Questions of the day: Who stands the best chance of winning the PGA Championship, and how will Tiger Woods do? [Updated]
Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
[Updated at 11:42 p.m.:
Mike James, Los Angeles Times
Five of the last seven major championships have been taken by players who had never won a major, and don’t be surprised if that trend continues at Whistling Straits. Tiger Woods may still be No. 1 in the world, but that, of course, is no reflection on how he’s currently playing. Expect him to be right around the cut line Saturday evening and not get much beyond that.
No. 2 Phil Mickelson, fourth in the U.S. Open, might get into the mix, but that closing 78 with a chance to take over No. 1 in the world last weekend wasn’t exactly the best launching pad for the PGA.
This week’s pick: Wisconsin’s Steve Stricker. He’s coming off a top-10 finish at the Bridgestone Invitational with three rounds in the 60s, has won twice this year and will be playing before a home crowd. And your runner-up: Padraig Harrington, who hasn’t won on tour since the 2008 PGA but has a fourth and a ninth in his last three events and is right at home on links-style courses.
Jeff Shain, Orlando Sentinel
Padraig Harrington might be having the most consistent season of his career, with more top-10 finishes between the PGA Tour and European circuit than any other year. On the flip side, it’s been two years since his last trophy, at the 2008 PGA.
I like the indicators, though. Harrington tied for ninth at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and notched a runner-up finish at the Irish Open before jetting back across the Atlantic.
Factor in that Whistling Straits reminds many of an Irish links course and Harrington should be in his comfort zone.
As for Woods, it gets tougher each time out to suggest he can suddenly find the magic. Winning the Turning Stone stop suddenly appears a tall order, much less a major.
If he drives the ball like he did at Aronimink and St. Andrews, Woods has a chance. If he sprays it around, Whistling Straits’ rough, elevation changes and 500+ bunkers will chew him up.]
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant
Following Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) at the U.S. Open and Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa) at the British Open, Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) will finish No. 1 at the PGA Championship.
Of course, McIlroy is only 21. But his youth belies an experienced, stellar game, marked by poise, determination, power and touch.
Almost 1,000 bunkers and the winds off Lake Michigan at Whistling Straits won’t bother McIlroy, who grew up on and mastered links courses back home.
His performance in his last two marquee tournaments were a tie for third at the British Open and a tie for ninth at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
He’s poised to vault onto the stage with all the other major winners. Tiger Woods, the current career leader with 14, will once again be a spectator, though.
Even though Woods’ performance has been shoddy of late, determination will fuel a sprint for an automatic Ryder Cup berth, and he will be in the top 10 at the PGA.
But like last year when Y.E. Yang celebrated, McIlroy will be the one hoisting that oversized 27-pound Wanamaker Trophy Sunday.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
I didn’t major in history, but I’d like to think I’m a student of it. So my pick for the PGA Championship will reflect that. Given Tiger Woods’ recent history -- he beat one player (Henrik Stenson) at Firestone last week -- plus the odd sight of having caddie Steve Williams use a club to keep Woods’ head from swaying during Tuesday’s practice round, I’ll say he finishes outside the top 30.
Slightly less recent history, the U.S. and British Opens, indicates that the winner will be a semi-obscure non-American (see McDowell, Graeme and Oosthuizen, Louis). And given the rain that hammered Whistling Straits on Wednesday, we know the course will play extra-long. So my pick is Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. He’s the longest hitter on the European Tour and he flew the 16th green last week at Firestone in two shots -- driver/five-wood. That hole measures a mere 667 yards.
First photo: Steve Stricker during Tuesday's practice round at Whistling Straits. Credit: Allen Fredrickson / Reuters
Second photo: Padraig Harrington during Tuesday's practice round at Whistling Straits. Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images
Third photo: Rory McIlroy during Tuesday's practice round at Whistling Straits. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Reuters
Fourth photo: Alvaro Quiros during Tuesday's practice round at Whistling Straits. Credit: Andrew Redington / Getty Images