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Aug
07
2011

2011 PGA Championship Preview: The Top 10 Contenders.

The PGA Championship typically is a distant 4th when it comes to its place among the 4 majors in golf. This year though it could be the most compelling. 99 of the top 100 players are expected to be there.

Will America go an entire year without a major? Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be there coming off indifferent performances at Firestone, but they are the only two players in the world that can simply turn it on at a moment’s notice.

Is there another player from Northern Ireland that could win a major, after that country has claimed 3 claimed of the last 6 major winners? It seems unlikely, but who thought Darren Clarke would win the British Open? The PGA Championship is being held at the Atlanta Athletic Club, in Atlanta, GA and I think there are 30-35 players that can win this event. Here are my 10 favorites.

1. Rory Mcilory  

Rory Mcilory why not? He’s coming of top 10 at Firestone where he didn’t shoot a round over 68. He said after the British Open he’d rather play in tournaments where its 80 degrees or higher. He’ll love Atlanta, mid 90s and humid. He’s the all-around game to compete anywhere and he’s already a major winner have won this year’s U.S Open. 

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 10 to 1

2. Adam Scott

Get Tiger Wood’s caddie and win arguably the biggest golf tournament of your career. Scott has long been considered to have one of the best swings in golf, but with a putter and maybe a mental game that held him back you started to wonder even at 31 if he had peaked. Guess not… the partnership with Steve Williams seems to be working and resulted in a 4 shot win over a top notch field at Firestone. If you want a hot player to pick here it is. By the way Woods finished 18 shots behind Scott, which left Williams as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning.   

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

3. Jason Day

It’s only a matter of time before this young Australian golfer wins a major. He had three straight top 10 major finishes before a T30 at the British Open, and had another top 10 at Firestone. He’s another of those under 25 players along with Rickie Fowler, Rory Mcilory, and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa that are the future of golf. 

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

4. Lee Westwood

It seems major after major that we are talking about Lee Westwood. 7 top 20 finishes in the last 8 majors he’s played in including 5 top fives. He had a solid outing at Firestone finishing T-9. I really don’t know how Westwood has failed to win a major. Maybe he should change his residency to Northern Ireland. He’s from England it wouldn’t be that far. He’s the current title holder of Best Player in the World without a Major.

All Sports Discussion s odds of Winning: 20 to 1

5. Dustin Johnson

 The ridiculously talented Johnson is making it a habit of contending in majors. He nearly won the British Open and finished T-2 with Phil Mickelson. The Atlanta Athletic Club is a lengthy near 7500 par 70. That’s advantage Johnson, who is one of the longest hitters on tour.

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

6. Phil Mickelson 

Phil Mickelson followed up impressive T-2 at the British Open with MC at The Greenbrier Classic, and T48 finish at Firestone. His driving is just so erratic. If he can even have a remotely decent week off the tee, he’ll be in contention. He finished T-2 the last time the PGA Championship was hosted by the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001. It wouldn’t hurt if Mickelson also does a better with the putts inside 5 feet. At times Mickelson can produce golf no other player in the world is capable of.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 30 to 1

7. Rickie Fowler

I like this young American player. He’s got a little style. He looks like he’s having fun out there, and now his results are starting to really grab folk’s attention. Fowler has yet to win on the PGA tour, but that’s a given. He will win and it might be this week. At the British Open he had his first top 10 in a major, and he just finished T-2 at Firestone. That was his fourth top ten of the year. I’m expecting no worse top 15 finish from Mr. Fowler this week. 

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 35 to 1

8. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has been in more denial about the state of his game that any major sports star I’ve ever seen. Nearly every tournament he’s played in the last 2 years, it’s a variation of “I’m almost there”. It’s become a rather tired act. Fact is much like Phil Mickelson if Tiger doesn’t drive it straighter he isn’t going to win. He showed some expected rust at Firestone with T-37 finish, but he got what he needed, just get out there and play. If he’s playing he’s always a threat.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 40 to 1

9. Steve Stricker

Stricker is the first of a couple of veterans I think can contend in this year’s PGA. Stricker has been the steadiest American golfer in the world the last two years. He hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in a PGA tour event since February. That includes wins at the Memorial and the John Deere Classic. Stricker is not a long player ranking 112th on tour, he just finds to way to score. With long penal rough expected, it might be a patient experienced player that wins. 

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 45 to 1

10. David Toms

Who was the player that won the PGA Championship in 2001 when it was last played at the Atlanta Athetic Club? It was David Toms. Even though the course has been lengthened by nearly 300 yards, you can’t forget about a player that’s won at a venue before. Tom’s has had a pretty solid season with a win at the Colonial and 5 other top ten finishes. He’s even shorter than Stricker, but if Darren Clarke can win the British Open why can’t Toms make a run here? 

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 60  to 1

 


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