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SA contenders hoping to bag Wanamaker Trophy at PGA Championship

The 102nd edition of the PGA Championship – the first of this year’s Majors because of the spread of the coronavirus – will tee off at Harding Park in San Francisco on Thursday.

There will be 156 players in the field, including defending champion, Brooks Koepka, and six South Africans.

Here Jacques van der Westhuyzen profiles the men from Mzansi, and his five favourites, who’ll be hoping to be handed the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

THE SA CONTENDERS

Christiaan Bezuidenhout: Ranked 47th in the world, the smooth-swinging South African is in his first year of playing on the PGA Tour after some quality performances in Europe and at home early in the year. Finished tied-20th at last week’s WGC St Jude Invitational.

Dylan Frittelli: The 30-year-old will be making his fourth appearance at the tournament, with a best finish of tied-31st two years ago. Frittelli has had a decent season so far, with three top-10s and eight top-25s in 20 starts.

Shaun Norris: The six-time international winner – on the Asian, Japan and Sunshine Tours – missed the cut at last year’s tournament at Bethpage and sadly finished down the leaderboard in Memphis last week.

Louis Oosthuizen: He finished in a tie for second at Quail Hollow in the 2017 championship – his best finish in 10 starts, making the cut in seven. The 37-year-old, and ranked 24th in the world, finished in a tie for sixth at the WGC event last week.

Charl Schwartzel: The 35-year-old former Masters champ wasn’t in the field last week, but before that he finished tied-third at the 3M Open, three shots off the winner, Michael Thompson, so he has some form behind him.

Erik van Rooyen: The 44th-world-ranked 30-year-old finished strongly at last week’s St Jude Invitational (tied-20th with a final round 65) and will hope to improve on last year’s excellent tied-eighth finish at Bethpage Black.

MY FIVE PICKS

Justin Thomas: The now 13-time PGA Tour winner is the world number one again and coming off a win in Memphis last week. He’s finished in the top-10 in his last seven starts and was PGA champion just three years ago. Ticks all the boxes and is in red-hot form.

Brooks Koepka: The four-time Major champion is hitting form at the right time and bar a poor second round at last week’s WGC event, played superbly to finish tied-second, three off the pace. Won the PGA in 2018 and 2019 and is looking for a hat-trick of wins.

Tony Finau: In the last four seasons only five players have racked up at least 30 top-10s on the PGA Tour: the 30-year-old Finau is one of them. Ranked 17th in the world, he always seems to be in contention and may well close it out this week. He’s in good nick.

Collin Morikawa: At the time of last year’s PGA Championship, the 23-year-old was still at university, finishing his degree. Now, he’s a two-time Tour winner and the world No 12. This will be his first appearance at the PGA Champs, and he could go all the way.

Bryson DeChambeau: The most-talked about player on tour is also the longest and strongest player on tour. And, he’s also the most consistent: he’s contended almost every week (with one win) since the tour’s resumption, and will be out for a first Major this week.

@jacq_west

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