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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Ranking the top 25 at the PGA

By Jason Sobel

These prediction pieces don't mean much unless we review 'em after the fact, so allow me to offer my not-so-prophetic picks from the year's first three major championships: At the Masters, I picked Tiger Woods to win; he finished T-6. At the U.S. Open, I had Ian Poulter; he was T-18. And at the British Open, I went with Sergio Garcia; he came in T-38.

Best Ball Challenge

Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink? Can't say any of those guys ranked high on the respective list for his major win. Then again, show me a person who picked each of them to win and I'll show you someone whose favorite club is a foot wedge. (For the record, I selected Cink to win the PGA a few years ago -- a pick that was clearly ahead of its time.)

Looking ahead to this week's rankings for the PGA Championship, a few things stand out regarding the setup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. At 7,674 yards, it will serve as the lengthiest course in major championship history, but there will also be a premium on accuracy, with various doglegs dotting this track. Driving the ball far and straight isn't an easy combo, but it could be a key to success this week.

Then again, let's not overstate the need for distance. Three of the four par-5 holes will play in excess of 600 yards on the scorecard, meaning they could be three-shot holes for even the biggest bombers in the field. This means there may actually be an advantage on these birdie opportunities for the better wedge players, those who are accustomed to laying up on longer holes.

With that in mind, the following is my prediction for this week's PGA Championship -- remember, if you simply want a rehashing of the best players, check the OWGR -- where we could see a third consecutive first-time major champion.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for He can be reached at