By Chuck Garbedian Special to Published Aug 12, 2009 at 9:50 PM

CHASKA, Minn. -- The course conditions at the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Course warrant the caveat that indeed, anyone who is on their game could win, just as Rich Beem did here in 2002.

That said, as stated previously, when it comes to Major Championship Professional Golf, Tiger Woods is the Alpha and the Omega. All conversations in majors begin and end with the Striped One, but then after Tiger, who could be a contender at Glory's Last Shot, the Season's Final Major?

Phil Mickelson -- There has been a lot on Lefty's plate and hardly any of it is golf related. When there is a family health scare, you realize how precious good health is and how hard it is to enjoy it. Philly Mick shook off some of the rust last week at the no-cut WGC Bridgestone Event and now tees it up at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. There is no doubt when he is on, Lefty is really a true rival for Tiger and this would be truly one for the ages should it come down to Tiger and Phil on Sunday. That said, both of these players need to be "on" all four days to either keep themselves in the mix or separate themselves from the field down the stretch.

Sergio Garcia -- How fitting would it be for Sergio to win his first major championship at the event where he burst on to the scene in 1999 finishing second to Tiger Woods at Medinah Country Club? It's hard to imagine that it has been 10 years since Sergio turned pro and still not a major in the trophy case. There might even be a scissors kick involved at the Wannamaker trophy presentation just to celebrate.

Stewart Cink -- The current Champion Golfer of the Year mentioned in his press conference earlier in the week that his confidence level coming into Hazeltine is extremely high. Another major while not expected, also wouldn't be a shock.

Lucas Glover -- If the weather stays the way it has been so far this week, then this is the golf course that Glover and the rest of the field would have experienced at Bethpage Black. Good sight lines, firm and fast, a brawny test that is right in front of the players most of the time. The first major, a surprise to all, some because they felt the talent was there and it should have come sooner, others because Glover was not on the major championship radar, most times is the easy one to bag, it's the second one that's tricky to convert.

Angel Cabrera -- If you had to choose between one of the winners of this season's majors to win the PGA Championship, which one would you select? Personally, I would go with Cabrera. He already is a multiple major winner with a Masters and a US Open to his credit, both on hard tracks against quality fields and if you let the imagination wander for just a moment, you'll realize that with a win at Hazeltine he will be one victory away from the career grand slam. Heady stuff.

Jim Furyk -- Furyk hasn't won since 2007 and while that isn't forever, it is a long time when you consider that those coming up behind you are younger, better, faster, stronger and golf courses in general are getting longer as well. That doesn't mean that Furyk is a dinosaur or has fallen off his game, it does however point out that it is difficult to win on the PGA TOUR week in and week out and when you give yourself opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. Before Jim Furyk on a fast and firm course lies a potential opportunity in waiting.

Charles Howell III -- Already CH3 has more than $1.5 million dollars in earnings in 2009, but money alone does not a season, or a career make. Howell also has two PGA TOUR wins to his credit, is a tireless worker and a so-so putter. If the flat stick gets hot, all the other pieces could be in place this week to make a run at history.

Anthony Kim -- It has been an up and down season for Kim on the PGA TOUR in 2009. There have been lots of birdies and lots of bogeys and very few dull moments. Looking back on 2009, it may not have been the season that AK would have liked, but a Major certainly calms a lot of rough water.

Davis Love III. I don't know of anyone who would have thought that the PGA Championship that Davis Love III won would be his only major to this point. At times there is no rhyme or reason to the game of golf, but sometimes there is order to the chaos and for DL3 the physical game is still there and the passion still burns hot.

Geoff Ogilvy -- Remember at the beginning of the year how GO was the man to beat on the PGA TOUR? Well it's now August and the season's final major is upon us and is always the question on the PGA TOUR, what have you done with your game lately? Ogilvy has one major championship to his credit, is it time to add to the ledger?

Ian Poulter -- No question, would be best dressed if he won it.

Steve Stricker -- Has the short game and temperament to contend in majors where the goal is to keep the score around par, not go 20 under over four days. A steady, solid player who is universally liked on Tour. Would be a feel good win in a number of ways.

Lee Westwood -- Has been putting himself in contention at majors without being able to close them out. The learning curve on the PGA TOUR gets sharper as the events and years go by. Still has plenty of chances to win his first, but to be a multiple major championship winner, you have to nail down your first one.

The season's final major begins at 7:15 a.m. Thursday when DJ Trahan, Keith Dicciani and Briny Baird go off the first tee and Richard Green, Shingo Katayama and Charlie Wi begin their respective rounds on the 10th.

Other interesting groups include:

8:35 a.m. First tee - One time major winners, Shaun Micheel, Michael Campbell and Mark Brooks.

12:55 p.m. First tee - Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa and Adam Scott. The All-World Young Guns Group

1:15 p.m. First tee - Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Steve Elkington. The AARP Group.

1:35 p.m. First tee - Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink. The reigning major championship winners in 2009.

7:35 a.m. Tenth tee - Ross Fisher, Pat Perez and Mike Small. Fisher and Perez play the Tours for a living, Small molds golfers into men at the University of Illinois as their head golf coach.

7:55 a.m. Tenth tee - Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer. The "one of these swings is not like the other" group.

8:15 a.m. Tenth tee - Rory Sabbatini, Sergio Garcia and Tom Lehman. The Three Amigos who wear their golf game on their synthetic, moisture wicking golf sleeve.

8:25 a.m. Tenth tee - Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan and Camilo Villegas. The road kill pairing because they are in front of the...

8:35 a.m. Tenth tee time of Padraig Harrington, Rich Beem and Tiger Woods, whom everyone will be trying to move into a position to see.

From the Wisconsin contingent:
Steve Stricker goes off of tee number one at 1:25 p.m. with Ernie Els and Ian Poulter. Jerry Kelly goes off the first tee at 2:05 p.m. with KJ Choi and Luke Donald. Mark Wilson goes off the tenth tee at 1:45 p.m. with Charl Schwartzel and Alastair Forsyth

It is way too early to tell who will win the 91st PGA Championship, but there is one thing for certain. You cannot win the event on Thursday, but you sure can lose it. The player who has his game in good shape coming into this event has a huge advantage. It will take brain and brawn to overpower Hazeltine National and even then in the end, that may not be enough.

To be sure the winner will be a deserving one but heading into day one of the PGA Championship, may not be an obvious one.



Chuck Garbedian Special to
Chuck has more than a decade of experience in many aspects of the golf industry -- from sales to teaching to hosting radio talk shows. He has been media chairman for the Greater Milwaukee Open since 1992, has served as women's golf coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He currently does work for PGA TOUR Network on SIRIUS XM Radio.