Picking a winner for the 2012 PGA Championship is a tall task, with several factors from wind, weather, past performance, and difficulty of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, creating a delectable stew of confusion, so let’s spoon it out and sift through. The string of consecutive non-repeat major champions has hit 15 and will continue this week. The principals:
Defending Open Champion Ernie Els was in poor form at RBC last week and missed the cut by three strokes. No doubt some mental fatigue set in after the emotionally draining come-from-behind win at Lytham. Hats off to him for living up to a play commitment if that’s why he was in the field. His record in past PGAs is a mixed bag and I don’t like him this week.
Tiger Woods is struggling with a balky putter again and inconsistency with the flat stick is now the norm. The three-time winner on tour this year has been in contention at all three majors but couldn’t close the deal. Whether ahead, tied, or coming from behind, Tiger’s innate ability to dominate a golf tournament is still there but doesn’t reveal itself as often as it did in the past. He may win a major again but not this week.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley is paired with Tiger for the first two rounds and after three rounds at Bridgestone is second in the field in GIR and third in putting. Despite a ho-hum year, he’s got momentum, wants it bad, and will contend.
Jason Duffner’s last three tournaments in the U.S. include a first, second, and fourth. He’s in excellent position after three rounds at Firestone and is a serious contender. After last year’s playoff loss to Bradley at the Atlanta Athletic Club, a win at Kiawah would be sweet.
Rory McIlory seems to be in good form and is playing in the U.S. one week before a U.S. based-major. Pattern seem similar? Fooled me once already this year with the same ploy at St.Jude – U.S. Open, and I won’t be fooled again. Rory’s out.
LukeDonaldLeeWestwood is the new two-headed monster for major underachievement. I’d give Westwood the edge here because of the requirement for solid ball striking at one of the toughest courses in the world, but neither will win and frankly the repeated storyline of both in the majors is growing old. Not this year for LDLW.
Trendy pick is Davis Love III. He’s from the area, loves playing on Bermuda greens, and inevitably contends in a lot of tournaments close to home. At 45th in the 2012 Ryder Cup standings, his chances of playing his way onto his own team have dwindled, but he’d be a great sentimental champion in this locale.
Winner of the Wanamaker Trophy and coupe de grace to an outstanding year: Jason Duffner.
Runner up: Keegan Bradley as the tournament has an eerie resemblance to last year with a close call but different result.
Third: Davis Love makes a huge bid that just falters with the younger guys fighting it out on Sunday.