Lee Westwood Injured: 15 Other Non-Americans Who Could Take the Title
Lee Westwood's calf injury could not have come at a worse time this year, as he was on the cusp of challenging Tiger Woods for the No. 1 overall ranking on the PGA Tour.
He was playing arguably the best golf we have ever seen from him; however, with his injury, it just opens the door for more players to fill his void.
While many of these players (if not all) should be highly considered to be contenders come Sunday, the absence of Westwood could help.
After all, Westwood has become one of the best foreign golfers the PGA Tour has to open as of right now.
We will soon find out that Lee Westwood isn't the only good international golfer, but we will see that the game of golf is becoming widely spread throughout foreign countries and into different parts of the world.
I present to you the 15 non-American golfers that could take advantage of Westwood's bad luck and who could be in the running for the PGA Championship crown heading into the weekend.
*This list is in no particular order.
Follow Garrett Tucker on Twitter @GTuckersports
1. Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen may not be the South African everyone recognizes after Louis Oosthuizen's British Open win, but this is one of the best golfers the country has to offer.
Goosen has one win to his in his golfing career, but he has always been knocking on the door of more with great finish after great finish; however, he just misses a win by a stroke or two.
Coming off of a great Bridgestone Invitational finish at nine-under par and an overall finish of third.
So why not go with the guy that's hot and had some recent success?
He may not keep it up, but Retief Goosen is definitely a must-watch guy to start off Thursday.
2. Y.E. Yang
This may come as a question mark to everyone, but this South Korean is way overdue and is bound to stumble into contention on Sunday in one of these tournaments.
After finishing eighth at the Masters, Yang has been consistent with low finishes, ranging from anywhere outside the Top 20 to missing the cut.
If it weren't for a poor opening performance at Bridgestone, Yang may have found himself competing for that title. However, this is the story for most: One day is the difference.
I expect to see Y.E. Yang out working early and often during the practice rounds to solidify his game and see what he needs to do to be in contention heading into the weekend.
3. Padraig Harrington
It's been awhile since we've seen Padraig Harrington hoisting up a trophy on Sunday (2008 to be exact), but with how he has been playing as of late, including his major championship runs, he has to be included on this list.
Despite missing the cut in all of the previous major championships, he has mixed in some other outstanding finishes in lower tournaments. His recent struggles in majors should be taken into account, but you have to think the Irishman will have it together this time.
In the 2004 PGA Championship, Harrington finished shooting a 289, nine strokes behind winner Vijay Singh.
He wasn't that close, but he still has the experience and knowledge of Whistling Straits to be able to succeed this week.
Don't be surprised if you see Padraig Harrington up in the top rankings early. I like him as one of my favorites, but time will tell.
4. Justin Rose
Justin Rose was once England's Golden Boy and prodigy, and now he is older and one of the best golfers England has to offer.
Like Harrington, Rose has seemed to choke in major events, as he missed the cut in both the British and U.S. Open. However, he has made up for those with other finishes.
Rose has the talent to contend with the best golfers in the game, but like many others, consistency is the key.
You also have to remember this guys has two wins to his resume so far this year, so we know it's possible. He just needs to put it together.
Justin Rose could be the guy to pick up for the loss of Lee Westwood.
5. Louis Oosthuizen
As I referred to with Retief Goosen, recently, when we hear South Africa, we think of the name Louis Oosthuizen—That is behind all the dreaded memories of vuvuzuelas during the World Cup.
Oosthuizen stormed onto the PGA Tour and made himself known by winning the British Open earlier this year, an event in which brought many surprises and improbabilities to us.
The South African also backed up his British Open finish with a nice finish at the Bridgestone Invitational, finishing five-under par and tying for ninth overall.
As you can tell, the young man has everything going his way at this time, and nothing would be sweeter than to keep it going with a PGA Championship win.
6. Ernie Els
Here is yet another golfer that calls South Africa his home: The great Ernie Els.
As I have said, South Africa is really rising on the golf map, and it is great for the game. We're used to having the U.S., Australia, and England competing regularly, but with the mix of some more countries, with South Africa leading the way, it is only better for the game.
Els has been one of the best golfers of his generation, as he has always found a way to stay in contention tournament after tournament.
This is yet another player that has done poorly in other majors, and in Els' case, the British and U.S. Open.
However, with two wins, it shows he can play and will be ready heading into Thursday's opening day at Whistling Straits.
It also doesn't hurt his chances that in 2004 he finished one stroke off the lead, so he knows how to play at the course.
7. Robert Allenby
Robert Allenby is one of those guys that quietly puts together a good tournament and an over-par resume. He could easily be one of the biggest sleepers the PGA Championship has to offer.
He also has a very nice history at Whistling Straits, as he finished three strokes off the lead in 2004.
Allenby hasn't done bad at the other majors either, as he finished tied for 45th at the Masters, tied for 27th at the British Open, and tied for 29th at the U.S. Open.
He also finished second at the Players Championship.
That's an impressive track record, so it should be interesting too see how he caps off this last major tournament.
8.) K.J. Choi
I'm going to go ahead and say that K.J. Choi is my hands-on favorite to win the PGA Championship. Don't ask me why, I just have a feeling. Then again, I could be completely wrong and be the laughing stock of golf.
With unacceptable performances at the other three majors, I look for him to take charge and work towards getting his first win of the year.
Choi just missed a win here at Whistling Straits in the 2004 PGA Championship, but fell two shots short of Vijay Singh.
Now, it is a new year and a different time and I am a firm believer he could come away with the win.
Watch out for K.J. Choi ladies and gentlemen!
9.) Rory Mcllroy
This may be the best players of our next golf generation. We have seen some good signs from the young Northern Irishman, but like all youngsters, he still has been a tad inconsistent, but either way, he deserves a spot here.
Soon we will see this young man winning his first ever major championship trophy, and I doubt it will be the last. And by soon, it could be really soon.
Rory Mcllroy had two great showings at the Players Championship and the British Open, both of which made him a popular youngsteron the Tour.
He has the talent to play with the big boys, and soon he could be in the history books with some of the games best golfers.
I say he will go down as one of the best, and with a win at the PGA Championship, he could begin that talented feat.
10.) Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy is yet another Australian that has made this game interesting over the years, and don't expect anything else as this week progresses.
Back in 2004, Ogilvy finished six strokes off the lead, but he showed us he knows the course pretty well. With that history, you have to consider him a contender.
He hasn't had the best luck in majors so far this year, as he only made the cut for the Masters, where he finished tied for 26th.
Now, with a chance to make up for the ground he has lost, don't be surprised to see him in contention when the weekend looms.
11.) Graeme McDowell
When Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he changed the game for the country of Northern Ireland, as he showed they do have the talent to win major events.
Not only that, it was just a feel good story, as McDowell was an unknown.
Now, we're talking about him contending for yet another major win, the PGA Championship.
After winning on AMerican soil once, people are looking for him to put in a good playing at Whistling Straits, and I for one wouldn't be surprised. He has a great resume of results, even without that U.S. Open win. Don't get me wrong, that win bolsters his status and puts him in the history books, but he isn't bad.
The worst he's ever finished in an event besides missing the cut is an unbelievable 33rd. There isn't many golfers that can say that about themselves; however, I doubt the soft-spoken and solemn Graeme McDowell brags about himself.
12.) Luke Donald
If you read my last article, Luke Donald was on top of the world as far as playing in the sand goes, and because of that, he has to be considered on this list.
Donald's timely bunker striking, along wiith a bit of sheer luck could find him in contention as the weekend approaches.
In 2004, he finished six strokes off the lead and shot a 286.
He knows how to play here and he should use it to his advantage.
In majors so far this year, he has finished pretty average, but with a win here, it would help make his resme look even more appealing.
This is yet another Englishman to watch as the tournament progresses.
13.) Stuart Appleby
Here's the last Australian from down under to represent this list, and noone other than Stuart Appleby. Appleby is one of the best international players we have, and we're proud to see that!
While Appleby has struggled so far this year, missing cut after cut, you still have to consider him a contender with all the wins and experience he brings to the table.
He is just a couple of weeks removed from winning the Greenbrier Classic, so he's obviously doing something right.
In 2004 he finished five strokes off the lead at Whistling Straits, and he easily could have won the tournament barring a 75 on Day Two of the tournament.
Appleby is a veteran golfer and he should be prepared come Thursday, and if he is, watch out for him to make a big run.
14.) Henrik Stenson
Yes, I know this was the guy that did terrible at Bridgestone and finished dead last behind the terrible play of Tiger Woods, but there's no doubt, Henrik Stenson is on of the best young golfers Sweden has to offer and he is also one of the best on Tour.
His faulty play only makes it seem like he could come out and surprise everyone this weekend, and with what I've seen from him, I wouldn't be surprised.
He was in contention at St. Andrews with the British Open, so he knows how to stick around in tournaments andplay for the win.
Don't forget about Stenson once Thursday's plays start.
15.) Vijay Singh
I'm sure you all saw this one coming, but who other to cap this off with than the reigning PGA Champiobship winner at Whistling Straits in 2004?
Vijay Singh won in a classic three-hole playoff, in which he, Chris DiMarco, and Justin Leonard played it out to see who would take home the major win. In the end, Singh's poor putter carried him to victory.
Singh could use another win at Whistling Straits, as he hasn't had much luck lately, and in particular, this year.
Like Appleby, Singh has missed tons of cuts this year. Maybe it's a sign that he's gettingolder and losing his stroke, or maybe it's just an off year.
Either way, it'd be great to get back on track with good memories.
Maybe this can bring back good times to him and he can feel his way through the course and take home another victory.
If anyone is rooting for him, it will be me.
Vijay Singh is definitely a big player and contender heading into Day One of the PGA Championship.