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Woods can finally meet expectations in year's final major

With the PGA Championship taking place this week, Neil Johnston assesses the contenders for golf's last major of the year (Thumbnail credit Image: Keith Allison via flickr Creative Commons)

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Tomorrow the world's top golfers will begin their challenge for the last major of the year, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

With the year's other majors providing surprises, most recently with the return of Ernie Els to major victory at The Open, yet again the tournament is is wide open. The last 16 majors have been won by different players, but who could be in with a chance this time?

He goes into every tournament as the favourite, but perhaps Tiger Woods will live up to expectations this week. Three wins and six top tens would be a spectacular season for any other player, however the absence of a major victory makes it disapointing for the former world number one.

At the US Open he was in contention for the first two days and at last month's Open Championship he finished third. The fact Woods had lost all confidence in his driving and still managed to challenge shows just how close to winning that 15th major he could be.

He finished eigth at last week's Bridgestone Invitational so he's not in bad form going into the final major of the year. If, and it's a big if, he can get the driver going, the four time PGA champion will leave the rest of the field trailing. Expect to see a motivated Tiger on the hunt for victory when play begins this week, as he looks to avoid a fourth consecutive season without winning a major.

Last year's champion Keegan Bradley can't be overlooked. He pulled off a sensational comeback at last week's Bridgestone Invitational. After trailing by six shots after 13 holes a double bogey at the last by Furyk, accompanied by Bradley's sensational 64, allowed the PGA champion to sneak victory. With such a great performance on the fiersome Firestone course, and coming into form at the right time, he is likely to make a good defence of his title.

Louis Oosthuizen has been a key feature of the majors this year. Who could forget that albatross at The Masters that nearly won him the green jacket? As well as finishing second at Augusta he was also in contention at The Open and has been consistent throughout the year. He also finished in the top five last week, showing he can handle a tough American course. If he plays well he has the ability to win, as he proved to the golfing world back in 2010 when he won The Open wire to wire.

From the UK perhaps the best hope is Rory McIlroy. Although Luke Donald has been more consistent, and Lee Westwood could also feature at the top of the leaderboard, McIlroy is the only one of these players that has won a major. He had a top five finish last week, indicating he could be about to hit a bit of form.

It will be an exciting week with so much to play for, and as well as the battle for first place expect some passionate play by Europeans and Americans as they make a final push to secure a Ryder Cup place.

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