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The Par 5 second at Oakland Hills. (Image:Chris M Richards/Flickr)

Game Under Repair presents the 2008 PGA Championship Preview…

Beastly course, that Oakland Hills. Holy crap. As the true renewed golf nerd that I am, I was taking a tour of Oakland Hills on pgatour.com. I challenge you to find a tougher set of par 3s on any course, anywhere. Seriously. Hole 3, 198 yards. Hole 9, 257 yards. Hole 13, 191 yards. Hole 17, 238 yards.

So the 9th hole is one of the most difficult par 3s in major championship history, and that was when it was playing at 220 yards.  The 9th is over 30 yards longer than that now! The players are going to be hitting a 3 wood or hybrid into this nasty sloping green. And 17, wow, this hole should be interesting on Sunday. It’s followed by a 498 yard par 4.  What a mean pair of closing holes. 

In all, Oakland Hills is measuring near 7,400 yards. Rees Jones came in and added a lot of length to the track after the 2004 U.S. Amateur, when Ricky Barnes blew 300 yard drives past many of the fairway bunkers.

With those changes, the difficulty of the course has gone up a notch. But by all accounts, from what I’ve read this week, the course is still fair, and not quite the nastiness of an Open course.  We’ll go with four under as the winning score.

With that said, who will win the 2008 PGA Championship? The staff here at Game Under Repair ( in other words, me, the 32-year-old, 5ish handicapper with graying hair and excessive flatulence) predicts one of the following two players will win the tournament.

We’ll start with Lee Westwood. Okay, I just really love his swing. But besides that, here’s a few thoughts: Lee’s never won a major, and the Englishman is due. He finished tied for 2nd last week at the WGC, tied for 3rd at the U.S. Open, and tied for 11th at the Masters. He’s got the length to handle the course. I think it’s just a matter of whether Lee can manage these greens with his always shaky short game.

Second pick: Anthony Kim.  So Kim’s the hot “it” player these days, so it’s not like I’m going out on a limb here. He’s long off the tee. He’s won twice this year. And he’s just 23. After watching Anthony a couple of weeks ago at the Canadian Open, I thought he seemed kind of lackadaisical in the final round. If he starts well, watch out. But if he shoots a 74 on Thursday, will he have the mental fortitude to come back?  I think he’ll shoot well this week. Look for a top 10 finish.

My darkhorse: Okay, I’ll admit this is ridiculous. But in light of Greg Norman’s run at the British, I’m going to go with Colin Montgomorie as my longshot pick.  Very unlikely. He’s not that long off the tee, he’s getting old, etc. But he came close a couple of years ago and maybe the hated Brit has one more run at a major in him.

For the record, my wife Katie is going with Steve Stricker. Quite a solid pick, I thought. He finished top 10 at Royal Birkdale, so why not? He’s one of the few players she knows of (it’s random, I know), other than Tiger, Phil Mickelson, and Jason Bohn.  Tiger needs no explanation. Phil is #2 in the world, and she remembers him from when we saw him at the Bellsouth Classic in Atlanta a few years ago. She knows Jason Bohn because we followed him at that same tourney, and he resides in my former hometown of Cartersville, Georgia. Anyway, watch out for Stricker.

So there you have it. Game Under Repair’s First Annual PGA Championship preview. You’re going to hear about Phil, Sergio, Ernie, blah, blah. But Game Under Repair has spoken…Westwood and Kim are the players to watch. Put that in your proverbial pipe and light it up.  

We’ll be back over the weekend to see how things are stacking up. Come on back now.

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