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Golf Barometer: Picks for the Fifth Major

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.

There's a lot to handicap with the unofficial fifth major going to post, so put on the fedora and let's mark up the program.

Tiger Woods:
He's been the Player of the Year to this point, easy, but he's never liked Sawgrass and his record here is mediocre. And heck, his season is based around major championships - not the fifth major, not the Ryder Cup, not the match play events. This start simply isn't that important to him. Finish: T19.

Phil Mickelson:
Although you don't think of him as a perfect fit for Sawgrass, the design of the course will force Mickelson to leave the driver in the bag - and that's probably a good thing. Mickelson can still stripe the irons as good as anyone, it's just a matter of making some putts. Finish: Top 10.

Matt Kuchar:
He's won here before and is probably one of the Top-10 putters in the world, though you seldom here that mentioned. But this is not the type of event you ever expect anyone to repeat in, and Kuchar's iron play has been a little shaky this year. Finish: Outside Top 30.

Lee Westwood:
He's been in terrific form in stateside events, bagging three straight Top-10s, including a T8 at the Masters. But be honest - do you ever expect Westwood to sink a clutch putt or two when it really matters on a Sunday? Look for three strong rounds, then just enough leakiness on Sunday. Finish: T13.

Derek Ernst:
Kudos to the kid for finishing the deal at the Wells Fargo, but let's remember he had just two checks cashed (both under $17K) before that. Wide-eyed and unprepared for Sawgrass, he won't be playing the weekend. Finish: Missed cut.

Jim Furyk:
It's a home game and target golf suits his style, but is it possible to want it too much? Furyk hasn't done better than T25 at Sawgrass since 2009, and he's coming in cold after some time off. Finish: T28.

Sergio Garcia:
The cold-blooded takedown off Paul Goydos in 2008 seemed like a stepping stone; Garcia still didn't have a true major championship, but at least he could close at the fifth major. Alas, he's been ordinary in the four stops at Sawgrass since. Here's a shocker: Garcia isn't lagging in any major component stats this season, and he's 10th in putting strokes gained. Maybe he'll do something when we don't expect it. Finish: Top 5.

Rory McIlroy:
It's a testament to his ridiculous ability that he's banked $1.1 million without his "A Game" all season. But like Tiger, Rory isn't a big fan of the Sawgrass layout - the wonderkind has missed three straight cuts here. Eventually that run is going to stop, but it won't stop with anything close to contention. Finish: Outside Top 20.

Adam Scott:
The Masters breakthrough solves a lot of problems, and Scott has won at Sawgrass before. The driving can get out of round here and there, but the lay of this track will rein some of that in. The season has already been validated, it's all gravy now. You'll see plenty of him Sunday, along with his smart-alecky caddy. Finish: Top 10.

Vijay Singh:
The golf gods are a vengeful lot - no one plays well the same week he sues the PGA Tour. Singh won't be anywhere near the cut come Friday evening, no matter that Sawgrass has been his personal practice area for so long. Finish: Slam the trunk.

Brandt Snedeker:
He's got the guts of a burglar on the greens but that might not matter on a course that doesn't strike his eye - Snedeker has missed four straight cuts at the TPC. He's too sharp now to do that again, but contention seems like a stretch. Finish: T34.

Graeme McDowell:
He probably should have won here in 2011 and he has a habit of bringing his best game to the bigger stages. No field is deeper than what we'll see at Sawgrass this week, and that's just how McDowell likes it. The quirky lay of the course won't bother him any - this is the very definition of unflappable. Finish: Win.

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