PGA Championship 2012: Looking At Sleeper Picks For Golf's 4th Major Tournament

The best golfers in the world are prepared for a stout test at the sport's fourth and final major of the 2012 season, as the opening round of the PGA Championship will get underway on Thursday from South Carolina's beautiful Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

But with so many elite contenders all in search of an elusive major title, history has proven that often times it is a relatively unknown golfer that rises to the occasion and bursts on the scene. As such, Rob Bolton of PGATour.com offered up a detailed list of sleepers in this year's fieldd that may do just that.

At the top of Bolton's list is Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, a promising youngster who has never finished better than second place in a PGA Tour event in his career. Though he has struggled mightily to find consistency on American courses, Ishikawa remains a short game master who could thrive on Kiawah Island:

The Bashful Prince is known for many things, one of which is a sublime greenside skill set. The bonus is that he was the runner-up at the Puerto Rico Open in March. Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico is contested on paspalum, the same kind of grass used for the fairways and greens on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

In addition to Ishikawa, Bolton also tabs European Tour player Thobjorn Olesen as a player who could certainly make some noise this week. Olesen tied for ninth at the British Open and has been playing extremely strong golf on the European Tour as of late:

He held the 54-hole lead at a European Tour event in Austria before settling for a solo fifth. The fade wasn't as revealing as the value of a continuation of form that he flashed at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Furthermore, he won in Sicily earlier this year on a course hugging the Mediterranean Sea. The conditions for the third round that week were considerably challenging, but the Dane shared the low round of the day.

Although he didn't make the list, Michigan native Brian Cairns faces insurmountable odds as a 3000-to-1 longshot, and would define the word sleeper if he could somehow find a home on the leaderboard before the weekend. Cairns, though, is entirely confident that he'll be around for the long haul this time around after a debacle a year ago "I'm pretty confident I can make the cut," he told the Detroit News. "I know I shot a million last year, but I was just overwhelmed with everything that was in front of me last year."

Stay with this StoryStream for more PGA coverage, and be sure to check out SB Nation's golf hub for more news and analysis throughout the tournament.

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