A sixth Aussie PGA Champion? Don’t bet against it.

By Paul Prendergast.

Photo: Golfplus Media

Cam Davis, Jason Day, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Min Woo Lee, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and Adam Scott form an impressive list seeking to become just the sixth Australian to win the PGA Championship when the year’s second major championship commences at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma next week.

Since the late 60s, Julius Boros had held the record as the oldest male major champion at age 48 but Phil Mickelson’s ‘age shall not weary’ performance to claim an improbable victory in 2021  provided evidence to everyone in this year’s field – and those for years to come – that success at the highest level is not necessarily capped at an age in your 40s, or even age 50 as Mickelson was in his spritely triumph at Kiawah Island last year. 

Mickelson has made the decision to extend his hiatus from the game and will therefore not defend in Oklahoma, although dramatic storylines and rhetoric are still assured as fellow Hall of Famer Tiger Woods remains among the entries at the time of writing.  

Not that he’s THAT close to the half century but for veteran Adam Scott – teeing it up in his 22nd PGA at Southern Hills – Mickelson’s success will have demonstrated that the end of a player’s competitive window at this level can still be somewhat distant if they remain healthy and desirous of maintaining their game to the lofty standard required.  

Scott is the only Australian remaining from the PGA’s 2007 staging at Southern Hills, won by Woods, and has memories of a T12th finish to fall back on as he continues his quest to add a second major championship title to what to many would be an already impressive resume. 

Although his results in PGA Championships past have been less than desirable, Smith is clearly our best chance to add to the Australians in Jim Ferrier, David Graham, Wayne Grady, Steve Elkington and Day in 2015 (pictured) who have their names permanently etched on the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy. On form, the world No. 4 is among the top handful of players to whom ‘favoritism’ status will be affixed, alongside Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and others also ranked in the Top 10.

Now embarking on his 23rd major championship campaign and with a point to prove after his close shave at Augusta last month, expectations are high that Smith will bounce back with another of the strong performances we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him in the bigger events in recent years. 

Given his stature in the game at present, I’d expect that anything less than victory would now be considered a disappointment to the 28-year old Queenslander himself. For Day and Leishman in particular, victory would provide further validation of their careers and for Leishman, an ‘overdue’ first major championship. Victory for any of the other Australians would be life changing, expecially so for Lee, Herbert and Davis who are in the early stages of their major championship careers.

Opportunity knocks but four times a year for major championship glory and with the bulk of the field having had little exposure to Southern Hills and all but one of the Australians ranked in the world Top 100, why not another Australian topping the list come Sunday?

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