Can Jon Rahm continue to be The Man? Will Scottie live up to his superlative stats? Can Justin do it again? Will the real Rory please stand up? There are plenty of intriguing plotlines heading into the PGA Championship on Thursday.
It’s time for the second golf major of the season, which will take place at Oak Hill Country Club in the suburbs of Rochester, NY.
The course should be familiar to the pros and golf fans alike, as it has hosted many of the biggest tournaments on the Tour. Oak Hill has hosted three PGA Championship tournaments, the most recent of which was in 2013. The event will take place on the east course, which is a lengthy par-70 that measures 7,394 yards.
The course has changed slightly since 2013, as fairways were widened and trees were cut down – taking away some challenges of the course. However, the greens are small and fairways still relatively narrow, meaning the ability to drive for length and accuracy, coupled with a solid approach game, will be keys to performing well.
Scottie Scheffler (Tipico odds: +750) is currently the co-favorite, and both his history and current form justify his relatively short odds. His last win came nearly two months ago at the Players Championship, but he leads the tour in strokes gained tee-to-green in 2023.
That’s an important metric at Oak Hill, given the length and challenging nature of getting to the green. We also know Scheffler doesn’t shy away from the big moment, as he won the 2022 Masters and finished second at the U.S. Open in the same year. He did miss the cut in the 2022 PGA Championship, so he’ll be looking to avenge that outcome.
The other favorite is Jon Rahm (+750). He won The Masters five weeks ago and has three additional victories in 2023. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he leads the tour in strokes gained and is currently the top-ranked golfer in the world rankings. There’s virtually no case on paper to be made against him.
Scheffler and Rahm stand out in a tier of their own, but after that, the field opens up quite a bit. Two golfers with top-six odds worth highlighting are Xander Schauffele (+1500) and Tony Finau (+2000).
Schauffele has the third-best scoring average of the entire field in 2023, behind Rahm and Scheffler. He’s in a considerable win drought — his last victory came in July of 2022 — but he has been knocking on the door in 2023. Since his top-10 finish at the Masters, he finished fourth at the RBC Heritage and second at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Finau is an outlier since he’s 12th in the World Golf Ranking. He’s averaging 4.82 birdies per round and is generally among the best golfers in his approach to the green. Putting is his downfall, but if he can hit on that part of his game this weekend, he should compete.
Brooks Koepka (+2000) has been off the radar after knee and hip injuries ended his 2020 season. He then departed to LIV Golf last year (LIV golfers can still play in the PGA’s four majors).
Despite those factors, it’s impossible to look past Koepka’s history in major tournaments. He’s won the PGA Championship twice in his career (2018 and 2019) and finished tied for second at the event in 2021. He’s also coming off a second-place finish at The Masters.
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We can also look to some longer shots who seemingly have strengths that fit the course well. Viktor Hovland (+3000) doesn’t have the power in his game to quite match Finau, but he is elite with his driver and iron play. His putting also leaves something to be desired. At 25 years old, his game resembles something of a less mature Finau, and his odds also reflect that.
Tyrell Hatton (+3500) boasts a more well-rounded game and has shown excellent – albeit inconsistent – form in 2023. He’s finished in every position from second to sixth in tournaments this season, with the only thing missing being a win.
We can’t wrap up this preview without mentioning two more names. Rory McIlroy (+1300) can’t be dismissed, but he’s more of a wild card than he would be at just about any other point in recent years. He missed the cut at The Masters, proceeded to take time off to recover mentally, and then played poorly at the Wells Fargo Championship en route to a 47th place finish.
Justin Thomas (+3000) is the defending champ, though he’s been off his game. He’s been fine with the driver, but the rest of his game has been poor. If he weren’t the 2022 winner, he would have been ignored in this column.
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