Why I’ll be watching the PGA Championship because of Full Swing

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There are some big storylines to look out for at the PGA Championship as Justin Thomas defends the title

With the PGA Championship starting this week, I find myself checking the ‘Live on Sky’ page to see what time the first round is on.

That would have been hard to believe six months ago. But six months ago, I had not watched Full Swing.

As a reality TV fanatic and a sports journalist, Full Swing represented the best of both worlds to give me my first real insight into a sport I had covered professionally but never followed as a fan.

The second major of the year sees the PGA Championship return to Oak Hill Country Club, with extended coverage live on Sky Sports

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The second major of the year sees the PGA Championship return to Oak Hill Country Club, with extended coverage live on Sky Sports

The second major of the year sees the PGA Championship return to Oak Hill Country Club, with extended coverage live on Sky Sports

There had been times I had watched a dramatic end to a tournament, like the Ryder Cup of 2012 when my 15-year-old-self stayed up late into the night, but my interest was at best peripheral.

However, with last year’s PGA Championship featuring heavily in series one and the world’s best all featuring again at Oak Hill, I will this time have a vested interest after the show taught me more about some of the sports’ star names. Here are five of those storylines from Full Swing to look out for…

Justin Thomas: The defending champion

Justin Thomas wins his second PGA Championship after beating Will Zalatoris in a three-hole play-off

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Justin Thomas wins his second PGA Championship after beating Will Zalatoris in a three-hole play-off

Justin Thomas wins his second PGA Championship after beating Will Zalatoris in a three-hole play-off

What does Full Swing teach us: We are introduced to Thomas in the first episode of Full Swing as he hunts down the 2022 PGA Championship. Although already known as a confident character, we gain real insight into the ruthless mentality he has to fightback from a poor start and win his second major. Despite his career being born out of a traditional route into professional golf, Thomas has a solid grounding that we get to see through his relationship with his father that takes centre stage, guiding him along the way in the sport they both love.

What to expect from Thomas at the PGA Championship 2023: As the current world No 9, Thomas will want to show he is still one of the top performers, and what better way to do that than to retain a major title? Expect his family on the sidelines once again and further insight into that ruthless mentality as he looks to lead the pack on the world stage.

Tony Finau: The family man

Highlights of round four at the Mexico Open as Tony Finau claimed the title

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Highlights of round four at the Mexico Open as Tony Finau claimed the title

Highlights of round four at the Mexico Open as Tony Finau claimed the title

What does Full Swing teach us: In one of the most heart-warming episodes of Full Swing, we are introduced to Tony Finau and his family. Finau’s family travel with him to the majority of his tournaments and the episode cements Finau as one of golf’s good guys. Down to earth, family focused, and the protagonist of a real underdog story. After watching episode six, it is hard to not have a new favourite golfer to follow.

What to expect from Finau at the PGA Championship 2023: With a win at the Mexico Open under his belt, holding off world No 1 Jon Rahm, there is no doubt Finau will be targeting his first major success at the PGA Championship. Straight after winning the Mexico Open, Finau was out on the par-three course with his children and, if he wins at Oak Hill Country Club, expect similar touching scenes. What a sight that would be.

The controversy of LIV: Will its stars shine?

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson put on a superb final-round performance with five birdies in his last seven holes to claim joint-second spot in April

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Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson put on a superb final-round performance with five birdies in his last seven holes to claim joint-second spot in April

Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson put on a superb final-round performance with five birdies in his last seven holes to claim joint-second spot in April

What does Full Swing teach us: It was quite the year for Netflix to follow the PGA Tour as the breakaway LIV Golf tournament shocked the golfing world. With the likes of Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Lee Westwood defecting to LIV, golf worked through a huge controversy and Full Swing gave us an insight as some of them admitted that money over history was at play.

Indeed, it was perfectly summarised by Johnson: “For me it was playing less, making more money. Pretty simple. Someone offers anyone a job, doing the same thing they’re already doing but less time at the office and they’re going to pay them more. Pretty sure you’re going to take it. And something’s wrong with you if you didn’t.”

What to expect from the LIV golfers at the PGA Championship 2023: With LIV now in full swing (pardon the pun), the only real time we get to see LIV players up against PGA Tour players is at the majors. The LIV camp performed extremely well at The Masters, with Koepka and Phil Mickelson tying for second and Patrick Reed finding himself in a share of fourth. It will be an underlying storyline again at Oak Hill, where 17 LIV players are scheduled to play.

Matt Fitzpatrick: The Northern star

What does Full Swing teach us: Another down-to-earth man, in episode five, Matt Fitzpatrick’s northern charm really comes to the fore. Joined by his Sheffield-born parents and brother, Fitzpatrick exudes humility on his run to a maiden major win at the US Open and emotional scenes ensue. Not only is he humble, but he is also a craftsman and technician, and the episode gives you further appreciation of just how hard he works to be at the top of his game, writing down every golf shot he has ever hit. Yes, really.

Matt Fitzpatrick beat defending champion Jordan Spieth on the third hole of a play-off to win the RBC Heritage

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Matt Fitzpatrick beat defending champion Jordan Spieth on the third hole of a play-off to win the RBC Heritage

Matt Fitzpatrick beat defending champion Jordan Spieth on the third hole of a play-off to win the RBC Heritage

What to expect from Fitzpatrick at the PGA Championship 2023: With a Ryder Cup coming in September, Fitzpatrick will want to use the rest of this year’s majors to make his mark once again. Fitzpatrick has already enjoyed PGA Tour success in recent weeks, defeating Jordan Spieth in a play-off at the RBC Heritage, so it would be little surprise to see him challenging again this week.

Joel Dahmen: The underdog

Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen led the crowd in celebration after Higgs sank an eight-footer for par on the 16th at TPC Scottsdale

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Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen led the crowd in celebration after Higgs sank an eight-footer for par on the 16th at TPC Scottsdale

Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen led the crowd in celebration after Higgs sank an eight-footer for par on the 16th at TPC Scottsdale

What does Full Swing teach us: For many, Joel Dahmen is the standout hero from Full Swing as we meet the self-deprecating nice guy with real talent that is occasionally unlocked. With his best friend Geno Bonnalie as his caddie, Dahmen is ‘Mr Normal’ and as he goes on a white claw-fuelled run at the US Open, you can’t help but root for him. Despite a lack of self-belief, Dahmen is buoyed on by those around him and is a perfect representation of a good guy you want to do well and work his way up the world rankings.

However, Dahmen himself is content with his standing in the golfing world and, in one of the quotes of the series, explains: “Somebody’s got to be the 70th-best golfer in the world…it might as well be me.”

What to expect from Dahmen at the PGA Championship 2023: The PGA Championship was a disappointment for Dahmen in 2022 as he did not make the cut, but if we look back at 2020, we know he has the ability to break into the top 10. When he makes the cut, the crowds are always behind him, so, if he is on his game, he could be one of the real stories of the week. Indeed, could he have his career high and win it? Stranger things have happened….

When is the PGA Championship on Sky?

Sky Sports will show extended live coverage from all four rounds of the PGA Championship. Live coverage begins from 1pm on Thursday and Friday on Sky Sports Golf, then 2pm over the weekend.

Watch ‘Full Swing’ on Netflix, which can be accessed by Sky customers via Sky Q and Sky Glass. Non-subscribers can get Sky Sports here.

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