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PGA Championship 2013: With Tiger Woods out, some Sunday predictions for Oak Hill

There are just 18 holes left in golf's major championship season. Here are some discussion points and predictions for Sunday's final round at the PGA Championship.

David Cannon

Being in the lead at the majors on Sunday has been a precarious position in recent years. As we saw at Muirfield last month, Sunday still allows for plenty of movement in the final 18 holes. With that, here are some possible scenarios and predictions from SB Nation's Mark Sandritter and Brendan Porath for the final round of the final golf major in 2013.

Does Tiger Woods break par while playing out the string in his last round of major championship golf in 2013, or does the majors weekend malaise continue?

Mark: He has nothing to lose so maybe we'll see him cut loose and attack pins. He pulled out the driver a few more times on Saturday. If he gets aggressive, it wouldn't surprise me if he shot in the high 60s.

Brendan: He's the most talented player in the world, and was in form just a week ago with three rounds in the 60s at Firestone. Now he can't hit a fairway, can't scramble, and can't putt. Tiger is not comfortable on this course and sounded so un-Tiger-like after his round on Saturday -- a bit deflated and discouraged (I won't go as far as "defeated"). I think it's another day of inconsistency, a birdie followed by two bogeys etc. He'll grind to keep it together but won't break par again on the weekend, shooting even 70 to finish a disappointing majors season.

How far down the leaderboard -- either score or player -- do you go for those who have a realistic chance to win on Sunday? What's the threshold for being out of it?

Mark: I think it really depends on the wind. If it blows again in the final round, anyone 2-under or better could be in the mix. If it's calm and Oak Hill plays like it did the first two rounds, 5-under and better has a shot.

Brendan: Interesting how you think the wind opens it up to the chasers -- I like that and let's hope that's the case for a little bit of drama. I think Dustin Johnson is the absolute floor here on Sunday, sitting at 2-under and tied for ninth place. DJ jumped 51 spots up the leaderboard on Saturday with the low-round of the day, a 5-under 65.

While it will be extremely difficult, I do think another 65 is out there for someone, and Dustin has the talent and length to maybe get to 7-under. That would put him in potential playoff territory if Furyk or Dufner give a few back -- something that's far more likely than shooting a 65. This floor of DJ at 2-under obviously then includes Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy at 3-under, who are capable of the chasedown as well. It will be tough, of course, be that's the bottom threshold.

What score does Rory McIlroy have to shoot to feel good about his chances once he gets into the clubhouse ahead of the leaders? And then what do you expect from Rory on Sunday?

Brendan: I think he can feel good about his chances if he turns in a card of 66, but realistically, I think he needs to do better in order to win or get in a playoff. You not only have to bank on the final group of Furyk and Dufner coming back to the field (very possible), but also those world-class guys in between stalling out and not moving the number upward (less likely). Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Steve Stricker are some pretty big names starting the day with at least a two-shot advantage over Rory. So that's five of the best players in the world well-ahead at the start, and we're talking about Rory because of a miraculous finish -- a bombed putt on the 17th and a chip-in on the last.


Both great shots, but that kind of fortune will be hard to replicate (and that still only got him to 67 for the day, which won't cut it on Sunday).

Mark: He probably has to shoot at least 66 if he's going to have a chance. That may not even be enough. A 64 would give him a really good shot.

Who's the player nobody is talking about on leaderboard that should be getting more attention?

Mark: Are people talking about Henrik Stenson? He's been really solid all week and has been under par all three rounds. He could easily walk away with the win.

Brendan: Stenson had top-five odds coming into the tournament and was a trendy pick -- the Swede being on the first page of the board is maybe the least surprising development of the week, including Tiger and Phil's troubles. He's rock solid and has been all season, rebounding to his 2009 form and from the disastrous tumble essentially out of golf the past two years. And yet because he's a relatively unknown player, and not American, he hasn't been getting the attention he should because he's probably the best bet to win here on Sunday.

His playing partner and fellow Swede, Jonas Blixt, is realllly under the radar but he's the most recent winner of the group on the leaderboard -- that breakthrough win coming at Greenbrier last month. Blixt went low on Saturday and has the recent form to be a surprise winner at the end of a 2013 majors season marked by wins from the the biggest names in golf.

What settles as the winning score, and what's the margin -- runaway or just a shot?

Mark: If the wind blow, I think 8-under wins it. If not, 10-under takes the Wanamaker trophy. I'd expect things to stay close. There are too many good players near the lead for one to pull away.

Brendan: I actually think it comes back a shot as well, to 8-under. Saturday really spooked me, as I thought we were well on our way to a winning score of 12 or 13-under. There were a lot of nerves across the leaderboard on Saturday, with lots of big numbers there on the front nine at Oak Hill. I expect more of the same on Sunday.

Are you expecting carnage or someone to go low -- say, 66 like Phil last month -- to win it? Is the winner decided by an implosion on those last two tough finishing holes, or does someone win by positive play and taking it from the rest of the field?

Brendan: I don't think there's a round of 66 to win it -- that was historic, legend stuff from Phil that's just not a regular thing, even if the courses and conditions are not analogous. There will be bogeys on those last two holes, and someone under par will be the beneficiary.

Mark: Someone will go low. Even when things got more difficult on Saturday a few players still shot in the mid 60s. Hopefully someone posts a solid number and forces the leaders to stay aggressive. The final two holes are hard, but not like at Merion -- someone will make make a birdie to win.

Finally, who is your winner of the 95th PGA Championship?

Mark: Jason Dufner has been so solid this week I think he'll finish it off. He's driven the ball great and playing from the fairway is the key to winning at Oak Hill. The only concern is on the short putts where he's been a little shaky.


Brendan: It's Stenson. We saw the Aussie curse at the Masters end to start this majors year, and Stenson will end the Swedish drought in majors on Sunday. He's the perfect player to become the first male Swede to win a major, improving by one spot from last month's runner-up at the British. After winning The Players in 2009 and getting inside the top 5 in the world, Stenson disappeared, struggling to find his swing and falling outside the top 200 in the world. He was playing a local club championship with regular weekend hackers and now he's back, finishing the 2013 season as the most consistent player in the world. Stenson doesn't miss fairways, keeps hitting greens in regulation, and shoots a 69 to win it at 8-under.

More golf from SB Nation:

Tiger, Rory and Sunday predictions at Oak Hill

• GIFs Mickelson does crescent kicks…or the hurdles? | Blixt hits it into fan's back pocket, then hits shot of the week

Rory sinks ridiculous back-to-back birdies | Jason Dufner has a fat lip

Leaderboard updates and live coverage of Sunday's round

Phil almost forgets to register, avoids DQ | Needs directions to 1st tee

Tiger Woods and an impossible standard