Receive information from PGA.com about current and future features and offers.
Thank you for signing up to receive information from PGA.com and PGATOUR.com about current and future features and offers.
Fantasy Insider: PGA Championship
The Fantasy Insider talks you through how to make your fantasy picks this week. Don't forget about the big four: Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia.
By Scott Pianowski, The Fantasy Insider
It's the last major, and it's an event just a driver and 7-iron away from my home office, so I'm excited. Keep grinding and stay hydrated (it's been a blistering summer in suburban Detroit); this major is as much about surviving as anything else. Let's see who can grind this one out.
PGATOUR.com Pick 'em
We ask for one player in each of the six groups and a wild card selection. Stuart Appleby just missed for us last week, and we'll continue to pick him anytime he tees it up in Ohio.
Group 1 Pick: Phil Mickelson
Other Options: Kenny Perry, Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim
You worry a little bit about Mickelson's devil-may-care stance on the tee, but he's getting my pick for his short-game creativity. That's a must for Oakland Hills, where speedy, undulating greens offer the supreme challenge. Mickelson's probably due to get another major, after 10 starts without one, and this is his last chance to get one on the mantle in a Tigerless field. Here's a vote for Lefty to get the job done; he's close to putting it all together, and he knows it.
Singh hit the ball beautifully at Firestone last week -
he's been striking it well all year, pretty much -
but if his putting doesn't improve from what we saw at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, this will be a tough assignment for him. The PGA has always been Perry's best major, and obviously he's in a Renaissance season; so if you want to go that way, I'll sign off. The key for Cink will be finding more fairways, the only real flaw on his 2008 resume. He's also an excellent long iron player, something that comes in handy at a major. Kim is going to be a factor in majors for the next two decades, but I like his chances better at the Masters or a British Open, where his power is more likely to be rewarded.
Group 2 Pick: Geoff Ogilvy
Other Options: Padraig Harrington, Robert Allenby, Ryuji Imada, Justin Leonard
Ogilvy knows how to score no matter how he's playing tee to green, he's money with the long irons, and he's a great fit to a U.S. Open or PGA Championship setup (five top-10s over his last six starts, including the 2006 Open). If Mickelson were to drop out tomorrow, Ogilvy and Furyk would be my next two favorites. Granted, it's not easy to take Ogilvy in this pool, a loaded one.
Allenby's improved at every major this year, culminating in his
tie for seventh
at the British Open, and I feel another strong week for him. He's another dynamite iron player, no matter the distance, and he's shown his ability to play well on difficult courses.
Leonard's mental toughness should play well here, though he's missed three straight PGA cuts and hasn't contended in a stateside major since the 2005 Masters. Imada's got a creative short game and a superb putting stroke, and he's been steady in recent U.S. Open appearances (three top-20s since 2005), so perhaps a breakthrough will come for him at Oakland Hills. Ball striking will be the biggest challenge for him, ultimately.
Padraig Harrington's resume is well known, but for some reason he never seems to bring his best game to the final major of the year: he's got 11 top-10s in majors, but his top PGA showing was a tie for 17th back in 2002. There's no real rhyme or reason to that -
Paddy's got an excellent U.S. Open record where the setups are similar -
but at the end of the day, I'm not ready to pick him over Ogilvy.
Group 3 Pick: Jim Furyk
Other Options: K.J. Choi, Boo Weekley, Sean O'Hair, D.J. Trahan
Winning a major at a track like Oakland Hills requires defensive play on just about every shot. That's right up Furyk's alley, the ultimate grinder. He's got nine top-10s in majors this decade, including the U.S. Open from 2003, and it's about time we saw him take another one of these. The conditions might be frustrating to many in the field, but that plays into Furyk's steady hands.
Choi might be ready to make a deep run at one of these things -
he played well for three rounds at the British Open and at the Bridgestone Invitational, and he's generally played well at the PGA (12th, seventh, 40th, sixth in
the last four seasons). I like him with a wedge in his hand, but can he make enough putts (121st in putting average)?
Trahan and Weekley have the same storyline entering this week -
great ball-striking stats, but the putting could be a problem. Don't forget Trahan quietly finished fourth at the U.S. Open. I'd buy stock in O'Hair's game in a second, but his profile doesn't seem to fit what we want this week (148th in driving accuracy, 108th in GIR, 176th in putting).
Group 4 Pick: Sergio Garcia
Other Options: Steve Stricker, Trevor Immelman, Stuart Appleby, J.B. Holmes
It feels like I'm chasing a bit, but I can't get Garcia's win at THE PLAYERS Championship out of my head, and I fully expect his major breakthrough is on the tip of his fingers. When he's right, you won't find a better ball-striker. His putting numbers don't look pretty, but I fully believe he has the eye and the heart to make enough of the key ones. I'm sticking with you, kid.
Steve Stricker has to be considered again, off four straight top-10s and a nice run at Royal Birkdale. Perhaps he's finally healthy again. He's definitely got the kind of putter you need to win at Oakland Hills.
It's the wrong week to get behind what Holmes does well -
he's second in driving distance, but just 203rd in accuracy and 137th in GIR. That doesn't add up to PGA Championship contention, and not surprisingly, he hasn't made a run in a major yet. Appleby's played well of late and has the putting stroke to make a run, but I'd feel better about his chances if he had a better long-iron game.
Immelman has rallied nicely over the last 10 weeks or so, but I see his GIR and putting stats, and I get cold feet. He has made five straight PGA Championship cuts, for what it's worth, including a
tie for sixth
Group 5 Pick: Adam Scott
Other Options: Hunter Mahan, Jeff Quinney, Stephen Ames, Chad Campbell
Scott in a lot of ways is like Garcia -
a supremely talented player who seduces the handicapper when he's got it all working. He's won THE PLAYERS, but where is the success in majors? That said, Scott has been closer at the PGA than any of the other majors, and I couldn't find any obvious way to pick against him in this pool, so we go double-or-nothing -
on the smooth Australian.
Mahan's potential always intrigues us, but his big problems this season have been putting and scrambling, and that's not what you want to see heading to the undulations of Oakland Hills. Ames has the game around the green but can he get there expediently enough? He's 172nd in total driving and 101st in GIR.
This has always been Campbell's best major, and he almost won the thing in 2003 (just missing to Shaun Micheel), so let's give the talented Texan a shot. He's vastly improved his putting this year, and here's the place to show that off. Quinney has the short game and eye to bag a major someday, but can he hit the ball well enough tee-to-green to be in the hunt? He's cashed just once in six major starts, a tie for 29th at this year's U.S. Open.
Group 6 Pick: Ernie Els
Other Options: Bart Bryant, Rod Pampling, Woody Austin, Chez Reavie
Els might not be a true superstar anymore, but his record in the majors is still fantastic, wins and top-10s all over the page. Maybe I'm giving the name too much credit, but there's no way I'm not using him here. He was in fine form at Royal Birkdale, and he really had just one bad round at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Bryant is an out-on-a-limb pick if you need a sleeper -
a potential horse for the course. He hits fairways (sixth-best in 2008), he hits greens, and long approach shots won't faze him one bit. He's a capable scrambler. This hasn't been his best putting season, but give him a good push off Thursday, and I'll take my chances.
It's hard to believe Pampling has just one top-10 finish in a major, but the record book doesn't lie. His iron game might not be strong enough to win here, and, in particular, long-iron shots can be a problem. Reavie doesn't have enough experience to get the nod yet in a field this loaded. Woody Austin's run at the PGA last year was a blast, but keep in mind it's the only time he's come close to contending in a major.
Rest of the Field: Lee Westwood is knocking on the door, with a second last week in Ohio and a third at the U.S. Open back in June, but he doesn't always have the smoothest putter or the most accurate driver ... Robert Karlsson has to be seen as a serious contender, very quietly working on a dynamic season in the majors (tied for seventh, tied for fourth, tied for eighth). I really like him as a putter and scrambler ... Henrik Stenson also seems to be rounding into form, with a
tie for third
at Royal Birkdale and a strong finish at Firestone last week (68-67). He also ran tenth at The PLAYERS ... Aaron Baddeley hasn't been heard from in a major since last year's U.S. Open, but who better than him to handle the bobs and weaves on the greens of Michigan? I'd feel more confident if he wasn't 159th in ball striking this year ... I don't know
whether Fred Couples still has the long-iron game and putting touch to win a major over this type of track, but I still love the way this guy swings a golf club, and I'm putting him into the top 30, on guile and