Golf rankings, player capsules

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Three times previously, Woods has captured the PGA Championship one week after winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he will try to do it again after a dominating, seven-stroke victory, the eighth of his career at Firestone. He claimed his fifth win of the season and the 79th of his PGA Tour career, moving to within four of Sam Snead's record. Tiger won for the 18th time in 42 starts in the WGC events. ... Woods continues his quest for his 15th major title this week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where he tied for 39th when the tournament was held there in 2003, failing to equal the par of 70 in any of his four rounds. He is 0-for-17 in the Grand Slam events since winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines despite finishing in the top 10 in 10 of those tournaments. His biggest problem has been an inability to finish when he was in contention on the weekend. Tiger captured the PGA in 1999 at Medinah, in 2000 at Valhalla, in 2006 at Medinah again and in 2007 at Southern Hills. He seemed headed for another title in 2009 at Hazeltine, but Y.E. Yang outplayed him down the stretch to become the first Asian male to win a major. ... Even though Woods didn't have his best stuff while shooting 2-under-par 68 in the third round at Firestone, the tournament virtually was over after he tied his career low with a 61 in the second round to take a seven-stroke lead. He was 9 under after 13 holes and the 59 watch was on, but he finished with five consecutive pars, missing two putts inside 10 feet on a day in which he took only 22 strokes on the greens.

2. Phil Mickelson, United States -- After taking the Claret Jug everywhere he went, including Wall Street, since winning the Open Championship three weeks ago, Lefty can be excused for a bit of an off week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He was at his best only when he carded a 3-under-par 67 in round three, and he wound up in a tie for 21st after winning twice and tying for second twice in his previous five tournaments. ... Phil claims he is playing some of the best golf of his career, and coming off his victory in the Open Championship at Muirfield, he will be trying to become the first player to capture back-to-back titles in the majors since Padraig Harrington won the same two in 2008. Mickelson's five major titles include the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol, where he led virtually all the way after starting with 67-65 before playing the weekend in 72-72 to hold off Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Steve Elkington of Australia by one stroke. Mickelson was tied for the lead on the par-5 finishing hole and hit a marvelous flop shot out of the rough to within two feet of the hole to set up a winning birdie. When the PGA was played at Oak Hill in 2003, he took the first-round lead with a 4-under-par 66 but could not equal par over the last three rounds. He tied for 23rd. ... Mickelson carded only one bogey in his 67 last week at Firestone, but he recorded at least three in each of his other three rounds. He hit fewer than 60 percent of the fairways and greens, but he finished at plus-1.472 in strokes gained putting.

3. Adam Scott, Australia -- Coming off his tie for third in the Open Championship, Scott was at his best only when he played the middle rounds in 66-68 last week on his way to a tie for 14th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he won in 2011. Still, it was a solid tune-up for this week, when he will try to become the first player to win two major championships in the same season since Padraig Harrington in 2008. ... Scott has become a major force in the last three years, with six finishes in the top 10 including his historic Masters victory earlier this year, and eight top 25s in the last 10 Grand Slam events heading into the PGA Championship this week at Oak Hill. In his first 40 major starts, he had only four top 10s. However, he could have won three of the last five, but he let leads slip away in the final rounds of the last two Open Championships, carding four consecutive bogeys each time. The first Aussie to win at Augusta National, Scott has played in the PGA Championship 12 times previously, with three finishes in the top 10, including a tie for third in 2006 at Medinah, finishing six strokes behind winner Tiger Woods. When the tournament was played at Oak Hill in 2003, he tied for 23rd, breaking the par of 70 only when he shot 69 in round two. ... Scott bounced back from an opening round of 3-over-par 73 at Firestone, where he recorded four bogeys and a double-bogey 5 on the 11th hole the first day. He carded only one bogey in each of his next two rounds, playing his best when he started round three with three birdies in the first four holes and stumbling only on the 18th hole.

4. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Having finished second or better in three of his previous five tournaments on the PGA Tour, Kuchar played well only when he posted a 1-under-par 69 in round three en route to a tie for 27th last week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. However, he is playing well enough this season that despite an off week, he might be able to contend in the final major of the season. ... Kooch has become one of the best golfers in the world in the last four years, but it has not gotten him over the hump for that first major victory going into the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. He has missed the cut in three of his five appearances in the final major of the season, including last year, when he shot 72-82--154 to miss by four strokes at Kiawah Island. However, when he has made it to the weekend, he tied for 10th in 2010 at Whistling Straits, where he led after the first two rounds at 69-67, before playing the weekend in 73-72, and he also tied for 19th in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club. His best result among five top-10s in the Grand Slam events was a tie for third in the 2012 Masters, as he wound up two shots out of the playoff in which Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen. ... Kuchar was playing brilliantly in that third round last week at Firestone, flawless through 16 holes, before he carded bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes while finishing on the front nine. He seemed to be headed for another sub-par round Sunday before he carded his second bogey of the day on No. 17 and finished with a 70.

5. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- A week after winning the RBC Canadian Open, Snedeker could not break the par of 70 in any of his four rounds and finished in a tie for 33rd in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Even after winning in Canada, he admitted that he is not quite back to where he was early this season before being slowed by injuries. ... Snedeker is another player who has put himself on the short list of the best players without a major title, and he has a chance to break through this week in the PGA Championship the way he has played this season, as he is one of four players with multiple victories. He is playing in the PGA for the seventh time but has not posted a finish in the top 10, with his best result a tie for 24th in 2008 at Oakland Hills. Sneds also has missed the cut three times in the final major of the season, including the last two years at Atlanta Athletic Club and Kiawah Island. The best of his five top-10 finishes in the majors were ties for third in the 2008 Masters and the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but despite the injuries, he is having a strong major season. He tied for sixth in the Masters, tied for 17th in the U.S. Open at Merion and tied for 17th in the Open Championship at Muirfield. ... The best Snedeker could do last week at Firestone were 70s in the second and final rounds. His ball-striking was not sharp, as he hit under 60 percent of the fairways and greens, increasing the pressure on his putter. He played the par-5 second hole at 5 under par, with two eagles and a birdie.

6. Justin Rose, England -- One of three players who can finish with two major titles this season, Rose warmed up for the last of the Big Four when he posted three rounds of 1-under-par 69 and finished in a tie for 17th in the in WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has finished out of the top 25 only twice in 12 tournaments on the PGA Tour this season, when he missed the cut in the Players Championship and the Open Championship at Muirfield. ... The U.S. Open champion tees it up this week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where he missed the cut in the same tournament in 2003. This will be his 11th appearance in the final major of the year, and he has missed the cut in half of his previous starts. However, he posted his best finish a year ago on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, tying for third. Rose closed with a 6-under-par 66 but finished nine strokes behind. He might have challenged winner Rory McIlroy had he not followed up an opening 69 with a 79 in windy conditions in round two. His only other top-10 finish was a tie for ninth in 2008 at Oakland Hills, but he missed the cut the next three years. ... Rose really struggled only in the second round at Firestone, recording his only birdie on the eighth hole en route to a 72. He recorded five birdies in round one, including four in a span of seven holes through No. 12, but simply did not make enough birdies over the 72 holes, recording a total of only five over the last three days.

7. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Even some work with putting guru Dave Stockton, who also provided overall advice, couldn't get McIlroy back on track in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He broke par only with a 1-under-par 69 in round three, and he has not finished in the top 10 in his last six tournaments since he tied for eighth at the Players Championship in May. ... Rory defends his title in the PGA Championship this week, still looking for the form that took him to victory at Kiawah Island and eventually the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings. After opening with a 5-under-par 67, he survived very windy conditions in round two with a 75 before playing the weekend in 67-66 to claim his second major title by a runaway eight strokes over David Lynn of England. McIlroy, whose first major title came in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, has played in the final major of the year four times previously, tying for third in 2009 at Hazeltine and posting the same result the next year at Whistling Straits. He has recorded six top-10 finish in the Grand Slam events, but his best finish in them this year was a tie for 25th in the Masters. ... McIlroy had only two stretches of really good golf last week at Firestone, when he carded three bogeys in four holes through No. 15 while shooting 70 in round one, and when he carded three birdies in a row through No. 5 in his 69. He hit fewer than half the fairways and greens, but he did finish at plus-0.440 in strokes gained putting.

8. Dustin Johnson, United States -- Coming off a tie for second in the RBC Canadian Open, his best finishing since winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to start the season, DJ continued his inconsistent season in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He played two very good rounds and two that were not so good to wind up in a tie for 33rd, but he did finish strong, possibly giving him some momentum heading to the final major of the season. ... Johnson is one of the most talented players in the world without a major title, and he has been a force in the Grand Slam events in each of the past four years, but he has not had a good major season heading into the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. After finishing in the top 10 in at least one major every year since 2009, and five times in all, his best result this year is a tie for 13th in the Masters. He could have won two major titles in 2010, but he blew a three-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with a closing 82, and he had a nightmare finish in the PGA at Whistling Straits. DJ held a one-stroke lead on the 72nd hole, where he made bogey and then was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. He tied for fifth, missing the playoff in which Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson. His highest finish in a major was a tie for second in the Open Championship, three shots behind Darren Clarke, in 2011 at Royal St. George's. ... DJ opened with a 2-over-par 72 last week at Firestone but really struggled on Saturday, when he posted a 75. He saved his best for last, shooting 67 on Sunday, when he carded his only bogey at No. 9 before making three birdies in four holes through No. 14.

9. Luke Donald, England -- Playing his best golf since he tied for eighth in the U.S. Open, Donald had a chance to finish second behind runaway winner Tiger Woods before stumbling down the stretch in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Still, he finished in a tie for ninth, his fourth top-10 finish of the season on the PGA Tour and his ninth result in the top 25 in 12 starts on the circuit this season. ... Donald, who has played 14 times this year on both major tours including trips to Malaysia, Scotland, France, Canada and England, admitted he was tired after missing the cut in the Open Championship at Muirfield and the RBC Canadian Open. He hopes to be revitalized for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill thanks to the extra days off so that he can make a run for his first major title. Luke's best finish in nine starts in the final major of the year was a tie for third in 2006 at Medinah, near his home outside Chicago. He was tied for the lead with Tiger Woods entering the final round but wilted under the pressure with a 4-over-par 76. He wound up equaling the best of his eight top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam events, a tie for third in the 2005 Masters. Donald missed another chance two months ago in the U.S. Open at Merion, where he was in the chase until closing with a 5-over-par 75 and tying for eighth. He tied for 23rd in the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill. ... Coming off those missed cuts in the Open Championship and the RBC Canadian Open, Donald started with rounds of 67-69-68 at Firestone and was 2 under through eight holes on Sunday. Then he carded four bogeys in seven holes through No. 16, but he was able to hang on to his spot in the top 10.

10. Bill Haas, United States -- Continuing his strong play this season, Haas started with three rounds in the 60s at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before struggling in the final round on his way to a tie for seventh. He recorded his ninth top-10 finish this year, the most on the PGA Tour, but now he must figure out how to take that form to a major championship. ... Haas comes to the PGA Championship at Oak Hill still looking for his first top-10 finish in the majors, riding an 0-for-16 streak, but this will be only the third season in which he has played all four. He has played in the final major of the year three times, with his best result a tie for 12th in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club, also his best finish in the Grand Slam tournaments. Haas posted three rounds in the 60s but missed out on that first 10 thanks to a 3-over-par 73 in the second round. He got his major season off to a solid start this year when he tied for 20th in the Masters, but then he missed the cut in the U.S. Open at Merion and in the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield. ... Even though he wasn't close to winner Tiger Woods at Firestone, Haas played brilliantly for three days, carding only one bogey in each round while starting 67-68-69. Then he stumbled with four bogeys in the first 11 holes in the final round before saving a 1-over-par 71 by making birdies on the 11th and 17th holes. Haas started fast with three birdies in the first six holes of his opening 67 before making his only bogey on the eighth hole.

11. Webb Simpson, United States -- Simpson grabbed the first-round lead in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a 6-under-par 64, but he didn't play anywhere close to that until the final round and wound up in a tie for 14th. He has finished in the top 10 only once since he lost a playoff to Graeme McDowell in the RBC Heritage in May. ... The 2012 U.S. Open champion will try to become a multiple major titlist this week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. He is playing in the final major of the year for only the third time, having shot 79-72--151 to miss the cut by one stroke last year on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island after posting a score of 75-74--149 to miss the weekend by five shots a year earlier at Atlanta Athletic Club. His victory last year in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco is the only time he has finished in the top 10 in the Grand Slam events, although he has played in only nine majors. This is the first season in which he will compete in all four. His best result other than his victory was a tie for 14th in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. Webb is hoping to salvage his major season after missing the cut in the Masters, tying for 32nd in the U.S. Open at Merion and tying for 64th in the Open Championship at Muirfield. ... Simpson recorded four birdies on each nine in his first round last week at Firestone, but he played the middle rounds in 75-73 before carding a closing 66 that was the best round of the week. He managed only one birdie on Friday and two on Saturday.

12. Steve Stricker, United States -- Despite a torn hamstring sustained on a skiing vacation with his family while skipping the Open Championship, Stricker continued to play solid golf when he finished 13th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has played only 10 times this season, but he said he probably would add at least one tournament during the PGA Tour playoffs because he wants to ensure that he makes the United States team for the Presidents Cup in October. ... Strick knows his major window is closing as he shows up this week at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship at the age of 46, but perhaps the fact that Julius Boros won the tournament at 48 in 1968 at Pecan Valley in San Antonio to become the oldest major champion still gives him hope. He is making his 16th appearance in the final major of the year, and he posted his best result in the Grand Slam events when he finished solo second to Vijay Singh in the 1999 PGA at Sahalee. Steve was tied for the lead with the big Fijian after posting three rounds in the 60s, but he closed with an even-par 70 and finished two strokes back. He has shown he can still play well in the majors, finishing in the top 20 in each of the last five in which he has played and 10 of the last 11, including a tie for seventh in the PGA last year at Kiawah Island and a tie for eighth in the U.S. Open at Merion in June. He did not qualify for the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill. ... Stricker failed to shoot the par of 70 last week at Firestone only when he opened with a 71. He bounced back with his best score of the week, a 67.

13. Lee Westwood, England -- Westwood's last tune-up for the final major of the year couldn't have lifted his confidence, as he could not equal the par of 70 in any of his four rounds en route to a tie for 40th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. However, he has been very good in the majors in recent years, so it might not really mean a thing because he has been able to dial it up to contend when needed. ... There are a number of players on the list of the best without a major title, but Lee has to rank at the top heading into the PGA Championship at Oak Hill based on the number of his near-misses. He has 16 finishes in the top-10 in the Grand Slam events over the course of his career, including two in each of the last five seasons. However, only two of them have come in the final major of the year, a tie for third in 2009 at Hazeltine, where he wound up five strokes behind winner Y.E. Yang, and a tie for eighth the following year at Atlanta Athletic Club. His highest major finishes were ties for second in the Masters and the Open Championship at St. Andrews, both in 2010. This year, Westy has tied for eighth in the Masters and tied for third in the U.S. Open at Merion. He missed the cut in the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill. ... Westwood posted three 71s and a closing 72 at Firestone, recording only nine birdies in 72 holes. His ball-striking was very good, as he ranked among the leaders by hitting the fairways and greens on the narrow course roughly two-thirds of the time. His putting has been better this year, but this time he finished next-to-last in the 73-man field in strokes gained putting at minus-2.115.

14. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Even though Bradley didn't have much of a chance to successfully defend his title in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the way Tiger Woods was playing, he rallied down the stretch to finish in a tie for second. It was his seventh top-10 finish of the season and his second runner-up result, the other coming in the HP Byron Nelson Championship. However, he remains winless since his victory at Firestone last year. ... Keegan will be playing in the PGA Championship for the third time this week at Oak Hill, and he has posted his only top-10 finishes in the majors in the tournament, winning in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club and tying for third in his title defense last year on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. He was five strokes down to Jason Dufner after carding a triple-bogey 6 on the 15th hole two years ago, but he birdied the next two holes and wound up winning a three-hole aggregate playoff by one shot after Duf made three bogeys down the stretch in regulation. Last year, Bradley had bookend 4-under-par 68s, but he finished nine strokes behind champion Rory McIlroy. He's coming off a tie for 15th in the Open Championship at Muirfield, his best result in the other majors. ... Bradley closed with a 3-under-par 67 at Firestone, moving into a tie for second when he sank a 16-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. He had a chance to finish solo second, but he could not hole a seven-foot birdie putt on the last hole. He was even better in round one, recording a bogey-free 66 that he followed with a 68. He could have been the only player in the field with four rounds in the 60s, but he made bogeys on two of the last three holes in a 71 on Saturday.

15. Hunter Mahan, United States -- It didn't come as a big surprise last week when Mahan withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, even though he won the tournament in 2010. He was still celebrating the birth if his first child, Zoe Olivia, with his wife, Kandi, and said he did not want to miss "this precious first week." It's been a hectic stretch anyway, with trips to the Open Championship in Scotland and the RBC Canadian Open, followed by his rush home from north of the border to get back to Dallas when Kandi went into labor. ... Hunter will return this week for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, making his eighth appearance in the final major of the year. He has never finished in the top 10 in the PGA, and he's missed the cut three times, including last year at Kiawah Island, where his 72-80--152 left him two shots shy of the weekend. Mahan does have three finishes in the top 20, with his best a tie for 16th in 2009 at Hazeltine, where he opened with a 3-under-par 69 but could not break 70 the rest of the way. He also tied for 18th in 2007 at Southern Hills, closing with a 2-under-par 68, and tied for 19th in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he shot 4-under-par 66 in the third round. ... After missing the cut earlier this year at the Masters, Mahan has finished in the top 10 in each of the past two majors, tying for fourth in the U.S. Open at Merion and tying for ninth in the Open Championship at Muirfield. He played in the final twosome each time but closed with a 75 on both occasions while trying to claim his first major title.

16. Ernie Els, South Africa -- After finishing out of the top 20 in his last three tournaments since winning the BMW International Open in Germany, Els is looking for his game heading to the PGA Championship. Last week, the best he could do was an even-par 70 in the third round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on his way to a tie for 48th. ... With four major championships, Els trails only Tiger Woods (14) and Phil Mickelson (five) in major titles during the Woods era. The Big Easy would love to get even with Mickelson in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where he tied for fifth when the final major of the season was played there in 2003. He has five top-10 finishes in 20 starts in the PGA, with his best results a tie for third in 1995 at Riviera and solo third in 2007 at Southern Hills, three strokes behind Woods. At Riviera, he led by three strokes after 54 holes with scores of 66-65-66, but he closed with a 1-over-par 72 and wound up two strokes out of the playoff in which Steve Elkington turned back Colin Montgomerie. Ernie has won two U.S. Opens and two Open Championships, and he would love to claim the third leg of the Career Grand Slam. ... Even his third-round 70 at Firestone could have been better, as Els needed four shots to reach the 13th green and took a double-bogey 6. Ernie had another double on the first hole of round two, when he putted off the green from 63 feet, and he recorded a triple-bogey 7 on the third hole in the final round, when he hit his second shot into the water and missed the green with his next shot from 70 yards.

17. Bubba Watson, United States -- Bubba started fast in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, ranking among the leaders at 67-69, but he played the weekend in 72-74 and skidded to a tie for 27th. He has finished in the top 10 only three times this season, and not since he tied for third in the Travelers Championship in June. ... Watson continues to search for the major mojo that took him to the 2012 Masters title, which he won in a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen, and gets his last chance this season in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Since claiming the Green Jacket, he has only one top-20 finish in the Grand Slam events, a tie for 11th in the PGA last year on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. He will tee it up in the tournament for the seventh time on Thursday, and he almost won it in 2010 at Whistling Straits, where he posted bookend 4-under-par 68s before losing by one shot in a three-hole aggregate playoff with Martin Kaymer. Bubba has only three top-10 finishes in the majors in his career. This year, he tied for 50th in his Masters defense before tying for 32nd in both the U.S. Open at Merion and the Open Championship at Muirfield. ... Watson made only three bogeys in the first two rounds last week are Firestone, but he rang up four in each of his rounds on the weekend and threw in a double-bogey 6 on the 17th hole in the third round. He drove wildly onto a cart path, and after a free drop, took four shots to reach the green and missed a six-foot bogey putt.

18. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland -- Continuing a run in which he has either won, with three victories around the world, or played so-so golf, McDowell did not equal the par of 70 in any of his four rounds and tied for 40th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has not finished in the top 40 in five PGA Tour events since he won the RBC Heritage in a playoff in May. ... Following a strong major season a year ago, G-Mac will be looking for that Grand Slam magic when he plays in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. In 2012, the 2010 U.S. Open champion tied for 12th in the Masters, tied for second in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, tied for fifth in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and tied for 11th in the PGA on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. This year, he missed the cut in the Masters and the U.S. Open at Merion before tying for 58th in the Open Championship at Muirfield. His only top-10 result in eight starts in the final major of the season was a tie for 10th in 2009 at Hazeltine, and he has missed the cut four times. McDowell has been at his major best in the U.S. Open on the California Coast, winning three years ago at Pebble Beach and tying for second last year at the Olympic Club, one shot behind Webb Simpson. ... McDowell posted three 71s, carding double bogeys on the first hole twice, in the first three rounds at Firestone before he closed with a 72, carding five bogeys in a span of six holes through No. 9. That nightmare stretch came after he birdied the first two holes.

19. Zach Johnson, United States -- Continuing his recent hot streak after a slow start to the season, Johnson shot the par of 70 or better every day in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to finish in a tie for seventh. It was his fourth top-10 finish of the season on the PGA Tour, with three of them coming in his last three outings, after he posted only one in his first 16 starts. ... After stumbling through most of the first half of the season, Zach got himself on track when he lost in a playoff to Jordan Spieth in his title defense at the John Deere Classic before tying for sixth in the Open Championship at Muirfield. The 2007 Masters champion hopes to keep it going at Oak Hill in the PGA Championship, in which he has two top-10 finishes in nine starts, with only three more in the Grand Slam events. His best result in the PGA was a tie for third in 2010 at Whistling Straits, where he posted two 69s and two 70s but finished one shot out of the playoff in which Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson. Zach claimed his Masters title by closing with a 3-under-par 69, including three birdies on the last six holes, to finish two strokes ahead of Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini. He laid up on every par-5 and played them in 11 under. ... The only time Johnson struggled all week at Firestone came when he played the first nine holes of round two in 2 over, but he made a birdie on the 10th hole, and after seven consecutive pars, he holed a pitch shot from 31 yards on the final hole for a birdie to salvage his 70. He closed with a 67, his best score of the week, making birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.

20. Ian Poulter, England -- Solid but not spectacular in his final tune-up for the final major of the year, Poulter broke the par of 70 twice while finished in a tie for 19th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He still has never placed in the top 10 in 11 starts at Firestone, with his best results ties for 13th in 2001 and 2006. ... Hoping to use a tie for third in the Open Championship as momentum toward his first major title, Poulter could be a player to watch this week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. He has finished in the top 10 four times in the past seven majors, and if his putter gets hot the way it did in the final round last month at Muirfield, look out. Poults is playing in the final major of the year for the 12th time, and he posted his second top-10 and best result so far when he tied for third last year on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, even though he finished nine shots behind champion Rory McIlroy. Poulter also tied for ninth in the 2006 PGA at Medinah. His best result in the Grand Slam events was solo second in the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, where he finished four strokes behind winner Padraig Harrington. He tied for 61st in the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill. ... Poulter posted almost identical scores of 69 in the first and third round last week at Firestone, carding two birdies and only a single bogey each day. He had only eight birdies over the 72 holes, with three his best total for one round, when he finished with a 70 despite stumbling on the last hole to miss a third 69.

Others receiving consideration: Jason Dufner, United States; Jordan Spieth, United States; Henrik Stenson, Sweden; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jason Day, Australia; Charles Howell III, United States; Martin Laird, Scotland; Angel Cabrera, Argentina; Kevin Streelman, United States; D.A. Points, United States; Billy Horschel, United States; John Merrick, United States; Russell Henley, United States; David Lingmerth, Sweden; Sang-Moon Bae, South Korea; Boo Weekley, United States; Harris English, United States; Jonas Blixt, Sweden.

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