Driver may be key to solving Baltusrol at PGA Championship

Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:38pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The hectic major golf season comes to a close with the PGA Championship at venerable Baltusrol Golf Club starting on Thursday, a classic course where accuracy with the driver could be the key to victory.

World number one Jason Day defends his PGA title on a 7,428-yard course that plays to a par of 70 with two finishing par-five holes that may provide some dramatics in determining the last major champion of 2016.

Baltusrol, designed by famed architect A.W. Tillinghast, has hosted seven U.S. Opens, two of which were won by Jack Nicklaus, and the 2005 PGA Championship, claimed by Phil Mickelson.

"It will be important to drive the ball well, and I actually am looking forward to that challenge," Mickelson told reporters on Tuesday.

The big-hitting American often used 2-iron off the tee in finishing runner-up at the British Open at Royal Troon less than two weeks ago in a season where the majors have been squeezed into a tight period to allow for the Olympic golf tournament.

"I feel good. I feel good with the way I drove the ball at the stretch (at Troon), hitting drivers and being able to put it in play there on a difficult golf course in tough conditions," said Mickelson.

"But that will be a key club this week. You've got to drive the ball straight for sure. It doesn't have to be long. If you notice, the great thing about Baltusrol is how the front of the greens are always open. You have an opportunity to run shots up."

World number four Rory McIlroy, one of golf's best drivers, said the course suits his game as he sets out to win a third PGA Championship.   Continued...

Jul 25, 2016; Springfield, NJ, USA; A sign at the clubhouse entrance during a practice round for the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC - Lower Course. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports