After a five year hiatus, Whistling Straits is the venue for the season's final major and one man may be itching to get back there more than anybody else. In 2010, Dustin Johnson incurred a two-stroke penalty on the 72nd hole that cost him a shot in a playoff with Bubba Watson and eventual winner Martin Kaymer - 51.00. Arguably, world number one Rory McIlroy - 10.00 - will have been just as eager to get back though.
Rory was just one shot shy of the winning total at Whistling Straits in 2010 and he has been nursing an injured ankle that forced him out of the Open Championship. With two practice rounds on the Straits course now under his belt, he's declared it a "non-issue". The Irishman is now set to resume battle with Jordan Spieth - 8.00 - for the number one spot and this is the perfect track for Rory - he's long and straight, equipped with towering irons, and he will be coming into greens he claimed were "softer than they would have liked" in 2010.
The WGC Bridgestone can generally be used a decent guide when profiling the potential winner of the PGA Championship. Firestone plays long, firm and fast and tests a player's all round game. so guys who feature there usually play well the following week at the major. Indeed, Rory McIlroy went back-to-back at Firestone and Valhalla in 2014. Five of the top six at Valhalla finished in the top 19 at Firestone last year. Ryan Palmer completed the top 6 but didn't tee it up at the WGC. 2015 saw McIlroy's compatriot Shane Lowry - 41.00 - win at the Bridgestone and he's attracting a weight of money for Whistling Straits.
The Course - Whistling Straits (Straits Course)
Said to "emulate the great links of Britain and Ireland", Whistling Straits is a links style course. It's aesthetically similar though the grasses and subsoil are not the same. Bentgrass and other strains are dominant over fescue and the soil is not 100% sand based. This means the Straits course can be played more through the air than on the ground, though winds off Lake Michigan will have their say. Birdies will be the brief but expect volatility on the leaderboards with some big numbers made as trouble lurks, mainly in the shape of pot bunkers that lie below the level of the fairways and greens.
The Straits course designed by Pete Dye played just over 7,500 yards in 2010 but can stretch 7,800 yards from the tips should a curve ball be thrown. Big hitting, aggressive birdie makers dominated the last renewal here. Fairways are pretty generous and Bubba, Dustin and Rory had an average driving distance ranking of 5.66 between them in the calendar year 2010. The result was 54 birdies and two eagles made by the trio at Whistling Straits in 2010. In the 2004 renewal on the Straits course, winner Vijay Singh topped the season birdie or better percentage stat, and ranked 13th in driving distance for that year. Greens are generally watered daily in the summer here.
Three from the pack
I think a marquee name will win this week and Dustin Johnson is my favourite at 17.00 or 5.00. DJ will have revenge on his mind and he carded 16 birdies and an eagle here in 2010. As well as lying third in the driving distance stats that year at season end, he was second in birdie or better percentage. It's more of the same in 2015 for the big man, sitting second in par breakers and topping the driving distance ranks. DJ led the Open Championship at halfway and was bang in it again after 36 at Firestone. He disappeared both times over the weekend but Whistling Straits is a course for this particular horse.
Jason Day - 13.00 or 4.00 - has been on fire of late and not many players have a better recent major championship record than the Aussie who owns six top 10s in his last 11 majors (four of them top fives). He has two more runner-up finishes at The Masters and US Open in 2011 to add to his resume, while he notched a T10 here at Whistling Straits in 2010. Jason sits second in par breakers in 2015 and he's third in the driving distance stats. He comes here off the back of a WGC Bridgestone Invitational where just one bad shot late Saturday (resulting in an eight) cost him a real shot at the title. Jason pipped Bubba Watson to Canadian Open success two weeks ago.
Bubba Watson - 15.00 or 4.50 - played bridesmaid here at Whistling Straits five years ago - a season in which he was fifth in birdie or better percentage and second in driving distance. Watson carded 18 birdies, one eagle and nine bogeys for a 277 total. Watson secured a runner-up finish at the WGC Bridgestone over the weekend to add to his second spot behind Jason Day in Canada. He was second in driving distance at Firestone. Bubba's win this year was at the Traveler's Championship on a TPC River Highlands track redesigned by Pete Dye. The American lies fourth in par breakers in 2015.
Brooks Koepka - 41.00 or 9.00 - is not your typical sleeper in pricing terms but he's an "outsider" who ticks all the boxes for Whistling Straits. Brooks ranks sixth in driving distance, ninth in par breakers and third in scoring average in 2015. He owns progressive 33-18-10 major form this season and notched a top five at the US Open last year. He was 15th at the PGA Championship at Valhalla. The fast swinger comes to the Straits course off the back of a T6 at Firestone and fits the course profile perfectly.