Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The PGA Championship Returns to Louisville

A few weeks ago, the Kentucky Derby drew the highest T.V. ratings in 35 years, and tomorrow the sports world returns to Louisville -- this time to the East Side of town instead of the West Side -- for the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.  This will be the fourth time the PGA has come to Valhalla.  The last two times -- Tiger Woods's thrilling win in 2000 and Rory McIlroy's finish in the dark in 2014 -- are two of my favorite major tournaments ever.

I like golf course scorecards, especially when the holes have names, so here's the scorecard for Valhalla, with lots of Kentucky references in the hole names:

1.  The Post (Par 4 -- 484 yards)
2.  Winning Colors (Par 4 -- 500 yards)
3.  Honest Abe (Par 3 -- 208 yards)
4.  Mine That Bird (Par 4 -- 372 yards)
5.  The Sun Shines Bright (Par 4 -- 463 yards)
6.  Long Shot (Par 4 -- 495 yards)
7.  Genuine Risk (Par 5 -- 597 yards)
8.  Float Like a Butterfly (Par 3 -- 190 yards)
9.  Twin Spires (Par 4 -- 415 yards)
OUT (Par 35 -- 3,724 yards)

10.  Big Red (Par 5 -- 590 yards)
11.  Holler (Par 3 -- 211 yards)
12.  Sting Like a Bee (Par 4 -- 494 yards)
13.  The Limestone Hole (Par 4 -- 351 yards)
14.  On the Rocks (Par 3 -- 254 yards)
15.  Julep (Par 4 -- 435 yards)
16.  Homestretch (Par 4 -- 508 yards)
17.  Straight Up (Par 4 -- 472 yards)
18.  Photo Finish (Par 5 -- 570 yards)
IN (Par 36 -- 3,885 yards)

TOTAL (Par 71 -- 7,609 yards)

Speaking of Posts and Photo Finishes, here are the odds to Win:

Scottie Scheffler:  +425
Rory McIlroy (NIR):  +700
Brooks Koepka:  +1400
Xander Schauffele:  +1400
Jon Rahm (ESP):  +1800
Ludvig Aberg (SWE):  +2000


  1. Here are the last 10 winners of the PGA Championship:

    2014: Rory McIlroy (NIR) (Valhalla G.C., Louisville, Ky.)
    2015: Jason Day (AUS) (Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.)
    2016: Jimmy Walker (Baltusrol G.C., Springfield, N.J.)
    2017: Justin Thomas (Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.)
    2018: Brooks Koepka (Bellerive C.C., Town and Country, Mo.)
    2019: Brooks Koepka (Bethpage Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y.)
    2020: Collin Morikawa (TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, Calif.)
    2021: Phil Mickelson (The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, S.C.)
    2022: Justin Thomas (Southern Hills C.C., Tulsa, Okla.)
    2023: Brooks Koepka (Oak Hill C.C., Rochester, N.Y.)

  2. The golfers are off to a blazing start this morning:

    1. X. Schauffele: -8 (14 holes)

    2. T. Finau: -5 (9)

    3. R. McIntyre (SCO): -4 (11)

    T4. B. Kohles: -3 (15)
    T4. J. Spieth: -3 (10)
    T4. T. Moore: -3 (9)

  3. I liked having the PGA in August, because that's sort of a sports desert, but I can understand why the players would prefer May. The weather in Louisville looks magnificent today, and they certainly wouldn't have a day like this in August.

  4. Schauffele moves to 9 under through 16 holes. If he pars the last two holes, he will finish with an opening-round 62.

  5. Schauffele goes out in 31 and comes home in 31 for a nine-under par 62. Remarkably, he opened last year's U.S. Open with a 62, and then shot 70-73-72 the rest of the way to finish at 277, in a tie for 10th place.

  6. 1. X. Schauffele: -9 (18 holes)

    2. T. Finau: -6 (14)

    T3. R. McIlroy (NIR): -5 (16)
    T3. R. McIntyre (SCO): -5 (15)

    5. B. Kohles: -4 (18)

  7. Tiger Woods, looking for all the world like a guy who just agreed to play a round with his kids, goes around in 1 over par 72 after bogeying the last two holes.

  8. Schauffele's 62 is the new course record at Valhalla.

  9. Rory McIlroy, who won this tournament the last time it was played in Valhalla, finishes with a 66.

    1. X. Schauffele: -9 (18 holes)

    2. T. Finau: -6 (15)

    T3. R. McIlroy (NIR): -5 (18)
    T3. R. MacIntyre (SCO): -5 (17)

    T5. B. Kohles: -4 (18)
    T5. B. Koepka: -4 (17)

  10. Amazingly, Brooks Koepka is trying to win the PGA for the fourth time.

  11. The morning rounds are almost done, and a new set of big guns are starting to tee off. Within the next 30 minutes, Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, and Scottie Scheffler will all begin their rounds.

  12. Jordan Spieth opens with a 2-under par 69.

  13. Justin Thomas also shot a 2-under par 69.

  14. Brooks Koepka shoots a 4-under par 67.

  15. Tony Finau shoots a 6-under par 65 that leaves him alone in second place for now.

  16. But not for long, because Sahith Theegala finishes with a 6-under par 65 that ties him with Finau for second.

  17. So that wraps up the morning tee times, and now the leaderboard looks like this:

    1. X. Schauffele: -9 (18 holes)

    T2. T. Finau: -6 (18)
    T2. S. Theegala: -6 (18)

    T4. R. McIlroy (NIR): -5 (18)
    T4. R. MacIntyre (SCO): -5 (18)

  18. Louisville today looks exactly the way people who have to move away from Kentucky like to picture Kentucky: a blue sky with billowing white clouds, tall green trees everywhere, and a temperature in the high 70's. It's the Kentucky that all of us ex-pats imagine.

  19. Oh, my! Scottie Scheffler HOLES OUT from the fairway to open with an EAGLE on the first hole.

  20. Scheffler birdies the fourth hole to move to 3 under par.

  21. Meanwhile, Jon Rahm is 3 OVER after five holes.

  22. Jon Rahm if 4 over after six, and I'm predicting that he won't be lifting the trophy on Sunday.

  23. Scheffler now 2 under through 5. Louisville is taking on the sort of lowering, cloudy look you get in the spring when you had sunshine and puffy clouds in the morning. I will be surprised if any of the folks who teed off in the afternoon (with the possible exception of Scheffler) crack the top five at the end of the day.

  24. Thomas Detry of Belgium is 4 under through 9.

  25. Scheffler is 4 under through 13. Detry is 4 under through 14. Morikawa is 4 under through 14.

  26. Tom Hoge proves me wrong. He shoots a 31 on the back nine and a 66 of the day, getting to 5 under par and moving into the top 5.

  27. Tom Kim is also 5 under through 17.

  28. I didn't know this about the hole names at Valhalla. I also think "The Praying Colonel," "Happy Chandler," "Cane Ridge," "Land Between the Lakes" and "Pack Horse Librarian" could've been good hole names.