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With the PGA Championship approaching, attention is turning to who has a chance to lift the famous Wanamaker Trophy in 2022.
While some of the contenders are rightly among the favourites, including World No.1 Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, there are others who will be confident of springing a surprise at Southern Hills. Here are five of the players in with the best chance of causing an upset.
World No.32 Corey Conners remains somewhat under the radar in 2022, but he is having a solid year and appears to be building momentum. After three missed cuts early in 2022, the Canadian finished tied for 11th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, third at the WGC-Match Play later the same month, and tied for 6th at last month’s Masters.
While Augusta National remains the only course Conners has recorded top 10 Major finishes, with three, 2022 represented his best performance to date. Having also competed well in three of last year’s four Majors, he appears to be developing the temperament for the big occasion, too. He will be confident of improving on his tie for 17th at last year’s PGA Championship.
Southern Hills is well known for its many doglegs, meaning there’s much more to negotiating the course than driving. It bears similarities to another Perry Maxwell-designed course, Colonial, which hosts the Charles Schwab Challenge. Kokrak finished third in that tournament in 2020 and won it last year, suggesting if anyone’s equipped to take on Southern Hills, it’s the World No.31.
Since winning the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open last November, Kokrak has had a relatively uneventful 2022. He performed creditably at The Masters, though, including making a hole-in-one, and tied for 14th – his best finish in any Major to date. If he’s to win a Major, this year’s PGA Championship could be his best chance.
World No.27 Lowry has not only had some impressive Major performances throughout his career, including winning the 2019 Open, but he also heads into the PGA Championship in excellent form. He finished tied for third at The Masters and posted an identical finish at the RBC Heritage the following week, including a 65 in the third round.
Tthe Irishman finished tied for 8th in the 2019 PGA Championship and came even closer last year, with a tie for 4th. With current form and recent history suggesting he can make an impression at this year’s tournament, too, it is hard to write off Lowry's chances of winning his second Major at Southern Hills.
Smooth-swinging South African Oosthuizen may only have one Major win – the 2010 Open Championship – but he’s come agonisingly close to more on several occasions, finishing runner-up six times, third twice, and posting two other top 10 finishes. Two of those runner-up positions came in the PGA Championship in 2017 and last year.
Oosthuizen has yet to finish in the top 10 in any tournament in 2022, but with impressive putting (he finished top for strokes gained in 2021), that famed swing, and a big-tournament temperament, he is undoubtedly one to watch at Southern Hills.
Where 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods is concerned, it is virtually impossible to write him off. While he could only manage 47th in his first tournament back from injury in last month’s Masters, there were glimpses of the old Woods, and his one-under first round of 71 marked an impressive immediate return. While his putting let him down as the tournament progressed, the fact Woods made the cut was seen as a triumph.
Then there is Woods’ glorious history in the PGA Championship – and specifically at Southern Hills. Woods has won the Wanamaker Trophy four times, but his 2007 win at Southern Hills is one of the most impressive and included a spellbinding 63. There’s no questioning Woods’ determination and talent. Anything is possible if his body can withstand the rigours of another four days in a Major tournament.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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