Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

OPINION: Scheffler, McIlroy the men to beat at PGA Champs

Five South Africans are in the field in Kentucky and one of them is Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner, Ryan van Velzen.

It’s the year’s second Major, the PGA Championship in Kentucky this week, and it’s hard to look past Scottie Scheffler as being the favourite.

The American world number one is by far the game’s most consistent golfer and he’s become something of a serial winner, and goes into the tournament at Valhalla as the reigning Masters champion, having won his second green jacket just a few weeks ago.

However, Scheffler has had some time away from the game to become a father for the first time and one wonders if, and how, this will impact his game in the coming days. The tournament tees off on Thursday.

Rory McIlroy and the LIV group

The other player who’ll be right up there among the favourites – again – is Rory McIlroy, who’s desperate to win another big one and it seems he’s in the form of his life, after his scintillating performance this last weekend when he captured a fourth Wells Fargo title.

Then there are a bunch of others who’ll always be in the mix and cannot be discounted, players like Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, and even Jordan Spieth, and then a bunch of LIV Golf Tour players, like defending champion Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau.

SA challenge

As for the South African contingent, LIV player Dean Burmester is probably his country’s best hope of ending the Major drought.

The big-hitting man originally from Zimbabwe, but schooled in Bloemfontein, won on the LIV Tour not too long ago and will be full of confidence, while Christiaan Bezuidenhout has had some good moments on the PGA Tour in recent times and if he gets it going could also be a contender.

Erik van Rooyen
Erik van Rooyen is one of five SA players in the field at Valhalla. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Then there’s Erik van Rooyen, who played so well initially at Augusta last month, and he, too, has the game to get in the mix, while Thriston Lawrence has been a bit of a revelation in South Africa and on the DP World Tour in the last few years, but one just doesn’t know where his game is right now.

Rookie Sunshine Tour order of merit winner Ryan van Velzen, just 22, has nothing to lose and should go out there are just go for it.

The golf Majors are always special and this week’s PGA Championship is sure to deliver the goods again.

Read more on these topics

Golf PGA Championship Rory McIlroy