Eliminate all but Reed at PGA Champ.

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).

For that reason, we'll take out the eight remaining major winners in the field, including the top two players in the world, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

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.

This year, look for Patrick Reed to do what Keegan Bradley did just three years ago, win the PGA Championship in his first start in the event.

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.

Golfers eliminated:
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Rich Beem
Jonas Blixt
Michael Block
Jason Bohn
Steven Bowditch
Jamie Broce
Mark Brooks
Scott Brown
Angel Cabrera
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Paul Casey
Roberto Castro
Kevin Chappell
K.J. Choi
Stewart Cink
Tim Clark
Darren Clarke
George Coetzee
Erik Compton
Rob Corcoran
Ben Crane
John Daly
Brendon de Jonge
Stuart Deane
Graham DeLaet
Jamie Donaldson
Ernie Els
Harris English
Frank Esposito Jr.
Matt Every
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Ross Fisher
Tommy Fleetwood
Stephen Gallacher
Branden Grace
Bill Haas
Chesson Hadley
Brian Harman
Padraig Harrington
David Hearn
Ryan Helminen
Russell Henley
Charley Hoffman
J.B. Holmes
Billy Horschel
Charles Howell III
David Hronek
Mikko Ilonen
Ryo Ishikawa
Freddie Jacobson
Thongchai Jaidee
Matt Jones
Robert Karlsson
Jerry Kelly
Hyung-Sung Kim
Chris Kirk
Russell Knox
Brooks Koepka
Johan Kok
Jason Kokrak
Aaron Krueger
Anirban Lahiri
Pablo Larrazabal
Marc Leishman
Alexander Levy
Davis Love III
Shane Lowry
Joost Luiten
Will MacKenzie
Hunter Mahan
Matteo Manassero
Ben Martin
Jim McGovern
David McNabb
George McNeill
Shaun Micheel
Edoardo Molinari
Francesco Molinari
Colin Montgomerie
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na
Seung-Yul Noh
Brian Norman
Koumei Oda
Geoff Ogilvy
Thorbjorn Olesen
Louis Oosthuizen
Ryan Palmer
Pat Perez
Kenny Perry
Rod Perry
Matt Pesta
Scott Piercy
Rory Sabbatini
Steve Schneiter
John Senden
Vijay Singh
Jerry Smith
Brandt Snedeker
Bob Sowards
Kevin Stadler
Scott Stallings
Brendan Steele
Shawn Stefani
Richard Sterne
Kevin Streelman
Chris Stroud
Brian Stuard
Daniel Summerhays
Hideto Tanihara
Dave Tentis
Brendon Todd
Cameron Tringale
Dustin Volk
Marc Warren
Nick Watney
Tom Watson
Boo Weekley
Lee Westwood
Bernd Wiesberger
Danny Willett
Eric Williamson
Chris Wood
Gary Woodland
Y.E. Yang
Fabrizio Zanotti

2. The last 10 PGA Championship winners finished 22nd or better in their last PGA Tour start: 13 eliminated, 16 remaining.

Golfers eliminated:
Jason Day
Luke Donald
Victor Dubuisson
Jason Dufner
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Zach Johnson
Martin Kaymer
Ian Poulter
Webb Simpson
Jordan Spieth
Jimmy Walker
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods

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.

Golfers eliminated:
Keegan Bradley
Jim Furyk
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Phil Mickelson
Justin Rose
Charl Schwartzel
Adam Scott

4. The last five PGA Championship winners had made four or fewer previous starts in the event: five eliminated, three remaining.

Golfers eliminated:
Thomas Bjorn
Sergio Garcia
Matt Kuchar
Henrik Stenson
Steve Stricker

5. Of the last seven major winners, none finished inside the top 20 in that same major the previous year: two eliminated, one remaining.

Golfers eliminated:
Rickie Fowler
Hideki Matsuyama

Your winner: Patrick Reed

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