Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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Hello Golf Fans ! Valhalla Golf Club is the backdrop Thursday for the world's best at the 2014 PGA Championship, which includes a red-hot Rory McIlroy and may or may not see Tiger Woods compete.

McIlroy himself is an obvious favorite less than a week removed from a dominant performance at the Bridgestone Invitational, especially given his track record at the tournament.

On the other hand, Woods withdrew from the site of McIlroy's dominance with an injury, and his status is very much up in the air, as noted by CBS Sports' Eye on Golf:


Match Details:
TOURNAMENT: 96th PGA Championship 2014
When: Thursday, August 7 through Sunday, August 10
Where: Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky
Par: 71
Length: 7,458 yards
FedEx Cup Points: 600
Purse: $10 million

Regardless, the course in Louisville, Kentucky, is no joke. This weekend marks just the third time it has hosted the event, with the last being some 14 years ago. Below, let's project who will be the best and worst of the bunch based on momentum, prior performances at the tournament and more.

It is quite the fair question considering McIlroy has now won his last two starts in rather dominant fashion. A 17-under-par performance at The Open Championship set the tone, which was followed up by the triumph at the Bridgestone Invitational in which he never posted a scorecard above 69 and tallied a ridiculous 1.359 strokes gained putting average.


If that is not convincing enough, remember that McIlroy is the guy who won the PGA Championship in 2012 by a record eight strokes that was last set by Jack Nicklaus in 1980.

Last year, he wound up in 13th, and we certainly don't have anything from 2000 to work with in regard to the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, but there is enough evidence to circle McIlroy's name in red pen as the favorite.

One participant we do have the 2000 data on is Mr. Phil Mickelson, and really, it's not all that bad. That year, he tied for ninth.

The problem lies in his recent output, both at the tournament and on the season as a whole.

Mickelson's best recent finish at the PGA Championship came in 2010 when he finished 12th. But that regressed into 19th, 56th and 72nd the next three years. If that is not the epitome of a downward spiral, nothing is.

For his part, though, Lefty is happy with how things shook out in the last week and change, as captured by's Bob Harig:

The problem is, words are great, but results are even better. He does not have a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, has missed three cuts and has been rather ho-hum in terms of any and all leaderboards, sans a second-place finish in Abu Dhabi near the start of the season.

It all adds up to another quiet four rounds from the fading superstar.

So yes, the top 10 so close to this weekend's event is great, as is the 1.023 strokes gained putting average. But consistency has been an issue, and to make matters worse, Reed has been cut twice and finished 35th at the prior three major championships this year.

Every time it seems Reed is finally back on track, he falters. Add in what appears to be a case of nerves on a major stage for a rather young player, and this weekend does not seem as if it will be one to remember for Reed.

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