Kiawah Island offers stern test for world’s best

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course is one of the toughest PGA Tour venues to tame for the world’s best players and it will certainly provide the sternest of tests when the 2021 PGA Championship gets underway this Thursday.

The layout hosted the 2012 PGA Championship where Rory McIlroy made it two major championship titles in his six majors in posting a closing round 66 in the final round to win by eight strokes over runner-up David Lynn of England.

Collin Morikawa Collin Morikawa will be defending his 2020 PGA title this week (Credit: PGA Tour)

The victory margin was a record for the PGA Championship, surpassing the 1980 seven-stroke win by Jack Nicklaus for his fifth PGA and 17th major title.

When McIlroy won in 2012, he finished at 13 under but nobody else was better than 5 under. The key as with most oceanside courses is the wind. It blew like nothing in the second round in 2012 and 74 or 75 was a great score. The layout is filled with hazards and can be stretched to an insane 7,315 metre, par 72.

McIlroy, 32, returns to Kiawah Island to tee-up in what will be a 49th career major championship.

As length will be an advantage, all eyes are on the power hitters like Bryson DeChambeau however players will also have to use their heads. This is a golf course that can be overpowered but players will have to do it in a smart, strategic way like McIlroy did back in 2012.

The field is the strongest this major season with 99 of the world’s leading 100 players in the field, Matthew Wolff the only player missing.

Only five golfers have won all four majors – Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nickalus, Tiger Woods and Gary Player. If Jordan Spieth takes the PGA Championship this week, he will secure his place in history as the sixth. Spieth was leading in Texas last week until a disappointing final round saw him finish in a share of 9th.

The result was his seventh top-10 in nine starts, and his impressive ball-striking bodes well for this week in Kiawah. Spieth can be erratic in Majors, however, he has form at the PGA Championship with a runner-up finish to Jason Day in 2015 and tied-third behind Brooks Koepka in 2019.

Collin Morikawa returns to the field looking to earn his second PGA Championship in as many years. The 24-year-old captured the first major of his career at last year’s PGA at Harding Park, and enters this year’s tournament with four top-10 finishes on the season.

Marc Leishman will lead the Aussie charge at Kiawah. Leishman knows how to play in the wind and won’t mind if it picks up. He scores well on the par 5′s and his iron play is majestic. Leishman finished in a share of 27th at Kiawah in 2012.

Cameron Davis, Jason Day, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Adam Scott, Jason Scrivener and Cameron Smith are the other Aussies in the lineup.

The PGA Championship will only be available to view on Fox Sports (503) and Kayo Sports from 3am – 9am (AEST) each day.