The news leading up to this week's PGA Championship has been less than positive. Dustin Johnson's leave of absence coupled with Tiger Woods' uncertain status could leave us without two top-20 players in the final major of the year.
Regardless of who's in and who's out, on Thursday afternoon 156 golfers will tee it up in their final chance to pick up a major championship in 2014. Or in the cases of three golfers, a second one this year. Capturing just a single major is enough to turn a golfer's year, and maybe even his career, around. So who is going to have that honor on Sunday afternoon?
This week in the lead-up to tee-off, there's going to be a lot of predicting and prognosticating going on. Some will check out some stats, others will play a hunch and go with their gut, many more will continue to pick Woods.
I handle my picking a little differently. Instead of choosing a single winner, I will find reasons why 155 golfers can't pull off the win, using an assortment of statistics and historical trends. In the end, there will be just one man standing. I call it The Eliminator.
Let's get underway.
I like a name-value winner to stand on top Sunday afternoon for this reason: Each of the last eight majors has been won by a player in the top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings. When the smoke clears, we've already taken out 127 golfers, leaving just 29.
Let's look at who is carrying momentum heading to Valhalla. Each of the last 10 PGA Championship winners finished 22nd or better in his previous PGA Tour start. That will take 13 more golfers out of the mix, including Woods and two of this year's major winners, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer.
There's two reasons to look for a new major winner this weekend. Four of the past five PGA Championship winners had never previously won a major. Also, each of the first three major winners this year had already won one. There hasn't been a year with four repeat major winners since 2000 (and Woods won three of them that year).
Next up, don't look for a journeyman to win this weekend. Each of the last five PGA Championship winners had made fewer than five starts in the event entering the year of his victory. That will trim another five off the list, including three of the top six players in the World Rankings: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar.
Down to the final three, and we'll make it one with this nugget. Each of the last seven major winners did not impress in that same event the previous year. All seven finished outside the top 20. All three major winners this year finished 50th or worse in the prior year's event. Last year, both Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama finished in the top 20 at the PGA Championship, so they're gone.
Remember, the numbers don't lie.
The Eliminator: Step-by-Step
1. Each of the last eight majors has been won by a player in the top 30 of the world rankings: 127 eliminated, 29 remaining.
Brendon de Jonge
Frank Esposito Jr.
Charles Howell III
Davis Love III
2. The last 10 PGA Championship winners finished 22nd or better in their last PGA Tour start: 13 eliminated, 16 remaining.
3. Four of the last five PGA Championship winners had never won a major. There also hasn't been a year with four repeat major winners since 2000: eight eliminated, eight remaining.
4. The last five PGA Championship winners had made four or fewer previous starts in the event: five eliminated, three remaining.
5. Of the last seven major winners, none finished inside the top 20 in that same major the previous year: two eliminated, one remaining.
Your winner: Patrick Reed