For all intents and purposes, the golf season comes to an end this weekend when the 2014 PGA Championship tees off from Valhalla Golf Club. The Ryder Cup is the biggest team event left, but from an individual perspective, big storylines come to a close.
Of course, there are plenty of storylines to examine before Thursday. Tiger Woods' back has been a focal point since he withdrew from last week's Bridgestone Invitational in the final round. Rory McIlroy is looking for his second consecutive Grand Slam win and third straight win overall.
With McIlroy playing so well, is anyone in the field going to challenge him? How does Tiger's injury change the expert predictions, if at all? We have the answers to those questions and more with a look at the latest odds for the PGA Championship and expert predictions from around the web.
Full odds can be found at Oddsshark.com
Predictions From Around the Web
Michael Collins, ESPN.com
Predicted winner: Adam Scott
Even though the overwhelming consensus, both in the odds and around the Internet, has McIlroy capturing his third straight win, Adam Scott should not be a forgotten man at the PGA Championship.
Just looking at the numbers, Scott and McIlroy have a lot in common. Both have played in 12 PGA events this season with eight top-10 finishes and a scoring average of 69.8. Scott doesn't have the big wins or current momentum, which is why he's flying as under the radar as the No. 2 favorite can.
In his ESPN.com piece, Collins cites Scott's consistency all year as the biggest reason for picking the Australian to win his first PGA Championship:
Say what you want about his extremely limited schedule, but it completely works. Or he could just say, "Gimme my world No. 1 ranking back, kid!" It's almost not fair that a guy this good doesn't play more tournaments as this week is only event No. 13. To think his worst finish in a major this year was a T-14 at the Masters, but that's why he's the best right now.
Scott has the kind of game that plays well at Valhalla. The course is 7,458 yards, the longest ever for a par-71 PGA Championship. He's 18th in driving distance, 31st in greens in regulation and 13th in putting strokes gained.
Consistency has always been Scott's best attribute. He hasn't finished lower than 11th at the PGA Championship since 2011, so eventually the breakthrough will come.
Kyle Porter, CBS Sports
Predicted winner: Rory McIlroy
Who will win the 2014 PGA Championship?
It's rare in any sport to find a player who makes you drop everything you are doing to watch him play. Tiger used to have that effect; Clayton Kershaw draws eyeballs in baseball; LeBron James is must-see TV in the NBA.
Now, though, no athlete in the world is more fun to watch than McIlroy. It's no wonder that Porter, like so many others, has high expectations for the 25-year-old in his sixth appearance at the PGA Championship.
For CBSSports.com, Porter listed McIlroy has his first and second choice to win at Valhalla, though the second time he is listed it's with only nine clubs at his disposal. That's how hot McIlroy is right now:
I'm worried for the rest of professional golf that [this] is just getting started. That last year really was a one-off year. That he's only scratching the surface. The hype for Augusta in 2015 already will be immense; if he wins at Valhalla, it's going to be insane.
Driver, two long irons, three short irons, two wedges, and a putter. I'll still take him.
Courses used to be "Tiger-proof" to prevent him from running away with every event he entered. McIlroy doesn't have the résumé Tiger did at the age of 25 with "only" three Grand Slam wins, but he has shot just one round over 69 in his last two events. It was the final round of the British Open, when he was on cruise control after building such a big lead through three rounds.
Jeff Rude, Golfweek.com
Predicted winner: Sergio Garcia
Lost in all the McIlroy hype is the rise of Sergio Garcia. While the Irishman has won his last two events, Garcia has been the runner-up both times. The Spanish star has actually posted a better scoring average this year (69.3) than McIlroy (69.8).
Even though Garcia's reputation is someone who folds under the pressure, he didn't badly last weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational. His 71 in the final round would have been a strong day for most players, but McIlroy shot a 66 to take the lead at the end.
Writing for Golfweek.com, Rude is completely on board with the new-and-improved Garcia, noting he "is in high form, never more equipped to win a major. It's his time – unless McIlroy again says it isn't."
Garcia now feels like Phil Mickelson did around the time of the 2004 Masters. He has been so close to victory so many times that eventually everything will come together. At 34, Garcia isn't much older than Lefty was when he captured his first Grand Slam.
As noted by the PGA Tour's official Twitter account, Garcia has played well with the putter recently, like during the second round at the Bridgestone:
How good was Sergio Garcia on the greens Friday? He led the field in strokes gained-putting at an outstanding 4.760.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 2, 2014
In addition to playing well, wouldn't it feel good just to see Garcia standing victorious at a Grand Slam event? To say nothing of what the PGA Championship did for putting him on the map 15 years ago in that memorable performance against Tiger.
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