PGA Championship 2012: Early Buzz and Bold Predictions for Season's Final Major

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIAugust 6, 2012

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 05:  Tiger Woods plays his shot on the second tee during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course on August 5, 2012 in Akron, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2012 PGA Championship will tee off on Thursday at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina.

The 2012 season has seen some crazy results, and up-and-down play by the top guys the sport has to offer.

Here is a look at the latest buzz and some predictions heading into a weekend where anything is possible.


Tiger Woods paired with last two champions

Tiger Woods will always be the biggest draw at any event he attends, and this week he'll be paired with the past two winners of the PGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer will join Woods on the 10th tee to kick things off at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, and the trip will open play at 1:40 p.m. on Friday off the first tee. 

That should be a fantastic group to watch. The 26-year-old Bradley and 27-year-old Kaymer are two of the tour's young guns. Seeing them paired with Woods will be interesting. 

This group will be good for Woods because it should be relaxed, as opposed to his high-pressure pairing with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson to open the 2012 U.S. Open. Kaymer and Bradley are likely to be meek as lambs around the veteran Woods, which should help Tiger's game. 


Phil Mickelson's struggles will continue

This has not been Phil Mickelson's year, and he has struggled mightily over the past few weeks. After finishing tied for third at the Masters back in April, the man known as "Lefty" has had serious problems keeping his game together. 

Mickelson finished tied for 26th at the Wells Fargo Championship, tied for 25th at The Players Championship and tied for seventh at the HP Byron Nelson before withdrawing from the Memorial citing mental fatigue.

Things didn't improve as he finished tied for 65th at the U.S. Open after barely making the cut, then missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic. After that, he missed the cut at the British Open.

Mickelson is just off right now and there is no reason to believe he'll turn things around this weekend. He won the PGA back in 2005, but hasn't looked capable of that kind of showing over the past few months. 


Woods will be in contention on Sunday

Tiger Woods has slowly regained his form this year and while he is still in the midst of a long major drought, he has played much better of late.

This weekend should be no different.

While I won't go so far as to predict a win for Woods to complete his comeback, I do think he'll be in the hunt when Sunday rolls around. 


Streak of new winners will continue

Remarkably, the last 16 major championships have all had different winners, which is the longest stretch in golf history. This weekend will continue the trend as someone will emerge from nowhere to take the PGA Championship.

The PGA is one of the more unpredictable majors, and the last three winners have come out of nowhere. Y.E. Yang won in 2009, while Kaymer (2010) and Bradley (2011) emerged from nowhere to take the last two crowns. 

With some of the tour's top players having up-and-down seasons, there is no reason to believe this weekend will be any different.