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With one more major remaining this year, and looking back at recent seasons as well, there's been a certain theme -- unpredictability.
We're riding a stretch of 12 consecutive different major winners, nine of whom won their first career major.
|If Adam Scott can win the PGA Championship this week at Atlanta Athletic Club, he'll be the 13th straight different major winner.|
Borrowing from my friend and fellow ESPN researcher Justin Ray's golf blog, we find out just how unpredictable these majors have been. Take last month's Open Championship, where Darren Clarke, ranked 111th in the world, took the win.
Only two of the last 12 major winners were ranked inside the top 10 in the world at the time of their win, and five were outside the world's top 50.
Of the current top-10 players in the world, seven have never won a major. By my math, that leaves this weekend wide open.
But I'll do my best to pick a winner, using a little method I call the Eliminator. Simply put, there's 156 golfers in this weekend's field, and I'll find reasons why 155 of them cannot win, using a variety of statistics and historical trends.
By process of elimination (get it?), the one remaining will be your PGA Championship winner. Don't forget, this little diddy nailed Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open.
First of all, it's going to take a little experience to win. Each of the last seven PGA Championship winners had at least two prior starts in the event. We blast apart the field early, taking out 50 golfers.
I don't just want experience in the PGA Championship, I want results. Six of the last seven PGA Championship winners made the cut in the previous year's tournament, and that seventh didn't play. Furthermore, the last 10 winners who played in the previous year's PGA Championship made the cut in the event. So we'll take out the 60 golfers in this week's field who didn't make the cut last year, and we're down to 46.
Obviously, we're looking for somebody who's sniffed the top of the leaderboard this year. Nineteen of the last 20 PGA Championship winners had at least a top-three finish on the PGA Tour that same season. That takes out 19 more, including guys like Tiger Woods, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.
Let's look back at the last major played, because six of the last seven PGA Championship winners made the cut at the same year's Open Championship. Another 11 go by the wayside, including Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney.
Keep an eye out for those who played well in their last events. Each of the last seven PGA Championship winners finished at least 22nd in their last PGA Tour start. That's enough to get rid of another 11, including Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Dustin Johnson.
With just five remaining in the field, I'll finish things off by adding that five of the last seven PGA Championship winners finished in the top 10 in that year's Masters Tournament. That takes out Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson, and leaves us with one.
Did you enjoy seeing Adam Scott win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week? Get used to it, because I foresee Scott getting his first career major this week. Remember, the numbers never lie.
PGA Championship Eliminator: Step-by-Step:
1. The last seven PGA Championship winners had at least two prior starts in the event. (50 eliminated, 106 remaining)
Fredrik Andersson Hed
Brendon de Jonge
2. Six of the last seven PGA Championship winners played in and made the cut at last year's PGA Championship. (60 eliminated, 46 remaining)
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Jose Maria Olazabal
3. 19 of the last 20 PGA Championship winners had a top-three finish on the PGA TOUR that season. (19 eliminated, 27 remaining)
Davis Love III
4. Six of the last seven PGA Championship winners made the cut at the same year's British Open. (11 eliminated, 16 remaining)
5. The last seven PGA Championship winners finished at least 22nd in their last PGA TOUR starts. (11 eliminated, 5 remaining)
Charles Howell III
Bo Van Pelt
6. Five of the last seven PGA Championship winners finished in the top 10 of that same year's Masters. (4 eliminated, 1 remaining)
Your winner: Adam Scott
Matt Willis has been a production researcher with the ESPN Stats & Information group since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. You can reach Matt at ESPNMattWillis@yahoo.com.