- Matt Willis, NASCAR
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The PGA Championship is also known as "Glory's Last Shot". Well, guess what, this is also the Eliminator's last shot.
Sure, there's been some impressive results using the Eliminator method this year. There were runner-up finishes at The Masters and the British Open from Lee Westwood, but he's not teeing it up at the PGA Championship, so it's time to hook this wagon to a different horse. And while my U.S. Open wasn't spectacular, Camilo Villegas made the cut and provided a payday.
But it's not nearly enough to just get some quality finishes, the Eliminator picks winners, and a winner there must be!
We enter the 2010 PGA Championship with a wide-open field. Tiger Woods is down, Phil Mickelson is coming off a 78 in his last competitive round, and the world's No. 3 is the aforementioned Westwood. Not to mention that the last two major winners were Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen, not exactly household names. So it's time to sort this out and pick a winner.
For those of you unfortunate souls who don't know exactly what it is that I do here, let me briefly explain.
Through the week leading up to the tournament, everyone and their mother will be picking their PGA Championship winners. Some will use some evidence or look at who's been hot. Many will just play a hunch. Even more will still pick Tiger Woods. Not me.
No, I use the best of the statistics, streaks and trends from past PGA Championships to figure out what's going to happen. And I don't pick a winner, rather, I find reasons why 155 of the men in the field just cannot pull off a victory this week. The one left standing, by process of elimination, is the winner. Easy enough.
So let's get it going.
This might be "Glory's Last Shot," but it won't be glory's first shot. That's because 17 of the last 18 PGA Championship winners all had a previous PGA Tour win, the only exception being Shaun Micheel in 2003. With that news, I'm blowing out about half of the field, 75 of the original 156.
I hate to play the age game, but facts are facts. Only one of the last 25 PGA Championship winners were past their 40th birthday, Vijay Singh in 2004. A lot of favorites get knocked out with this fact, including Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk. In all, 26 go by the wayside, and 55 remain.
Well, maybe I do like playing the age game, or perhaps I'm just making peace with the over-the-hill gang. But, of the last 18 winners, only Tiger Woods has been under the age of 30. There's some good young guns in the field, but none quite at Tiger's caliber. So we'll eliminate the 15 20-somethings left in the field, and we're down to 40.
Remember that nugget about no first-time winners? Let's go further with that. Ten of the last 11 PGA Champions had won on the PGA Tour, not just in their careers, but earlier that season. I'll ride the momentum from those earlier wins to take out 24 more, including Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington. Oh, and some guy named Tiger Woods. Now there's 16 left.
I'll keep trimming it down in bunches by noting that each of the last six PGA Championship winners were in the top 20 in their last PGA Tour start. I'll get rid of a few more of the dozen remaining golfers, including Geoff Ogilvy, Ian Poulter and Zach Johnson. We have our final four.
Finally, let's look for success in one of the other three majors. Five of the last six PGA Champions had a top-five finish at The Masters at some point in their careers. Of our final four, Adam Scott, Ryan Palmer and Bill Lunde have never done it, but one golfer has.
This Sunday, I'll look for Justin Rose to reign victorious over the field for his first major victory. Remember, the numbers don't lie.
The Eliminator: Step-by-Step
1.) Seventeen of the last 18 PGA Championship winners had a previous PGA Tour win.
75 eliminated, 81 remaining
Fredrik Andersson Hed
Brendon de Jonge
Miguel Angel Jimenez
2.) Only one of the last 25 PGA Championship winners has been 40 or older.
26 eliminated, 55 remaining
Davis Love III
3.) Other than Tiger Woods, the last 18 PGA Championship winners have been over 30.
15 eliminated, 40 remaining
4.) Ten of the last 11 PGA Championship winners won on the PGA Tour earlier that season.
24 eliminated, 16 remaining
Charles Howell III
Bo Van Pelt
5.) The last 6 PGA Championship winners finished in the top 20 in their last PGA Tour start.
12 eliminated, 4 remaining
6.) Five of the last six PGA Championship winners had a previous top-5 finish at The Masters.
3 eliminated, 1 remaining
Your winner: Justin Rose
Matt Willis has been a production researcher with ESPN Stats & Information since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter" among other shows. You can reach Matt at ESPNMattWillis@yahoo.com.
Who will claim the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits? The numbers say Justin Rose, writes ESPN.com's Matt Willis.