Woods, Mahan headline PGA predictions

The flag on the18th hole is seen during a practice round prior to the start of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The field is set -- and boy is it a long one -- and now the PGA Championship offers up one final shot at major glory in 2013.

Tiger Woods created plenty of buzz with a convincing win at WGC-Bridgestone on Sunday, but can he do what Phil Mickelson did last month -- when the week prior to a major and still have enough juice to take home his 15th major title?

Here's a look at what our esteemed staff of experts has to say about who will take home the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday at Oak Hill East:

• • •

Jeff Babineau, Editor

Favorite: Hunter Mahan

Tiger Woods? C'mon, that would be too easy. Instead, I'll give you another Sean Foley pupil who is on Cloud Nine these days: new dad Hunter Mahan, who is hiding out at No. 52 in the Golfweek Sagarin Rankings. Sure, he'll be a little rusty after two weeks off, but he's been in good form, is a top ballstriker, and played in the final group on Sunday on the last two majors. He's in a happy place, and his major championship experiences are going to pay off soon.

Underdog: Gary Woodland

At the PGA, you always have to watch out for that last man to get into the field, right? (John Daly/Crooked Stick flashbacks, anyone?) Woodland has been playing better since Memorial, can hit irons off many of the tees at Oak Hill, and having just won in Reno-Tahoe, finally has that ingredient of confidence that has been missing.

• • •

Jeff Rude, Senior Writer

Favorite: Hunter Mahan

I believe in karma. On top of that, he has played in the final group at the last two majors. He's due.

Underdog: Graeme McDowell

He's hit and miss. But when there's a U.S. Open-type setup where good driving and putting are required, you bet on the "hit" with him.

• • •

Jim McCabe, Senior Writer

Favorite: Adam Scott

Actually, was going to pick Romain Wattel to win, because he's ranked 169th in the world, as was Shaun Micheel in 2003. Alas, Wattel didn't qualify, so here's a nod to the guy who, when on, drives it consistently long and straight enough to best handle the Oak Hill challenge.

Underdog: Stewart Cink

It's been a while since one of the game's most personable players had a chance for the spotlight, but why not? Finished fifth at the AT&T National, then played fairly well at the Open. Hey, he's no wilder a pick than Micheel.

• • •

Lance Ringler, Senior Writer

Favorite: Henrik Stenson

Unlike Phil, Tiger will not pull off winning in back-to-back weeks, the last being a major. Stenson has three top 3s in last three starts and one would expect him to contend this week. Consider this: Stenson finished T-18 at Masters, T-5 at The Players Championship, T-21 at U.S. Open and 2nd at Open Championship.

Underdog: Richard Sterne

Three top 10s in last seven starts including a T-9 last week at WGC-Bridgestone.

• • •

Bradley S. Klein, Senior Writer

Winner: Dustin Johnson

Taking the driver out of his hand and utilizing his length with long irons and fairway metals off the tees at Oak Hill actually be a tremendous advantage to him. Long overdue as a major winner.

Underdog: Charles Howell III

He can use his very solid GIR rating (67.1 percent/ranked 38th on Tour) and strokes gained-putting (.524/17th) to cap off a solid year (with 5 top-10 finishes) and an oddly overlooked career (2 wins, $26 million, 25th all-time money winner).

• • •

David Dusek, Senior Writer

Winner: Jason Dufner

I still don't believe Tiger Woods has figured out a way to translate winning PGA Tour golf into winning major championship golf, so I just can't pick Tiger to win this week. I think the course and the situation set up perfectly for Jason Dufner and Lee Westwood, but especially Dufner. He hits fairways, hits greens and is hot right now. It's going to be The Week of The Waggle.

Underdog: Jordan Spieth

This course may not have glamor, but it's a brute, so I just don't see anyone outside the usual suspects taking home the Wanamaker. That said, if i had to pick someone, I'll go with Jordan Spieth.

• • •

James Achenbach, Senior Writer

Winner: Rory McIlroy

Smashes a forehand winner ... and you thought he was finished.

• • •

Adam Schupak, Senior Writer

Winner: Tiger Woods

In Golfweek's pre-season poll, I predicted Tiger would win one major this year. I haven't picked him yet. So it's now or never, Tiger. I'm sticking to my guns. Don't let me down.

Sleeper: Matteo Manassero

The 20-year-old Italian, who won the BMW PGA Championship in May, proved he's going to be a world-class player. So far, he hasn't made much noise in the majors. That could change at Oak Hill.

• • •

Brentley Romine, Asst. Editor, Golfweek.com

Favorite: Hunter Mahan

The popular pick would be Tiger Woods, but he has yet to prove this season that he can win on a course he hasn't won on before. So I'll go with Hunter Mahan, who has finished in the top 10 in the past two majors and was leading before his withdrawal in Ontario. Now a father, Mahan has as good a shot as any at his first major title.

Underdog: Nicolas Colsaerts

The Belgian Bomber missed the cut at Muirfield, but finish top 10 at Merion. I'm betting the latter shows up at Oak Hill.

• • •

Nick Masuda, Digital Director

Winner: Tiger Woods

Yes, I am a broken record. Yes, Tiger Woods made only six birdies the last time the PGA was at Oak Hill. But his putting at Bridgestone this past week was impressive, and his iron play was fabulous. And he's won five times on Tour this season. And he made noise at both the Masters and Open Championship. I have a hard time betting against that.

Sleeper: Graeme McDowell

Staying true to his year, he's been quiet for a few weeks. Must mean the Northern Irishman is going to do something special this week. Don't know if he should be a sleeper, but I'll take the opportunity.

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