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Eyes on rising star of PGA championships

Jordan Spieth of the United States
Jordan Spieth of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 8, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. PHOTO | COUTESY 

In the year 2068, the Kenya Open Golf Championship will be a century old, a solid 50 years away. For the PGA Championship however, the event marks 100 years this weekend. First played in 1916, the PGA Championship is owned by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and offers a prize purse of US$10m and the winner takes home the Wanamaker Trophy. The trophy was named in honour of Rodman Wanamaker who donated it.

Whilst the PGA Championship is one of the four golf majors, it is unique in some ways. For a start, 20 slots are reserved for club professionals, the guys who work in the golf clubs, manning Pro Shops and offering lessons. You see, whilst the PGA Tour is owned by “tournament professionals” the PGA Championship is still run by the PGA of America, an organisation of teaching and club professionals (www.golfdigest.com). This is also the only golf major that does not send direct invites to amateur golfers; however amateurs who have won a major or a PGA event may be invited.

Despite these differences, the winner of the PGA Championship still enjoys the full rights granted to major winners; including, life time exemption to future PGA Championships, invites to the following year’s majors, five years exemption on both the PGA and European Tours

This year, the PGA Championship returns to the Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri; Bellerive first hosted the championship in 1992.

The players to watch this weekend include Jordan Spieth who will be attempting to complete his career grand slam and join an exclusive list of only five other players. Justin Thomas will be hoping to defend his 2017 title, which he secured at the Quail Hollow Club beating Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed by 2-strokes. Tiger Woods will be hoping to crown off his return to competitive golf with a 15th major victory. Woods has taken the Wanamaker Trophy home a record four times in 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2007. It has been a long time since Wood’s last won a major, 10 years actually, and since that time he has had five surgeries, a divorce and even a DUI charge. At this final major of the season, Woods will be determined to complete his comeback, get back to winning ways and prove his critics wrong.

Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Caroline and he did so in style beating his nearest competitor by 8-strokes. Other players in the field include Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson – the world number one.

Back home, Kenya’s top lady golfer, 18-year old Kellie Gachaga, who will soon be leaving for the USA on a golf scholarship, has won the 2018 Kenya National Junior Strokeplay Championship at the Muthaiga Golf Club. This competition, organised by the Junior Golf Foundation, allows the top boys and top girls to compete on equal footing and on this occasion Kellie posted a 54-hole score of 228, beating top boy Mutahi Kibugu by 3-strokes.

With this victory, Kellie affirms her position as not only the top lady golfer in Kenya but also the top junior golfer amongst both boys and girls.

From the Golf Talk desk, we wish Kellie Gachaga all the best as she pursues here golf dream in the USA.

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