Five golfers who are slipping under the radar and could cause an upset at the 2013 US PGA Championship.
So the headline is a little tongue in cheek. But only a little because Tiger Woods is a short-priced favourite to win the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship.
All the money is on Woods to win this week and with good reason. He is great form and after years of tweaking and frustration, Woods once again looks in control of his golf swing. He is even controlling the ball a little better off the tee and romped to a seven-shot victory at last week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods put himself in a position to win both the US Masters and The Open Championship this year. An unlucky break and a dodgy penalty drop scuppered his chances at the Masters and a poor final round saw him finish in a tie for sixth place at Muirfield.
The week’s major at Oak Hill is not too dissimilar to the WGC Bridgestone set up but with fewer occasions when driver is needed. The rough is deep but unlike the US Open, only for the wayward drives and the small greens mean greater priority is placed on fairway positioning and iron play.
If Woods does win it will be his 15th major championship placing his just three behind Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18. It will also mark Woods’ first major championship victory since his one-legged US Open win in 2008. To be exact that was 1879 days ago.
So maybe that’s why Woods can be beaten this week. The pressure is on him to win another major, especially now his confidence is back.
And besides, the US PGA Championship has a history of surprise winners such as Wayne Grady, Mark Brooks and Shaun Micheel who made history in a much larger golfer’s shirt with this magical 7-iron the last time the event was held at Oak Hill.
So here are five golfers who are slipping under the radar and may just be a threat to Woods on Sunday.
Stenson isn’t exactly a dark horse but despite his form he keeps on getting overlooked by most golf fans. Consider his form at the majors this year; T18 at The Masters, T21 at the US Open and a second place at The Open. And then consider he has a 50% strike rate for top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts.
Stenson hits it long, but more importantly he hits it straight. I’m not sure he could rise to the occasion to win this week but it would be strange if he isn’t about the mark on the weekend.
Mahan is having a great 2013. He sits in 17th spot in the FedEx Cup rankings, finished top-10 at the US Open and The Open Championship and was leading the Canadian Open by two shots before withdrawing to be with his wife at the birth of his first child.
Mahan’s driving stats are pretty good this year which will serve him well this week. But more tellingly, anyone who managed to get around Merion at the US Open must have some mongrel about them and be a chance at Oak Hill.
Johnson is at much longer odds than he should be based on recent form. Remember Tiger’s emphatic victory at the Bridgestone Invitational may have masked a few good ‘also-ran’ rounds of golf and Johnson is one of them. He finished in a tie for fourth place with two solid rounds on the weekend.
Placed alongside his sixth place finish at The Open and a runner’s-up at the John Deer Classic a week prior, and you have a guy in very good form.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
A favourite of everyone’s, Miguel Angel Jimenez has often struggled in the big tournaments but he looks to be in a cool groove at the moment. For one of the coolest golfers on the planet, that’s worth thinking about.
Jimenez sped out of the blocks early at The Open eventually finishing in a tie for 13th place but more interesting was his performance last week. Jimenez finished in a tie for fourth place at the Bridgestone Invitational, his best finish at a stroke play WGC event since 1999 going 6-under on the weekend. Could surprise
So Donaldson is definitely a long shot this week and very rarely makes any list of likely winners which is strange as the Welshman has good form this year including a victory in Abu Dhabi.
Once again I place a lot of emphasis on last week’s performance and while I would have normally ruled out Donaldson on the narrow, target-golf American golf courses, his game last week was good enough for a top-25 finish. At long, long odds to win his odds for a top-25 finish are juicy and is a good bet if you ask me.