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Golf Article - PGA Championship Features Big Pay Out

It’s hard to believe but the 92nd PGA Championship is already here. Running from August 9 to August 15, the tournament is being held at Whistling Straights, Kohler, Wisconsin, which was ranked #3 in 2009 list of top courses by Golf Magazine. For those of us with high golf handicaps, we can only watch from our couches as the world’s top players battle for more than $ 7 million in prize money.

So far, it’s been a fabulous year for majors. Phil Mickelson had an emotional victory at the Masters. Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Father's Day with his father in attendance. And little-known South African Louis Oosthuizen gave golf lessons to the crowd in his win at the British Open. All three players have earned a spot in the PGA of America Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda—the most difficult tournament in the world to qualify as it features the year's four major champions.

The Course
Whistling Straights has two championship courses—The Irish and The Straights. Both are challenges for golfers of any golf handicap and both have a history of providing golf tips to the uninitiated. Just inland from the great lake and interspersed by four meandering stream is the Irish, a par-72 devil of a course that measures just over 7200 yards from the black tees. The grassland-and-dunes aspect of the Irish lends a deceivingly tranquil perspective to the landscape and is full of unique challenges. The Irish, like Whistling Straights, has been home to the PGA Championship in the past.

The Straights is a walking-only, links style course defined by an open, rugged, and windswept terrain. A par-72 course that plays over 7300 yards from the black tees, it features a rating of 76.7 and a slope of 151 from these tees. Its signature hole is the par-3 17th, one of the most intimidating par-3 holes anywhere. The green is guarded left by monstrous sand dunes that fall twenty feet below green level. If the bunker doesn't capture the tee shot, Lake Michigan certainly will.

Designed by Pete Dye, Whistling Straights was always envisioned as the site for major championship play. This year’s tournament is the third major championship at the Straits in 12 years. In 2004, Vijay Singh won the PGA Championship that year by defeating Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard in a 3-hole playoff. In 2007, Brad Bryant won the 28th United States Senior Open Championship, overtaking leader Tom Watson with a birdie on the 16th hole—a golf lesson Watson won’t soon forget.

The Best Vantage Point
Opinions vary on the best place to watch the tournament. Some say it’s the mounds behind the green of Hole 6 (Gremlin's Ear). This vantage point offers a close up of a dynamic putting surface and mid-distance views of the lakeside par-3 third hole (O' Man) and Hole 7 (Shipwreck). Others say the best vantage point is from the bleachers above the green on Hole 15 (Grand Strand). This vantage point overlooks the beginning of some of the hardest holes on the course. From there, you can see action on Hole 11 (Sand Box), Hole 12 (Pop Up), and the tee on Hole 16 (Endless Bite).

For the final day, the best vantage point may just be by the green on Hole 17 (Pinched Nerve). From there you can see Hole 17 and Hole 18 (Dyeabolical), hopefully catching sight of the winner coming back into the clubhouse to hoist the championship trophy. But given the course’s design you can catch action on multiple holes from many locations since the holes run side-by-side.

The Contenders
Tiger Woods remains a top contender for the title—even if he hasn’t won anything this year. He’s a favorite whenever he plays. If Phil Mickelson pulls this one out, which many are predicting he will, he may just wrestle away the number one ranking from Tiger. Lee Westwood, who plays great in almost every major he’s in, is also a favorite as is Steve Stricker, who also has never won a major, and Padrig Harrington, who’s hasn’t played his best golf this year. Others to watch include Anthony Kim and Stuart Appleby.

But like most majors, you can expect the unexpected. So if your golf handicap has kept you out of this year’s tournament, pull up a chair and be prepared for a great tournament. Wouldn’t it be something if John Daly walked away with this year’s title?


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