The year’s final major is upon us, and that means it’s time to make our final round of major picks until the azaleas start blooming again. Join Yahoo Sports’ writers and editors as they offer their finest picks for who’ll raise the Wanamaker Trophy at week’s end.
Zach Pereles picks RICKIE FOWLER
It’s boring to pick Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy. I’m going with Fowler. Why? First, he’s he’s had plenty of success at Quail Hollow. He won his first tour title here, beating McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff in 2012. He then finished T4 — just two strokes back — last year. But past success isn’t a predictor of future success, especially with the massive changes to the course that have taken place since last year’s tournament. Rather, Fowler leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained, and if his putter gets hot, he’s hard to beat. Plus, the PGA Championship loves new winners. There have been seven different winners in the last eight years, and for six of those winners, it’s been his first major. Of course the other winner has been McIlroy … twice. Oh well. Why not continue the trend with Fowler winning his first major at the same place he won his first PGA Tour tournament?
Vikram Bodas picks DUSTIN JOHNSON
Unlike many tracks, usually Quail Hollow doesn’t favor a specific strength in a player. However, with the rain forecasted to be on and off all week in Charlotte, I’m inclined to think that a big hitter will take home the Wanamaker Trophy. Nobody fits that description better than Dustin Johnson. The 33-year-old, who grew up an hour away in South Carolina, averages an eye-popping 314.3 yards off the tee and currently ranks No. 1 in the world. After a top-ten finish at the Canadian Open and a share of 17th place at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Johnson appears to be in good form to return to the winner’s circle and capture his second major title.
Jay Hart picks HIDEKI MATSUYAMA
Every single major, the Japanese media as a collective asks the exact same question to every single non-Japanese player: Is Hideki Matsuyama good enough to win a major? The players, to their credit, smile every time (maybe a thousand by now) and respond with some variation of, “Yes, he’s going to win one some day.” Hideki Matsuyama is good enough to win a major, and come Sunday the Japanese media will never have to ask the question again.
Kevin Kaduk picks THOMAS PIETERS
It seems like it’s way too easy to pick Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth or Hideki Matsuyama in this space and I feel the need to get cute because it’s just the PGA Championship. So why not the young Belgian and University of Illinois product? The 23rd-ranked player in the world is coming off a fourth-place finish in Akron and just got acquainted with casual golf fans with a fourth-place finish at The Masters in April. His driver has the length to score big at Quail Hollow and while his general lack of experience should be a concern (this is only his sixth start at a major), this PGA seems like a good spot for a surprise.
Jay Busbee picks JON RAHM
We’ve been waiting for Rahm to get it going on a major level ever since he began terrifying fields with his monstrous drives a few months back. With a T27, a missed cut, and a T44, though, all he’s been frightening during major weeks is his own golf bag, beating and kicking it after every wayward shot. But this course and this weather set up very well for a bomber like Rahm, and the PGA has recently been kind to first-time winners, as Zach noted above. Rahm has the game to win big; does he have the temper? We’re about to find out.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.