It's Glory's Last Shot for 2012, and for the losers, it will be a long wait for Augusta 2013. Here's a rundown of players who could be kissing the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon during the 2012 PGA Championship, and a few who won't.
Contender: Dustin Johnson
Playing in his home state of South Carolina, Johnson could finally harness that otherworldly talent and win his first major. The longer and tougher the course, the better his chances, and Kiawah fits the bill. He has five top-10 finishes in majors in the last four years, including two top 10s at the British Open. The links-style layout of the Ocean Course will make Johnson feel right at home.
Best Career Finish, PGA: T5 Last Year: Cut
Contender: Rory McIlroy
Rory gives himself a grade of B for his season thus far. A win at the Ocean Course would bump up that GPA. It's been a frustrating season for McIlroy, but he has two third-place finishes at the PGA in the last three years. His top-5 finish at the WGC-Bridgestone and his confident demeanor point to a strong showing this week.
Best Career PGA Finish: T3 Last Year: T64
Contender: Keegan Bradley
The defending champion backed into the title last year thanks to Jason Dufner's collapse, but he might not need such cooperation this time. Bradley has a major, a WGC and a Rookie of the Year award in the last 365 days. He could be the first player to defend a major title successfully since Tiger Woods won the PGA in 2006-07.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 Last Year: 1
Contender: Tiger Woods
Tiger's in the midst of the least celebrated three-win season in history, but a PGA Championship win could turn a solid season into a career renaissance. Tiger's major drought now extends to a once-unimaginable 17 majors, and Nicklaus' total of 18 is starting to look more remote. All that does, though, is make Woods hungrier than he's been in a long time.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 (4 times) Last Year: Cut
Contender: Matt Kuchar
Kooch comes straight from central casting for PGA contenders: a consistent ballstriker looking for his major breakthrough. He's knocked on the door twice this season with top 10s at The Masters and British Open, and his win at The Players proves he can outlast an elite field.
Best Career PGA Finish: T10 Last Year: T19
Pretender: Lee Westwood
The world's No. 3 player has seen the bottom drop out of a once-promising season thanks to sloppy play around the green, and the PGA is historically his worst major. Not a favorable combination.
Best Career PGA Finish: T3 Last Year: T8
Pretender: Phil Mickelson
Lefty hasn't posted a top 10 since May, and he's lost it off the tee (168th in driving accuracy). Normally for Mickelson, how he's playing leading into a major is not a reliable indicator, but it's hard to overlook his struggles this season.
Best Career PGA Finish: 1 Last Year: T19
Pretender: Adam Scott
Scott's mental scars following his epic British Open collapse are bound to run deep. His attempt to jump back on the horse at the Bridgestone resulted in some lackluster play. His confidence with the belly has to be a little shaken right now.
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