As was often the case during his run of dominance, there is no hotter player in golf right now than Tiger Woods. Although a rocky third round at the U.S. Open knocked him out of contention, Woods has won two of the past three tournaments he has entered, including the AT&T National this past week, and he will try to win another heading into the Open Championship.
This week, Woods and many of the PGA Tour's top players will compete in the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. Woods currently has a ton of momentum on his side, but he is certainly looking to pick up even more as he readies for the British Open in two weeks. There will be plenty of other strong players hoping to do the same thing, however.
Here is a breakdown of Tiger's biggest competition this week and predictions regarding whether they can curtail Woods' progress.
Entering the U.S. Open, Webb Simpson had missed two consecutive cuts and wasn't playing particularly well. He wasn't much of a factor over the course of the first couple rounds in the major either, but he certainly turned it on when it counted on Sunday. Simpson ended up at one-over par, and since those around him faltered, he became a first-time major champion. It was truly the culmination of a meteoric rise toward the top of the sport for Simpson.
Simpson decided to honor his commitment and play the very next tournament as well, finishing 29th in the Travelers Championship. Simpson shot three sub-70 rounds in that tournament, so while his placing may not seem impressive, his play carried over from the U.S. Open.
Simpson is the only golfer who has been as successful as Woods lately and I consider him to be Tiger's closest competition, although Woods may be too much for anyone to handle.
At the age of 42, Jim Furyk may be playing better now than he has at pretty much any other point during his career. Furyk had a golden opportunity to win the U.S. Open, and while some late issues resulted in his finishing fourth, he may have played the best and most consistent golf of the tournament. Prior to that, Furyk hadn't finished worse than 26th in eight straight tournaments, so he has been in the mix in essentially every tournament thus far.
Furyk's U.S. Open collapse may have affected him last week as he finished 34th and didn't play his best at the AT&T National, but he is a veteran who can easily bounce back from something like that.
There aren't many guys who can go head to head with Tiger and hold up, but Furyk seems like one golfer who can. He was paired with Woods in the third round of the U.S. Open and out-dueled him, and he will look to do the same this week.
There are so many talented golfers on tour currently that it's easy to forget about a guy like K.J. Choi. He doesn't have one aspect that stands out in his game, but he is simply a consistent, honest player who always seems to be in contention.
This year hasn't been the greatest for Choi as he has missed four of the past seven cuts, but when he does make it, he is usually a force to be reckoned with. Choi finished a respectable 15th at the U.S. Open and is set to prepare for the British Open as well.
Choi has yet to win a major, but he is reaching the point where golf fans refer to him as one of the best players who hasn't won one yet. He has finished in the top 10 in majors on several occasions and it may just be a matter of time before he is victorious.
Choi will look to rebound from missing the cut at the AT&T National last week, and if he can turn in a solid performance at the Greenbrier, he'll be dangerous moving forward.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter