Six darkhorses who just might win this week
By Stan Awtrey, PGA.com Contributor
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Ten years ago Shaun Micheel became one of the biggest longshots to win a major championship when he claimed the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. It was the first – and only – victory of Micheel’s career.
Plenty of other players facing long odds have won the PGA Championship, too. The list over the last 20 years includes Mark Brooks in 1996, Rich Beem in 2002 and Y.E. Yang in 2009. Even the wins by Martin Kaymer in 2010 at Whistling Straits and Keegan Bradley in 2011 at the Atlanta Athletic Club could be considered surprising.
So can another darkhorse shock the world this week at Oak Hill, or will the vintage Donald Ross design reward someone with more experience?
“They say that you have to be able to putt to win a major championship,” said first-time PGA Championship participant Scott Brown. “But I think this week, the player who wins will be the guy who is the best ball-striker. This is a ball-striker’s course. If you can’t do that and keep it in the fairway, it’s going to be tough.”
Brown was finishing a practice round with Zach Johnson, who was a longshot when he won the Masters in 2007. The odds on Brown would be equally long; he’s exempt on the PGA Tour for the first time and won the Puerto Rico Open in his second start of the season. He’s fresh from the British Open, his first major, where he missed the cut.
Brown isn’t the only longshot this week, though. Here are five guys who most would be surprised to see holding the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday evening, but who just might accomplish this major feat:
Jordan Spieth: He’s already got one victory this year, but the idea of a 20-year-old winning a major championship is hard to grasp. Still, Spieth has been among the top 10 in three of his last six events. In addition to winning the John Deere Classic, he played well at Colonial and Congressional, two difficult venues.
Boo Weekley: The popular Floridian ended a five-year winless drought this year with his victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Weekley has one top-10 and two top-25s in four appearances in the PGA Championship.
Jimmy Walker: He played well at the PGA Championship at year ago at Kiawah, where he tied for 21st, his best finish in a major. He’s had a consistently good year, making the cut in 16 of 19 events, with nine top-25 finishes.
Peter Uihlein: The former Oklahoma State All-American left school early and joined the European Tour. He won the Madeira Islands Open in May and earned a full exemption there. He’s coming off a tie for 10th at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Gary Woodland: He was the last player to get into the PGA Championship field, thanks to his victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open. The long-hitting Kansan has made the cut in both previous appearances at the season’s final major, including a tie for 12th at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011.