published Thursday, August 11th, 2011

PGA field has 100 of best 102

  • photo
    Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits a shot on the range before a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament Wednesday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The field for the PGA Championship is one of the strongest in professional golf history.

Exactly 100 out of the top 102 ranked players on the globe have descended on Atlanta Athletic Club to determine what is billed as the year's final men's major and the last shot at glory.

The last six major championships have gone to first-time major winners. And the last 12 majors have been won by 12 golfers.

"For 10 or 12 years, one player was very dominant in the majors, and a couple other players maybe got three or four," U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy said. "At this point in time, it seems that people are breaking through and winning majors. I think it's great for the game of golf."

Five who can win ...

Jason Day: He's been runner-up at two majors this year, including the Masters. The course isn't the same, but the greens are close kin.

Luke Donald: He's ranked No. 1 in the world. He hits it long and straight and putts pretty well.

Rory McIlroy: He's by far the non-American favorite. He mastered the greens in Augusta and can do the same at Atlanta.

Phil Mickelson: Who knows what cuss words Mickelson said 10 years ago when David Toms beat him by one stroke by laying up on the 72nd hole here?

Lee Westwood: Tick-tock. The clock is ticking for Westwood to win a major championship. He's not super long, but he's accurate, which is more important.

Five to root for ...

David Hutsell: Who??? The PGA Championship gives 20 spots to the best competitive club professionals, and Hutsell beat them all in the PGA Pro National Championship.

Ryo Ishikawa: The 19-year-old Japanese phenom tied for fourth last week at the Bridgestone Invitational and has declared that he is donating all winnings to tsunami recovery efforts.

Rory McIlroy: He makes this list, too, because golf needs another superstar and he's the closest thing right now. Plus, he'll play at least 15 times in the USA next year.

Larry Nelson: Born in Fort Payne, Ala., he fought in the Vietnam War, considered golf a sissy sport, then became a three-time major champion, including the 1981 PGA at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Scott Stallings: He is a Tennessee native, cut his teeth on the Nationwide Tour, including a surge in the 2008 Chattanooga Classic, and earned a spot in the PGA by winning the Greenbrier two weeks ago.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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