Hot off the heels of winning his first senior major last week, Miguel Angel Jimenez headlines the field at the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship this week, once again held at Harbor Shores, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Past champions playing this year include Rocco Mediate(2016), two-time winner Colin Montgomerie(2014, 2015), Tom Lehman(2010), and Jay Haas(2008). Defending champion and leading money winner Bernhard Langer has decided not to play this year, opting to attend his son’s high school graduation instead.
With Langer not in the field, the championship is wide open. If we go down the money list of the 2018 PGA Tour Champions, we see that both Steve Stricker and Joe Durant, numbers 2 and 3 on the list, respectively, finished tied for second behind Jimenez last week at the Regions Tradition, the first senior major of the year. Jimenez himself stands at number 4 on that list. Number 6 on the money list, Gene Sauers, also finished tied for second with Stricker and Durant. The man at number 5, Jerry Kelly, finished tied for 8th, just two strokes out of second. Obviously, all of these men are playing well right now and deserve to be considered favorites going into the championship.
Vijay Singh, while he stands at number seven on the money list, did not have a high finish last week, although he did shoot 10 under par and managed to place in the top 20. Scott McCarron and Jeff Maggert, who are at 8th and 9th on the list, both finished in a tie for fifth last week, so they have to be given consideration. Mediate, while lower down at number 14 on the money list, was the winner the last time the event was held at this venue in 2016, and finished the Regions Tradition tied for eighth with Kelly, so he seems to be on the upswing and coming to a course where he has had success.
The 2018 Senior PGA Championship will once again be played at Harbor Shores, the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course on Lake Michigan, located in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Harbor Shores has hosted the championship three times before, then called the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Now known as the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Harbor Shores will again play host in 2020, 2022, and 2024. The course plays to a par of 71 at a distance of 6,852 yards.
This event can trace its history back to 1937, when the very first Senior PGA Championship was played at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. Then known as the PGA Seniors’ Championship, the inaugural event was won by Jock Hutchison with a 54-hole score of 223, winning by eight shots over George Cordon. Hutchison, though born in St. Andrews, Scotland, was the first U. S. based player to win the Open Championship in 1921, at St. Andrews. What a homecoming that must have been! Sam Snead won this championship six times over a 10-year period, beginning in 1964, with his sixth title coming in 1973. Hale Irwin was a four time champion. The record score for this event is 265, handed in by Rocco Mediate in 2016, the winner of this championship the most recent time it was held at this course, as stated before.
Who Will Win?
While Jimenez showed last week he can get the job done when the pressure is on, none of the others that have been mentioned here can be counted out this week in Michigan. All of the players at or near the top of the money list appear to be rounding into form and playing very well.
Can Jimenez continue his major winning ways and add another title to his first ever major from last week?
Will Stricker, Durant, or Sauers be able to put aside their disappointment of finishing just short at the Regions Tradition?
How about McCarron, Maggert, or Mediate? Or even Kelly or Singh?
Does Duffy Waldorf or Bob Estes, both of whom finished high last week, have a chance?
Please feel free to let me know who you think will win the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Correction: Steve Stricker did not play in this event. He competed on the PGA Tour in the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club.