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US PGA Championship: Masters champion Adam Scott looks strong, says Rob Lee

Rob Lee Posted 6th August 2013 view comments

The US PGA Championship is the fourth Major of the year and probably sits behind the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship in prestige, too.

The Masters is iconic because it is always played in the spring, the US Open is regarded as the toughest of the four, while the Open Championship has the vagaries of links golf, so those events tend to steal the PGA's thunder.

Master craftsman: Scott is swinging well and can win PGA, says Rob

Master craftsman: Scott is swinging well and can win PGA, says Rob

However, the tournament, which this year is being staged at Oak Hill in New York, welcomes a stellar cast of players and if you manage to win a PGA Championship it is still equally as valid as any of the other Majors.

Whoever wins in Rochester will have had to play extremely well as most of the world's top 100 will be in attendance, the rough is pretty penal, and players may be mentally frayed after a long season; it certainly isn't going to be Major-lite.

Oak Hill is not the biggest course around but the rough is penal and it is a formidable challenge.

Rob Lee
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Oak Hill is not the biggest course around but it is longer than Merion, the venue for this term's US Open, has a very tough finish, and is a formidable challenge, so I don't think people are going to be shooting 10 or 12-under-par.

Pressure

Tiger Woods shot 15-under-par at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and while that will set him up perfectly for Oak Hill, I don't think he has ever entered a Major under more pressure.

Woods hasn't won a 'big one' since 2008 but he comes in here with no excuses, having collected five victories this season and being over five points ahead of his nearest challenger, Phil Mickelson, at the top of the world rankings.

Can he cope with the expectation? I'm not sure.

If you get him on his favourite courses, like Doral, Bay Hill and Torrey Pines, he looks like he is sitting on the couch with his slippers on but he has not convinced at the Majors, especially in the final round at the Open where he started with a three-putt and never scared anyone.

I expect Mickelson will play clever again, like he did at Muirfield, and he is certainly in with a shout; he will be buoyed by winning the Open, a title he perhaps thought he would never get his hands on, and has claimed a PGA Championship before, at Baltusrol in 2005.

Phil would love to win two Majors in a season, but so would Masters king Adam Scott and US Open champion Justin Rose - though I would have to say that I fancy Scott over Rose in New York.

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Rose missed the cut at the Open Championship and finished tied for 17th at the Bridgestone Invitational, which, for him, is not pulling up any trees, but Scott IS playing well and I think he will win the PGA Championship.

Middle order

Shaun Micheel shocked everyone to win the PGA at Oak Hill 10 years ago, in what remains his only victory on the PGA Tour, and I reckon there is a chance we could have another less-fancied winner this time if Scott doesn't come through.

I always thought a heavy hitter would win at Merion - and Justin Rose did - while a really top player was always going to prevail at Muirfield - and Phil Mickelson did, just like Ernie Els, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo in years gone by.

But the fact Micheel beat Chad Campbell into second place and Tim Clark and Alex Cejka into third and fourth respectively shows you don't have to be a big name to do well at Oak Hill and that will give hope to some middle order players this week.

I'm sure some of the new American stars - Harris English, Jordan Spieth, and Kyle Stanley, all of whom have won once on the PGA Tour - will hope to contend, but I feel Japan's Hideki Matsuyama could be the top young player at Oak Hill.

The 21-year-old has been phenomenal; he has earned two wins and two second-places in his rookie season as a pro on the Japan Tour, while he also finished tied for 10th at the US Open and in a share of sixth at the Open Championship

I watched him up close at Muirfield and the kid can play.

ROB'S PGA TIPS

I think the straight-driving Adam Scott will do it; he got the Major hoodoo off his back by winning the Masters, while I like the way he is swinging the club and using that long putter. I think Henrik Stenson will be the top European again - unless he is fatigued by his recent good form - while for an outsider I will go for Chris Wood, who had a good week at the Bridgestone.

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