Kim and Westwood Aim for PGA Glory

Two names were being bandied about on the eve of the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, those of Anthony Kim and Lee Westwood.

Of course, the usual suspects are high among the list of favourites, such as Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and even former champion Vijay Singh, who returned to form last week with victory at the World Golf Championship.

The 23-year-old Kim has been hailed by some as the golfer most likely to challenge Tiger Woods, once the world number one comes out of his injury-enforced absence from the PGA Tour.

He enhanced his case with two victories this season, in the Wachovia Championship and then the AT&T National, which is hosted by Woods.

His victories were the result of a determined effort by Kim to shun a previously apathetic approach to golf as he started to take discipline and practice more seriously.

Now he is on the verge of great things, or so they, and the PGA Championship is a great place to start.

Westwood has quite a number of backers going into the tournament. The world number 11 was only one stroke away from making the play-offs at the US Open in San Diego, where Woods eventually beat Rocco Mediate on the 19th extra hole.

The Englishman also finished a stroke behind Singh at the World Golf Championship at Firestone.

Oakland Hills provides a fitting stage for the Europeans to end their 79-year drought at the PGA Championship.

For it was at this Michigan course in 2004 that Bernard Langer’s Europe decisively defeated the Americans in the Ryder Cup. Westwood said in an Independent article:

“This is a game of confidence and we should all buoyed by what we did here in 2004. When I drove in it all came flooding back where everything was. And the course? Yeah, it’s changed, with just the addition of a few new tees. But it’s basically the same. You know, I played pretty good that week and I’m playing OK at the moment. So I hope to carry that form through.”

Another golfer who could rise to the top this weekend is Kenny Perry, who has been criticised for missing the US Open and British Open so he could focus on qualifying for the US Ryder Cup team.

This year’s Ryder Cup is being held in his home state of Kentucky, at Valhalla. He has won three times this season and is ranked third on the US Ryder Cup standings.

Mediate and Sergia Garcia have also been suggested as contenders.

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