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Golf Barometer: To the Tee Box for Major No. 4

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

We've got the fourth major ahead of us this week, so our focus is as much about looking ahead as it is looking back. Get to the tee box, we've got work to do.

UPGRADES


Phil Mickelson:
Here's the guy to get behind this week. Mickelson's one of the few big names who really likes the Whistling Straits layout, and he knows he's close to passing that Eldrick guy as the No. 1 player in the world (at least on the computer - he's already passed him in our rankings, at least for now). I'll be flabbergasted if Lefty doesn't finish in the Top 10, and I'm predicting a victory.

Luke Donald:
He's a bunter off the tee, but he's not going to miss a lot of fairways or give anything away. It's been a year for Europeans in the majors, why not one more? Put Donald down for something in the Top 10.

Ian Poulter:
He hasn't done a lot since the breakthrough at the Match Play, but Poulter grinds with the best of them and has the putting stroke - and the nerves - to get it done on tricky greens at a major. He's come a long way in the last three years, stepping to the edge of superstardom, and it's about time he kicked the door in. You'll see a lot of him on the weekend.

Bo Van Pelt:
The mid-30s are a common time for golfers to have breakthrough years, and that's exactly what Van Pelt is in the middle of. He hits it long and straight, he's super with the irons, he's 16th in Sunday scoring average. Van Pelt is capable of winning in any field at any time; he's no longer one of those sleepers you can pluck off the waiver wire at any moment.

DOWNGRADES


Tiger Woods:
He's looking like a guy who needs a long layoff, isn't he? If I were in charge of Team Woods - and obviously no one but Tiger has that key - I'd bag the rest of the season after the PGA and work on getting mind, body and soul ready for 2011. I'll firmly believe that a comeback is coming, but he's not anywhere close to being in form. I'm astounded to still see him being considered the PGA favorite in some circles; that's not how I'd gage it at all.

Lee Westwood:
It's a shame that the calf injury is healing so deliberately; he's someone who has a chance at any premier event right now, and I wanted to see how he fit over this track. A shame to see all that positive momentum wasted.

Jim Furyk:
Normally you'd love him on an U.S. Open or PGA setup - Furyk's the ultimate straight hitter - but he's been a little off with the irons this summer, and this is not the track to have that malady. Furyk's mind will get him into the Top 25, but I don't see him making a significant push on the weekend.

HOLDING STEADY


Steve Stricker:
Is it an advantage to have a major in your home state, or does it bring extra attention and pressure? Stricker's had an excellent year in the field events, but something has been lacking in the majors (T30, T58, T55). I see a major in his near future, but this isn't the time to use him.

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