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Australia chasing PGA Championship #6

Jason Day is the most recent of five Australians to win the PGA Championship.
The PGA Championship has provided more individual Australian winners than any of the other men's majors with five holding the famous Wanamaker Trophy aloft compared to four different Open Championship winners (of nine Opens), two at the US Open and one at the Masters.

At the 1947 PGA, Jim Ferrier became the first Australian to win any major when he defeated American Chick Harbert by the margin of 2&1 when the event was played under the match play format.

Ferrier was born and raised in Sydney but moved to the US in 1940 as a golf journalist and turned professional the following year. He was actually an American citizen when he won the PGA but is still considered Australia’s first ever major winner.

It would take another 32 years before David Graham won the first of his two major titles at the 1979 PGA with a playoff victory over Ben Crenshaw at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan.

In 1990, Wayne Grady surprised the golfing world with his win over Fred Couples at Shoal Creek in Alabama, Steve Elkington beat Colin Montgomerie in extra holes at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles in 1995 and, in 2015, Jason Day edged out Jordan Spieth at Whistling Straits.

Australians have also recorded seven runner-up finishes from Greg Norman and Bruce Crampton (two each), Day, Elkington and Ferrier. 

In 2017, another seven Australians get their chance to add to that record when the event gets underway at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina and World No. 7 Day will be the highest ranked among them.

Jason Day

Day is chasing his second PGA Championship and second major title and showed signs, especially early, last week that his game was not far from where it needs to be to contend once again after his recent indifferent form.

The 29-year-old has played this venue only twice and not for several years but did finish 9th here in one of his starts before the course underwent major changes last year.

Adam Scott

Scott recorded an encouraging 13th place finish last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has played this event well on occasions with four top-10s and, at Quail Hollow, finished 3rd at the 2006 Wachovia Championship.

The Queenslander has been below his best for much of this season but there have been genuine signs that he is warming to his task and if he can manage to put all elements of his game together, then he is a chance but that appears a big ‘if’.

Marc Leishman

Leishman was just average in Akron last week but he had been playing very well prior. Unfortunately for the Victorian, he does not enjoy a good record at Quail Hollow in PGA Tour events, never finishing better than 48th in three starts.

The layout has changed, admittedly, but Leishman would need a significant improvement on his previous efforts at the venue if he is to do well.

Scott Hend  

It has been 12 years since Hend last played Quail Hollow and although he made the cut in each of his two appearances there, he finished well back both times. He is, of course, a significantly better and more experienced player now as was shown with his impressive week at the WGC-Bridgestone last week.

Hend has played just one PGA Championship for a 42nd place last year and if he can find a way to play at the level he did last week, then he could well end up as the leading Australian once again.

Cameron Smith

Smith plays his second PGA Championship having finished a very respectable 25th on debut two years ago. He has played Quail Hollow just once, missing the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2016.

It is hard to see much improvement on that this week, with the Queenslander having missed the cut in four of his last five starts. He did win a two-man teams event earlier in the PGA Tour season but his most immediate form is a concern.

Rod Pampling

Pampling is simply not playing well enough to be a factor this week. He finished near last at the WGC-Bridgestone last week and this is his first PGA Championship start since 2009. He has played Quail Hollow well on occasions but, given his current form, if he was to make the weekend he will have done well.

Stuart Deane

Deane is an interesting character and is the odd man out as far as the Australian players are concerned. He does not have a PGA Tour card but will play his second PGA Championship having missed the cut on debut in 2014. The Queenslander, who coaches collegiate golf in Texas, has lived in the US for many years and, in the mid 2000s, won a $US1 million prize in an event funded by Donald Trump.

He might not stand a chance of contending for the role of leading Australian but Deane, a former Brisbane Golf Club Champion, has done well to play his way into the field via the PGA of America's PGA Professional Championship.

New Zealanders Danny Lee and the emerging Ryan Fox will add significantly to the challenge from down under.      


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