It requires a special kind of ignorance to belittle the achievement of a major champion but plenty have tried over the years when it comes to at least some those who have held aloft the Wanamaker Trophy presented to the winner of the PGA Championship.
Shaun Micheel, for one, has found it hard to escape the belittlement that followed his victory at Oak Hill in 2003, when he had the audacity to hit a seven-iron to a couple of inches on the 72nd hole to secure the win. Rich Beem (winner, 2002) hasn’t been unduly burdened with praise either. Mark Brooks (1996), Keegan Bradley (2011) and even YE Yang (2009), who famously ended Tiger Woods’ streak of winning every major championship in which he led after 54 holes, are other members of the disrespected club.
The purists don’t like an unexpected winner at a major championship at the best of times, but woe betide the journeyman pro who wins a PGA Championship. The rest of us, meanwhile, are just looking for a bit of value, the more outlandish and unlikely the better. To that end, here are five “outsiders” to watch out for this week at Bellerive.
IAN POULTER – 66/1
The Englishman won’t be happy to carry the tag of outsider at a major championship but the truth is this week’s golf course fits his style about as well as a grey shirt and a pair of grey trousers. And yet, what a season he is having – a PGA Tour winner, a constant presence on leaderboards around the world and a nailed-on member of Europe’s Ryder Cup squad.
He might not be long enough off the tee to win at a place like Bellerive but he is certainly determined enough to give it a run.
KEVIN CHAPPELL – 80/1
Not one of the most famous names in American golf but Chappell has been growing in stature with every passing season on the PGA Tour. He is inconsistent admittedly, but when he is good he is great and, having recently recovered from injury he briefly contended on the final day at Carnoustie before coming unstuck around the Barry Burn. Clearly, he is in form.
More importantly, he fits the profile of a PGA Championship winner. Think of him as 2018’s version of Keegan Bradley or Jimmy Walker.
KEVIN KISNER – 90/1
Like Poulter, Kisner is the anti-Bellerive kind of golfer. A (relatively) short hitter who putts like God on one of his better putting days.
He is currently in great form, as he showed for three days at the Open Championship, and has developed the happy knack of producing some of his best golf at the biggest events. He was in the running at last year’s PGA Championship before eventually finishing sixth. It would come as no surprise if he came close again.
AARON WISE – 90/1
Remember the name. There is a cavalry charge of brilliant young American talent coming to a major championship near you and this kid is absolutely one of the best. He has already won on the PGA Tour in his rookie season and he shows no sign of slowing down. More pertinently, he hits the ball a mile off the tee.
If he can contain his nerves he could contend.
TYRRELL HATTON – 90/1
The Englishman has edged his way into the top 25 of the world rankings almost without trace. There is no career defining victory on his golfing CV, only ample evidence of his talent and determination to improve.
The biggest knock on him is that he misses too many cuts but that cannot be said of his major championship performances this year. He has made the weekend in all three majors, with his best finish coming at the US Open, where he finished in a tie for sixth place. Again, he doesn’t fit the big-hitting profile of the favourites, but there is ample evidence to suggest he is capable of a high finish.