Palmetto State plays host to first major at Kiawah Island

For the first time in the history, the Palmetto State will play host to one of golf’s major championships.

All eyes will be on the South Carolina coast this weekend when the PGA Tour Championship comes to Kiawah Island, and the field will get a taste of our typical August weather.

Those who missed the typical Open Championship weather three weeks ago at Royal Lytham and St. Annes are likely to get more than a dose of it this week in the PGA Championship.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which will be host to one of the four majors for the first time, might be more like the championship links layouts in the United Kingdom than any other course in the United States.

Although it will be considerably warmer, with temperatures in the high 90s, and there may or may not be a bit of rain, expect a hot wind to blow in off the Atlantic Ocean all week.

Keegan Bradley, who last August joined Ben Curtis and Francis Ouiment as the only players since 1900 to claim a major title in their first appearances in one of the Grand Slam events, will defend the title he won at Atlanta Athletic Club in a playoff over Jason Dufner.

Bradley saw the Ocean Course for the first time on PGA Championship media day a few months back and realized what a daunting challenge the Pete Dye-designed course will present.

“If the wind switches around … it’s a different golf course,” he said. “If the wind blows, I think that the winning score could be over par. I’m not sure what the greens are going to be like, what the rough is going to be like, but it’s going to be challenging no matter what the weather.”

Pete Dye designed the Ocean Course specifically for the 1991 Ryder Cup, infamously known as “The War on the Shore,” in which the United States regained the Cup in a contentious atmosphere when Bernhard Langer missed a five-foot putt on the final hole.

While the links-style course should have played right into the Euros’ hands, they claimed that it was almost unplayable at times. Dye returned to tweak the Ocean Course, which can be played as long as 7,937 yards, in 1997, 2002 and 2003, and it has been called the most difficult course in the United States by Golf Digest.

Of the recent changes, Dye said: “(They) told us not to make it any easier. I don’t know if we made it any easier or any harder. We’ll find out. But the players are playing so great today, they will get around. They will find a way to get home somehow or another.”

Tiger Woods played it last week and called it “a big ballpark.” Woods again will try to end his major championship drought, which dates to the 2008 U.S. Open. He remains stuck on 14 in his bid to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Adam Scott, after his late meltdown in the Open Championship, remain the best players in the world without a major title. No matter who comes out on top, it figures to be War on the Shore II; the winner will have to contend with the wind.

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