The last player to win three tournaments in three starts was none other than Tiger Woods. There's only been three other players to do so since 1980: Tom Watson, David Duval, and Vijay Singh. Will Rory McIlroy make it four? Valhalla plays a little bit more, dare I say, forgiving than Firestone, with wider fairways and less punitive rough. Couple that with the high temperatures and the greens will be a little bit softer in the mornings as greenskeepers give out a little bit more water to preserve the playing surfaces. Morning tee times should help, but I wouldn't expect them to be a gamebreaker when it's likely to remain sunny and hot all weekend.
In this week's edition of the Power Rankings, and those going forward, I'll be listing the Top-15 with their Total Aggregate (TA), a number that combines recent performance with course history and some select other metrics, and the change (CHG) from the last tournament they participated in. Total Aggregate is out of 100, with a lower number indicating a better ranking, as described in Movers and Losers.
- Adam Scott - TA: 5.83, CHG: +6 - Yes, I know he's no longer the world's best golfer. Also that Rory McIlroy has won his last two starts. Also that he carded three straight bogeys coming down the stretch at Firestone that completely ruined his chances at winning and at maintaining #1 status. Since winning the Byron Nelson, Adam Scott hasn't finished worse than 9th. Match that with a T5 at last year's PGA and a T11 in 2012, and he seems like he just a few strokes off from winning.
- Graeme McDowell - TA: 7.42, CHG: +4 - McDowell came out the gates a little slow at the WGC-Bridgestone, but still managed to chalk up a Top-10 while he was there. Like Adam Scott, that makes for five straight Top-10s, including one win. Going farther back than the last two tournaments, McDowell hasn't been very strong at the PGA Championship, but he's bagged a T12 and T11 in his last two attempts.
- Justin Rose - TA: 9.83, CHG: +19.2 - Prior to McIlroy, Rose had won in two previous starts. He followed those two wins up with a Top-25 and a fourth place last week in Ohio. He placed 33rd last year, but managed a T3 in 2011.
- Jim Furyk - TA: 12.33, CHG: +7.2 - I thought Furyk would have struggled at Firestone, having added yet another blown lead at the RBC Canadian. While he wasn't killing it, he did play very solid, chalking up a T15. Furyk now has two Top-15s and two Top-5s in his last four starts. Pulled up a solo second at last year tournament.
- Rickie Fowler - TA: 15.42, CHG: +18.4 - The only player on TOUR right now with Top-5s in each of this year's majors, Fowler has been playing spectacularly over his last five starts. He's racked up two second place finished, two eighth place finished, and a 13th place finish. He's managed a T19 at last year's tournament, but that was pre-Butch Harmon.
- Henrik Stenson - TA: 20.08, CHG: -2.4 - Stense has cooled down after putting together a string of four Top-10s heading into The Open. Valhalla doesn't punish wayward drives as much as Firestone, where he pulled a T19 on that very narrow and punitive course. Placed solo third last year.
- Hideki Matsuyama - TA: 20.5, CHG: -0.4 - I had Matsuyama pegged for a big win this year, and he managed one at The Memorial, but I get the feeling he's got another left in his tank this season. He's had two mediocre finishes mixed with a Top-20 and a Top-15 since his win at Muirfield Village. He managed a T19 in his debut at the PGA last year.
- Sergio Garcia - TA: 22.25, CHG: +7.2 - Probably the hottest golfer on the planet right now that isn't Rory McIlroy. He's got three second place finishes in four starts with a Top-15 mixed in there for good measure. He's highly emotional though, and I'm not convinced he'll find form after another close call. Hasn't had a whole lot of success at the PGA Championship since a T3 at Medinah in 2006.
- Phil Mickelson - TA: 23.67, CHG: +6.8 - A final round 62 gave Mickelson a much needed boost into 15th at the WGC-Bridgestone. While he's yet to log a Top-10, Lefty hasn't finished worse than 28th in his last five starts and has three Top-15s in that stretch. Finished 72nd last year, but I would chalk that up to having just won a very emotional victory at The Open a month prior.
- Robert Karlsson - TA: 23.67, CHG: -1.2 - Karlsson came out of nowhere in the lead up to The Open and hasn't cooled off since. He logged a Top-5 and Top-10 just ahead of finishing tied for 12th at Royal Liverpool. He finished 4th in 2011, but missed the cut in 2012.
- Rory McIlroy - TA: 23.92, CHG: +2.8 - It was only a matter of time before I got here, but I'm not about to break the rules to elevate him to first. Instead of telling you why to start him, I'll tell you why he's here. If it weren't for a missed cut at the Irish Open and for a mediocre finish (compared to some of the other at the top the the list) at the U.S. Open, he'd be at or very near the top. Just know that there's probably no one hotter than him right now and you probably don't need me to tell you that.
- Steve Stricker - TA: 24.25, CHG: -10 - His 67th place finish is his worst finish since missing the cut at the 2012 Players. That's over two years of made cuts and solid finishes. Prior to his weak showing last week, he had a Top-10, two Top-15s, and a Top-25 in five starts.
- Marc Leishman - TA: 24.42, CHG: +6.8 - Leishman would be much higher if it weren't for a missed cut at The Greenbrier Classic. He's logged three Top-10s in his last four starts, including his third place finish last week at Firestone. Finished T12 last year and T27 in 2012.
- Ryan Moore - TA: 26.25 CHG: +2.2 - Like Leishman, only with a win this year. He's got three Top-10s in his last four starts, with a Top-15 thrown in there as well. His caveat? Moore hasn't finished better than 55th at the PGA Championship since a 9th place finish at Medinah in 2006.
- Keegan Bradley - TA: 28.17, CHG: 0 - He's been a little bit inconsistent recently, but his third T4 in six starts certainly boosts confidence. He's won a PGA Championship in 2011 and finished T3 in 2012 and T19 in 2013. Valhalla's wider fairways should only benefit his skill set.