Though he hasn't won yet this year, Vijay Singh is capable of coming up big in a major at any time. (Franklin/Getty Images)
Five big-time players in search of some major momentum
A lot of players have the talent to win majors, but not all of them come into a major week on the kind of roll that makes you feel good about their chances. T.J. Auclair identifies five guys in need of a turnaround.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
Here’s a look at five players who enter this week’s 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., who you’d typically expect to contend in a major, but have been struggling recently:
1. Padraig Harrington. The defending champion has been in the midst of a swing change in 2009. It’s the kind of decision that makes critics scratch their heads. What’s wrong, or what needs to be improved upon the swing that won the Irishman three major championships? The fact is Harrington just hasn’t been the same player as he was in 2007 and 2008.
Sure, he just picked up his first top-10 finish of the year on Sunday with a tie for second at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, but I’m still not sold that Harrington is out of the woods. He started the final round at Firestone with a three-shot lead. Granted, it was no less than Tiger Woods that hunted him down, but it was clear that Harrington’s new swing didn’t hold up very well under pressure. Paddy shot a 2-over 72 on Sunday, his worst score of the week by five shots. Not what you expect from a three-time major champ.
2. Paul Casey. It was a wonderful start to 2009 for the Englishman – a second-place finish at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and a playoff-win at the Crowne Plaza Invitaional, his first on the PGA Tour, to go with wins in Abu Dhabi and the prestigious BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour.
Since then, Casey has cooled off a bit. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and AT&T National and then tied for 47th at the Open Championship. While the season is a success regardless of what happens from here on out, there’s no denying the fact that Casey doesn’t have his A-game coming into Hazeltine. Making matters worse for Casey – he was forced to withdraw early at Firestone because of a rib injury. It could have an impact on his status in Minnesota.
3. Vijay Singh. Hoping to avoid his first winless season on the PGA Tour since 2001, Singh’s biggest issue in 2009 has been consistency. In all fairness, Singh did undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee early in the season, which could be a reason for the inconsistency in his game. Singh hasn’t missed a cut at any of the three previous major championships this season. If there’s anything Singh has going in his favor it’s the fact that this is the time of year he heated up in 2008, winning three tournaments in 29 days. He’s certainly the type of player who’s more than capable of instantly stepping it up at a major.
4. Adam Scott. Scott is without question the most perplexing player on Tour over the last two seasons. The Aussie with potential that most would die for can’t seem to get out of his own way. It’s been injuries, illnesses and too many missed cuts for the guy who was long thought to be a regular rival for Tiger Woods. Scott is golf’s version of a five-tool player, but the results have done nothing to prove that lately. He’s missed more cuts than he’s made this season and hasn’t given us any reason to believe he’s going to snap out of the funk anytime soon. A major championship set-up like Hazeltine typically isn’t the place where you see a struggling player break out and win.
5. K.J. Choi. The South Korean has recorded at least one victory every season since 2005, but is still winless in 2009. He’s got one top-10 finish this year, but that was way back in February at the Northern Trust Open. As for Choi’s form coming into the PGA Championship… not so hot. If it weren’t for the no-cut World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone last week where he tied for 45th, Choi would head to Hazeltine with three consecutive missed cuts in his back pocket. Things just aren’t clicking for Choi right now and, like Scott, it’s hard to imagine his luck can change at a major.