The Masters Golf Tournament

The 2016 USPGA Championship Previewed

Darragh Farrelly

By Darragh Farrelly

July 21, 2016

The summer majors have been coming thick and fast over the last few weeks. A Dustin Johnson victory in the US Open at Oakmont was followed by Sweden’s first major winner in the shape of Henrik Stenson, who won in record-breaking fashion.

This year, a jam-packed summer of golf continues with the USPGA kicking off next Thursday, the 28th of July. Usually held in mid-August, this year’s USPGA has been brought forward to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympic Games, meaning the fourth and final major of the year will take place just two weeks after the Open Championship.

When taking into consideration Henrik Stenson’s victory at Royal Troon, where he became the fourth 40-plus winner to lift the Claret Jug in the last six years (Zach Johnson was also 39 in 2015), experience counts for a lot on links courses.

In more recent times, winners of the USPGA tend to be younger; mentally and physically fresh after a grueling run of majors.  

Here, we look at the last five winners of the tournament, and examine some trends which may point us in the right direction when looking for a potential winner at Baltusrol:

2015 - Jason Day


Best previous US PGA finish: 8th
Nationality: Australian
Age at time: 27
World ranking at time: 5th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 12-1-4-9
Form in majors that season: 28-9-4

2014 - Rory McIlroy

Best previous US PGA finish: Win
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 1st
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 1-1-14-MC
Form in majors that season: 8-23-1

2013 - Jason Dufner

Best previous US PGA finish: 2nd
Nationality: American
Age at time: 36
World ranking at time: 21st
Best result that season prior to US PGA: 4th
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 4-26-MC-4
Form in majors that season: 20-4-26

2012 - Rory McIlroy

Best previous US PGA finish: 3rd
Nationality: Northern Irish 
Age at time: 23
World ranking at time: 3rd
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 5-60-10-MC
Form in majors that season: 40-MC-60

2011 - Keegan Bradley

Best previous US PGA finish: Debut
Nationality: American
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 108th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 15-43-22-MC
Form in majors that season: Hadn't played any

Trends of Past Winners:

US PGA Form

7 of last 10 US PGA winners had registered a top 10 in the event previously
3 of last 10 US PGA winners had won the event previously

Age

5 of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 20s
5 of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 30s
10 of last 10 US PGA winners were between 23 and 37 (inclusive)

World Ranking at the Time

8 of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 25
6 of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 5

Recent Form

9 of last 10 US PGA winners had posted a top 10 in one of their two previous starts
5 of last 10 US PGA winners had won one of their previous two starts

Form in the Majors That Season

7 of last 10 US PGA winners had posted a top 10 in the first three majors of the season
7 of last 10 US PGA winners had posted two top 20s in first three majors of the season

Who Fits the Bill?

On that basis, there are a handful of players who fit the bill. Jason Day is the defending champion. While recent form has not met his high standards, the world’s number one player will like his chances. That being said, history is not on his side. Only one player has ever defended a USPGA title, Tiger Woods, so history would suggest his chances will be limited.

Rory McIlroy, who finished a tied-5th at the Open, has won this tournament on two occasions, in 2012 and 2014. Scores of -13 and -16 brought McIlroy to victory on open-ended courses. Baltusrol will not allow scores like that. Phil Mickelson shot -4 total back in 2005 when held at this course. Those numbers do not bode well for the Northern Irishman.

The year of 2016 has seen all three majors thus far go to players who have never won one (Danny Willett at The Masters, Dustin Johnson at the US Open, Henrik Stenson at The Open). With that in mind, Sergio Garcia seems better placed than most to finally land that coveted first major he so richly deserves. With two top-5 finishes in his last two majors this season, the Spaniard has the necessary skills to go one better than his 2008 runners-up finish in this tournament.

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