Head for the Hills!

Ryder Cup hopefuls need US PGA boost

Bob Warters
Tue, 5 Aug 2008
Head for the Hills!

Great memories: Europeans celebrate at Oakland Hills in 2004. How many will be back in the team after this week's US PGA?

The Oakland Hills course, in Michigan, where this week's US PGA Championship will be played - has great memories for the British and European contingent looking to claim the season's fourth major.

It was here that the Europeans humiliated the US golfers in the 2004 Ryder Cup by nine clear points to extend their winning streak and set up a similar victory at The K Club two years later.

Though most emphatically deny it, with still a month to go before captain Nick Faldo's selection is finalised, the Ryder Cup will also be on the minds of several players hopeful of combining a high finish here with an automatic place on the team.

US PGA golf
Darren Clarke with Montgomerie at Oakland Hills in 2004 - 'class is permanent,' saysWestwood

Oakland Hills has similarities to Valhalla in Kentucky where the Ryder Cup will be staged in September and if a handful of our players, not already in the frame, can show they can hold their game and nerve together at the highest level, they're sure to catch the captain's eye.

Darren Clarke, a Cup hero in the past is coming into form again after a sixth-place finish at Sunday's Bridgestone Invitational and will be looking to justify his pal Lee Westwood's glowing endorsement of his Valhalla credentials.

Westwood said: “Darren sums up the old line 'form is fickle but class is permanent.' We need players like him in the Ryder Cup side.”

Justin Rose, Oliver Wilson, Nick Dougherty, Paul Casey and Ross Fisher can also give themselves a further boost with a good performance this week, along with Ian Poulter.

And, while they have one eye on the Wannamaker Trophy and the other on the Ryder Cup, they will have serious challengers in a handful of Scandinavian exiles also aiming to give Faldo a nudge.

US PGA golf
11th hole at Oakland Hills - similarities to Valhalla

Daniel Chopra, Richard E Johnson, Carl Pettersson and Freddie Jacobson have all savoured wins on the US PGA Tour and can battle their way into the spotlight with victory here.

Chopra says a winner could come from anywhere because Oakland Hills is the toughest course he has ever played.

“I played Augusta this year for the first time and Torrey Pines at the US Open, but those don’t even come close to how hard Oakland Hills will play. The rough is a non-issue because they’ve got bunkers on both sides of the fairways and they’re deep,” he says.

“They're are all designed small so you roll in. You literally just have to trickle into the bunker and get down to the bottom of the flat to have a chance to reach the green.”

US Open runner-up Rocco Mediate agrees.

“Shooting a good score here is one or two under par. It’s just hard but I love that. It’s a difficult driving course and you make a par on a hole and you’re not losing a shot to the field. Hogan didn’t call it a Monster for nothing.”

Tee times (US time) - First two rounds

Thursday, August 7(first hole)/Friday, August 8 (10th hole)

0730/1240: Bradley Dean, Briny Baird, Alastair Forsyth

0740/1250: Bart Bryant, Jeff Martin, Robert Karlsson

0750/1300: Jeev Milkha Singh, DJ Trahan, Tim Clark

0800/1310: Pat Perez, Charl Schwartzel, Cliff Kresge

0810/1320: Ryuji Imada, Carl Pettersson, Corey Pavin

0820/1330: Simon Dyson, Ken Duke, Robert Allenby

0830/1340: Steve Stricker, Jeff Quinney, Peter Lonard

0840/1350: Ryan Moore, Graeme McDowell, Billy Mayfair

0850/1400: Todd Hamilton, Richard Green, Niclas Fasth

0900/1410: Hunter Mahan, Richard S. Johnson, Jerry Kelly

0910/1420: Sean O'Hair, Scott Hebert, Rod Pampling

0920/1430: Steve Lowery, Brad Martin, Peter Hedblom

0930/1440: Oliver Wilson, Curt Sanders, Vaughn Taylor

US PGA golf
Westwood and fellow US PGA hopeful Sergio Garcia

Thursday, August 7 (10th hole)/Friday, August 8, (first hole)

0735/1245: John Mallinger, Frank Esposito, Mark Brown

0745/1255: Hiroyuki Fujita, Don Yrene, Paul Goydos

0755/1305: Steve Marino, Ross Fisher, Daniel Chopra

0805/1315: Pablo Larrazabal, Boo Weekley, Paul Casey

0815/1325: Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, Aaron Baddeley

0825/1335: Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas

0835/1345: Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson

0845/1355: Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Rich Beem

0855/1405: K.J. Choi, Justin Leonard, Chez Reavie

0905/1415: Stewart Cink, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Nick O'Hern

0915/1425: Prayad Marksaeng, Sonny Skinner, Peter Hanson

0925/1435: Steve Flesch, Tim Weinhart, Hennie Otto

0935/1445: Greg Kraft, Rick Leibovich, Parker McLachlin

US PGA golf
Oakland Hills' 17th hole

Thursday, August 7 ( first hole)/ Friday, August 8 (10th hole)

1245/0735: Nicholas Thompson, David Long, J.J. Henry

1255/0745: Ryan Benzel, Brian Gay, Mathew Goggin

1305/0755: Darren Clarke, Tom Lehman, Shingo Katayama

1315/0805: Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington

1325/0815: Bubba Watson, Rocco Mediate, Nick Dougherty

1335/0825: David Toms, Vijay Singh, John Daly

1345/0835: Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker, Woody Austin

1355/0845: Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Fred Couples

1405/0855: Kenny Perry, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose

1415/0905: Rory Sabbatini, Ian Poulter, Chad Campbell

1425/0915: Mike Weir, Alex Cejka, Andres Romero

1435/0925: Sam Arnold, Jyoti Randhawa, Dean Wilson

1445/0935: Ben Crane, Johnson Wagner, Vince Jewell

Thursday, August 7 (10th hole)/Friday, August 8 (first hole)

1240/0730: Charlie Wi, Eric Dugas, Louis Oosthuizern

1250/0740: Kevin Sutherland, Tim Thelen, Steve Webster

1300/0750: Martin Kaymer, Jim Estes, Heath Slocum

1310/0800: Tommy Armour III, Brendan Jones, Fredrik Jacobson

1320/0810: Ben Curtis, Scott Verplank, Toru Taniguchi

1330/0820: Paul Azinger, Jay Haas, Michael Campbell

1340/0830: Stuart Appleby, Charles Howell III, Soren Kjeldsen

1350/0840: Steve Elkington, Mark Brooks, Bob Tway

1400/0850: Stephen Ames, Mark Calcavecchia, Anders Hansen

1410/0900: Soren Hansen, J.B. Holmes, Chris DiMarco

1420/0910: John Merrick, Kyle Flinton, John Senden

1430/0920: Eric Manning, George McNeill, James Kingston

1440/0930: Alan Morin, Scott Strange, Jonathan Byrd

Whom do you think will win? Tell us on the forum.