- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) - Capsules of 10 top contenders for the PGA Championship, to be played July 28-31 at Baltusrol Golf Club:

RORY MCILROY

Age: 27.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 4.

Worldwide wins: 19.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014), PGA Championship (2012, 2014).

2016 Majors: Masters-T10, US Open-Cut, British Open-T5.

Best of the year: Winning the Irish Open before a home crowd.

Backspin: More than one victory was expected out of McIlroy this year. He hasn’t contended in any of the majors and is closer to No. 5 in the world than No. 1. He’s not doing much better publicly for his unprompted criticism of golf in the Olympics. One victory changes everything.

___

JORDAN SPIETH

Age: 23.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 10.

Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015).

2016 Majors: Masters-T2, US Open-T37, British Open-T30.

Best of the year: Winning his first tournament of 2016 by eight shots at Kapalua.

Backspin: He has two victories and nearly won a major, which is a good year for just about anyone who didn’t win two majors and nearly won them all last year. A year ago, Spieth was going for the “American Slam” and was 37-under par in the majors. This year he is 9-over par.

___

DUSTIN JOHNSON

Age: 32.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide wins: 11.

Majors: U.S. Open (2016).

2016 Majors: Masters-T4, US Open-Won, British Open-T9.

Best of the year: Winning his first major in the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Backspin: No other player has finished in the top 10 at all three majors this year, and Baltusrol is a big golf course that should be right up his power alley. In the last 100 years, only four players have won the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in the same year - Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

___

ADAM SCOTT

Age: 35 (turns 36 on Saturday of the PGA).

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 8.

Worldwide wins: 27.

Majors: Masters (2013).

2016 Majors: Masters-T42, US Open-T18, British Open-T43

Best of the year: Winning back-to-back to start the Florida Swing.

Backspin: The majors have been nothing short of a disappointment for Scott, who has finished a combined 51 shots out of the lead in them. He might have peaked early with his back-to-back victories in Florida. Winning the PGA Championship, however, could set up as a strong candidate for PGA Tour player of the year.

___

JASON DAY

Age: 28.

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide wins: 12.

Majors: PGA Championship (2015).

2016 Majors: Masters-T10, US Open-T8, British Open-T22.

Best of the year: A victory in The Players Championship, his third in a stretch of six tournaments.

Backspin: Day has played his best golf in the majors on the weekend, but only after he is too far behind. He has failed to break par in the opening round of all three majors. As much time as he spends texting Tiger Woods, this would be a good time to join him as the only back-to-back PGA champions in stroke play.

___

PHIL MICKELSON

Age: 46.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 13.

Worldwide wins: 45.

Majors: Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), British Open (2013), PGA Championship (2005).

2016 Majors: Masters-Cut, US Open-Cut, British Open-2.

Best of the year: His 267 at the British Open, the second-lowest score in Open history.

Backspin: He missed the cut in the Masters and U.S. Open. He was named, but not charged, in a civil suit involving insider trading. And then he nearly won the British Open with one of his best performances in the majors. He won last time at Baltusrol in 2005. No telling what he will do this year.

___

HENRIK STENSON

Age: 40.

Country: Sweden.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide wins: 18.

Majors: British Open (2016).

2016 Majors: Masters-T24, US Open-WD, British Open-

Best of the year: Winning in Germany to end an 18-month victory drought.

Backspin: Five times in the last 25 years, a player has won the final two majors of the year. Tiger Woods did it twice, along with Nick Price, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy. That’s what Stenson will try to achieve. The way he played Sunday at Royal Troon, it looks as though he doesn’t miss ever miss a shot with his irons.

___

TONY FINAU

Age: 26.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 77.

Worldwide wins: 1.

Majors: None.

2016 Majors: Masters-DNP, US Open-Cut, British Open-T18.

Best of the year: Winning the Puerto Rico Open for his first PGA Tour title.

Backspin: Every now and again, the PGA Championship delivers a champion no one expected. Keegan Bradley in 2011. Jason Dufner in 2003. Finau fits that mold. He is powerful and is quickly learning the other aspects of scoring. Baltusrol should be a good course for him.

___

BUBBA WATSON

Age: 37.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 6.

Worldwide wins: 10.

Majors: Masters (2012, 2014).

2016 Majors: Masters-T37, US Open-T51, British Open-T39.

Best of the year: Winning at Riviera, his third straight year with a PGA Tour victory.

Backspin: This is his last chance to salvage a poor year in the majors. He has only one sub-70 round in the majors and has yet to crack the top 35. He still has the Olympics, where he will be the highest-ranked American.

___

RICKIE FOWLER

Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 7.

Worldwide wins: 6.

Majors: None.

2016 Majors: Masters-Cut, US Open-Cut.

Best of the year: His spring break trip to the Bahamas.

Backspin: Recent history would not seem to favor Fowler because only one player since 2004 has won the PGA Championship without having previously won that year. On the other hand, he could finally deliver when no one expects it. He went low at Baltusrol during a game with Jordan Spieth last August.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide