With three different major winners in 2017 — Sergio Garcia at the Masters, Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open and Jordan Spieth at the British Open Championship just two weeks ago — the PGA Championship has an opportunity to put a bow around the year and help us, in no uncertain terms, find out who dominates the golf scene.
If Spieth wins a second major this year at Quail Hollow and hoists the Wanamaker Trophy for the first time in his young career, the now 24-year-old will complete the career Grand Slam, joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Belonging to that kind of historically great company and doing it with back-to-back major wins would no doubt cement Spieth as the world’s best golfer at the moment and a clear winner of the PGA Tour’s peer-voted player of the year honor as well the PGA of America’s points-based player of the year award.
Were Koepka, who has the lowest combined score by far in the last five majors played, to pick up a second major title in Charlotte, it would mark a breakout year for the Florida State product. Koepka picked up his second-career PGA Tour win in record fashion at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in June, but he would fall short of being the best on Tour in 2017 since that’s his only win.
Right now, Spieth has three victories, including a major, which is a distinguishing factor among the many multiple-time winners this season, including Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama. Three wins and a major beats a win that is a major. But would two wins that are both majors trump Spieth’s year? Most of their PGA Tour peers would think so in a ballot.
Of course, the newlywed Garcia picking up an unlikely second major in 2017 might well cement his status as Player of the Year, too, using the same standard applied to Koepka in comparison to Spieth.
However, a very likely outcome is that we get a first-time major winner at Quail Hollow. For one, the PGA Championship has a propsenity for delivering maiden major winners. Then there’s the fact that Spieth at Royal Birkdale broke a streak of seven consecutive first-time major winners. With the aforementioned Thomas and Matsuyama yet to win a major, as well the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey and other talented players, there’s a very good chance the Wanamaker ends up in the hands of a new member of the major champions club. If it does, then that will throw a wrench into the player of the year discussion, perhaps forcing players to wait to see the results from the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.