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PGA Championship a pivotal moment for many

Every major championship is important and coveted to those who play in one, but this year's PGA Championship finds some players at a crossroads. A victory this week would vault the careers of many players, a few in particular. While others need a major to prove that they are the players many people think they should be.

Sergio Garcia -Yes, he is only 27, but he has been a professional since he was 19. He had his best chance yet to win a major at last month's British Open but bogeyed two of his last four holes to hand the championship to Padraig Harrington, who won his first major. The win changed the public perception of Harrington's abilities as a player. Such a victory at the PGA Championship would change the perception of Garcia from a young player with world of talent into a mature veteran with more majors on the horizon.

Jim Furyk - Proof that he is worthy of his No. 2 spot on the World Golf Ranking will follow Furyk around Southern Hills this week. Having won the Canadian Open two weeks ago demonstrated that Furyk still knows how to win. But the specter of fumbling away the U.S. Open with a questionable decision on the 17th hole at Oakmont will haunt Furyk until he wins his second major. He is cut from major championship cloth and Southern Hills is tailor made for Furyk's ability as a straight hitter and a good putter.

Luke Donald - Playing in the final group with Tiger Woods at last year's PGA Championship at Medinah should have been a growing experience for Donald, even if he failed to give Woods much of a chase. But neither did anyone else that week. Much is expected of Donald and he has yet to deliver. A victory would go a long way to fulfilling his considerable potential.

Vijay Singh - He is 44 and despite being the winningest player in his 40s in Tour history, he hasn't won a major since the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. No one questions his work ethic but many question why he hasn't played well in majors lately. He performed miserably in the first three majors of '07 and it's not just his putting that keeps him at arm's length from the winner's trophy, but his ballstriking has been suspect as well. He's already in the World Golf Hall of Fame, but whether he will be mentioned among major favorites from this point forward might be determined this week.

Chris DiMarco -Why he is consistently thought of as one of the best players on the PGA Tour defies description. He has won only three times on the PGA Tour, the last in 2002. But he has threatened in a couple of Masters and was in the playoff at Whistling Straits at the 2004 PGA Championship, won by Singh. He has played miserably this year but finished tied for fourth at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week, which could be a sign of life. A victory this week would finally confirm his public perception.

Stewart Cink - Seemingly the prototypical PGA Championship winner, Cink finished one shot out of the 2001 U.S. Open playoff at Southern Hills by three-putting the final hole. Cink doesn't do anything great, nor does he do anything badly. He has plenty of length off the tee and hits it straight enough for modern standards. His short game is more than adequate. He does use a belly putter with a claw grip, which might tell you what you need to know, except that he led the Tour in putting a couple of years ago with the same putter, albeit a different way to hold it. He's certainly better known than Shaun Micheel or Mark Brooks and has more than enough credentials to win his first major.

Phil Mickelson - Now we find out if Mickelson's wrist and/or psyche are properly healed. His last two majors have been frighteningly bad, especially for someone of Mickelson's considerable caliber. For him to continue to be thought of as one of golf's greats and a threat, albeit an outside one, to Woods' supremacy, then the time is now for Mickelson. He has to start being a contender again for the physical and, more importantly, the mental part of his game to be restored to major championship caliber. Golf needs a healthy Phil Mickelson. And vise versa.


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