that they would not be eligible for the FedEx Cup and/or major championships; and that the inability to win even more money does not constitute "irreparable harm".

    Some other interesting tidbits were revealed during proceedings, including a direct contradiction from a prevalent storyline about the LIV Golf contracts.

    LIV Golf lawyers claimed that prize money won from tournaments would be "recouped against the LIV contracts" – with a clip emerging immediately afterwards showing an LIV Golf spokesperson specifically saying during a news conference featuring Pat Perez and Brooks Koepka that all prize money would be "in addition to the contracts".

    Their lawyers also confirmed that all 48 spots had been filled for next LIV Golf season, and the judge indicated that the larger-scale antitrust trial would be tentatively scheduled for September.

  • Carolina Hurricanes keep Martin Necas on two-year deal Carolina Hurricanes keep Martin Necas on two-year deal

    The Carolina Hurricanes and Martin Necas have agreed to a two-year, $6million contract to keep the young winger with the franchise through the 2023-24 season.

    Necas had been a restricted free agent.

    Selected 12th overall by the Hurricanes in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Necas has totalled 119 points (45 goals, 74 assists) in 203 career games.

    At 23 years old, Necas is considered a key piece for Carolina's future. He tallied 14 goals and 26 assists last season but managed just five assists in 14 Stanley Cup playoff games.

    After the New York Rangers eliminated the Hurricanes in Game 7 of the second round, Necas said he wanted to be a more consistent scoring threat in the future.

    "I've got to help the team more, got to produce way more,” Necas said in June. "That's what everyone kind of expects from me. I didn't do it this year, so like I said, it was disappointing for me."

    Carolina won the Metropolitan Division last season with a 54-20-8 record.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.