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      Power Rankings: PGA Championship

    • Sergio Garcia has three runner-up finishes in his past four starts. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR) Sergio Garcia has three runner-up finishes in his past four starts. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

    The U.S. Open may identify the best golfer, but the PGA Championship may reveal the best golfer right now. Each of the last 10 winners of the season's final major recorded a top-25 finish in his last PGA TOUR start prior to hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy. Five recorded top fives in their previous start, including the last two -- Rory McIlroy (2012) and defending champion Jason Dufner -- both at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

    Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville hosts the 96th edition of the PGA and its third (1996, 2000). The Jack Nicklaus design was also the site of the Senior PGA Championship in 2004 and 2001 as well as the 2008 Ryder Cup. In a renovation for the biennial competition, it was lengthened 291 yards. Now capable to stretching 7,458 yards, the par 35-36--71 is actually down 38 yards, but no hole is listed by more than six yards shorter than how it measured in 2008.

    Since the 2011 Senior PGA, Valhalla's greens were upgraded to a more heat-tolerant strain of Bentgrass. In addition to the strategic removal of some trees to encourage growth at ground level, arguably the most noticeable change was made to the green at the par-3 eighth hole. Previously more penal despite its benign 174 yards, Nicklaus softened the contours with this week in mind.

    Valhalla plays and routes like most modern Nicklaus tracks. There's room off the tee, but the field of 156 will be summoned to hit it both ways. So, make no mistake that this is a second-shot golf course. Because of the quintessential, sectioned greens featured on so many Nicklaus courses, it's target golf on approach. Hitting greens in regulation and confidence in putting will rule the day. Exceptional short-game artists will also stand out.

    It's August in the Ohio River Valley, which means muggy conditions throughout the tournament, but high temperatures will remain in the mid-80s. A reasonable risk of thunderstorms populates the entire forecast. Winds may kick up as inclement weather encroaches, but there is no significant impact otherwise.

    POWER RANKINGS: PGA Championship

    Rank

    Player

    Comment

    1 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy

    The 2012 champ at Kiawah struts into Valhalla with wins in his last two starts (Open Championship; WGC-Bridgestone). Back atop OWGR, too.

    The 2012 champ at Kiawah struts into Valhalla with wins in his last two starts (Open Championship; WGC-Bridgestone). Back atop OWGR, too.

    2 Sergio Garcia Sergio Garcia

    Three runner-up finishes in last four starts. Tops on TOUR in adjusted, par-3 and par-4 scoring. T9 in proximity; fourth in scrambling.

    Three runner-up finishes in last four starts. Tops on TOUR in adjusted, par-3 and par-4 scoring. T9 in proximity; fourth in scrambling.

    3 Adam Scott Adam Scott

    Five straight top 10s sparked by Colonial win. Third in adjusted scoring, T3 in par-4 scoring, first in par-5 scoring. Leads the all-around.

    Five straight top 10s sparked by Colonial win. Third in adjusted scoring, T3 in par-4 scoring, first in par-5 scoring. Leads the all-around.

    4 Jim Furyk Jim Furyk

    T15 at Firestone was his 11th top 20 in last 12 starts. Ranks 25th in GIR, T2 in proximity, first in scrambling, sixth in adjusted scoring.

    T15 at Firestone was his 11th top 20 in last 12 starts. Ranks 25th in GIR, T2 in proximity, first in scrambling, sixth in adjusted scoring.

    5 Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler

    Top fives in first three majors. Top 15s in last five starts. Shed one full stroke in adjusted scoring (70.679; 61st) during this run.

    Top fives in first three majors. Top 15s in last five starts. Shed one full stroke in adjusted scoring (70.679; 61st) during this run.

    6 Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar

    Continues to pace the PGA TOUR with 10 top 10s. Closed a T12 at Firestone with a 65. Ranks 10th in scrambling, fourth in adjusted scoring.

    Continues to pace the PGA TOUR with 10 top 10s. Closed a T12 at Firestone with a 65. Ranks 10th in scrambling, fourth in adjusted scoring.

    7 Keegan Bradley Keegan Bradley

    The 2011 champ has recovered from an inconsistent first half of 2014. T4s in three of his last six starts, including at the WGC-Bridgestone.

    The 2011 champ has recovered from an inconsistent first half of 2014. T4s in three of his last six starts, including at the WGC-Bridgestone.

    8 Justin Rose Justin Rose

    Enjoying a red-hot summer with two wins and a T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone. Ranks 10th in adjusted scoring and sixth in the all-around.

    Enjoying a red-hot summer with two wins and a T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone. Ranks 10th in adjusted scoring and sixth in the all-around.

    9 Ryan Moore Ryan Moore

    No worse than a T12 (Open Championship) in last four starts. T8 at Firestone. Ninth in GIR, 17th in proximity and 22nd in adjusted scoring.

    No worse than a T12 (Open Championship) in last four starts. T8 at Firestone. Ninth in GIR, 17th in proximity and 22nd in adjusted scoring.

    10 Marc Leishman Marc Leishman

    Winless in 2013-14 but enjoying a career year. Six top 10s; three in four of his last four starts. Solo third at the WGC-Bridgestone.

    Winless in 2013-14 but enjoying a career year. Six top 10s; three in four of his last four starts. Solo third at the WGC-Bridgestone.

    11 Patrick Reed Patrick Reed

    The PGA ends a 12-month cycle during which he won thrice, became a father and tied for fourth in his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational debut.

    The PGA ends a 12-month cycle during which he won thrice, became a father and tied for fourth in his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational debut.

    12 Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell

    Shared eighth at Firestone for his fifth consecutive top 10. Ranks fifth on TOUR in both strokes gained-putting and adjusted scoring.

    Shared eighth at Firestone for his fifth consecutive top 10. Ranks fifth on TOUR in both strokes gained-putting and adjusted scoring.

    13 Henrik Stenson Henrik Stenson

    Still winless since the 2013 European Tour finale, but a T19 at Firestone was his 10th top 20 in his last 14 starts. Five were top fives.

    Still winless since the 2013 European Tour finale, but a T19 at Firestone was his 10th top 20 in his last 14 starts. Five were top fives.

    14 Jimmy Walker Jimmy Walker

    FedExCup points leader placed outside top 25 in last four starts, but top 10s in the first two majors. Seventh in strokes gained-putting.

    FedExCup points leader placed outside top 25 in last four starts, but top 10s in the first two majors. Seventh in strokes gained-putting.

    15 Hideki Matsuyama Hideki Matsuyama

    Authored a quiet T12 at Firestone where he placed T21 in his debut last year. Sits T13 in proximity and 18th in adjusted scoring.

    Authored a quiet T12 at Firestone where he placed T21 in his debut last year. Sits T13 in proximity and 18th in adjusted scoring.

    16 Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson

    Still without a top 10 this season, but an end-loaded T15 at Firestone was his eighth top 20. Can play aggressive off the tee at Valhalla.

    Still without a top 10 this season, but an end-loaded T15 at Firestone was his eighth top 20. Can play aggressive off the tee at Valhalla.

    17 Charl Schwartzel Charl Schwartzel

    T4 at Firestone extended trend of factoring in every other start. Ranks 160th in GIR, but 25th in scrambling and ninth in adjusted scoring.

    T4 at Firestone extended trend of factoring in every other start. Ranks 160th in GIR, but 25th in scrambling and ninth in adjusted scoring.

    18 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth

    Stumbled in last two starts, but he'll probably play from short grass more at Valhalla. Twelfth in adjusted scoring; seventh in scrambling.

    Stumbled in last two starts, but he'll probably play from short grass more at Valhalla. Twelfth in adjusted scoring; seventh in scrambling.

    19 Bubba Watson Bubba Watson

    Since winning the Masters, he's 0-for-2 in majors, but leads the TOUR in distance, ranks T23 in GIR and eighth in adjusted scoring.

    Since winning the Masters, he's 0-for-2 in majors, but leads the TOUR in distance, ranks T23 in GIR and eighth in adjusted scoring.

    20 Brandt Snedeker Brandt Snedeker

    Re-established form. Shared 12th at Firestone; fifth top 25s in last six starts. Currently 23rd in strokes gained-putting.

    Re-established form. Shared 12th at Firestone; fifth top 25s in last six starts. Currently 23rd in strokes gained-putting.

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