Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Picking a PGA winner -- besides Tiger

As a prognosticator, I rank somewhere between 'Ishtar' and new Coke.

In the annual pick the winners golf pool in which I participate each year, I typically live near the bottom of the standings, sometimes in but always near what is called the POD -- pit of despair.

With that disclaimer, I have decided to take a swing at picking the winner of the PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Hazeltine. And, to make it slightly more entertaining (I hope), I'm not going to count Tiger Woods.

He's the obvious choice. Beyond obvious. So, having said that to cover myself when he wins by six this weekend, I'll move on to my picks as if Tiger isn't playing.

1. Steve Stricker
Besides being a really good player with a putting stroke that's as good as that first cold beer after a good round of golf, he's due. He fits the mold this year, too. Like Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, he's a veteran who's been good for a while but hasn't won the big one.
Stricks has to prove he can handle Sunday afternoon in a major but I like his chances.

2. Lee Westwood
He had a chance to win the 2008 U.S. Open before Tiger and Rocco Mediate did their little dance and the British Open was his to win last month but a couple of late wobbles cost him. Westwood is a very good player and has been for a long time. Maybe it's finally his time.

3. Hunter Mahan
Maybe the top pick behind Tiger right now. He plays well this time of year and he's growing into one of the top young American players. The biggest thing he has to do is prove he can win.

4. Phil Mickelson
I know, he wasn't a factor at Firestone and after all he's gone through recently, it's a stretch to think he can win this week. But he could.
He's Phil. He's long enough to handle Hazeltine's length and if he can get the ball in the fairway and start holing some putts early, it could all fall into place for him. And wouldn't that be a story.

5. Anthony Kim
He's shown signs of life after a lost first half of the season. When he's on -- and he seems to be getting there -- he's seriously dangerous.
Kim still has some growing up to do -- he says that -- but his game is man-sized when he gets it locked in.