PGA Championship experts' picks

August, 10, 2011
08/10/11
8:21
AM ET

Each week of the golf season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.


ESPN.com senior golf writer Farrell Evans

Horses for the Course: David Toms and Phil Mickelson
At the 2001 PGA at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Toms beat Mickelson by a stroke. With his 15-under-par 265, Toms holds the record for the lowest stroke total in a major with Mickelson's 266 holding down the second spot. The Highlands Course is a different venue than it was 10 years ago -- some 270 yards longer with major changes to almost all the holes -- but these guys still have the game and the good memories to conquer the Rees Jones redesign.

Birdie Buster: Rickie Fowler
He has everything except a win on the PGA Tour. He's played in a Ryder Cup and he owns his own Sunday color -- orange. Coming off a tie for second last week at Firestone and a fifth at the Open Championship, Fowler is primed to get his first win this week.

Super Sleeper: Bo Van Pelt
On Sunday at this year's Masters, the 36-year-old former Oklahoma State star almost went unnoticed by everyone, including CBS cameras, as he eagled Nos. 13 and 15 to get to within a shot of the lead before stumbling with two bogeys over the last three holes to finish in a tie for eighth.

Winner: Adam Scott
First, he got Tiger's coach. Now he has his caddie and top billing at a major. But many burger joints have tried to copy McDonald's special sauce and failed. Still, no one is playing better coming into the championship than the 31-year-old Australian. It's his to lose.


ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the Course: David Toms
Atlanta Athletic Club does not offer a home course advantage, but it is where Toms set the 72-hole scoring record for the championship in 2001.

Birdie Buster: Adam Scott
The Aussie won by four at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and had a near-flawless final-round 65 on Sunday that saw him make no bogeys. He attempts to win his first major with a big momentum boost.

Super Sleeper: Tiger Woods
Does anyone really expect the four-time PGA champion to win this week? It's a lot to ask after the lengthy layoff, even though he had a respectable showing last week at the Bridgestone Invitational. He was last in driving accuracy last week, and that won't work here.

Winner: Lee Westwood
The Englishman has a quiet confidence about him this week, and he has contended in his share of major championships over the last few years. And it has to be somewhat motivating to see friends such as Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke win the last two.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse for the Course: David Toms
This is the hardest category since the PGA changes venues yearly and the last time the event was held here in suburban Atlanta was 2001. That being said, Toms played that final hole in 2001 to perfection when he made the right call to lay up short of the water on No. 18 for a career-defining victory.

Birdie Buster: Rory McIlroy
It's going to be hot in Atlanta this week with firm and fast conditions, just the way Rory McIlroy likes it. The Holywood native took some heat after saying he didn't like playing in the conditions at the British Open. Fortunately for him, there shouldn't be horizontal rain and highs in the 50s this week.

Super Sleeper: Davis Love III
First off, toss out all the club pros entered in the year's fourth major. Any would be a great story, but it's not going to happen. So how about the son of a club pro? In the last two majors, DL3 finished T-11 at the U.S. Open and T-9 at the British Open. Stranger things could happen to the 47-year-old current Ryder Cup captain.

Winner: Jason Day
The 23-year-old Aussie owns the second-best cumulative finishes at the year's first three majors, behind only Masters winner Charl Schwartzel. And he's got the short game to get out of the thick stuff around Atlanta Athletic Club's greens.


ESPN.com senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski

Horse for the Course: Phil Mickelson
Finished second here in 2001 with four sub-par rounds. Lefty is always capable of winning one of the biggies.

Birdie Buster: Adam Scott
There could be a post-WGC/Stevie-outburst letdown, but I don't think so. Comes into PGA Championship with lots of confidence in that broomstick-sized putter.

Super Sleeper: Zach Johnson
Driving accuracy is going to be a big deal at Atlanta Athletic Club. Johnson keeps it in the fairways and knows how to win a major.

Winner: Lee Westwood
One of these days he's going to prove me right. Always have liked his game. This week I love his relaxed attitude.

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