The Guggenheim Round produced the highest leaderboard in the history of the PGA Professional Championship. Six players finished tied for first place at 10 under par on Saturday and four more ended up with identical holes-in-one score of 61. The result was so dominant that it’s easy to lose sight of what else happened during the last event before the expanded season unfolds.
It’s worth taking a look back to understand how such an unlikely outcome could occur. The top 60 golfers from both sections of qualifying competed in separate groups on Wednesday and Thursday, with cut scores separating those who made it to Sunday’s final day. At its conclusion, there were five players who had shot rounds under par through three days but only one who had done so in every round. That player was 22 year old Ryan Brehm, who earned his second PGA Professional title by firing a single-round Guggenheim 63 on Sunday afternoon.
To put that feat into perspective, here is a brief description of each golfer’s scorecard and what you can expect from them over the next two years:
The 22 year old from the University of Oklahoma was still in school when he entered the PGA Professional Championship and earned a spot to compete on the 2020 PGA Tour. He finished tied for first place in Guggenheim Round and will have a chance to become the youngest player to win two professional tournaments and qualify for the 2022 PGA Tour.
Berger is a former PGA Tour player who turned professional in 2015. The Delaware native has enjoyed several top 10 finishes this season, including a tie for third place in the Masters and a runner-up finish at the John Deere Classic last month. Berger will be contending for victory at next week’s Valspar Championship, where he is the defending champion.
Cejka’s round of 63 on the final day was his second-lowest score in a single round and the lowest since he played in the 2008 U.S. Open as an amateur. He’s won a PGA Championship and finished second at the 2014 U.S. Open, but he also has finished fourth in four other events this season (including three times at Pebble Beach).
Alex Cejka is always a threat to win, but his best chance is likely when there are high scores. At this point, it’s hard to predict how many tournaments will produce low scores and how often those can happen over the next two years because they are so rare. In general, he’s expected to finish top 20 on the Tour by year two of his deal with Nike Golf.
Ryan Brehm: 22 year old Ryan Brehm shot a Guggenheim 63 on Sunday afternoon to earn his second PGA Professional Championship title, which secured him a spot on Nike Golf’s team for two years starting next year with an entry into The Masters and The British Open
Ryan Brehm is one of four players who share the same scorecard total from Saturday through Sunday, and that came from shooting scores under par in all three rounds
Rory McIlroy: 22 year old Rory McIlroy won his third PGA Tour event of 2014 with a victory at Quail Hollow Club during the Wyndham
Grillo shot a one-round Guggenheim 61 on the final day of the event. Four years ago he was 19 and just starting to find his way as an amateur golfer. He surged in rankings after his performance at the 2012 US Amateur Championship, but hasn’t broken through to win a PGA Professional title yet. Grillo’s best finish is T3 at the 2019 Genesis Open, but he has finished in the top 10 four times since then (T7 at the 2018 Shell Houston Open, T8 at the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship, T2 at the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational and T10 at the 2020 Buick Open).
Thompson finished with a whopping six birdies and one eagle on the day, but he’s likely to have a bounce-back year. He should be battling for that number one ranking again in 2021.
: Jimmy Walker is a golfer who has been around the block. He’s finished in the top five of three different PGA Professional Championship events and is sure to be a threat on Sunday.
Jimmy Walker is a golfer who has been around the block. He’s finished in the top five of three different PGA Professional Championship events and is sure to be a threat on Sunday.
The Bottom Line
There’s no telling who will be the next PGA Professional Champion, but with any luck, it might be one of these five players. Once the season gets underway in earnest, they should have ample opportunity to contend for the title on a weekly basis.