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The Field Is Wide Open At This Year's PGA Championship

The PGA Championship, the year's final major or "glory's last shot" as CBS likes to hype it, kicks off this week.

Non-Americans have won the last six majors, the longest streak in since the Masters was first played in 1934. Going back to 2007, non-Americans have won at least two majors each year and have combined to win 13 of 19 during that time frame.

So what gives? Is American golf in a recession without dominant players Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods?

A look at the Official World Golf Ranking shows six Americans in the top 15, but only Mickelson has ever won a major. Of the nine non-Yanks on the list, five of the nine, including Nos. 1 and 2 Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, respectively, have not won a major either.

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The rankings are based on a player's overall performance for a rolling 104-week period. Of the major winners during that span Darren Clarke is 33rd, Louis Oosthuizen is 36th, and Y.E. Yang is 39th. A few major winners just past that rolling period are Lucas Glover (57th in the rankings), Padraig Harrington (69th), Stewart Cink (85th) and Angel Cabrera (88th).

Rory McIlroy will be among the favorites this week, a 12/1 favorites according to U.K.-based Yadbrokes. Donald and Westwood are 14/1, followed by Woods 20/1 and Mickelson 25/1.

Reigning champion Martin Kaymer is a 33/1 choice, Masters champ Charl Schwartzel is 50/1 and Clarke, the recent sentimental Open Championship winner, is 150/1.

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The point? Most of the recent non-American winners outside of Harrington and Cabrera are single major winners. That's not all that surprising, but it also goes to show that the game — on both sides of the Atlantic — is without a dominant player and that winning a major is much about good fortune.

A lot of attention will be given to Woods, who returns to the game healthy; Westwood, who could have been oh-so-close in recent years; and Donald, who at world No. 1 may be shouldering the label "best to have never won."

It will be McIlroy, 22, who will be on center stage.

"I'm ready for it," he said.

Little doubt he is, but who among the game's supposed elite players is also ready to step up?

Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.

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