The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour rankings, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-2013 performance.
1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Despite his hiccup in the Memorial Tournament with a 79 in round three, Woods remains the odds-on favorite for the U.S. Open this week at Merion, having won four times this season on the PGA Tour. Woods shrugged off his misadventures at Muirfield Village, where he tied for 78th. It's interesting to note that Jack Nicklaus pointed out that he shot 78-67 and missed the cut in the 1980 Atlanta Classic, but captured the U.S. Open the following week at Baltusrol. ... This will be Tiger's 18th start in the second major of the year, and he has won it three times, but not since 2008 in a memorable playoff with Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines. His other titles came in 2000 at Pebble Beach and in 2002 at Bethpage Black, and he also finished second to Michael Campbell in 2005 at Pinehurst and tied for second behind Angel Cabrera in 2007 at Oakmont. Woods remains stuck on 14 major victories, the last five years ago at Torrey Pines, as he pursues Nicklaus' record of 18. A victory at Oakmont would keep him ahead of the Golden Bear's pace. ... While short and narrow Merion would not seem to fit Woods' game because he will probably hit driver on only two or three holes, he won in the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills while keeping the big stick in his bag much of the time. Woods hit mostly long irons and fairway woods off the tee while winning the Players Championship last month at TPC Sawgrass, so if he can stay out of the long rough and putt the USGA's greens well, he should be in the hunt on Sunday.
2. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Winning the Memorial Tournament in his last outing will only ramp up the pressure on Kuchar to find the missing piece on his career resume, a major title, this week in the U.S. Open at Merion. Kuchar, who has two victories on the PGA Tour this season, has risen to a career-high fourth in the World Golf Championship and won't be able to fly under the radar into the second major of the season. ... Kooch is playing in the national championship for the 11th time, with his only top-10 finish a tie for sixth in 2010 at Pebble Beach. After missing the cut in five of his first seven appearances in the U.S. Open, including four in a row at one stage, he has made it to the weekend and finished in the top 30 in each of the last three. He tied for 14th two years ago at Congressional, shooting 68-69 in the middle rounds, and tied for 27th last year at the Olympic Club. ... Kuchar has not been much of a major player until the last two years, with three of his five top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam events coming in his last five tries. His best finish in a major was a tie for third in the 2012 Masters, and he has followed that with a tie for ninth in the Open Championship last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and a tie for eighth this year at Augusta. Kuchar has shown he can win big events against loaded fields, with the last four of his six PGA Tour victories coming in the 2010 Barclays in the PGA Tour playoffs, the 2012 Players Championship, and this year, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial.
3. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Despite his struggles this year, McIlroy received a reminder a week before the U.S. Open that it wasn't so long ago that he was the best player in the world when he attended media day for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. It was last August that he claimed the second major title of his career at age 23 when he blitzed the field by a record eight strokes on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. After the question-and-answer session at Oak Hill, he stuck around and shot 5-under-par 67 on the course that will host the final major of the year. ... While he was taking about his title defense, Rory pointed out that his concentration is on the second major of the year this week at Merion. It's been feast or famine for him in the U.S. Open, as he won the title by a whopping eight strokes over Jason Day in 2011 at Congressional after making a creditable debut with a tie for 10th in 2009 at Bethpage Black. He missed the cut in 2010 at Pebble Beach and last year at the Olympic Club, so maybe it's something about California. ... McIlroy has been pleased with his adaptation to his new Nike clubs, other than the putter, and he recently dumped the Nike Method putter for his trusted Scotty Cameron model. He's been satisfied with his ball-striking lately but had a session with putting guru Dave Stockton recently. McIlroy must putt the slick USGA greens well this week at Merion to be in the conversation. He ranks 16th in total driving and fifth in greens in regulation on the PGA Tour, but 122nd in strokes-gained putting.
4. Adam Scott, Australia -- With the major monkey off his back at the age of 33 after becoming the first Aussie to win the Masters, there is talk that Scott might be ready to win multiple titles in the Grand Slam events. He certainly will be one of the favorites this week in the U.S. Open at Merion, even though he has never performed particularly well in the second major of the year. ... Scotty has played in 11 consecutive U.S. Opens and posted his best finish last year, when he tied for 15th at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, where he bounced back from an opening 76 with three consecutive 70s. He has missed the cut six times in the tournament, including his first three from 2002 to 2004 at Bethpage Black, Olympia Fields and Shinnecock Hills, and two more in a row in 2010 at Pebble Beach and 2011 at Congressional. The U.S. Open is the only major in which he never has finished in the top 10. If it's ever going to happen, it could be this week at Merion because he is at the high-water mark in his career. ... Even though Scott's return to Australia as a major champion is months away, there already has been intense speculation Down Under about where and when that might happen because the four major events on the Aussie Tour are all held late in the year. He made his first commitment to a tournament in his homeland last week when he announced that he would defend his title in the Australian Talisker Masters at Royal Melbourne in November. Greg Norman is the only player to win the tournament two consecutive years, claiming the title in 1983 and 1984, plus 1989 and 1990.
5. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty said at the beginning and the end of the week that there are similarities to Merion, where the U.S. Open will be played this week, and TPC Southwind, site of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. So, he has to feel good about his chances in the second major of the year after closing with three scores in the 60s to tie for second in the St. Jude, two strokes behind winner Harris English. ... Lefty has four major championships to his credit, but he has not won the U.S. Open in 22 attempts, even though he has been excruciatingly close on several occasions with five runner-up finishes, including last year at the Olympic Club behind Webb Simpson. The most famous came in 2006, when he was coming off victories in the PGA Championship and the Masters, and was trying to join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three consecutive majors. Mickelson took a one-stroke lead to the final hole but pushed his drive to the left and off a hospitality tent, leading to a double-bogey 6 that left him one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy. That was one of his seven second-place finishes in the Grand Slam events, and he also has finished third seven times among his 33 top-10 results. ... After starting with a 1-over-par 71, Mickelson went 67-65-67 in the last three rounds at TPC Southwind, including three birdies in the last five holes on Sunday, hitting his approach to within two feet on the final hole. Putting will be vital at Merion, and Lefty averaged 26.3 putts per round in his final tuneup at the St. Jude.
6. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- Playing in his home state of Tennessee, Snedeker continued what has been a perplexing run when he shot 70-73--143 and missed the cut by two strokes in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It was his second consecutive missed weekend and fourth in seven tournaments since he returned from a strained intercostal muscle after a tremendous start to the season. He is taking medication for his ongoing rib problems and hopes to find his game when he gets to Merion for the U.S. Open. ... After his second big disappointment in the Masters earlier this year, when he was tied for the 54-hole lead with Angel Cabrera but closed with a 2-over-par 75 to tie for sixth, Snedeker believes he is ready to win his first major as he plays in the U.S. Open for the seventh time. He missed the tournament last year because of a rib injury, but he has done well in the second major of the year in recent seasons and could be a factor at Merion. He tied for ninth in 2008 at Torrey Pines, tied for eighth in 2010 at Pebble Beach and tied for 11th two years ago at Congressional. His best finishes in the Grand Slam events were ties for third in the 2007 Masters and in the Open Championship last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. ... Snedeker probably would have made it to the weekend at TPC Southwind if not for two holes in the second round. His two shots into the water on the 12th hole led to a double-bogey 6 to put him in a hole early on Friday after starting on the back nine. He was right on the eventual cut-line when he came to his final hole, No. 9, but he hit his approach into the water and took another double-bogey 6.
7. Dustin Johnson, United States -- Coming off a missed cut in the Memorial Tournament after missing four tournaments because of injuries, DJ got off to a blazing star in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He opened with a 3-under-par 67 and played solidly the rest of the way to wind up in a tie for 10th, only his second top-10 finish since winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, giving him some momentum heading to the U.S. Open. ... Johnson has made five previous starts in the second major of the year and had his best chance to win it in 2010 at Pebble Beach. He held a three-stroke lead heading to the final round after posting a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday. However, he lost all of his lead by carding a triple-bogey 8 on the second hole and didn't card a birdie all day en route to an 82 that dropped him into a tie for eighth. Later in the year, DJ had a chance to win another major when he took a one-stroke lead to the final hole of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. However, he made bogey on the hole and later was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in what was deemed to be a bunker, dropping to a tie for fifth and missing the playoff in which Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson. He has three other top-10s in the majors, including a tie for second in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George's, three strokes behind winner Darren Clarke. ... Johnson played his first six holes of round one at TPC Southwind in 5 under par, including an eagle on the third hole. However, he played the last 66 holes in even par, finishing on a downer with bogeys on his last two holes.
8. Luke Donald, England -- After carding 13 birdies in the last two rounds while tying for 21st two weeks ago in the Memorial, Donald believes is game is going in the right direction heading into the U.S. Open. Even though he has only two finishes in the top 10 this season on the PGA Tour, he has finished in the top 25 seven times in eight outings and said his play has been better than the scores might indicate. ... Luke will tee it up for the 10th time in the second major of the year, the only one in which he has never finished in the top 10. His best finish was a tie for 12th in 2006 at Winged Foot, where he bounced back from an 8-over-par 78 in the first round. He has missed the cut three times, including last year when he shot 79-72--151 at the Olympic Club, and he withdrew because a wrist injury during the final round in 2008 at Torrey Pines. His best results in majors were ties for third in the 2005 Masters and the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah. ... Donald remains among the best players in the world without a major title and one of only two players, the other being Lee Westwood, who have held the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings and not captured one of the Grand Slam events. The short East Course at Merion might give him a chance to break through, but his ball-striking has not been sharp this year, as he ranks 40th in driving accuracy at 64.69 percent and 159th in greens in regulation at 62.30 percent. Donald ranks seventh in strokes gained putting at plus-.717 and fifth with an average of 27.96 putts per round. He will have to lean on his short stick.
9. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Bradley joined Francis Ouimet (1913 U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (2003 Open Championship) as the only players in this century to win a major championship on the first attempt when he beat Jason Dufner in a playoff at Atlanta Athletic Club in the 2011 PGA Championship. He has been trying hard, some would say too hard, to back that up as he prepares for his seventh major, the U.S. Open at Merion. Bradley's best finish since winning the final major of the year two seasons ago was a tie for third last year in his title defense on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. ... Keegan, who seems to put an awful lot of pressure on himself to succeed, finished in a tie for 68th in his first U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in 2012, the year he played in all four of the Grand Slam events for the first time. He seems to be so amped up on the course and might perform better if he could relax just a bit. Bradley has won three times on the PGA Tour and nearly added a fourth title recently after shooting 10-under-par 60 in the first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. However, he again seemed to get in his own way, and he finished second behind Sang-Moon Bae of South Korea, carding only a single birdie while closing with a 72. ... Bradley has the length to make the short East Course at Merion, at 6,996 yards, play even shorter, and he hits the ball straight off the tee, ranking fifth on the PGA Tour in total driving. It might come down to how he fares with his belly putter. He ranks 28th this season in strokes gained putting at plus-.430.
10. Justin Rose, England -- Another player who ranks near the top of the list when it comes to the best players who have not won a major title, he gets his next opportunity this week in the U.S. Open at Merion. Rose has finished in the top 10 four times on the PGA Tour this season but has not played particularly well in some big events recently, missing the cut in the Players Championship and tying for 50th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. ... This will be Rosy's eighth appearance in the second major of the season, and he has not played particularly well since he finished in the top 10 in two of this first three tries. He tied for fifth in his first U.S. Open appearance at Olympia Fields in 2003, shooting 1-under-par 69 in the final round to finish at even par, and tied for 10th in 2007 at Oakmont, despite playing the weekend in 73-76. However, he has missed the cut on four occasions in the tournament, including three consecutive times (2008, 2009 and 2011, not qualifying in 2010), before he tied for 21st last year at the Olympic Club, where he was tied for second after an opening 69 but shot 75 the next day. ... Rose has shown that he can win in big events against strong fields, with his four victories on the PGA Tour coming in the 2010 Memorial Tournament, the 2010 AT&T National, the 2011 BMW Championship during the PGA Tour playoffs and the 2012 WGC-Cadillac Championship. This week, he's hoping to become the first Englishman to capture a major since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters. His best major finish was a tie for third in the PGA Championship last year at Kiawah Island.
11. Webb Simpson, United States -- It certainly wasn't a fluke, but it was a bit surprising that when the best golfers in the world faltered in the U.S. Open last year at the Olympic Club, Simpson was the last man standing and claimed his first major championship. He earned it by shooting 68-68 in the last two rounds, including four birdies in a span of five holes around the turn after trailing by six strokes early on Sunday. He closed the deal with a gutsy up-and-down from the fringe for a par on the final hole. ... Simpson will defend his title in the second major of the year this week at Merion, playing in the tournament for only the third time, having tied for 14th two years ago at Congressional, where he shot 5-under-par 66 in the second round. He still hasn't played all four majors in one season, as he skipped the Open Championship last year a month after his major breakthrough because his wife, Dowd, was about to give birth to their second child, Willow Grace. ... Webb has not done well in the majors he did play since winning in San Francisco, missing the cut in the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and again in the Masters earlier this year. In fact, he has not made it to the weekend in three of the seven Grand Slam events he has played, but he also tied for 16th in the only Open Championship he has played, two years ago at Royal St. George's. He has won three times on the PGA Tour in his career, but he missed a chance for another title when he lost to Graeme McDowell in the RBC Heritage in April, one of his three top-10 finishes this year.
12. Lee Westwood, England -- Perhaps the current poster boy of the best players without a major title because of his numerous near-misses, Westwood will try again this week in the U.S. Open at Merion. He has vastly improved his short game this year, and if he can rediscover the tee-to-green skills he has shown in the past, he might be a contender in the second major of the season. ... Westy is making 14th start in the U.S. Open and has five finishes in the top 10. He opened with a 5-over-par 75 two years ago at Congressional and played the middle rounds in 68-65 to tie for third. However, Westwood never got close to Rory McIlroy, who won by eight strokes and beat him by 10. In 2008, he was in the chase all the way but closed with a 73 and finished one stroke out of the playoff in which Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines. Last year, he again was in the hunt most of the way but closed with a 73 and tied for 10th, four shots behind winner Webb Simpson. ... Westwood, who moved his family from Worksop, England, to Florida late last year in an effort to give himself a better chance in the three majors played in the U.S., has finished in the top 10 a total of 15 times in the Grand Slam events. He finished second in the 2010 Masters behind Phil Mickelson and was second again in the Open Championship later that year behind Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrews, and he has been third five times in the majors. Lee tied for eighth earlier this year in the Masters after finishing in the top 10 twice in the majors in each of the last four years.
13. Bubba Watson, United States -- Bubba admittedly has not been the same player since winning the Masters last year, and the short and tight East Course at Merion wouldn't seem to be the place for him to turn it around this week in the U.S. Open. However, he has shown that he has all the shots, so if he can keep the ball out of the rough and have a hot week with the putter, he could shorten the course even more and perhaps be a factor on Sunday. ... Watson will tee it up in the national championship for the seventh time, and he has only one top-10 finish in the tournament, when he tied for fifth in 2007 at Oakmont, where he started with 71-71. He has missed the cut three times, including last year, when he shot 78-71--149 and failed by one stroke to make it to the weekend. Bubba was in the mix for three rounds in 2009 at Bethpage Black but shot 5-over-par 75 in the final round and skidded to a tie for 18th. ... Despite his victory at Augusta National and a playoff loss to Martin Kaymer of Germany in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Watson has not had a lot of success in the Grand Slam events. His only other top-10 finish in the majors was that tie for fifth in the 2007 U.S. Open, and he has missed the cut seven times, but he has played in all four majors in only three seasons, the first in 2009. However, Bubba is the type of player who can have a hot week any time and wind up holding the trophy.
14. Steve Stricker, United States -- It's been a month since Stricker, who has virtually gone into semi-retirement, last played on the PGA Tour in the Players Championship, so it's difficult to assess his chances this week in the U.S. Open at Merion. He's a straight if not long hitter who putts well, so normally you would think his game might have a good chance on the 6,996-yard East Course, but realistically he could go in either direction. ... Strick is making his 18th appearance in the national championship, with his best finishes a tie for fifth at the Olympic Club in 1998, and solo fifth the following year at Pinehurst. He put himself in contention with a 69 on Saturday each time, but then fell out of contention in the final round with a pair of 73s. Steve has played well after slow starts each of the last two years, opening with a 75 but rallying to tie for 19th two years ago at Congressional, and he shot 76 in round one last year at the Olympic Club before coming back to tie for 15th. ... Stricker has 10 finishes in the top 10 in the majors over the course of his 20-year career, coming closest to winning one of the Grand Slam events when he finished second to Vijay Singh in the 1998 PGA Championship at Valhalla. He was tied for the lead with the Big Fijian entering the final round, but closed with a 70 as Singh claimed the Wanamaker Trophy with a 68. After finishing in the top five in each of his first three tournaments this season, he tied for 20th in the Masters and tied for 37th in the Players in his last two outings.
15. Hunter Mahan, United States -- While Mahan seemingly has the game to become a major champion and played well in the Grand Slam events a few years ago, he has not really been a factor in the last three years. After posting a total of three top-10 finishes in the majors in 2008 and 2009, he doesn't have any since and has missed the cut five times in the Grand Slam tournaments in the past three seasons, including last August at Kiawah Island and in the Masters earlier this year. ... The U.S. Open this week at Merion will be Hunter's eighth start in the second major of the year. His only top-10 result was a tie for sixth in 2009 at Bethpage Black, where he shot 68-68 in the middle rounds. He followed that with missed cuts in 2010 at Pebble Beach and in 2011 at Congressional before he tied for 38th last year at the Olympic Club, and he has not broken 70 in his last nine rounds in the U.S. Open. ... Mahan has finished in the top 10 only twice this season, on consecutive weeks in February, when he tied for eighth in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and lost to Matt Kuchar in the final of his title defense at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. However, he has posted nine finishes in the top 25, and if he can get his game going, he could be a factor on the East Course at Merion this week, even though he does not have a solid history in the national championship.
16. Ernie Els, South Africa -- The Big Easy does not contend every time a major rolls around, the way he did earlier in his career, but he showed last year when he captured his fourth major title in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that it would be a mistake to write him off. After failing to qualify for the Masters last year, he came back to tie for ninth in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, won the oldest championship in the world and tied for 13th in his return to the Masters earlier this year. ... The first two of Els' major titles came in the U.S. Open, in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional. He took a two-stroke lead to the final round at Oakmont but closed with a 73 and had to beat Loren Roberts and Colin Montgomerie in a playoff. Three years later at Congressional, he closed with three scores in the 60s to outlast Montgomerie by one stroke. Ernie will be making his 21st start in the second major of the year and has seven other top-10 finishes, including a tie for second behind runaway winner Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach. Last year at the Olympic Club, he was one stroke back before carding three consecutive bogeys down the stretch. ... In addition to his four titles in the Grand Slam events, Els has been very close to several others, finishing second six times and third on five other occasions. In the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera, he equaled 36-hole tournament record at 131 and set 54-hole record of with 197, taking a three-stroke lead into the final round. Els closed with a 72 and finished two strokes out of the playoff in which Steve Elkington turned back Montgomerie.
17. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland -- Following a three-year drought after he captured three tournaments including the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, G-Mac announced he is back by becoming the only player with victories on both major tours this season. He captured the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour in April and followed by claiming the Volvo World Match Play title last month in Bulgaria, his first two official victories since the 2010 Andalucia Valderrama Masters. ... McDowell became the first European to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin of England took home the title in 1970 at Hazeltine, and also was the first Northern Irishman to claim a major since Fred Daly in the 1947 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. He was the only player to finish at even par for the tournament. He took the lead with a birdie on the fifth hole as 54-hole leader Dustin Johnson was melting down with an 82, making G-Mac's closing 74 good enough to win. McDowell, who is playing in the U.S. Open for the eighth time, made another run at the title last year but missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have put him in a playoff with Webb Simpson. He settled for a tie for second. ... Even though McDowell did not win again until this year, he showed signs that he was coming back last year when he finished in the top 15 in all four majors. He tied for 12th in the Masters, and after his near-miss in the U.S. Open, he tied for fifth in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes before tying for 11th in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
18. Zach Johnson, United States -- It was something of a surprise when Johnson navigated his way around Augusta National, a long course that wouldn't seem to suit his game, with such precision in 2007 that he won the Masters by two strokes over Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini. The East Course at Merion, at only 6,996 yards, would seem to be right up his alley, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in the hunt this week, even though he has not played particularly well this season. ... Zach has never played well in his nine appearances in the national championship, missing the cut four times, with his best result a tie for 30th two years ago at Congressional. However, Merion will be a very different U.S. Open course, and he could be in the mix if he can play the several short part 4s well and hold his own on the long ones. Johnson has the precise game to do exactly that, hitting roughly two-thirds of the fairways and greens this year, but he will have to do better than the 29.60 putts per round he has been averaging. ... Johnson has not shown up on major championship leaderboards very often since winning the Masters, with only three finishes in the top 10 since 2007. The best was a tie for third in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, where he finished one stroke out of the playoff in which Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson. Johnson needed a birdie on either one of the last two holes to get himself into the playoff, but he missed the green each time and was fortunate to save his pars to come up just short.
19. Ian Poulter, England -- After playing his best golf since February over the first three rounds of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Poulter made only one birdie in the final round while closing with a 6-over-par 76. That dropped him 40 spots on the leaderboard to a tie for 51st, but it still was better than missing the cut, as he did in his two previous outings, the Masters and the Players Championship. The confidence he built the first three days had to take a hit heading to the U.S. Open. ... Poults is one of the Fab Four, the others being Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, trying to end England's drought in major championship that dates to Sir Nick Faldo winning the 1996 Masters. He is playing in the second major of the year for the 10th time, but his best result was only a tie for 12th in 2006 at Winged Foot. His best finish in a major was solo second in the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, where he held the clubhouse lead after closing with a 69, but Padraig Harrington also closed with a 69 to win by four shots. He has six top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam events. ... Poulter posted scores of 69-68-68 in the first three rounds at TPC Southwind but started to come apart on his first shot of the final round. He hit his drive into the water and took a double-bogey 6, but he tried to rally with a birdie two holes later. After eight consecutive pars, he took four shots to reach the green at No. 12, where he recorded another double-bogey 6. Poulter carded five birdies in his first 10 holes on Friday but had three bogeys on the last seven holes.
20. Jason Dufner, United States -- Dufner has been unable to come anywhere close to the magic of his breakthrough season last year, when he claimed his first two PGA Tour victories at the age of 35, but a big week in the U.S. Open at Merion could make him forget all that very quickly. It hasn't been all bad, as he has put himself in good position several times this year, but he has struggled on Sundays, failing to break 70 any of his nine final rounds, in which his average score is 72.30. ... Duff will be making his seventh start in the second major of the year, and after failing to finish in the top 25 and missing the cut twice in his first six appearances, he made a run at the title last year before settling for a tie for fourth. He shot 70-70 on the weekend at the Olympic Club, making only two bogeys on the final day, but didn't make his only birdies until the 12th and 17th holes to wind up two strokes behind champion Webb Simpson. ... Dufner didn't play in all four majors in the same year until 2010, when he posted his first top-10 finish in the Grand Slam events with a tie for fifth in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, where he shot 66-69 in the middle rounds. However, he saved his best performance for the following year in the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he entered the final round tied for the lead with Brendan Steele. Dufner was bogey-free through 14 holes and held a five-stroke lead with four holes left, but he carded three consecutive bogeys and was caught by two birdies from Keegan Bradley, who beat him in a three-hole aggregate playoff.
Others receiving consideration: Bill Haas, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jason Day, Australia; John Merrick, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Martin Laird, Scotland; Angel Cabrera, Argentina; Kevin Streelman, United States; D.A. Points, United States; Billy Horschel, United States; Russell Henley, United States; David Lingmerth, Sweden; Sang-Moon Bae, South Korea; Boo Weekley, United States; Harris English, United States.