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Many shades of Tiger at Oak Hill

Which Tiger Woods will show up at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship? Could it be the player who took his fifth win of the year with a dominating 7-shot win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational?

The win at Firestone, his 79th career title, marked his eighth victory in the event. Everything points to a 15th major for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer in Rochester, N.Y.

But what are some of the elements that can either get in his way or lift him out of his five-year major-less funk?

Here are five Tigers to contend with this week at Oak Hill. In the chaos and constant change of 72 holes in major championship golf, all these personalities are bound to emerge.

Which one of these mindsets could have the overarching presence that determines his fate in the year's last major?

The Front-runner
Tiger has won all 14 of his majors when he has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He's often been in contention over his 17-major winless streak with nine top-10s over this period. But with the exception of the PGA in 2009, where he was beaten by Y.E. Yang, Tiger hasn't been a real front-runner in a major.

He's less formidable and intimidating in the role of a pursuer.

In the first round of his past 17 majors, Tiger's stroke average is 70.41. His first-round scoring average in his 14 major wins is 68.85.

When he won his last Masters in 2005, he shot 74 in the first round, but his next two rounds were a 65 and 66, respectively. In recent majors, he hasn't been able to consistently bounce back from a bad round with those kinds of scores.

Tiger needs to be a front-runner at Oak Hill to have any chance of winning his fifth Wanamaker Trophy.

Mr. Chronically Dissatisfied
To watch Tiger close up is to know one of the most anal and wonky players in the game. At times on the golf course he can seem like an old curmudgeon, intolerant of change.

He doesn't just miss putts because of a bad stroke or misread. The wind always changes when he's over his shot. Sometimes it seems like Tiger can summon the wind with his eyes. Mother Nature and greenskeepers mess with his head.

Last month at the Open Championship, he attributed his inability to make key putts down the stretch of the tournament to the inconsistency of the speed on the greens.

"I played well," Tiger said after a tie for sixth at Muirfield. "I could just never get the speed right today. We started on the first day and it progressively got slower.

"And that's usually the opposite at most tournaments. It usually gets faster as the week goes on, but this week it was different."

Phil Mickelson adjusted just fine to the speed of the greens on Sunday to take his first Claret Jug. When Tiger was winning his majors, nothing could separate him from the very top of the leaderboard.

The Clutch Putter
Where do you begin to talk about all the clutch putts that Tiger's made in majors? You could start with his epic playoff duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA at Valhalla, where he made everything to catch May in regulation and then beat him in the playoff.

Who can forget the 12-foot birdie putt that he made on the 72nd hole at the 2008 U.S. Open to get into the playoff with Rocco Mediate?

Tiger still makes many big putts, but those are coming less and less at the most critical stages in majors. But rest assured that when he does take that 15th major, there will be a couple of memorable putts along the way.

Houdini
Over the years, many of us have come to expect that Tiger can get out of trouble from anywhere at any time during a tournament. We expected a miracle from him in that pot bunker at the 6th hole during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2012. But instead, he made a mess of the hole and that derailed his chances of winning the tournament.

Tiger has set a very high bar. It's hard to duplicate the incredible 30-foot chip-in for birdie that he made at the par-3 16th to hold off Chris DiMarco in the 2005 Masters. It's not that Tiger hasn't hit some amazing recovery shots in the five years since he won his last major. It's more of a case of him now missing some of the eight- to 10-footers for par to finish off some of those unbelievable shots.

Drama King
It's always something with Tiger. If he's not playing well, he's cussing up a storm and violating someone's rules about piety and decorum on the golf course.

At Augusta, he was in the middle of rules violations. At the Players Championship, his alleged minor breach in etiquette set off a verbal war with Sergio Garcia that lead the Spaniard reaching for a racial stereotype to poke fun at Tiger.

There was Tiger's elbow injury, the newest malady in a long list of bodily wounds that he has collected over the years.

On the course, Tiger hits an errant shot and needs a miracle to save a stroke or two. Then you know something uncommon and otherworldly is about to happen.

Can he have a week where nothing bad or weird happens to him?

But drama comes with the territory of being the best in the world. The defending PGA Championship winner -- Rory McIlroy -- has learned this lesson the hard way.