PGA Championship 2011 Golf: 5 Europeans Besides Rory McIlroy Who Could Win
With the 2011 PGA Championship taking place during the next four days at the Highlands Course in Georgia, many golf fans will wait and see if an American can win the Wanamaker replica trophy on home soil and grass. Of course Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson will be part of the discussion this week.
However, most eyes will be focused on Rory McIlroy, among several other Europeans. The 22-year-old Northern Irishman has produced outstanding results this year, including a major win at the U.S. Open by an eight-stroke margin.
He has received perhaps an overload of accolades that may prove to add pressure to the mental aspect of his game on the course. Nevertheless, people are handing out compliment after compliment for a reason, and he has one of the best chances to win this PGA event with his sound golf swing and talent.
Here are the top five Europeans besides Rory that could potentially win the major.
This Englishman has been itching to make an official breakthrough and finally win a major trophy to put on his shelf for quite some time now.
He did, however, knock off one of the goals on his to-do list: achieve the No. 1 ranking. Unfortunately, this could even make matters worse for him, as he will have to carry a larger burden on his back from viewers' expectations.
He should keep his head up, though, since he finished nicely at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tune-up event for the PGA Championship last week. Luke Donald also finished in third place in 2006 at this major, so he is not a first-timer and will be fairly used to the conditions in the U.S.
One of the most consistent performers on the tour, Lee Westwood, an English compatriot of Luke Donald and previous sharer of the No. 1 ranking, will look to perform well once more at the PGA Championship.
Westwood finished tied for third at the major two years ago, and he did not play the event last year, so he certainly wants to prove that he can produce a great result once again and maybe go another step further this time around.
Saying that winning a major at the age of 41 is strenuous is an understatement. However, Darren Clarke's magical run at the British Open last month for his first major win (at the age of 42) could provide inspiration for Angel Cabrera to win a big tournament himself.
Though not technically a European, the Argentine is a season European Tour veteran and won the U.S. Open and the Masters Tournament in 2007 and 2009, respectively, which reinforces his hopes of taking the title at the Highlands Course since his best wins were quite recent.
On the other hand, Cabrera's worst major is the PGA Championship, a tournament where his best finish was T19 over 10 years ago. Hopefully he can emulate Phil Mickelson's ability to put his previously poor finishes at a major (the Open Championship for the American) behind him.
The Irishman has endured a subpar start to the new decade, but he can still be a contender for any tournament.
He won three majors throughout the course of 2007 and 2008, including two victories at the Open and one win at the PGA Championship. To top off his 2008 major wins, he was named the PGA Player of the Year.
After winning the prestigious event in America just three years ago, he came back the following year and finished T10, so do not be so quick to underestimate his chances at this year's final major, "Glory's Last Shot."
Finally, we have the Martin Kaymer, the winner of the Wanamaker last year. Being the defending champion is always a tough task to manage, but the German displays a gritty and fierce attitude for the game.
In 2009, Kaymer tied for sixth place at the PGA Championship, which was his first top10 finish at a major. He returned the year afterward to win the title and he is coming back this year looking to win once more and renew his one-year grasp on the very meaningful trophy. With back-to-back wins, he will get closer to working his way up the rankings back to No. 1.
Only 26 years old, he has to feel confident about winning again and showing the world that Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke aren't the only European golfers to talk about.