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Eliminating all but Piercy at Kiawah

The PGA Championship is known as "Glory's Last Shot," but recently, it's been many golfers' first shot at stardom.

Each of the past three PGA Championship winners entered the event with no more than one PGA Tour win. Two of the three entered outside the top 100 in the world rankings, with Martin Kaymer entering 13th.

It takes many qualities to win a major. You have to be able to go low, but that doesn't mean I'm going with Mitch Lowe. It takes birdies, but my pick's not Jonathan Byrd or Ben Crane. You have to be ballin', but I'm not picking Daniel Balin.

So, that makes it tough on those of us who put their reputation on the line to attempt to pick major winners, me among them. Some will glance over statistics and give it thought. Some just follow a hunch or go with their gut. Even more will just pick Tiger Woods.

I like to do things a little differently. First, I've analyzed years of PGA Championship and major results to try to find trends and statistics that will point out a winner. But I don't just pick a winner, instead finding reasons why the other 155 golfers in the field won't win. The man left standing in the end, by default, is your winner. I call it The Eliminator.

First of all, I like some experience hoisting a trophy. Eighteen of the past 20 PGA Championship winners had a previous PGA Tour win. Right off the bat, I'm going to take out 71 golfers and leave us with 85 choices.

Next, let's play the age game. I know we're coming off an Ernie Els win, but it doesn't pertain to the PGA Championship. Only one of the past 27 PGA Championship winners was 40 or older. So let's take out the 22 graybeards remaining, sorry Phil Mickelson.

Let's get more in depth with winners. Not only do you need a previous win, you need one this season. Eleven of the past 13 PGA Championship winners had a tour win earlier in the season. Another 36 are eliminated, and suddenly we're down to 27.

Now we'll turn back the clock, but not that far. The past eight PGA Championship winners finished in the top 22 in their last PGA Tour start. That takes out another dozen, such as Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler and Zach Johnson.

From 2004 to '08, every PGA Championship winner was making at least his 10th start in the event, but that has changed course. The past three winners had made two or fewer previous PGA Championship starts. So let's take out the nine remaining with more than two starts in this event, such as Woods, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson, which brings us down to our final six.

Let's try reverse psychology. The past three PGA Championship winners did not make the cut at that year's Masters. Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Scott Stallings are gone, which leaves us with our final twosome.

Now, finish it off. Seven of the past eight PGA Championship winners had a top-10 finish in one of their last two PGA Tour starts. Kyle Stanley didn't do that, but one golfer does fit all seven steps.

So, I like yet another first-time major winner, and one who isn't yet a household name. He's coming off four straight top-20 finishes and a win in the RBC Canadian Open. He's the Eliminator's pick -- Scott Piercy.

The Eliminator: Step-by-Step:
1. Eighteen of the past 20 PGA Championship winners had a previous PGA Tour win.
71 eliminated, 85 left

Golfers Eliminated:
Blake Adams
Thomas Aiken
Sang-Moon Bae
Daniel Balin
Frank Bensel
Thomas Bjorn
Mark Brown
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Brian Cairns
Bud Cauley
Greg Chalmers
Roger Chapman
George Coetzee
Nicolas Colsaerts
Jeff Coston
Brian Davis
Brendon de Jonge
Matt Dobyns
Jamie Donaldson
Ken Duke
Simon Dyson
Matt Every
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Marcus Fraser
Michael Frye
Hiroyuki Fujita
Brian Gaffney
Tommy Gainey
Branden Grace
Anders Hansen
Peter Hanson
Michael Hoey
Ryo Ishikawa
Thongchai Jaidee
Marty Jertson
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Brendan Jones
Robert Karlsson
Darrell Kestner
K.T. Kim
Pablo Larrazabal
Spencer Levin
Mitch Lowe
Joost Luiten
David Lynn
Matteo Manassero
William McGirt
Kelly Mitchum
Alan Morin
Bill Murchison
Seung-Yul Noh
Alexander Noren
Thorbjorn Olesen
Jeff Overton
Rod Perry
Corey Prugh
Alvaro Quiros
Robert Rock
Paul Scaletta
Marcel Siem
Jeev Milkha Singh
Mike Small
Bob Sowards
Chris Stroud
Toru Taniguchi
Michael Thompson
Cameron Tringale
Doug Wade
Jimmy Walker
Charlie Wi
Bernd Wiesberger

2. Only one of the past 27 PGA Championship winners has been 40 or older.
22 eliminated, 64 remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Robert Allenby
Rich Beem
Mark Brooks
Angel Cabrera
K.J. Choi
Darren Clarke
John Daly
Ernie Els
Jim Furyk
Retief Goosen
Padraig Harrington
Paul Lawrie
Davis Love III
Shaun Micheel
Phil Mickelson
Jose Maria Olazabal
John Senden
Vijay Singh
Steve Stricker
David Toms
Scott Verplank
Y.E. Yang

3. Eleven of the past 13 PGA Championship winners had a PGA Tour win earlier in the season.
36 eliminated, 27 remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Aaron Baddeley
Jonathan Byrd
Paul Casey
Stewart Cink
Tim Clark

Jason Day
Sergio Garcia
Robert Garrigus
Lucas Glover
Charley Hoffman
Charles Howell III
Trevor Immelman
Fredrik Jacobson
Martin Kaymer
Martin Laird
Graeme McDowell
Bryce Molder
Francesco Molinari
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na
Sean O'Hair
Geoff Ogilvy
Louis Oosthuizen
Ryan Palmer
Pat Perez
D.A. Points
Ian Poulter
Chez Reavie
John Rollins
Rory Sabbatini
Charl Schwartzel
Adam Scott
Bo Van Pelt
Nick Watney
Lee Westwood
Gary Woodland

4. The past eight PGA Championship winners finished in the top 22 in their last start.
12 eliminated, 15 remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Ben Curtis
Rickie Fowler
John Huh
Zach Johnson
Marc Leishman
Hunter Mahan
George McNeill
Carl Pettersson
Ted Potter Jr.
Brandt Snedeker
Johnson Wagner
Mark Wilson

5. The past three PGA Championship winners had made two or fewer previous PGA Championship starts.
Nine eliminated, six remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Luke Donald
Jason Dufner
J.J. Henry
Dustin Johnson
Matt Kuchar
Rory McIlroy
Justin Rose
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods

6. The past three PGA Championship winners did not make the cut at the same year's Masters.
Four eliminated, two remaining

Golfers Eliminated:
Keegan Bradley
Bill Haas
Webb Simpson
Scott Stallings

7. Seven of the past eight PGA Championship winners had a top-10 finish in at least one of their last two starts.
One eliminated, one remaining

Golfer Eliminated:
Kyle Stanley

Your winner: Scott Piercy

Matt Willis has been a researcher with the ESPN Stats & Information Group since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows.