Early tidbits from the PGA Championship

Graeme McDowell doesn't hit it far off the tee, but he's very accurate.
Graeme McDowell doesn't hit it far off the tee, but he's very accurate.

As players continue to get a feel for The Ocean Course through the rain and humidity, the obvious favorites to win the 94th PGA Championship have emerged from the pack. Many tab Tiger Woods as the favorite, but others have Keegan Bradley repeating after his win at the Bridgestone Invitational last week.

The world's No. 1 player, Luke Donald, will always pop up in the favorite discussion until he wins his first major. The reemergence of Ernie Els at the Open Championship adds another intriguing possibility to the championship.

Phil Mickelson, Rory McIllroy, Jim Furyk and other have all been in the conversation. But, there are several players that despite coming up short in the first three majors, still fared quite well. Perhaps one of them will win the PGA Championship this week.

One of those players is 2010 U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell, who tied for 12th at the Masters, tied for second at the U.S. Open and tied for fifth at the Open Championship. The 2008 PGA Champion, Padraig Harrington, finished tied for eighth at The Masters, tied for fourth in the U.S. Open and tied for 34th at the Open Championship.

Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open winner, was 11th in the Masters, he tied for fourth at the U.S. Open before tying for 34th at the Open Championship. Lastly, Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Champion, lost in a playoff to Watson at the Masters and tied for 19th at the Open Championship. Furyk also finished second last week at the Bridgestone Invitational despite leading all the way through and missing a chance on 18 to win. If he can shake off the loss, he might have a shot this week.

BUG BITES: Located steps from the marsh and the beach, The Ocean Course is full of wildlife, which includes those pesky mosquitoes.

I'm feeling the heat. I think everyone is," said 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory Mcillroy. "It's hot and humid out there. Getting eaten alive by these insects, as well, which isn't very nice."

ROAD TRIP: "I left London at 12 on Sunday, and I got here [Charleston] at 2:30 Monday afternoon. I had a nightmare," said Senior PGA Champion Roger Chapman of England. Chapman was in airports in Washington, D.C. for 14 hours. He had his clubs and suitcase lost and did not get them until 8 p.m. Monday.

SERGIO'S STREAK: Sergio Garcia has yet to win a major golf tournament, but he does own the current record for most consecutive majors started. This week's PGA Championship will be Garcia's 54th straight major. The streak dates back to the 1999 Open Championship, his first as a professional. In his second major as a professional, the 19 year old battled Tiger Woods before falling one stroke short at the PGA Championship at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club.

A RARE BIRD, INDEED: The albatross, a clever golf term for a double eagle (typically a 2 on a par-5), became a more common sight in two of the first three major championships this year. Louie Oosthuizen made a 2 on Augusta National Golf Club's second hole in the final round of the Masters in April. Two months later, in the opening round of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, Nick Watney holed his second shot at No. 17 for a deuce.

There have been two albatrosses in PGA Championship history. The first came in 1993 when PGA Club Professional Darrel Kestner made double eagle on No. 13 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. In 1995, Swden's Per-Ulrik Johansson made 2 on No. 11 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

CAROLINAS LONE WARRIOR: Kelly Mitchum, the lone member of the host Carolinas PGA Section in the 94th PGA Championship, is the lead PGA teaching professional at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort. Mitchum is also an alum of one of America's finest Walker Cup Teams.

In 1993, Mitchum finished 1-1-0, winning his singles match when the United States rolled past Great Britain & Ireland, 19-5, at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. Mitchum graduated in 1993 from North Carolina State University, and was teammates in the international match with Justin Leonard, Allen Doyle, Jay Sigel, Tim Herron, Brian Gay, John Harris and Danny Yates.

"What a great team we had!" said Mitchum, 41, who makes his fourth PGA Championship appearance. "It was a special week. There are a lot on that team that went on to great things."

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