Best bets for the PGA Championship

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PGA Championship

Last weekend, Jason Day got back into the winner’s circle for the first time in five years and eight days since his last victory (2018 Wells Fargo Championship). Day, priced at 18-1 pre-tournament, shot a 9-under final round of 62 to win the AT&T Byron Nelson by one stroke over Austin Eckroat and Si Woo Kim. Day led the field for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green and was third for Strokes Gained: Approach. The 2015 PGA champion and former OWGR No. 1 has battled injuries and illnesses over the years but now finds himself back in the OWGR Top 20 for the first time since the summer of 2019. Day is priced at 28-1 to win the PGA Championship.

 

The PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill Country Club, just outside Rochester, N.Y., for the first time since 2013. Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, the OWGR’s No. 1 and No. 2 players and last two Masters champions, are the two co-favorites at 8-1 for the second major championship of 2023.

Rory McIlroy (14-1) has a win in Dubai earlier this year, but the OWGR No. 3 has started slowly by his standards. Perhaps returning to his wife Erica Stoll’s hometown of Rochester could put him in a better frame of mind.

Xander Schauffele (16-1) and Patrick Cantlay (18-1) top the “best player to never win a major” list followed by Tony Finau (28-1) and Viktor Hovland (30-1).

Two LIV Golf defectors, Brooks Koepka (22-1) and Dustin Johnson (28-1), both have victories on that tour this season. Johnson won a playoff in Tulsa last weekend over reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith (33-1). Koepka, the 2018 and 2019 PGA champion, won the week before the Masters in April and ended up as co-runner-up the following week at the Masters behind Rahm.

Then, there is reigning PGA champion Justin Thomas (25-1), who is seeking his first victory since winning the Wanamaker Trophy last year at Southern Hills.

Matt Fitzpatrick, who will defend his U.S. Open title next month, is priced at 33-1 along with 2020 PGA champion Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.

Day and Dustin Johnson were not the only tournament winners last week in the golf world as Sungjae Im (35-1) took a quick week back home to South Korea to win a Korean Tour event at the Woon Financial Group Championship held in his hometown.

Last year’s PGA runner-up, Will Zalatoris, currently ranked OWGR No. 9, is out for the season with back surgery. Two other top-10 ranked players are Max Homa and Jordan Spieth both priced at 40-1. Spieth did withdraw from the AT&T Byron Nelson in his hometown of Dallas with a wrist injury last week.

The Event

The 105th PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., for the first time since 2013. Oak Hill has hosted the PGA on three previous occasions:

1980: Jack Nicklaus (-6/274)

2003: Shaun Micheel (-4/276)

2013: Jason Dufner (-10/270)

The PGA of America was founded in 1916 by one-time American department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker and the PGA Championship trophy bears his name. From 1916 to 1957, the PGA was a match-play event.

Walter Hagen recorded five wins (the joint most in the tournament’s history), with players such as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson also claiming the trophy during the match-play era.

Jack Nicklaus tied Hagen for most wins in the stroke-play era, winning five times between 1963-1980, with his fifth and final PGA Championship coming at Oak Hill.

Tiger Woods is third on that list of most PGA Championship wins with four, twice defending his title in 2000 and 2007. Gary Player and Lee Trevino, along with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson in recent times, are among the players to hoist the Wanamaker trophy more than once.

The first of Rory McIlroy’s PGA Championship wins in 2012 at Kiawah Island saw him win by a huge eight strokes, the highest winning margin in the tournament’s history, while in 2015, Jason Day’s -20 at Whistling Straits broke the record for lowest winning score in the event.

Justin Thomas won a thrilling renewal of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills last year, in what was the most challenging edition since 2008. After Chile’s Mito Pereira made the inexplicable mistake of finding the water on 18 while holding a one-shot lead, Thomas and Will Zalatoris finished tied atop the leaderboard at -5, and Thomas beat his less experienced counterpart by shooting -2 in the three-hole playoff for his second PGA Championship victory.

Thomas returns to defend this week at Oak Hill Country Club, looking to become the ninth player to win back-to-back PGA Championships; a feat most recently achieved by Koepka in 2018 and 2019.

In line with the other majors, winning the PGA gains privileges that improve career security. PGA champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open) and The Players Championship for the next five years and are eligible for the PGA Championship for life. They receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons and on the DP World Tour for the following seven seasons. The PGA Championship is the only one of the four majors that is exclusively for professional players as amateurs do not participate. Furthermore, 20 PGA of America licensed teachers and club professionals enter the event. In all, 156 players are in this week’s field and the low 70 and ties will make the weekend.

Here is the list of the 156 players in the field this week for the PGA Championship and the criteria for which they qualified to play this week:

1. All past winners of the PGA Championship

Keegan Bradley (10,12), Jason Day (10), Pádraig Harrington, Brooks Koepka (3), Rory McIlroy (8,10,12), Shaun Micheel, Phil Mickelson, Collin Morikawa (4,10), Justin Thomas (5,8,10), Jimmy Walker, Y. E. Yang

John Daly, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh will not play.

Paul Azinger, Rich Beem, Mark Brooks, Jack Burke Jr., Steve Elkington, Raymond Floyd, Al Geiberger, Wayne Grady, David Graham, John Mahaffey, Larry Nelson, Bobby Nichols, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Price, Jeff Sluman, Dave Stockton, Hal Sutton, David Toms, Lee Trevino, Bob Tway, Lanny Wadkins and Tiger Woods are other eligible players who are either inactive or injured and were not in the original field.

2. Recent winners of the Masters (2019-2023)

Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama (10), Jon Rahm (3,10,12), Scottie Scheffler (5,10,12)

3. Recent winners of the U.S. Open (2018-2022)

Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Fitzpatrick (8,10,12), Gary Woodland (10)

4. Recent winners of the British Open (2017-2022)

Shane Lowry (10), Francesco Molinari, Cameron Smith (5,8), Jordan Spieth (10)

5. Recent winners of The Players Championship (2021-2023)

6. The top three on the Official World Golf Ranking’s International Federation Ranking List as of April 24, 2023.

Kazuki Higa, Sihwan Kim, Ockie Strydom

7. Current Senior PGA Champion

Steven Alker

8. The leading 15 players, and those tying for 15th place, in the 2022 PGA Championship

Abraham Ancer, Tommy Fleetwood (10), Tyrrell Hatton (10), Lucas Herbert, Tom Hoge (10), Max Homa (10,12), Chris Kirk (10,12), Mito Pereira, Séamus Power (10,12), Davis Riley (10,12), Justin Rose (10,12), Xander Schauffele (10), Brendan Steele, Cameron Young (10)

Will Zalatoris (10,12) out with injury.

9. The leading 20 players in the 2023 PGA Professional Championship

Alex Beach, Michael Block, Matt Cahill, Anthony Cordes, Jesse Droemer, Chris French, Russell Grove, Steve Holmes, Colin Inglis, Ben Kern, J.J. Killeen, Greg Koch, Kenny Pigman, Gabe Reynolds, Chris Sanger, Braden Shattuck, John Somers, Josh Speight, Jeremy Wells, Wyatt Worthington II

10. Top 70 eligible players from special money list on the PGA Tour from the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson to the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship

Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Hayden Buckley, Sam Burns (12), Patrick Cantlay (12), Wyndham Clark (12), Corey Conners (12), Cameron Davis, Harris English, Tony Finau (12), Rickie Fowler, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Nick Hardy (12), Brian Harman, Russell Henley (12), Billy Horschel (12), Viktor Hovland, Mark Hubbard, Mackenzie Hughes (12) Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim (12), Tom Kim (12), Kurt Kitayama (12), Matt Kuchar, KH Lee, Denny McCarthy, Keith Mitchell, Taylor Montgomery, Taylor Moore (12), Trey Mullinax (12), Taylor Pendrith, J. T. Poston (12), Andrew Putnam, Chez Reavie (12), Patrick Rodgers, Sam Ryder, Adam Schenk, Adam Scott, J. J. Spaun, Scott Stallings, Sepp Straka, Adam Svensson (12), Nick Taylor, Sahith Theegala, Brendon Todd, Aaron Wise, Brandon Wu

11. Playing members of the 2021 Ryder Cup teams, who are ranked within the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking as of May 7, 2023[c]

12. Winners of official tournaments on the PGA Tour from the 2022 PGA Championship until the start of the 2023 championship

Nico Echavarría, Matt Wallace

13. PGA of America invitees

Adri Arnaus, Dean Burmester, Paul Casey, Joel Dahmen, Luke Donald, Ryan Fox, Talor Gooch, Ben Griffin, Nicolai Højgaard, Rasmus Højgaard, Rikuya Hoshino, Zach Johnson, Sadom Kaewkanjana, Kevin Kisner, Anirban Lahiri, Pablo Larrazábal, Thriston Lawrence, Min Woo Lee, Robert MacIntyre, Maverick McNealy, Adrian Meronk, David Micheluzzi, Joaquín Niemann, Alex Norén, Thorbjørn Olesen, Adrián Otaegui, Yannik Paul, Victor Perez, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed, Callum Shinkwin, Webb Simpson, Jordan Smith, Justin Suh, Ben Taylor, Davis Thompson, Harold Varner III

14. If necessary, the field is completed by players in order of PGA Championship points earned (per 10)

Thomas Detry, Beau Hossler, Matthew NeSmith, Danny Willett

Alternates who gained entry

Alex Smalley (replaced Davis Love III), Lee Hodges (replaced Vijay Singh), David Lingmerth (replaced Jason Dufner), Callum Tarren (replaced Martin Kaymer), Eric Cole (spot reserved for AT&T Byron Nelson winner), Stephan Jaeger (replaced John Daly).

The Course

Upon completion of the 2008 Senior PGA Championship, Oak Hill became the only club to have hosted all six of the United States’ rotating men’s major championships (2x US Amateur twice, U.S. Open three times, PGA Championship three times, Ryder Cup once, U.S. Senior Open once Senior PGA Championship once).

The East Course at Oak Hill Country Club was originally designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1926. Oak Hill went through a major renovation in 2019 at the hand of restoration expert Andrew Green, whose aim was to return the course as much as possible to Ross’ original design while keeping it in touch with the modern game and ready for major championship golf.

That renovation involved the installation of new back tees, meaning the course will play more than 200 yards longer than when we last saw it. The par-70 now measures 7,394 yards for the sixth-longest course on tour.

The renovation further entailed the building of two new holes from scratch: the par-3 fifth and the lengthy par-4 sixth, which Green describes as “By far the hardest hole on the entire property.” The old poa/bentgrass greens were replaced with pure bentgrass and restored the typical Ross shapes and undulations of the greens. The course was also opened up by significantly reducing the number of trees and both the movement and replacement of bunkers.

Despite the removal of many trees, the course remains predominantly tree-lined but still provides players with a chance to reach the greens even if they miss the fairways, although it will be more difficult than it sounds.

The bentgrass/poa annua fairways, at just 27 yards wide, are the fifth-most narrow on tour. They are protected by strategically placed bunkers aside most — which Green says will be extremely penal — as well as typically testing major championship rough, a mixture of rye, bentgrass and fescue, which will measure at three to four inches and will play as extremely penal.

The players will be hitting small greens — averaging 4,500 square feet (fourth smallest on tour) — and undulating, many of which slope from back to front and are well bunkered, with run-off areas and plenty of false fronts. The greens will also run between 12-13 on the stimpmeter for a typical major championship speed.

Allen Creek runs throughout the property and is in play on six holes (1, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 13). At the aforementioned lengthy par-4 sixth, the creek hugs the right side of the fairway and the entire left side of the green. The creek will force a couple of layups and make the course play a bit longer than the listed yardage.

The par-5s both measure over 600 yards and are not gimme birdie opportunities.

The par-3s possess some of the most well-bunkered greens on the course and though the fifth and 15th are relatively short at 180 and 155 yards, respectively, they’re countered by the mammoth 245-yard 11th and long 230-yard third.

Finally, the par-4s offer great variety, with the drivable 320-yard 14th, sub 400-yard 12th and three more at 430 or less offering some chance to attack, but they are joined by six par-4s that measure above 460, including a difficult duo to close — the 502-yard 17th and 497-yard 18th — which will likely determine victory or defeat.

Oak Hill has a strong correlation with other classical designs based in the Northeast that have hosted major championships including Bethpage Black, Winged Foot and the Country Club at Brookline. Further correlations include Torrey Pines South, Kiawah Island, Southern Hills, Olympia Fields, Muirfield Village, Augusta National and Aronimink (another Donald Ross design).

PGA Championship Recent History/Winners

2022: Justin Thomas (-5/275) Southern Hills; 16-1*

2021: Phil Mickelson (-6/282) Kiawah Island; 250-1

2020: Collin Morikawa (-13/267) TPC Harding Park; 35-1

2019: Brooks Koepka (-8/272) Bethpage Black; 10-1

2018: Brooks Koepka (-16/264) Bellerive; 20-1**

2017: Justin Thomas (-8/276) Quail Hollow; 45-1

2016: Jimmy Walker (-14/266) Baltusrol; 125-1

2015: Jason Day (-20/268) Whistling Straits; 14-1

2014: Rory McIlroy (-16/268) Valhalla; 5-1***

2013: Jason Dufner (-10/270) Oak Hill; 40-1

2012: Rory McIlroy (-13/275) Kiawah Island; 20-1

2011: Keegan Bradley (-8/272) Atlanta Athletic; 175-1****

2010: Martin Kaymer (-11/277) Whistling Straits; 50-1*****

Playoff win over Will Zalatoris – *

All-time PGA Championship 72-hole scoring record – **

Largest margin of victory at PGA Championship – ***

Playoff win over Jason Dufner – ****

Playoff win over Bubba Watson – *****

PGA Championship Recent Trends

  • ​10 of the last 13 PGA champions have been younger than 30 years of age.
  • 9 of the last 12 PGA champions have been Americans.
  • 6 of the last 11 PGA Champions were ranked in the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) top 10.
  • 7 of the last 11 and 4 of the last 6 PGA champions had already picked up at least one victory earlier in the season.
  • 10 of the last 12 PGA champions had earned at least a top-20 finish in their previous starts before the PGA.
  • 11 of the last 14 PGA champions had 5 or fewer starts in the PGA.
  • 10 of the last 11 PGA champions had at least a top-20 or better in their previous starts.
  • 16 of the last 17 PGA champions had at least a top-30 or better in their previous starts.

Statistical Analysis

Seventeen of the last 18 PGA Championships featured a winner averaging more than 290 yards off the tee. Especially more recently, Justin Thomas (twice), Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka (twice), Jason Day and Rory McIlroy (twice) all ranked near the top for driving distance on the PGA Tour. The 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill favored accuracy over distance, but it is more than likely to be the opposite this year.

Strokes Gained: Off The Tee (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 34.5
  2. Patrick Cantlay 33.9
  3. Hayden Buckley 28.5
  4. Bryson DeChambeau 28.4
  5. Gary Woodland 26.9
  6. Viktor Hovland 26.1
  7. Keith Mitchell 25
  8. Tyrrell Hatton 24.5
  9. Brendan Steele 23.7
  10. Cameron Young 23.1
  11. Joaquin Niemann 22.9
  12. Rory McIlroy 21.9
  13. Corey Conners 21.6
  14. Brian Harman 21.5
  15. Anirban Lahiri 20.2
  16. Sungjae Im 19.9
  17. Davis Thompson 19.5
  18. Cam Davis 18.6
  19. Abraham Ancer 18.5
  20. Jon Rahm 17.9
  21. Dean Burmester 17.7
  22. Jason Day 17
  23. Tony Finau 16.6
  24. Mito Pereira 15.5
  25. Matt Fitzpatrick 14.1

Driving Distance Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Bryson DeChambeau 24
  2. Rory McIlroy 23.5
  3. Nicolai Hojgaard 20.7 (28 rounds)
  4. Cameron Young 20.6
  5. Adri Arnaus 20.1 (24 rounds)
  6. Callum Shinkwin 17 (10 rounds)
  7. Min Woo Lee 14.7
  8. Dean Burmester 13.7
  9. Ryan Fox 13.7
  10. Keith Mitchell 13.5
  11. Dustin Johnson 12.7
  12. Trey Mullinax 12.4
  13. Jon Rahm 11.2
  14. Scottie Scheffler 11
  15. Adam Scott 10.9
  16. Gary Woodland 10.7
  17. Wyndham Clark 10.3
  18. Jimmy Walker 9.9
  19. Sam Burns 9.2
  20. Davis Thompson 9.1
  21. Rasmus Hojgaard 8.9
  22. Matt Wallace 8.7
  23. Cam Davis 8.7
  24. Mito Pereira 7.9
  25. Patrick Cantlay 7.8

Note: Average Yards Gained Per Drive

Strokes Gained Approach is always the best indicator of overall iron play. However, we can also look at approach shots from specific distances. Long- to mid-iron ranges are where well over half of the approach shots will be taken. There will not be many short irons and wedges on approach here. The most common lengths will be 200 or more yards and 175-200 yards.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tony Finau 40.4
  2. Xander Schauffele 37.2
  3. Collin Morikawa 36.8
  4. Scottie Scheffler 36.7
  5. Wyndham Clark 36.3
  6. Paul Casey 34.3
  7. Rickie Fowler 33.8
  8. Tom Hoge 33.6
  9. Mito Pereira 31.6
  10. Jon Rahm 31.1
  11. Brendan Steele 30.9
  12. Max Homa 28.8
  13. Harold Varner III 28.3
  14. Gary Woodland 26.2
  15. Corey Conners 25.2
  16. Tyrrell Hatton 24.1
  17. Cameron Smith 24
  18. Rory McIlroy 22.9
  19. Tommy Fleetwood 20.3
  20. Justin Thomas 19.3
  21. Viktor Hovland 19
  22. Tom Kim 18.9
  23. Davis Riley 18.8
  24. Sepp Straka 17.7
  25. Jason Day 17.3

Proximity Gained 200+ Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 28
  2. Jon Rahm 27.5
  3. Gary Woodland 26.5
  4. Bryson DeChambeau 20.5
  5. Tom Kim 19.8
  6. Tony Finau 19.6
  7. Patrick Cantlay 18.7
  8. Harold Varner III 18
  9. Chez Reavie 17.7
  10. Adam Svensson 17
  11. Dean Burmester 16.9
  12. Mito Pereira 16.3
  13. Thorbjorn Olesen 16
  14. Adam Scott 14.8
  15. Davis Thompson 14.7
  16. Nick Hardy 14.4
  17. Rory McIlroy 14.4
  18. Xander Schauffele 14.4
  19. Paul Casey 13.5
  20. Brendan Steele 13.2
  21. Viktor Hovland 13.1
  22. Collin Morikawa 12.4
  23. Cameron Young 12.4
  24. Davis Riley 12.1
  25. Keegan Bradley 12

Note: Average Feet Gained Per Shot

Proximity Gained 175-200 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Taylor Pendrith 16.6
  2. Abraham Ancer 16
  3. Jon Rahm 15.6
  4. Gary Woodland 15.2
  5. Collin Morikawa 14.6
  6. Brendan Steele 14.2
  7. Chez Reavie 12.7
  8. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 12.7
  9. Trey Mullinax 11.9
  10. Rory McIlroy 11.7
  11. Keegan Bradley 11.3
  12. Cameron Young 11.1
  13. Anirban Lahiri 10.8
  14. Emiliano Grillo 10.5
  15. Si Woo Kim 10.5
  16. Sam Ryder 10.4
  17. Wyndham Clark 10.4
  18. Brooks Koepka 9.7
  19. Justin Thomas 9.6
  20. Hideki Matsuyama 9.1
  21. Xander Schauffele 9
  22. Justin Rose 8.5
  23. Tony Finau 8.4
  24. Scottie Scheffler 8.4
  25. J.J. Spaun 8

Note: Average Yards Gained Per Shot

Bunkers have been reconfigured at Oak Hill to be hazards, so sand play is even more important this week as is play around the green with the closely mown areas around the greens and lower GIR percentages.

Strokes Gained Around The Green (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Brendon Todd 21.3
  2. Matt Kuchar 20.3
  3. Ben Griffin 19.9
  4. Justin Thomas 19.7
  5. Jimmy Walker 19.5
  6. Chris Kirk 18.4
  7. Talor Gooch 17.1
  8. Tommy Fleetwood 16.6
  9. Sungjae Im 15.6
  10. Scottie Scheffler 13.8
  11. Steven Alker 13.7
  12. Mackenzie Hughes 13.3
  13. Patrick Reed 13.3
  14. Hideki Matsuyama 13.1
  15. Jason Day 13.1
  16. Danny Willett 12.6
  17. Beau Hossler 12.5
  18. Taylor Montgomery 11.8
  19. Harold Varner III 11.7
  20. Jordan Spieth 11.6
  21. Matt Wallace 11.2
  22. Sahith Theegala 11
  23. Alex Noren 10.2
  24. Rory McIlroy 10

Sand Saves Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Matt Kuchar 16.2
  2. Ben Griffin 12.2
  3. Maverick McNealy 10
  4. Si Woo Kim 9.6
  5. Justin Rose 9.6
  6. Jason Day 8.6
  7. Patrick Rodgers 8.6
  8. Brendon Todd 8.2
  9. Jordan Spieth 7.8
  10. Patrick Reed 7.8
  11. Danny Willett 7.8
  12. Andrew Putnam 7.1
  13. Chris Kirk 6.9
  14. Tony Finau 6.6
  15. Talor Gooch 6.4
  16. Keith Mitchell 6
  17. Brian Harman 5.9
  18. Sahith Theegala 5.9
  19. Y.E. Yang 5.9
  20. Harold Varner III 5.4
  21. J.T. Poston 5.3
  22. Denny McCarthy 5.3
  23. Justin Thomas 5.2
  24. Cam Davis 5.2
  25. Adam Scott 5.1
  26. Pablo Larrazabal 5.1
  27. Luke Donald 5

Scrambling Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Maverick McNealy 21.2
  2. Jimmy Walker 20.8
  3. Matt Kuchar 19
  4. Danny Willett 17.5
  5. Jason Day 16.7
  6. Aaron Wise 16.6
  7. Sam Ryder 15.5
  8. Hideki Matsuyama 14.8
  9. Mackenzie Hughes 14.5
  10. Ben Griffin 14.1
  11. Max Homa 12.8
  12. Brendon Todd 12.6
  13. Adam Schenk 11.8
  14. Patrick Reed 10.7
  15. J.J. Spaun 10.7
  16. Sahith Theegala 10.5
  17. Sungjae Im 10
  18. Harris English 9.8
  19. Wyndham Clark 9.7
  20. Robert MacIntyre 9.6
  21. Nick Taylor 9.1
  22. Rickie Fowler 9
  23. Matt Fitzpatrick 8.9
  24. Sam Burns 8.6
  25. Alex Noren 8.6

The newer and purer bentgrass greens are easier to putt on for most players. However, it is still good to look at who the stronger bentgrass putters are for context.

Strokes Gained Putting Bentgrass Greens (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Patrick Cantlay 39.4
  2. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 36.8
  3. Maverick McNealy 35.7
  4. Beau Hossler 29
  5. Alex Noren 27.3
  6. Thorbjorn Olesen 27
  7. Brendon Todd 25.7
  8. Max Homa 24.3
  9. Patrick Rodgers 22.2
  10. Rory McIlroy 21.7
  11. Sam Burns 21
  12. Harris English 21
  13. Justin Rose 20.6
  14. Tony Finau 20.6
  15. Lucas Herbert 20
  16. Zach Johnson 19.7
  17. Denny McCarthy 19.2
  18. Andrew Putnam 19.1
  19. Cameron Smith 19.1
  20. Jon Rahm 18.2
  21. Sungjae Im 18.1
  22. Bryson DeChambeau 17.9
  23. Adam Svensson 17.2
  24. Mackenzie Hughes 17.2
  25. Abraham Ancer 16.8

The target score for the PGA of America and the course superintendents looks to be 10-12 under par, but with the early chilly conditions and possible wind, a winning score between 6 and 8 under par looks more realistic.

Strokes Gained Total Difficult Scoring Conditions (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 99.6
  2. Rory McIlroy 78.9
  3. Matt Fitzpatrick 71.7
  4. Cameron Smith 67.9
  5. Max Homa 66.1
  6. Tony Finau 65
  7. Paul Casey 64.6
  8. Collin Morikawa 59.7
  9. Sam Burns 57.6
  10. Jon Rahm 57.6
  11. Sungjae Im 57.3
  12. Keegan Bradley 57.3
  13. Justin Thomas 56.4
  14. Hideki Matsuyama 55.5
  15. Wyndham Clark 54.7
  16. Xander Schauffele 54.6
  17. Jordan Spieth 54.4
  18. Shane Lowry 53.9
  19. Tommy Fleetwood 49.7
  20. Jason Day 48.7
  21. Joaquin Niemann 47.2
  22. Denny McCarthy 47
  23. Patrick Cantlay 46.9
  24. Aaron Wise 46.8
  25. Dustin Johnson 46.3

Selections

Outrights

Rory McIlroy (14-1, DraftKings)

Last year, McIlroy finished in the top 5 in three of the four majors (eighth in PGA). He also ended 2022 and began 2023 with a seven-event streak of finishing fourth or better, including three victories (Tour Championship, CJ Cup, Dubai Desert Classic).

He has certainly cooled off enough from that form that the “big three” atop the market has become a “big two” with just Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler.

McIlroy missed the cut at The Players and the Masters. He was even disappointing in the Wells Fargo with a T-47 in an event he has won three times.

McIlroy did not look like he was having much fun playing at the Wells Fargo. Perhaps being the leader of the PGA Tour in its defense against LIV Golf is wearing on him.

This could be a decent spot to buy on a short drift coming to his wife’s hometown and coming back to a Donald Ross design as he has won three times at the Ross-designed East Lake for the Tour Championship, including last fall.

Xander Schauffele (19-1, PointsBet)

Based on recent major championship form, Schauffele is arguably at the top of the “best player never to win a major” list with six top-5s plus four additional top-10 finishes in 23 majors.

Although he is from Southern California, Schauffele has played terrific golf in the Northeast finishing sixth at the 2018 U.S. Open hosted at Shinnecock Hills, 16th at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black (eighth after 54 holes) and fifth at the 2020 U.S. Open hosted at Winged Foot. He also won last year’s Travelers Championship, which was played at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.

Next, he is in terrific form having reached the quarterfinals at the WGC Dell World Match Play and posting finishes of 10th at Augusta, fourth at Harbour Town, fourth at the pairs event (with Patrick Cantlay) in New Orleans and second at Quail Hollow two weeks ago.

Patrick Cantlay (20-1, Boyd Sports)

Cantlay has been consistently excellent for the past three months and ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total for that same time period, trailing only Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler.

He is second in this field for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee and leads the field for Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass greens over the last 36 rounds.

Like his regular Ryder and Presidents Cup partner Schauffele, he also has a victory in the Tour Championship on the Donald Ross-designed East Lake.

“Patty Ice” also has two victories in the Northeast and is twice a winner at The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village on similar bentgrass greens.

Tony Finau (25-1, PointsBet)

For many years Finau was branded as a player who could never put it all together. Fast forward to now and he has won four of his last 19 stroke-play events, including three weeks ago at the Mexico Open, holding off the event’s defending champion, OWGR No. 1 and Masters champion Jon Rahm.

Another one of those recent victories occurred last summer at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Donald Ross-designed Detroit Golf Club.

Finau is currently No. 1 on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Approach.

Cameron Young (35-1, DraftKings)

After a runner-up at the WGC Dell Match Play and a T-7 at the Masters, Young looked like he was primed to earn his first PGA Tour victory.

However, he has since gone T-51 at the RBC Heritage and T-59 at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Young first got a taste of major championship contention at last year’s PGA, finishing T-3 and then at the British Open as runner-up behind Cameron Smith.

Oak Hill should be a good spot for Young where he can use the best club in his bag, the driver, as more of a weapon.

Tyrrell Hatton (46-1, Boyd Sports)

Hatton has five top-6 finishes in 2023, including four of them in designated events.

Over the last two weeks, he finished T-3 at the Wells Fargo and T-5 at the Byron Nelson finishing with rounds of 65 and 64 on the weekend.

He has five top-10s in major championships, including two in the Northeast with a T-6 at Shinnecock Hills in the 2018 U.S. Open and a T-10 at Baltusrol in the 2016 PGA Championship.

Harris English (250-1, SuperBook Sports)

While Wyndham Clark and Xander Schauffele battled it out for the title two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo, English quietly finished T-3 (along with Tyrrell Hatton) and ranked second for the week for Strokes Gained Approach.

English also finished T-2 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational having led the field for Strokes Gained Putting and ranking second in the same category en route to a T-12 finish in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

He has also proven to be able to take to classical designs in majors on long courses, finishing fourth at Winged Foot in the 2020 U.S. Open and third the following year at Torrey Pines in the 2021 U.S. Open.

After winning twice in 2021, his 2022 season was plagued by injuries, but 2023 has shown a return to the form he showed two years ago in his career-best season.

Cam Davis (250-1, Circa Sports)

Davis is another who has a win on a Donald Ross design having emerged victorious at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

The Australian also has two recent quality finishes in designated events with a sixth at The Players and a seventh at the RBC Heritage.

Props

Dean Burmester (8-5 Low South African, DraftKings)

Burmester comes in with three top-1