Bellerive Country Club is mostly a mystery to golf fans this week as it gets set to host the US PGA Championship – and for good reason. The St Louis course last hosted the US PGA Championship in 1992 (The year Phil Mickelson turned pro, but wasn’t in the field) and it last hosted the US PGA Tour in 2008 as the site of the BMW Championship. But more than the decade that’s past since then, that year’s leaderboard wasn’t exactly memorable.
No offence to the participants, but it’s not exactly a who’s who of today’s US PGA Tour. Heck, it wasn’t even a who’s who of the US PGA Tour then. And keep in mind, this was a FedEx Cup Playoff event with a loaded field (Albeit, Tiger Woods was still out after knee surgery). Anyway, have a look:
The winner, 26-year-old Camillo Villegas, was actually in the midst of the hottest stretch of his career. Coming off a recent T-4 at the US PGA Championship (his best-ever Major finish), Villegas picked up his first US PGA Tour title at Bellerive. And he’d add a second a few weeks later at the Tour Championship, although Vijay Singh had all-but wrapped up the FedEx Cup after claiming the first two playoff events. Still only 36, Villegas hasn’t played in a Major since missing the cut at the 2015 PGA Championship.
That week’s runner-up, Dudley Hart, had won his second and final US PGA Tour title more than eight years previously and the solo second was his best finish since then. Tied for third were Jim Furyk, a potential Hall of Famer, and Anthony Kim, a guy who flashed the potential to be a Hall of Famer (Sigh). They were hands down the superstars of this group.
Of course, this leaderboard is littered with quality players like Steve Stricker, K.J. Choi, Hunter Mahan, and our own Aaron Baddeley. Tim Clark had a good run before wrist injuries derailed his career. Ben Curtis, Lucas Glover and Trevor Immelman each won a Major. Stephen Ames won a Players and back-to-back Skins Games (RIP). But basically everyone on there is well past his prime. And it wasn’t exactly oozing with star power. Well, other than AK. Again, sigh.
It’s also noteworthy that there weren’t a lot of long hitters in contention at Bellerive. And at least one caddie, Kip Henley, thinks the course still gives non-bombers like his boss, Austin Cook, a fighting chance.
My thoughts on why the shorter hitters actually have a decent chance this week even though Bellerive is a long track ! pic.twitter.com/zJzjgtptqt
— Kip Henley PGA loopr (@KipHenley) August 7, 2018
We wish you the best of luck, Kip. But we also wish for a Sunday leaderboard at Bellerive we’ll all remember this time.