PGA Championship 2010: Ranking Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods' Chances
The 92nd PGA Championship is upon us. The 2010 edition sees a return to Whistling Straits for the first time since 2004 when Vijay Singh took home the Wanamaker trophy. And there is no shortage of story lines this year.
Will Ernie Els continue his dominance?
Who will come out of nowhere?
But let's not kid ourselves, we all want to know if Tiger Woods will return to form. Will he? Or will Phil Mickelson end Tiger’s 270 week reign in the top spot?
Well, the oddsmakers have spoken. It’s time to take a look at the top ten favorites to win the PGA Championship, and realistically break down the likelihood of them actually winning it.
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10. Sean O'Hair
O'Hair hasn't quite had a boast-worthy season. He's nowhere near the top of the earnings list. And in 19 events, he's finished in the top ten only three times. Of the three majors played to this point, O'Hair has only one top ten finish.
Nevertheless, he got that finish very recently, with an impressive showing (-6) at St. Andrews last month. In addition, he has climbed closer to the top in each of the three majors. O'Hair also finished fifth in last week's Bridgestone Invitational, sharing the lead for a good portion of it.
In other words, O'Hair is clearly trending upwards. Another top ten finish is well within the realm of possibility.
9. Hunter Mahan
Since finishing in eighth place at the Masters back in April, Mahan has not fared well in Major play. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, and was an afterthought at St. Andrews, finishing 37th.
Despite that, Mahan is having a solid season. He's fourth on the money list, and his 1500 Fedex Cup Points are good for seventh on the list. He is also coming off an impressive win at the Bridgestone Invitational, where his -12 edged out fellow American Ryan Palmer by two strokes.
Like O'Hair, Mahan is hot right now. He's going to need it to turn his Major luck around.
8. Steve Stricker
The 2010 season has been a kind one thus far for Stricker. He's sevth in earnings, and 2nd in cup points with 1,646. He has 2 wins and 6 top ten finishes in 14 events played.
However, he has been virtually invisible in Major play, failing to finish in he top 50 in each of the three events (which included a particularly unspectacular +15 at the U.S. Open). If not for showings like that, he would definitely be higher on this list.
Going into the Championship, one might say that he's due. But realistically, the numbers say he's something of a choker. In his twenty-year career, he's never won a major. Why should this be the one?
7. Retief Goosen
Goosen has been in the thick of things all year, finishing in the top 10 in eight of the 14 matches he's played. His lone top 10 finish in a Major was in the most recent, finishing with a score of -7 at The Open Championship. This was a marked improvement over his showing in the other two majors, where he failed to finish in the top 35.
Goosen also had a good showing at the Bridgestone, where his final score of -9 was good for third. You won't find him in the top 10 in earnings or cup points, but he's having a solid year.
In any case, the South African native has been a pro for 20 years now. He knows what he's doing.
6. Jim Furyk
Furyk is the number five golfer in all the land, and he's had his typical solid year. He also happens to occupy the fifth spot in earnings as well, even despite the fact he has only 6 top ten finishes in 17 events. His 1,645 Cup Points are good for third on the list.
Nevertheless, the reason Furyk isn't higher on this list is because of his poor showing in Major play this season. He missed the cut at both the Masters and the Open Championship, and his +8 at the U.S. Open was only good enough for a 16th place finish. His one and only Major win was back in 2003, so it's not like Furyk is a perennial winner.
In short, you can expect Furyk to be Furyk; he's always good, but rarely the best.
5. Padraig Harrington
In addition to his awesome accent, you can expect Harrington to go into Whistling Straits with something to prove. He has yet to win an event this season, and he has only finished in the top 10 in five of the 15 matches he's played. He's way down there at 44th in earnings this year, and his 662 Cup Points are barely worth mentioning.
Majors have also been unkind to Harrington. He missed the cut at both Augusta and St. Andrews, and his +9 was only good enough for 22nd at Pebble Beach.
So why is he fifth on this list, ahead of names like Furyk and Goosen?
Because when Harrington does play well, he tends to play really well. He's won three majors, two in 2008 alone (including the PGA Championship).
Also, Erin Go Bragh!
4. Rory McIlroy
It's been a weird kind of up and down season for the youngster out of Northern Ireland. Out of the 12 matches he's played this year, he has only four top ten finishes. He's currently sitting at 23rd on the earnings list. The good news: he got his first professional win at the Wells Fargo Championship.
So why is he so high?
Well, after missing the cut in the season's first two majors, he decided to show up at The Open Championship in a big way. His -8 was good for third, and he followed that up with a top ten showing at the Bridgestone. He's also the eighth best golfer in the world. Not exactly a slouch.
Put simply, he's hot. And young. You have to expect guys like that to surprise you.
3. Tiger Woods
These days, the boisterous claim "I am Tiger Woods" probably has nothing to do with golf, and everything to do with his status as a notorious womanizer. Oh well, Dylan warned us that times would change.
A fourth place finish at the Masters notwithstanding, Tiger's struggles this year have been well-documented, so I won't go into it. But he's still number one in the world, and he's still the reason why so many people give a damn about golf in the first place.
Can Tiger right the ship, and make us all remember how great he is?
You have to believe he will, and sooner rather than later.
2. Ernie Els
It's hard to describe the year Els is having without using words like "awesome" or "studly." Number one in both earnings and Cup Points, and sixth in world rankings, Els is basically one of the best there is right now.
He's won two events this year, and finished in the top 10 six times. He should be going into this last Major hungry for success, however, he has only one top 10 finish in Major play so far.
True, that one top 10 finish was third at the U.S. Open, but he missed the cut at Augusta and St. Andrews. Nevertheless, the man is having an awesome year. ShootI said awesome...
Regardless, Els has been right there all year, and should be expected to be right there once again at Whistling Straits.
1. Phil Mickelson
And then there's Lefty. The number two player in the world is third on the earnings list this year, and fifth in Cup Points. Yes sir, he's having as a good a season as ever. Of his five top 10 finishes this year, two have come in Majors. He also won the Masters, his first Major win since the Masters in 2006.
But Mickelson isn't really playing for a Major win now, is he? Okay, maybe he is. But he's also playing for something else: that number one spot. Tiger will probably never be more vulnerable right now, and Phil is primed to take him down.
The verdict: Lefty will get it done. Down goes Tiger. And there was much rejoicing...?