Head for the Hills!

Ryder Cup hopefuls need US PGA boost

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

Jeev Milkha Singh, DJ Trahan, Tim Clark

Pat Perez, Charl Schwartzel, Cliff Kresge

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

Simon Dyson, Ken Duke, Robert Allenby

Steve Stricker, Jeff Quinney, Peter Lonard

Ryan Moore, Graeme McDowell, Billy Mayfair

Todd Hamilton, Richard Green, Niclas Fasth

Hunter Mahan, Richard S. Johnson, Jerry Kelly

Sean O'Hair, Scott Hebert, Rod Pampling

Steve Lowery, Brad Martin, Peter Hedblom

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

Hiroyuki Fujita, Don Yrene, Paul Goydos

Steve Marino, Ross Fisher, Daniel Chopra

Pablo Larrazabal, Boo Weekley, Paul Casey

Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, Aaron Baddeley

Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas

Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson

Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Rich Beem

K.J. Choi, Justin Leonard, Chez Reavie

Stewart Cink, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Nick O'Hern

Prayad Marksaeng, Sonny Skinner, Peter Hanson

Steve Flesch, Tim Weinhart, Hennie Otto

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

Ryan Benzel, Brian Gay, Mathew Goggin

Darren Clarke, Tom Lehman, Shingo Katayama

Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington

Bubba Watson, Rocco Mediate, Nick Dougherty

David Toms, Vijay Singh, John Daly

Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker, Woody Austin

Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Fred Couples

Kenny Perry, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose

Rory Sabbatini, Ian Poulter, Chad Campbell

Mike Weir, Alex Cejka, Andres Romero

Sam Arnold, Jyoti Randhawa, Dean Wilson

Ben Crane, Johnson Wagner, Vince Jewell

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

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

Kevin Sutherland, Tim Thelen, Steve Webster

Martin Kaymer, Jim Estes, Heath Slocum

Tommy Armour III, Brendan Jones, Fredrik Jacobson

Ben Curtis, Scott Verplank, Toru Taniguchi

Paul Azinger, Jay Haas, Michael Campbell

Stuart Appleby, Charles Howell III, Soren Kjeldsen

Steve Elkington, Mark Brooks, Bob Tway

Stephen Ames, Mark Calcavecchia, Anders Hansen

Soren Hansen, J.B. Holmes, Chris DiMarco

John Merrick, Kyle Flinton, John Senden

Eric Manning, George McNeill, James Kingston

Alan Morin, Scott Strange, Jonathan Byrd

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

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