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PGA Championship 2011: 10 Players with Best Shot at Winning Title

Immer ChriswellCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2011

PGA Championship 2011: 10 Players with Best Shot at Winning Title

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    As the PGA Championship finally dawns upon us, it's time for the pools to be opened. Everyone wants to know who has the best shot at winning.

    There are so many factors that go into winning. Is the player streaking, on the start of a stumble? Is he that steady presence that nobody recognizes, somewhat paralleling Matt Kuchar's year? Does the course play too much beyond the player's comfort zone?

    With so many questions, it's time to get some answers.

Reality Check

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    1. Rory McIlroy is not going to be a favorite in my book. In no way, shape or form is he a favorite. 

    McIlroy's played tons of good golf. He's everyone else's favorite to win. But let's look at the reality. He's dominated one major already. He's 22 years old. No 22-year-old has experienced two major dominance in a single year without exceptional talent.

    While McIlroy's may be great, it's not his year to take two majors. Just take it like it is

    2: Tiger Woods is not a favorite either. His game hasn't shown any reason to be a favorite. He is a dark horse, though. He fits that bill for sure. Game down, has the potential to succeed and the mentality to win.

    If there's anything that defines a dark horse, Woods fits it. If there's anything that defines a favorite, he doesn't.

Phil Mickelson

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    So after stating that Woods and McIlroy don't have status as a favorite, how does Phil Mickelson?

    Simple. Mickelson has not had a fantastic year. It was a disappointment by many people's hopes of him coming into this year.

    However, a year is measured on its whole accomplishments. That year is not over, and Mickelson still has tons of potential to finish the year big. His game isn't as low as Woods', and he's still looking for more out of this year.

    This week would be the perfect opportunity, and Mickelson has a lot of talent and a good chance to bring home the Wannamaker.

Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald will probably never win a U.S. Open.

    The courses have become too long in the U.S. Open for a player like Donald to contend. He doesn't hit his driver long or extremely accurate, so off the tee he is at a heavy disadvantage.

    His short game would have to be through the roof. And though it is very good, almost no player could rely on putting so heavily.

    However, 7,400 yards can be managed. If you say a tour average is 7,200 yards, it's only adding 10 yards per hole, or one club size.

    Donald's short game here can thrive since the rough isn't as punishing. It's not a traditional Bermuda that swallows the ball. It has more density to it and will let the ball sit up nicer. Donald is looking for his signature win for his top ranking, and this is his chance.

Martin Laird

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    So far, in every Major this year, the value of the Euro has been high. Which brings us to Martin Laird.

    Most people don't know of Laird too well, but they don't read leaderboards very closely because Laird has had his fair share of successes this season, including a victory at Bay Hill. Laird was hot at the start of the season, but he has faded a little bit.

    However, that's not to say that he can't reheat and win again. He played very well at Firestone and could be a hot contender come this Sunday.

Nick Watney

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    The top American hope. That's what Nick Watney has become for this season. He has two wins and a FedEx Cup lead coming into this week, and as of now is the leader in the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award that seems to have no clear winner.

    However, should Watney win this week, he would erase almost any hopes of overcoming him for Player of the Year.

    Last year Watney's final-round collapse played second fiddle to the bunker that doomed Dustin Johnson. Let's hope it's Watney playing first this time, scoring a win for America. 

Jason Day

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    Could the Aussies make strides at winning back-to-back performances? Very likely.

    Jason Day's game has been exceptionally good, as he has put himself in contention to bring home some big tournaments.

    Not only does Day have the game, he exudes confidence almost to a point of arrogance. Sounds like a golfer to me.

Rickie Fowler

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    I know it's hard to imagine Fowler as having a good chance, but let me give you a number.

    One hundred. That's how many putts Fowler had over four rounds of play.

    A spectacular 25 putts per round, eclipsing Ryo Ishikawa by just one.

    Many people will point at Fowler's failure to finish, however, let's look at this past week. Fowler came in knowing he had to go low in the final round, and he posted a number that was very good.

    His 66 was not enough, because Adam Scott played phenomenally.

Dustin Johnson

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    Despite what a horrid year this has been for Dustin Johnson, he showed up and contended last major. So it begs the question: Has he learned from these repeated losses? Or is it just systematically destroying his psyche?

    Right now it appears that he is ready to win, he just needs a few more shots inside 150 to get close. 

    Johnson's long game has excelled, but his shorter shots have gone by the wayside. He better be ready for some short shots in at only 7,400 yards (it's only 7400...you wish you could say that). 

Sergio Garcia

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    Earlier this year I picked this as Sergio's first career Major. Just for that I'm sticking to my guns. Why? Because all it takes is a few more putts to drop and Sergio's right up there at the top of the leaderboard. 

    Then again he's gotten up there without making putts.

    Last week's performance at Bridgestone was forgettable all around. But overall there are plenty of people who agree Sergio has made a great comeback from where he used to be.

Lee Westwood

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    He's got a good chance, but he'll probably blow it. Lee Westwood has failed so many times at getting near a Major trophy, it's somewhat saddening.

    However, maybe he's got the law of averages on his side.

    Westwood may not be the bets finisher of Majors. In fact he isn't. But that doesn't mean that this week couldn't lead to something. A player of his talent has to find their moment and capture it. 

Adam Scott

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    I don't like picking two straight weeks of winning, but Adam Scott played beautiful golf this past week. Simple as that. It's hard to describe why I'd pick him after writing off McIlroy, but to me it's more logical.

    Maybe it's the caddie, probably not. If Steve Williams brings any more attention to himself and Scott wins we may never remember the 2011 PGA Championship.

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