Who is going to win the PGA Championship? That’s such a boring question, and frankly unanswerable. I mean, how many folks picked Danny Willett to take the Masters? A few years ago the PGA retired the slogan glory’s last shot, but it is still applicable; tons of players can salvage their season — or make a career — with a win at Baltusrol. So, in ascending order, here’s who needs a victory the most.
Danny Willett: Dude hasn’t cracked an egg since Augusta, but who cares? He’ll be dining out on that win for the next decade.
Jaco van Zyl: He’s already in Rio, digging secrets out of the dirt.
Dustin Johnson: Doesn’t matter if he sleeps through his first-round tee time, this has been a stellar season for the onetime underachiever.
Phil Mickelson: He won a PGA at Baltrusrol, in 2005; taking another won’t affect Phil the Thrill’s legacy.
Zach Johnson: A third major title will most surely punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame, but a big, brawny, soft track like Balty isn’t the ideal venue.
Padraig Harrigton: Unexpectedly squeaking onto Ireland’s Olympic team has given this indefatigable 44 year-old something new and exciting to play for, and, anyway, he’s already won his PGA Championship.
Henrik Stenson: Given the way he won his first, the Stense needs to pick off a few more major championships or it will feel like he never quite achieved his potential. But we’ll give him a pass if he’s still hung over after Troon, emotionally or otherwise.
Bubba Watson: It seems like eons ago that he won the Hero and at Riviera and finished second at Doral. But Bubba can take a summer off and it’s not that big a deal.
Jim Furyk: That tie for second at Oakmont was a vintage performance for American golf’s Nearly Man. Furyk, 46, now has 22 top 10s at the majors but one lone victory. Is he a Hall of Famer? Not yet.
Louis Oosthuizen: He’s way too good win only one major. Right?
Charl Schwartzel: He’s way too good win only one major. Right?
Justin Rose: He’s way too good win only one major. Right?
Adam Scott: He’s way too good win only one major. Right?
Luke Donald: This guy was No. 1 for 56 weeks! At 38 he’s enjoying a bit of a revival, but he certainly has entered the now-or-never phase.
Rickie Fowler: The only nice thing about a disastrous season like Fowler is suffering through is that it lowers expectations. But at some point he needs to remind us—and himself—of the player he was in 2014 and ’15.
Patrick Reed: It’s been a year and a half since his last win, and he’s been a non-factor in the majors in 2016. Is he a top-five disappointment?
Branden Grace: The good news is that with his consistency he has played his way into the discussion of the Best Player Never to Have Won A Major. The bad news is that he has played his way into the BPNTHWAM discussion.
Sergio Garcia: He’s now the consensus pick for BPNTHWAM. But a few years ago at the Masters, Sergio said he doesn’t have what it takes to win a major. So maybe he know better than the rest of us.
Jason Day: Three big-time wins—Players, Match Play, Bay Hill—and a stranglehold on No. 1 makes this a successful season no matter what. But he’s been MIA at the majors. For this to be a truly great year Day needs to successfully defend his title at the PGA.
Rory McIlroy: A backdoor top five at Troon doesn’t change a thing: This has been the second straight disappointing season for the former boy king, marred by a missed cut at the U.S. Open and a woe-is-me, birdieless 77 on Masters Saturday when he was in the hunt. Those Irish Open heroics suddenly seem so long ago.
Jordan Spieth: He was always going to fall short of last year’s impossibly high standard, but Spieth has shot a 74 or higher at each of the first three majors this year. And his ballstriking numbers are way down as Day and DJ bash their way to the forefront of the game. A lot of guys could really use a victory at Baltusrol, but no one needs it quite like Spieth.