HAVEN, Wis., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The year's final major golf event, the PGA championship, begins in Wisconsin Thursday with the sport seemingly in the midst of a revolution.
The top two ranked players in the world are coming off very poor performances, the American Ryder Cup team is shaping up to include perhaps as many as a half dozen newcomers and the two most recent major events have been won by relative unknowns.
With that as a backdrop, a 156-man PGA Championship field will tackle the sand-filled hills of the Whistling Straits course.
Rains softened the 7,514-yard course on the eve of the tournament Wednesday and more showers were forecast for the weekend.
The tournament is considered wide open, especially since world No. 1 Tiger Woods has not won an event this year and is coming off the worst showing of his career at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, disclosed this week he has a form of arthritis that briefly left him unable to walk.
And the third-ranked player in the world, Lee Westwood, is not even entered -- having been forced to withdraw due to injury.
If Woods does not win this week, it will mark the 10th consecutive major event in which he has not lifted the trophy. That would equal the longest such streak of his career.
The list of pre-tournament favorites includes Steve Stricker, last week's winner Hunter Mahan, U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen and rising star Jeff Overton, who is second on the PGA Tour money list this year behind Ernie Els.
Odds favor a first-time major winner this week. Since Woods won his first Masters in 1997, almost half (26 of 53) of the major events have been captured by someone who had never won one before.
That includes five of the last six major winners -- Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, defending PGA champion Y.E. Yang, McDowell and Oosthuizen. The only exception in that stretch has been Mickelson, whose Masters win this year was his fourth major.