Top contenders at the PGA Championship


JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – In the prognostication business, you’re only as good as your latest pick.

So let’s put aside the fact that my Masters pre-tournament selections were topped by Paul Casey (he finished T-38); my U.S. Open list was headed by Edoardo Molinari (T-54); and my Open Championship choices were led by Lee Westwood (MC).

Last week, I picked Adam Scott to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, so my current streak of selecting winners is one in a row. (Which may or may not tie my career high. I’ll never tell.)

It will no doubt be steamy in Hotlanta this week, so perhaps appropriately enough, I’m sticking with some hot hands at this week’s PGA Championship. My list at Glory’s Last Shot begins with a player who’s been hotter than everyone so far this season.

1. Luke Donald - Leads both the PGA and Euro tour money lists; a win this week counts for both – and could help seal an unprecedented double.

2. Jason Day - Poor guy already has two major runners-up this year and now he’s picked for a third. OK, so maybe “poor” is a pejorative term.

3. Steve Stricker - Still can’t figure out the PGA Tour’s new “Strokes Gained – Putting” statistic, but I know Stricker is leading, which must be a good thing.

4. Zach Johnson - Very quietly putting together an excellent season, with nine consecutive finishes of 32nd or better, including a T-6 last week.

5. Aaron Baddeley - Excellent putter who is coming off a final-round 65 at Firestone last week, it’s about time he contended at another major.

6. Lee Westwood - Managed by Chubby Chandler – who counts each of the year’s first three major champions as clients – he may be the best chance for a ChubbySlam.

7. Andres Romero - When he gets hot, he gets very hot – and Romero is hot right now, with third- and fourth-place results in his last two starts.

8. Rory McIlroy - He’s come to terms with the fact that his game is more suited for the parkland courses in the U.S., and this one certainly fits the bill.

9. Rickie Fowler - It’s no longer a matter of “if,” but rather “when” he starts winning tourneys. The first one could be a biggie, too.

10. Adam Scott - In his 17 previous worldwide victories, none came in back-to-back fashion. Asked whether it’s difficult to win two straight, he explained with a laugh, “It must be.”

11. Webb Simpson - Perhaps the most consistent PGA Tour player this year, he owns 14 top-25s in 18 starts, including two runners-up, but is still searching his elusive first win.

12. Ryo Ishikawa - A rockstar in his native Japan, Ryo is fresh off his best finish in this country by a mile. He’s ready to contend while still a teenager.

13. Dustin Johnson - Personally, I never thought DJ would be a great major player, but he’s made me eat crow over and over again these past two years.

14. Brandt Snedeker - The closer the score is to par, the better off this grinder will be. He’s also one of the better fast greens putters in the field.

15. Nick Watney - Strange as it may seem, this two-time winner may lead the de facto PGA Tour Player of the Year race as of right now.

16. Phil Mickelson - Which Lefty will show up this week – the one who contended at Royal St. George’s or the one who was virtually invisible at Firestone?

17. Fredrik Jacobson - The guy known as “Junkman” can make par from anywhere, which is never a bad attribute at a major championship venue.

18. David Toms - Getting plenty of attention for his victory here exactly one decade ago, but Toms has proven his best days aren’t necessarily behind him.

19. Retief Goosen - With two major wins on ultra-fast greens, Goosen will make some noise if he can regain that touch in Atlanta this week.

20. Francesco Molinari - Pick a Molinari, any Molinari. Chicco gets the nod over Dodo because he’s a more precise driver and better ball-striker.

21. Geoff Ogilvy - It certainly hasn’t been the best of seasons for Ogilvy, who’s been hampered by injuries and inconsistency, but he can get streaky in a hurry.

22. Anthony Kim - After a dismal first half to his season, Kim has turned things around in a hurry, finishing 14th or better in two of his last three starts.

23. Sergio Garcia - Tee to green, he’s one of the world’s most talented. If these greens level the playing field, his ball-striking prowess could serve him very well.

24. Jonathan Byrd - Solid ball-striker and solid putter who already has a playoff win at Kapalua and a playoff loss at Quail Hollow to his credit this season.

25. Tiger Woods - No list is complete without Tiger? Not necessarily, but 25th seems about right considering the current state of his golf game.