Expert Picks for PGA Championship
The PGA Championship is the fourth and final major of the season. This year the event will played on The Highlands Course at the Atlanta Athletic Club. The 2001 edition of this event was also played here. However, the course has gone over numerous alternations since then and those dated results should not carry much weight when setting your lineup. In addition, this event signals the rapidly approaching FedEx Cup playoff. Following next week's Wyndham Championship, the players eligible to compete in the final four events of the season will shirk. The top-125 in points will enter the playoffs. From there, the field is cut down to 100 then to 70 and finally just the top-30 will play for The Tour Championship. Managers in allocation formats should take inventory now in order to map out how they want invest their remaining starts for top players.
Luke Donald [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #3
After disappointing results at the U.S. Open Championship and The Open Championship, one might been concerned that Donald’s blistering pace was starting to cool off. Now after finishing with a share of second last week at Firestone, all doubts have been cast aside. Donald ranks first in scoring average, fourth in strokes gained – putting, and seventh in birdie average. Despite not winning a stroke play event on Tour this season, Donald is a bulletproof pick and is contending each time out.
Lee Westwood [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #11
With four finishes of 11th or better over his last five Tour starts, Westwood continues to play at a very high level. In his last 10 starts worldwide, Westwood finished outside of 14th just once, a missed cut at The Open Championship. Among the top-tier golfers, it’s hard to go wrong tagging Westwood.
Rory McIlroy [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #1
In addition to destroying the field at the U.S. Open Championship, McIlroy finished T15 at the Masters earlier in the season after shooting a dreadful round 80 on Sunday. He went on to finish T25 at The Open Championship after a poor weekend cost him several spots. Coming off a T6 at Firestone, McIlroy figures to climb the leaderboard once again. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t tumble back down.
Nick Watney [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #23
Major events have not been kind to Watney this season. After finishing 46th at the Masters, he missed the cut at both the U.S. Open Championship and The Open Championship. Watney ranks third in scoring average, fifth in strokes gained – putting and third in All-Around Ranking. If you are willing to give him a pass for falling short of his lofty standards in the three other majors, you could see a big reward for the final one.
When you start Stricker, you’ve got a top-notch player that doesn’t miss cuts and rarely has a poor finish. In his last 10 starts, Stricker has picked up a pair of wins and has yet to finish worse than 19th (which includes all three majors played thus far). Stricker ranks first in both strokes gained – putting and birdie average. He’s also second in scoring average and fifth in All-Around Ranking.
Adam Scott [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #7
Coming off a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the golfing world is abuzz with caddie Steve Williams firing back at his long-time employer, Tiger Woods, claiming the victory was the best he’s ever seen. After watching Tiger dominate over a dozen majors, that might be hard to believe, but Williams and Scott have hit the ground running. The Australian has finished third or better in two of his last three starts and sits 10th in All-Around Ranking.
Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #9
After missing two consecutive cuts, Kuchar’s trademark reliability appeared to be waning. Fear not, Mr. Consistency quickly recovered with a T19 last week at Firestone. Kuchar has now finished inside the top-20 in five of his last seven starts. He ranks sixth in scoring average, 16th in birdie average and four in All-Around Ranking. Deploy Kuchar with confidence.
Phil Mickelson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #10
Lefty is a popular choice any time his name appears on the entry list. Finishing as the runner-up at this course in the 2001 PGA Championship doesn’t hurt either. Aside from finishing with a share of second at The Open Championship, Mickelson hasn’t been very sharp in the other majors this season or over his last two events. He missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic and finished T48 last week at Firestone. Mickelson ranks 13th in birdie average, 16th in scoring average and 13th in All-Around Ranking, but isn't very sharp heading into this one.
Rickie Fowler [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #32
Since missing the cut at the U.S. Open Championship, Fowler has been among the top players on Tour. He's finished 22nd or better in four straight with a pair of top-fives; T5 at The Open Championship and T2 last week at Firestone. Thanks to his electric wardrobe, Fowler can’t be missed on the course. He shouldn't be missing from your lineup either.
Webb Simpson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #19
There is simply no way Simpson can continue to play so well and not pick up his first career win soon. He has finished 16th or better in six straight with three top-10s. On the season, he owns a pair of runner-up results and is ninth in the FedExCup Standings. Simpson ranks second in birdie average, fourth in scoring average and first in All-Around Ranking. In a season full of first-time winners, Simpson could very easily be next.
Jason Day [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #35
Since finishing T2 on the Masters, Day continues to play great golf. In his last nine starts, he owns four top-fives and two more top-10s. The Australian ranks 10th in scoring average and ninth in All-Around Ranking. After closing out 2010 on a hot streak, Day hasn't shown any signs of slowing down this year.
Just when it looked like Johnson was primed to put together a run of solid finishes, he laid an egg. DJ entered Firestone with four straight finishes of 23rd or better and finished fourth or better in two of the last three. However, he went on to finish with a disappointing T48. Johnson ranks second in birdie average, fourth in driving distance and 16th in greens in regulation percentage. He’s a young player with a vast array of skills, but sometimes lacking in consistency.