Off the Record – PGA Championship

PGA Championship

Early in 1916, Rodman Wanamaker, a sportsman, and heir to a department store empire summoned some friends including prominent golfer Walter Hagen to discuss the formation of a national organization for professional golfers. At the time, professional golfers were still considered hired help and Wanamaker wanted to change that. His meeting resulted in the formation of The PGA of America, which would host a professional-only tournament. Wanamaker put up $2,500 of his own money for the prize fund and ordered a silver cup to be played for. Thus, the Wanamaker Trophy was born.

Southern Hills Country Club was built by Perry Maxwell in 1935 during The Great Depression. Maxwell paid laborers 25 cents a day to work in the Oklahoma heat and built the entire course for $100,000. As part of the proposal for the land that was donated, Maxwell stipulated that the main clubhouse be built at the center of the south line of the property which looked directly to downtown Tulsa. Many argued that there could’ve been a better location for the clubhouse at the northern end of the property because it was flatter and had better access to the town. Fortunately, Maxwell’s plan prevailed and one of the most iconic opening tee shots and challenging finishing holes in all of golf was created and survives to this day.

This will be the 8th time that Southern Hills has hosted a major championship. Out of those 8 majors, 5 of those were PGA Championships, which is a record for most times hosting the major event. In 2019, golf architect Gil Hanse and his team did a historic renovation of Southern Hills which helped amplify Perry Maxwell’s genius design. The last time we saw Southern Hills host a major championship was back in 2007 when Tiger Woods won. It had tree-lined fairways and white saucer-shaped bunkers with bright white sand. Today, the course looks much different and will play as Maxwell intended. Maxwell’s primary course trademarks were his undulating greens and ability to use the existing natural topography to design challenging holes. “His genius came from recognizing Mother Nature’s design, his courses only slightly carved out the existing landscape”. This is one of the best courses for a major championship golf tournament.

 

Past Winners

2021 – Phil Mickelson (-6) Kiawah Island (Ocean Course)

2020 – Collin Morikawa (-13) TPC Harding Park

2019 – Brooks Koepka (-8) Bethpage Black

2018 – Brooks Koepka (-16) Bellerive

2017 – Justin Thomas (-8) Quail Hollow

2016 – Jimmy Walker (-14) Baltusrol

2015 – Jason Day (-20) Whistling Straights

2014 – Rory McIlroy (-16) Valhalla

2013 – Jason Dufner (-10) Oak Hill

2012 – Rory McIlroy (-13) Kiawah Island (Ocean Course)

 

Key Stats

  • SG: APP
  • SG: ARG
  • SG: Par 4
  • SG: OTT
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Fairways Gained/Good Drives
  • Major History
  • Recent Form

 

Top 10 SG:APP Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Will Zalatoris
  2. Viktor Hovland
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Justin Thomas
  5. Russell Henley
  6. Hideki Matsuyama
  7. Scottie Scheffler
  8. Shane Lowry
  9. Cameron Smith
  10. Max Homa

 

Top 10 SG: ARG Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Matt Kuchar
  2. Matt Jones
  3. Joaquin Niemann
  4. Chris Kirk
  5. Louis Oosthuizen
  6. Russell Henley
  7. Alex Cejka
  8. Bernd Wiesberger
  9. Rory McIIroy
  10. Adam Hadwin

 

Top 10 SG: Par 4 Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Cameron Young
  3. Cameron Smith
  4. Billy Horschel
  5. Jon Rahm
  6. Brian Harman
  7. Xander Schauffele
  8. Joaquin Niemann
  9. Louis Oosethuizen
  10. Justin Thomas

 

Top 10 SG: OTT Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Jon Rahm
  2. Cameron Young
  3. Cameron Champ
  4. Max Homa
  5. Sergio Garcia
  6. Rory McIlroy
  7. Corey Conners
  8. Mito Pereira
  9. Sebastian Munoz
  10. Brian Harman

 

Top 10 Bogey Avoidance Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Matt Fitzpatrick
  2. Shane Lowry
  3. Justin Thomas
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners
  6. Sepp Straka
  7. Rory McIlroy
  8. Robert Macintyre
  9. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  10. Will Zalatoris

 

My Thoughts

10k+

Scottie Scheffler is the highest-priced golfer in the field for the second major in a row. We know what happened the last time he was priced here at the Masters. Even with the win at Augusta, Scottie doesn’t appear to be that popular this week. Scottie won the 2015 Big 12 Tournament as a freshman at this golf course when he played at Texas. He has gone on record saying that it is his favorite golf course. I know this doesn’t give him an advantage but at least he has a history with the course and enjoys it. Scheffler’s game and recent form are everything you could want for the highest-priced golfer in the range. The worst finish he has had in his last 7 major championship appearances is a 19th. I would be shocked if Scottie won back-to-back majors but he doesn’t have to at his price in order to be optimal on DraftKings.

Jon Rahm returned to the winner’s circle after his performance at the Mexico Open. It was good to see because Rahm has played extremely well this year and has had chances to win but couldn’t close out the tournaments. His performance at the Masters wasn’t that great to his standards with a 27th but he backed it up with a win. The win and price savings are enough to make him higher owned than Scottie. Rahm has four top 10s in his last five major championship appearances. The only issue I could see with Rahm would be his short game.

Justin Thomas won his only major championship at the PGA in 2017. Thomas also won the Players in 2021. The last time Thomas missed a cut was at last year’s PGA Championship. Since that missed cut he has some incredible form with nine top 10s. The only thing that has been keeping Thomas from winning a tournament has been the flat stick. If we think the course will play as difficult as it seems, I think it helps a person like Thomas because he won’t have to get as hot with the putter to win. This isn’t a TPC Craig Ranch type venue where he needs to make every putt. Par will be a good score and I like Thomas in those types of tournaments. I am not alone because he does project to be one of the most popular players in this range.

Collin Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park with one of the best final-round performances I have ever seen. He backed it up with a win in his first appearance at The Open championship. He has shown the pedigree to win major championships. He is without a doubt one of the best approach players in this entire field. The only issue he has is some short game flaws. You won’t be able to hit every green at Southern Hill especially if the wind picks up and that can worry me with a guy like Morikawa. That was the same worry I had back in April at the Masters and he finished 5th. He projects to be one of the lowest owned players in this range and I love the idea of going to him in tournaments. He is the only golfer in the field that has won a major championship in each of the past 2 years. It’s hard to win a major championship without a good short game and Morikawa has done well enough with his short game to win two of them.

Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major championship in 8 years. That’s hard to believe from a player with Rory’s talent level. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if Rory ended his major championship drought and won this week with his recent form. He had a 5th at the Wells Fargo and a very impressive solo 2nd at the Masters. Rory also won the 2012 and 2014 PGA Championships. He projects to be one of the most popular players in this range. Rory doesn’t have a single flaw in his game when he gets on Bentgrass greens and I don’t see any issue why he couldn’t win this week. He provides great value at his price from an odds perspective as well.

 

9k+

Viktor Hovland kicks off the 9k range and he has some ties to the area because he went to college at Oklahoma State. Hovland is a premier ball striker that has the potential to fire the lowest round of the day anytime he tees it up. He hasn’t played in a normal event since the Masters where he finished 27th. Hovland hasn’t shown upside in major championships just yet with his best finish coming at The Open Championship in 2021 with a 12th. He has some short game issues if his approach play is off. He makes for a great tournament play because he won’t be that popular.

Cameron Smith is coming off a missed cut at the RBC Heritage. If it wasn’t for Scottie Scheffler, we would be talking about how great of a year Smith is having with his 3rd place at the Masters and winning the Players Championship. He has shown up in these bigger events and played some of his best golf. Besides the Masters, he hasn’t played well in major championships throughout his career with only one top 20 finish. Cam has one of the best short games in the entire field. He doesn’t project to be that popular and will also make for a great tournament play.

Jordan Spieth has only been beaten by one golfer in his last two tournaments since his missed cut at the Masters. The craziest thing is that he hasn’t been doing anything with the putter in those tournaments either. He is chasing the career grand slam this week and this might be one of the best venues for his game that we have seen for the PGA in quite some time. As a fan of golf, I really hope he can get it done this week and how suiting would it be for it to happen right down the road from his home state. The only issue Jordan use to have with his game was off the tee but he has gained strokes in his last 2 events. He will be the most popular golfer in this range but for good reason.

Dustin Johnson is coming off a 59th place finish at the Byron Nelson. He hasn’t had the best form this year but he finished 12th at the Masters and 9th at the Players. Throughout his entire career, he has shown up at these bigger events. He is projected to be less than 10% owned and I guess that is strictly based on the recent form. I think he provides great value with upside.

Xander Schauffele had an extremely impressive final round at the Byron Nelson with a 61. At one point in his second round, he was well outside the cutline and he battled back to not only make the cut but increase his ownership at this week’s PGA. He now projects to be the most popular golfer in this range. What would his ownership be if he missed the cut? Crazy to think it could change that much after the way he looked through one and a half rounds last week. Xander has shown up in major championships with over nine top 10s in his entire career. He has the perfect game for this course so the ownership makes sense. He also provides a great value at his price.

Hideki Matsuyama also had a very impressive round at the Byron Nelson with a final round 62. Hideki is the only golfer in the entire world that can hit a fairway wood and make it land like a lob wedge on the green. He once again hit one of the best fairway woods you can see in that final round. The most encouraging thing besides his play was that he was healthy and was able to play in the entire tournament. Hideki hasn’t missed a cut in a major championship inside the United States since 2016. It’s only a matter of time before he wins another major championship. Bentgrass is also his best-putting surface. He offers extreme value with upside.

Patrick Cantlay battled in a playoff with Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage and finished 2nd. Then he teamed up with Xander to win the Zurich Classic. Cantlay put up some impressive ball-striking numbers at the RBC where he gained almost 9 strokes with his approach. That was encouraging to see especially after his missed cut at the Players and 39th place finish at the Masters. He is projected to be one of the most popular players in this range because he is a great value from an odds perspective. He is a world-class putter and his upside is holding the trophy.

Brooks Koepka withdrew last week from the Byron Nelson but he is still on track to tee it up this week at the PGA Championship. Brooks has shown the ability to just pop out of nowhere in major championship tournaments with little to no form at all. He is projected to be less than 7% owned and I can only see that number getting smaller. He has shown us the ability to win major championships in the past but I just haven’t seen him in this bad of form before. I will more than likely fade because I just can’t play everyone. It is a tough fade because he is an extreme value with his upside.

 

8k+

Will Zalatoris leads off the 9k range after his missed cut at the Byron Nelson. He lost over 4 strokes putting but the ball striking numbers still looked great. Zalatoris has also played really well in major championships. He has 4 top 10’s in 6 major tournaments. His ball-striking is some of the best in the entire world and his game can travel anywhere. The only worry you can have with a guy like him is the putting. A tournament that won’t have a lot of birdies like this one will only help a guy like Zalatoris because he doesn’t have to make every putt like a typical week. He does project to be one of the more popular plays in this range but for good reason.

Sam Burns crushed my soul last week with his missed cut on the number. I loved him before ownership was released and I wish I could’ve talked myself out of it after I saw how chalky he was. He comes into this week expecting to be one of the lower owned players in this range after back-to-back missed cuts. Burns’s best finish in a major championship the past 3 years has been a 76th. I just love the idea of playing Burns on Bermuda surfaces where he is a master on the greens. He hasn’t shown any upside in these types of tournaments for me to pay this price.

Shane Lowry has some of the best form in this entire field. In his last 5 tournaments, he has three finishes inside the top 3. In the other two tournaments, he finished 12th and 13th. That includes his 3rd place finish at the Masters. He has the perfect type of game for these types of tournaments because he is a grinder. Even if the winds pick up, he is the perfect type of golfer you would want. I am not alone because he projects to be the most popular play on the entire slate. The only reason you would fade Lowry would be the ownership. He is also an extreme value from an odds perspective for a past major winner.

Daniel Berger gained over 8.7 strokes ball-striking on his way to a 21st place finish at the RBC Heritage. Berger popped a couple of times at majors last year with two top 10s. He has the ability to do that from time to time because he can get extremely hot with his irons. I just always trust his putting more on Bermuda because that’s his preferred putting surface. He had really good finishes this year during the Florida swing but hasn’t shown much since. He won’t be that popular on DraftKings because he feels too expensive, so he makes for an excellent tournament play.

Joaquin Niemann struggled on Sunday after his good start at the Byron Nelson. He did the same thing at the Masters after a good start. The thing that was concerning about last week was that he lost over 2 strokes on his approach shots which is usually a strength of his game. The thing with Niemann that I always thought gave him the biggest issues was his short game. I was shocked when I saw that he actually ranked 3rd in the field the past 24 rounds around the green. His best finish in a major championship is a 23rd at the 2020 US Open. He projects to be one of the more popular plays in this range but has the perfect game for this type of tournament.

Bryson DeChambeau is recovering from hand surgery and as of now, he is still teeing it up this week. I will just take the wait-and-see approach with Bryson.

Tiger Woods is in the field this week after his 47th place finish at the Masters. At this point, I’m just thankful to see Tiger play at this level again. This course will be a way easier walk than what he had at Augusta. I would love to see Tiger around for the weekend but I’m just not quite sure if I will play him on DraftKings.

Max Homa battled all the conditions on his way to a win at the Wells Fargo. Max has really shown us the ability with his ball-striking and streaky putting that he has what it takes to close out a golf tournament. The only concern would be that we haven’t seen it in major championship tournaments, yet. The worst part of his game is his around-the-green play and that worries me at a course like this with the wind conditions. He will be popular on DraftKings but he makes for a good value from an odds perspective. Homa also posted on Twitter that after playing 9 holes that this was his favorite course. So I would assume he thinks it fits his game.

Tyrell Hatton hasn’t missed a cut this year on the PGA Tour but his best finishes came during the Florida Swing. His past major championship history isn’t that great either with his best finishes happening back in 2019. Hatton is typically a really great putter and that can carry his game at times. Bentgrass is his worst surface though and that worries me at this tournament. He won’t be that popular on DraftKings so he makes for an excellent tournament play.

Corey Conners had another decent finish at the Wells Fargo with a 21st-place finish. He has also finished really well in past major championships with four top 20 finishes over his last 5 tournaments. Two of those finishes were top 10’s and they both came at the Masters. He has been a DFS darling in major tournaments and he projects to be one of the most popular players in this entire range. He is one of the best ball strikers in the world and the only thing that typically lets him down is the flat stick. I think Conners makes for one of the best cash game plays on the entire slate.

Louis Oosthuizen hasn’t missed a cut since 2020. His game is perfect for major championships and he showed it last year with three top 3 performances. He did withdraw from the Masters with back issues. That’s the only worry with Louis. He doesn’t project to be that popular and he makes for an excellent tournament play.

 

7k+

Matthew Ftizpatrick had a 2nd place finish his last time out at the Wells Fargo. He has shown some really good form this year aside from the missed cut at the RBC Heritage. He just had one of his best major championship performances this year at the Masters. His game is perfect for major championships because he has an excellent short game. He will be a popular source of value and I can see him being one of the more popular players in this entire range. The worse the conditions get, the better he typically plays. I love the idea of playing Fitzpatrick where par is a good score.

Cameron Young has finished inside the top 3 in his last two tournaments. From a stats perspective, I don’t think anyone in the field would look better if you only looked at the past couple of rounds. He will also be one of the most popular plays in this entire range but he makes for an excellent source of value. The only worry I have with Young is that he missed the cut at the Players and the Masters. He makes for a great fade if you think he can’t handle these bigger tournaments.

Keegan Bradley is coming off a 2nd place finish at the Wells Fargo where he gained almost 10 strokes putting. The fact he was able to gain that many strokes putting in a tournament should’ve been enough for him to win with a normal ball-striking week. His irons let him down the one time his putter showed up. Keegan is always a safe value play because he typically has the ball striking it takes to make the cut. He’s only made one cut in a major since 2019.

 

6k+

Robert Macintyre has never missed a cut in a major championship. He has also flashed some upside with two top 10s. He had a 23rd place finish at the Masters and I love the idea of going to him for a value play.

Cameron Champ has been on a run of decent form ever since his top 10 at the Masters. He has popped in past major championships so I love the idea of taking a flyer on him at his price.

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