2011 PGA Championship Predictions

We have reached the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. Heading into this event, we have some favorites that many are focusing on and some underdogs that could rise to the top. Will we see another Euro win in a major? Will Luke continue to show why he is #1 in the world? Will Westwood finally get that trophy? And we can’t forget, Tiger Woods, will we see the Tiger we once knew or the Tiger we have been seeing who can’t hit a fairway? So many questions and in the end, only one answer.

With the fourth and final major of the year upon us, and so many ‘ifs’ as to who could win and why, we decided to have our panel of ‘experts’ make their PGA Championship predictions. THP asked each member of the staff 4 questions:
1. Who will win the 2011 PGA Championship?
2. What name not thought of will make a splash in this event (darkhorse)?
3. Order of finish of the 2011 #1s? Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer
4. Better or worse? Tiger Woods finishing in 15th and why?

Here are the predictions from our “expert” panel. You can also discuss the PGA Championship all week long in the tournament thread in the THP Forum.

1. Well, I want to pick an American but recent history in Major Championships tells me that I shouldn’t. So I will not. I kind of want to lean towards a guy like Steve Stricker, but I think the golf course plays a bit too long for him. I also want to lean towards a guy like Adam Scott, who just played beautiful golf in Akron at Firestone. But in the end, my pick to win the PGA Championship is Luke Donald. I don’t know why for sure, I just have a sneaking suspicion that somehow the World’s #1 finally gets a Major under his belt.

2. My darkhorse pick this week is Stewart Cink. He’s a native of Hot-lanta and a Georgia Tech grad, I think a guy like him has extra special reasons to try to get the win this week.

3. This is a toughy. We have one of my favorites in Lee Westwood, the returning champ in Kaymer, and the guy I picked to win the tournament in Luke Donald. My order of finish will go: Luke Donald, obviously I have to have him here, as I believe he gets the win this week, then Lee Westwood, who I think has a tremendous showing this week. Mr. Westwood played very well at the Firestone and it appears as though another week working with Dave Stockton might really have him putting the ball well. Then, that leaves Martin Kaymer. I actually don’t think he plays well at all this week. Talk about a flash in the pan!

4. No way Tiger finishes better than 15th. The guy thinks he can go out and compete in a Major Championship, on a tough track, all by himself? Get over yourself Tiger! He didn’t show me anything this past weekend that tells me he’s remotely ready to compete for a Major. He hit like 30% of his fairways, and yet again, his short game stunk it up. I wish he’d shelf himself for the year. I think we see Tiger struggle again, this course can be incredible punishing being that wayward off the tee.

Todd H
1. Zach Johnson. His golf game and style may be boring but his game has what it takes to win a PGA Championship. Long driver? No. Accurate driver? Yes, to the tune of 70% vs. the PGA tour average of 61%. After he puts it in the fairway his GIR average is 66% but if he misses the green his scrambling ability is a remarkable 64%! His consistency and the ability to grind his way around a golf course will suit him well in a year where literally anyone could win.

2. Does being ranked 29th in the world count as a dark horse? I’m going with the big Z again, Zach Johnson. He’s a major winner and is tremendous with the SeeMore flat stick. He’s also playing some pretty consistent golf this year by making 16/18 cuts with 10 top 25 finishes and 4 top 10’s. Combine that with the reasons I’ve already stated above and you have to like Zach Johnson

3. Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer

4. Tiger doesn’t make it into the Top 15. What aspect of his game even begins to exude confidence? He’s still finding himself, his swing, and is using a substitute caddy which isn’t a recipe for success just yet. That’s not ‘hating’, that’s just the facts my friends.

Jason K
1. I’m going on a hunch here, but I’m going to say Phil Mickelson will win the 2011 PGA Championship. Last time the PGA was at the Atlanta Athletic Club he lost a heart breaker to David Toms. As we know Mickelson is a completely different player, and sure the course will be completely different, but I have a feeling about this. Phil didn’t blow anyone away at Firestone last week (even got beat by TW) but he shot “ok” in what was probably nothing more than a PGA tune up for him anyway. Philly Mick, your 2011 PGA Champion!

2. Davis Love III. Davis might be talked about leading up to and during the event, but it will be because of him being the Ryder Cup captain and not likely for his own golf game. The fact is Davis has been playing very well despite not really focusing 100% of his energy on his golf game, maybe that’s a good thing for DLIII. He was in the conversation for much of the U.S. Open and he’ll again be right in the ball game at the PGA.

3. Luke Donald- Lee Westwood- Martin Kaymer. This looks to be a no-brainer really. Donald is showing that he is still in very good form as he has been all season with his high finish last week at the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational and I think Kaymer struggles as defending champion so that leaves Westy right there in the middle. Westwood could surprise us and poke himself up front for a while but I still don’t see him finishing higher than Luke right now.

4. I’m going to say worse. Right now Tiger Woods is a “middle of the pack” kind of a golfer. He finished middle of the pack last week (T37th out of 76) and he’ll again be right around middle of the pack here. With 156 entrants that means he’ll be right in that 75th place ball park, which could also mean a MC for Tiger. For the time being people are just going to have to get used to it, Tiger Woods is just another entrant right now. We keep hearing from him that he’s close and we get TW TV crammed down our throat anytime he plays but until he actually shows some sort of resemblance of what he once was, I’m not buying it.

1. I really hate this question because it’s so hard to pick a winner. For some reason Stewart Cink comes to mind, but I think that’s just because he lives in Georgia, and since his performance this year has been less than stellar I am going to cross this choice off my list. Another name that comes to mind is Lucas Glove. He is playing pretty well this year, in spite of his out of control facial hair, and I have heard his name mentioned a few times from other media outlets, but I am not 100% sold on him winning so I think he will get crossed off my list as well. The only other name that is really standing out to me, and even this one leaves me with some major doubts, is Steve Stricker. He is having a pretty good year, and it would be even better if he could get his putting skills back, so after weighing all the choices I am going to pick Stricker.

2. The darkhorse pick is always a shot in the dark and this one is sometimes harder to pick then the winner. My darkhorse pick is a stretch but I am going with Anthony Kim. I do believe he has the game to win a major. When he gets his putter going he can get really hot and have a nice birdie run. This might be a pick I regret making public but I am holding strong to my choice, Anthony Kim.

3. Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer. I still don’t think Westwood has it to win a major but I think he will finish better then Donald, and as much as I hate to say it, Kaymer has not lived up to the world #1 ranking, at least not while playing courses in the states.

4. Better. As ‘rusty’ as he is, and how poorly he has played the last year or so I still think when it comes to the majors Tiger puts on a show. He won’t win, he won’t even be in the top 5, but he will be in the top 15. He may have missed virtually every fairway last week but there is something about a major that tells me to not totally dismiss Tiger. So I say higher then 15th.

Ryan H
1. I’m picking Nick Watney to win the PGA Championship this year. He’s long enough and can go out there and make some birdies if he keeps it in the fairway. Not to mention that he’s a pretty darn good putter. His two wins this season have given him the confidence that he needed to break through and become a major champion. Should be a good week for Nick.

2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2-Gloves (Tommy Gainey) do well this weekend. He’s had a solid year and definitely has the length off the tee to tame this monstrous course. If he can get the putter working from 10-15 feet he could see a few low scores. Either way, he’s a fun guy to watch swing.

3. 1) Westwood 2) Donald 3) Kaymer – I expect that Westy and Donald will contend and possibly end up in the top ten, but I’m not expecting much from Kaymer.

4. Tiger will be in the top 15. He can contend in majors even though he can’t seem to play up to his potential at the moment. I expect him to be around the top of the leader board, but not to be a factor on Sunday.

1. My pick to win the PGA Championship is Adam Scott. I hate picking the guy who won the week before, because it’s easy to get caught up in the fanfare of an exciting win, and it’s almost a jinx. The popular choice would be Rory McIlroy, but until he wins another major, I’ll just not pick him until it happens. Westwood or Mickelson would be a safe pick, but I think for a change, the momentum is going to stay with Adam for another week.

2. My darkhorse is Sergio Garcia. He’s 51st in the world, and has finished 35th, 7th and 9th in this year’s majors. Maybe a top 10 for Sergio, but I’m thinking top 15 this week. He’s winless in almost three years and has missed the cut in the last two PGA Championships, but finished T3 in 2006 and T2 in 2008. He almost won in June but lost a five hole playoff. I’m still hoping he can finally win a major, and he’s shown signs of it in the previous three this year, but 10th to 15th for the #51 player should be enough to say he made a splash.

3. Donald, Westwood and then Kaymer. I think Donald gets a top 5, Westood a top 10 and Kaymer finishes outside the top 20.

4. I think Eldrick finishes worse than 15th this week. He only had his first tournament back last week and finished outside the top 30 in a stacked field. One of these days he’ll be back to winning golf tournaments but I don’t think it will be this week, and I think it will be a successful week for him if he can crack the top 15. The oddsmakers have him fourth favorite to win this week, but I think that is more to protect themselves than an accurate assessment of his chances.

1. I have gone back and forth on this one for about a week. First up Phil comes to mind as he plays this course incredibly well and quite a few talk about how this will play similar to Augusta for him. Adam Scott is coming off an incredible victory and has been playing superior golf. When I put the magic formula into the computer for calculations, one name stands above the others. That is Lee Westwood. Its time for the man to get his major and if his putting stroke continues to improve, this could be the week.

2. There are a lot of guys that could jump out and surprise people, but the one that I think really jumps out and plays well here is currently ranked 37th in the world rankings. He has incredible length and his iron ball striking is superb and when his putter is on he has shown he can win this year already at a very tough course. That is Gary Woodland. I think he could make a great run at the top of the leaderboard as long as he gets out to a fast start.

3. Most seem to think that Luke Donald is the guy here, but I will go the other way and say he finishes at the bottom of this threesome. I picked Lee Westwood to win, so obviously I have him first. Then I believe the returning champ Kaymer will return to the graces of the first page of the leaderboard. I think Donald struggles here a little bit similar to the Open Championship.

4. With the return last week, I was in the minority that thought he would make a run and be somewhat near form. And while I found his iron play to be quite good at times, off the tee it was a disaster and on the green it was average at best. In fact if you come up with some good descriptives on his rounds at Firestone, below average might be a pretty good way to describe it. Scrambling would be another. Yet something tells me that his confidence is coming back a little bit and that he might contend at the PGA. With that being said, for the same reason I think Donald struggles, I think Tiger struggles and that is because if you miss off the tee here, it can be quite penalizing. I pick him to be outside of the top 15 but not by a lot.

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