From Jordan Spieth going for the career grand slam to Tiger Woods making his return to the PGA Championship for the first time since 2015, there is no shortage of compelling storylines this year at Bellerive. Here are some other storylines from the 100th PGA Championship that you might not have read about yet.
Show-Me State Connections
Former PGA Champion John Daly (1991) was born in Carmichael, California, raised in Arkansas, but attended Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri. He went on to win a State Championship. He is joined by PGA Club Professional Michael Block, who was born in Reno, Nevada, and then raised in St. Louis. He played high school golf not far from Bellerive, and attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Zach, meet Zach
Two-time Major Champion Zach Johnson, formerly of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and now a resident of St. Simons Island, Georgia, will meet PGA Club Professional Zach J. Johnson of Farmington, Utah, for the first time
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Young Gun from Chile
Joaquin Niemann of Chile, 19, ranked No. 164 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the youngest member of the field at Bellerive Country Club. This year, he became the youngest player since Sergio Garcia in 1999, to accept Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour. At the time, Niemann was 19 years, 6 month, 28 days. Garcia was 19 years, 4 months, 29 days when he first played on the Tour in 1999. Niemann earned his Tour card for 2019 in just eight starts.
Field of Dreams Connection
Native Iowans gather on a different field of dreams – Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids; Sean McCarty of West Branch; Troy Merritt of Osage; and reigning PGA Professional Champion Ryan Vermeer of Spencer.
Designer, Inventor, Trick Shot Artist, PGA Director of Instruction
PGA Club Professional Craig Hocknull of Gilbert, Arizona, is using his own creation – the Saber Cat putter – in play this week at Bellerive. Hocknull’s club was approved by the USGA in June as conforming to the Rules of Golf. He won the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship with the club last month. His other creation – the Saber Cat Trainer warm-up device - was awarded Best New Product at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show.
They Competed at Bellerive in 1992
Three players in this week’s field are the only returnees from the 1992 PGA Championship field at Bellerive Country Club. They went on to combine for four PGA Championship titles: Davis Love III - 1997 (T-33); Vijay Singh – 1998, 2004 (T-48) and John Daly - 1991 (82nd).
Teacher of the Year Hard at Work
Newly-named PGA Teacher of the Year James Sieckmann will be working at the range with the revival of former Open Champion Stewart Cink and India’s Anirban Lahiri.
Aussie Prep Alumni
Three players in the field attended The Kooralbyn International School (TKIS) of Queensland: PGA Tour Professionals Adam Scott, Jason Day and PGA Club Professional Craig Hocknull of Gilbert, Arizona, who is an Australian citizen and since 2002 has carried a “Green Card.”
Global Golf Forum
The 26 countries represented in the 156-player field (not including the United States) matches the PGA record total of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
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St. Louis’ Place in Golf History
The City of St. Louis was the last U.S. city to host an Olympic Golf competition (1904), at Glen Echo Country Club. It was the last city to host a PGA Championship where Ben Hogan competed in the match-play format (1948 at Norwood Hills), and won. It was the first city where an Asian male player (Japan’s Kohki Idoki) became a major champion. Idoki won the 2013 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Bellerive.
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The 100th PGA Championship marks the end of the PGA of America conducting its signature event in August. This week will be the 55th time that the PGA Championship has been played in August. The list began in 1920, when native Scotsman Jock Hutchison of Glenview, Illinois, triumphed at Flossmoor Country Club in Chicago.
Major-Less and Waiting
Countries represented in the field that have yet to have a men’s major golf champion (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship): China, Denmark, India, Japan, Finland and Thailand.
Countries represented in Field without a PGA Champion
Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and Venezuela.