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BlogPGA Championship Preview and Picks

PGA Championship

August 9th – 12th, 2018

Bellerive Country Club

St. Louis, Missouri

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,316

Purse: $10.5 million (last year)

with $1,890,000 (Last Year to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

As of this minute when I write this on Monday night, the field includes 108 of the top 111 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Those not playing are #87 Bernd Wiesberger, #92 Joost Luiten, and #100 Whee Kim.  Hurt is Wiesberger (who had a surgical tendon stabilization 2 weeks ago for his wrist injury) and Joost Luiten (who also had his left wrist operated on last week).  Whee Kim was not invited

This year they were able to get 97 of the top-100, last year they could only get 97 of the top-100

The field includes all 25 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018 are in the field.

The field includes 25 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.

The field includes 16 past champions: Justin Thomas (2017), Jimmy Walker (2016), Jason Day (2015), Rory McIlroy (2014 & ’12), Jason Dufner (2013), Keegan Bradley (2011), Martin Kaymer (2010), Y.E. Yang (2009), Padraig Harrington (2008), Tiger Woods (1999, 2000, ’06 & ’07), Phil Mickelson (2005), Vijay Singh (2004 & 1998), Shaun Micheel (2003), Rick Beem (2002), David Love III (1997) and John Daly (1991).

33 major winners, led by multiple winners Tiger Woods (14), Phil Mickelson (5), Rory McIlroy (4), Padraig Harrington (3), Vijay Singh (3), Jordan Spieth (3), John Daly (2), Zach Johnson (2), Bubba Watson (2).

Players with 10 or more PGA TOUR victories: Tiger Woods (79), Phil Mickelson (43), Vijay Singh (34), Davis Love III (21), Dustin Johnson (19), Jim Furyk (17), Rory McIlroy (14), Adam Scott (13), Zach Johnson (12), Bubba Watson (12), Jason Day (12), Jordan Spieth (11), Sergio Garcia (10)

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the PGA Championship field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the PGA Championship field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the PGA Championship field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the PGA Championship

Player WGC Bridgestone Barracuda Canadian Open Porsche European The Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Irish Open Quicken Loans French Open Travelers
Francesco Molinari
(435.17 pts)
T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(264)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(317.33 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
Dustin Johnson
(247 pts)
T3
(135)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(244.33 pts)
T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Justin Rose
(230 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(216 pts)
68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Justin Thomas
(211.33 pts)
Win
(198)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T56
(0)
Kevin Kisner
(206.5 pts)
T39
(16.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(200)
DNP DNP DNP 55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tiger Woods
(201.83 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP
Andrew Putnam
(190.67 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP 79
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP
Kyle Stanley
(189 pts)
2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP T15
(11.67)
Tommy Fleetwood
(183.33 pts)
T14
(54)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Alex Noren
(182.5 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP
Tony Finau
(182.33 pts)
T10
(60)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP T9
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Eddie Pepperell
(180 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(177.67 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Rickie Fowler
(158.83 pts)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP 12
(25.33)
DNP DNP
Troy Merritt
(156.33 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(1)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Zach Johnson
(148.5 pts)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
Kevin Chappell
(143.17 pts)
T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(142.33 pts)
T48
(3)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T2
(66.67)
T38
(4)
Jason Day
(138.67 pts)
T10
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
Patrick Reed
(136.67 pts)
T28
(33)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T28
(44)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Fox
(132.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T44
(4)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(129.5 pts)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP
Chris Wood
(128 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP
Matt Kuchar
(127.33 pts)
T14
(54)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T9
(90)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(127.33 pts)
5
(105)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
J.J. Spaun
(121 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP T47
(1)
Julian Suri
(119.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(44)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 27
(15.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP
Charley Hoffman
(119.33 pts)
T53
(0)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP T17
(66)
DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Luke List
(117.67 pts)
T24
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(22)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Anirban Lahiri
(117 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T9
(15)
Paul Casey
(116.83 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
Kevin Na
(116.5 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the PGA Championship

Player WGC Bridgestone Barracuda Canadian Open Porsche European The Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier Irish Open Quicken Loans French Open Travelers
Chez Reavie
(-40 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Matt Wallace
(-40 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Martin Kaymer
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Padraig Harrington
(-32.33 pts)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP 74
(0)
Bill Haas
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T71
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Thomas Bjorn
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Branden Grace
(-20 pts)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Omar Uresti
(-18.33 pts)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(-17 pts)
T48
(3)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T67
(0)
Brice Garnett
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So for one last time, the PGA Championship will be played in August, starting next year the championship will be played at the end of May.  Since 1969 the tournament has been played in August, except for 1971 when it went to Florida in February.  So for years, the PGA Championship was always “the hottest major of the bunch” because it was played in places that were hot in August.  Last year was hot but probably not as hot as it was in 2007 at Southern Hills in Tulsa or Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011 and ’01.  But this week could break all records as both June and July St. Louis had the hottest months in history.  Come next year when Bethpage holds the PGA we won’t have shorts on and probably will have a jacket as temperatures won’t be this hot.

Lot’s of disappointment at Bridgestone

Sad to see Firestone hosting it’s last PGA Tour event.  I didn’t realize until I read a Dave Shedloski story in Golfworld that Firestone has hosted 88 tournaments since 1954.  In some years like 1974, there were three events held at Firestone: the World Series of Golf, CBS Golf Classic, and American Golf Classic.  Firestone has seen more TV time than any other course in golf, not even Augusta National.  So it was unfortunate.  I was also not very happy with the way several people played on the weekend.  How about Tiger Woods finishing 73-73 to finish T-31st.  Let’s face it; maybe Tiger can’t do it, perhaps he may never win again.  Woods has shown great promise and hints of the old Tiger, but at the same time, there is no consistency in Tiger’s game.  He hasn’t been able to play consistent golf for 72 holes, yes maybe Valspar but on his final 14 holes, he only had one birdie.  He also finished strong at the Quicken Loans with rounds of 65-68-66, and he also was ok at Carnoustie, finishing T-6th.  But Tiger still has not been able to put that one last push on the final holes to win.  After this week Tiger will play in the first two FedExCup events with an excellent chance of playing in the BMW Championship.  After that another question will be if he gets a berth onto the Ryder Cup team, I can’t see any reasons why captain Jim Furyk would not extend an invite to him, but we will have to wait and see.

Another disappointing finish for Rory

Hard to believe that Rory McIlroy shot a final round 73 playing in the last group on Sunday.  McIlroy only made one birdie on Sunday, on the 16th hole.  After looking so good through 54 holes, he again seems to have some problem playing on Sunday, and frankly, it’s got to be in his mind.  I still think that he is going to win before the Ryder Cup and this week’s course sets up for him. Still, I am gun-shy in picking him in any pool.  The most frustrating thing has to be playing well over the first three days and then falling flat on Sunday.  Hopefully, Rory will break out of this funk soon.

Jason Day has also been very inconsistent this year

Yes, Jason Day has won twice and was runner-up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am.  So for many, it would be a career year, five top-tens and $4.6 million in earnings, but I find Day’s year disappointing in many respects.  First the majors, in three starts he has a T-20th at the Masters, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and was T-17th at the British Open.  On Sunday he looked good at the Bridgestone, but just like Rory, Jason shot 73.  But Jason’s round was a bit different, after making birdies at 10, 11 and 12 he was 2 under for the day and was just 2 shots back of winner Justin Thomas.  But instead of finishing strong, Day finished bogey, bogey, par, double, bogey-par to go from possibly winning the championship to finishing T-10th.  Just like all of the great players on tour, Day is a complicated person, and sometimes he just doesn’t run on all cylinders, and it must be very frustrating for him.

Rickie Fowler also goes for 73 blows on Sunday

73 was a dubious number for many on Sunday at Firestone, and Rickie Fowler shot it in the final round.  He was downright terrible from the 7th through 11th holes as he went bogey, par, bogey, double, bogey and even though he wasn’t in the running it was another frustrating Sunday.  This year Fowler has only been in the running once, at the Masters.  After he finished 2nd at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and then winning the Hero in the Bahamas, we thought 2018 would be a blockbusting year for Fowler.  But after he finished T-4th at the Sentry T of C, he has struggled with his game.  Yes, he was 2nd a the Masters and T-8th at the Memorial, but after that, he was T-20th at the U.S. Open and T-28th at the British Open.  Now I have said this before but Rickie will win when you least expect it, and if there ever was a tournament that he can win, this is the week.  Just wonder if Rickie can pull things together.

Jon Rahm shots our favorite number, another 73

Rahm started the year very strong with a runner-up at the Sentry T of C and winner at the CareerBuilder.  After a 4th at the Masters and a T-5th at the Fort Worth Invitational he has struggled on the PGA Tour finishing T-63rd at the Players, missed cuts at the U.S. Open and British Open.  But in Europe, he won the Spanish Open the week after the Masters and was T-5th in the French Open and T-4th in Ireland.  At Bridgestone, he opened with a 64 but then shot 70-68-73.  In the final round, he was unable to make a single birdie, and again we wonder how someone as good as Rahm could be this way.  The big question, which Jon Rahm will show up in St. Louis, I think he could just as easily miss the cut as finishing high.

At least Jordan Spieth didn’t shot 73 on Sunday

No, he shot 74 and finished T-60th.   Jordan had one of his ugliest finishes on tour as he played his final four holes bogey, double, bogey, double.  We all know what is wrong with Jordan, he just has not been good with the putter.  We saw this happen before, most notably with Arnold Palmer who was unbeatable between 1958 and around 1965.  He was unbeatable because he made every putt he saw and when the putts didn’t go in, Palmer’s reign was short-lived.  Between 1957 and 1966 Palmer won 46 of his 62 PGA Tour victories.  But after he won 4 times in 1967, he won only 10 times after that, and it was because of his poor putting.  I see Spieth going down the same path, Spieth lives and dies with his putter, and he has struggled a lot this year.  Spieth has gone over a year now without a win, and it may seem hard to believe, but Spieth has only been in the top-8, 2 times with his T-3rd at Houston and then 3rd the next week at the Masters.  After missing the cut at Memorial and the U.S. Open, he got into the final round of the Masters in the last group with scores of 72-67-65.  But he struggled in the final round shooting 76 for another disappointing week.  So it was no surprise to see him shot 74 on Sunday at the Bridgestone and he comes to Bellerive looking to win all four majors has a big underdog.  We have seen streaks of brilliance from Jordan, but again you play 72 holes and if you have a terrible 18 holes or even an evil nine or bad five holes you won’t win and that is the case with Jordan.  Oh, this week Jordan will be trying to join the most unique club in golf, those that have won all four majors.  Only five men are a part of the club, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.  On the edge of getting into the club is Rory McIlroy, who needs to win the Masters, Phil Mickelson who needs to win the U.S. Open and Spieth.  It would be sweet irony if Speith could win on the same course that Gary Player won the Grand Slam on back in 1965.  But let’s face reality, this won’t be the week for Spieth, and he may never win again if his putting doesn’t improve.

If either Justin or Francisco or Dustin win this week, the Player of the Year race could be over.

All three have three victories this year.  All of them have had a great year, and if any one of them wins this week, you can say that the Player of the Year race will be over.  Now everyone loves the change of the PGA Championship to May, but it will be bizarre not having the PGA Championship in that last spot for determining the Player of the Year race.

Tournament information:

This is the 100th PGA Championship. The plans for the PGA Championship were created on January 16, 1916, at a meeting of a group of PGA Tour professionals including Walter Hagen. Their vision was to create a national championship that would rival the U.S. Open in terms of importance. Just months later, their vision came to reality as the first PGA Championship Match Play event was played at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, NY that year. Englishman Jim Barnes took home the inaugural crown.

After the inaugural tournament, the event took a two-year break from 1917 to 1918 because of World War I. The break in action didn’t phase Jim Barnes, as he went on to win the PGA Championship in its return to the Tour in 1919. Since the two-year hiatus, The PGA Championship has only seen one other break, that being in 1943 due to World War II. The most significant change in the event’s history occurred in 1958 when the format of the event was changed from Match Play to 72-hole stroke play.

The famed Wanamaker trophy, awarded to the winner of the PGA Championship, can trace its routes back to the beginning of golf equipment. In the early part of the 20th Century, A.G. Spalding & Bros. was the predominant maker of golf equipment; however, Rodman Wanamaker sought to create a company that would rival Spalding in the golf industry. Though his plan ultimately failed, his dream will always be remembered as he was the one that first sponsored the PGA Championship and the trophy, which today bears his name.

Course information:

  • Bellerive Country Club
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • 7,316 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • The original Bellerive course was built in 1897 and was close to downtown.  In the 1950s when the St. Louis population began shifting westward, the club decided to move to 353 acres of farmland 25 miles west of St. Louis. Under the direction of Hord Hardin, who would become the president of the USGA and chairman of Augusta National, Bellerive got Robert Trent Jones to design the course.
  • When the course opened in 1960, it was hailed as one of the toughest courses in all the country, and it hosted the 1965 U.S. Open. Looking back today, it wasn’t a very memorable course, lacking the tradition that most Open courses had and it wasn’t ready to hold a major championship.
  • Twenty-seven years later, in 1992, the PGA took its championship to Bellerive, and the course, now matured, proved to be an excellent site for a major, with golf-starved St. Louis a perfect host city. The 2001 American Express World Golf Championship, scheduled for September at Bellerive was canceled due to the events of 9-11. In 2004, Bellerive hosted the U.S. Senior Open with Peter Jacobsen winning.
  • The course has since undergone a major renovation by Rees Jones, who changed every hole, mostly reshaping the bunkering, rebuilding all the greens to improve drainage issues, and redoing all the fairways. Five holes were significantly altered including a new lake on Hole 2 that may be the most dramatic example of the beautification of the course. The putting surfaces have been reduced in size and now feature more undulations. Bunkers were added to the fairways, and greenside bunkers were reshaped and deepened. He also changed the character of holes  7 and 8 as the course will be a lot harder than the last time a championship was held there.
  • The greens are in danger because of the heat, and the PGA is careful not to cut them.  Now if the weather breaks and it gets cooler, it would be the best scenario, but the reality is the PGA will have to be careful in cutting the greens and losing them so that the greens will be soft and slow, thus look for really low scores this week.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Bellerive.

This year the PGA Championship is being played at Bellerive Country Club which is in St. Louis. The course has held several tournaments notably the 1965 U.S. Open won by Gary Player, the 1992 PGA Championship won by Nick Price, and the 2008 BMW Championship won by Camilo Villegas. The course also held the 2004 U.S. Senior Open won by Peter Jacobsen and the 2013 Senior PGA Championship won by Koki Idoki. The course was also supposed to hold the 2001 WGC-American Express Championship, but due to 9/11, the event was canceled.

The course held the 2008 BMW Championship and it was a success, Camillo Villegas won it by 2 shots over Dudley Hart. Of the 156 players in the field this year, only 14 played in the 2008 BMW (Jim Furyk-T-3rd, Brian Gay-T-13th, Phil Mickelson-T-17th, Sergio Garcia-T-20th, Kevin Streelman-T-22nd, Bubba Watson-T28th, J.B. Holmes-T-33rd, Chez Reavie-T-33rd, Vijay Singh-T-44th, Adam Scott-T-50th, Padraig Harrington-T-55th, Brandt Snedeker-T-55th, Charley Hoffman-T-60th and Stewart Cink-T-60th) championship and I can bet my house that no one from this list will win.
One thing, we can’t use the stats from that 2008 event since the remnants of a hurricane pelted Bellerive with three inches of rain, enough that the first round was moved to Friday. Only because the field was small did the tournament finish on Sunday.
So will weather play a significant part of this year’s PGA Championship? You bet, not only is rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, it will play a role in Saturday’s 3rd round. But along with the wet conditions will be sweltering and muggy days with each day being in the high 80s and low 90s, with high humidity. So it will be a tough test mentally, just like Quail Hollow was last year. It was no surprise that a Justin Thomas, who grew up in Kentucky and played most of his life in hot, sunny, muggy days.
Last year was easy for us since Quail Hollow held a regular tour event. This year for most of the field, they will be seeing Bellerive for the first time So with the predicted rain, the course will play differently. Bellerive will play to a par of 70 at 7,316 yards. The course will only have 2 par 5s playing 610 and 597 yards long, so there won’t be any easy birdie holes. Of the 12 par 4s, six will play over 450 yards with the 4th being played at 521 yards and the 10th being played at 508 yards; it will make for a tough go making birdies. Of the 4 par 3s they range from 148 to 237 yards so the course will be very tough. So Bellerive will play long and will put a premium on finding the fairway. The right is thick, and there are 25 strategically placed bunker’s that will be hard to get to the green. The fairways are Zoysia, which makes for a perfect lie, but with fescue fairways, you have to hit the fairway. So we can say that if a player is hitting it long and straight, plus hitting lots of greens they have a significant advantage. The bentgrass greens will be a big target as the average green is 8,200 square feet which means that lag putting will be critical. There are a total of 76 bunkers and water comes into play on six holes (2, 3, 6, 8, 11 and 17).
Now one of the things that could be a problem for the players is the condition of Bellerive’s greens. They are suffering from the combination of a very hot, muggy summer and even though the club had not only limited play but closed the course most of July the greens will be patchy and in some places look terrible. The advantage for the players is the PGA of America won’t be able to have quick, hard greens which you see in major championships. So shots to the green will hold, even from the rough and the greens will be easier to putt with fewer break-in putts, again due to the speed. So with that scores could get low.
So this week’s information is established on what we feel will be the most important stats for Bellerive, based on data from all PGA Tour players in the field with stats from 2018. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
First is strokes gained off the tee, it will be necessary for the 14 fairways to hit them and get the ball down the fairways. Our second stat is proximity to hole, of course hitting greens are essential but with fields as big as you find at Bellerive, you had better get them close, so this stat will be more important than hitting greens. The third stat is scrambling; even with big greens, players will miss them and have to get up and down. If you look at the history of the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, scrambling plays an important role and will for this week. Last we chose Strokes Gained putting, with the greens not being the best, making putts will be significant. Another key the greens will be slower because of the conditions so that it will bring more players into the mix.

Still, the secret is that this week a ball striker or an excellent putter will rule and take the championship.

*Strokes gained Off-the-Tee: Puts a premium on not only putting the ball in the fairway but also hitting it long

*Proximity to hole: Hitting greens is important, last year Quail Hollow ranked 12th, but in proximity to the hole, which tells how close players get to the hole, Quail Hollow ranked 6th as the players averaged getting it 40 feet.

*Scrambling: The percent of the time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Strokes gained Putting: A barometer on how a player is putting, places emphasis on making putts and three-putt avoidance.

Here are the 96 of 156 players from this year’s field with stats from 2018

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is a link to the other 86 players playing in the PGA Championship with PGA Tour stats for 2018.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,400
  • Rory McIlroy – $11,000
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,700
  • Rickie Fowler – $10,200
  • Tiger Woods – $9.900
  • Justin Thomas – $9,700
  • Brooks Koepka – $9,600
  • Justin Rose – $9,400
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,300
  • Francesco Molinari – $9,200
  • Jon Rahm – $9,100
  • Jason Day – $9,000
  • Patrick Reed – $8,900

Again for another week I am not entirely sold on Dustin Johnson, especially with a price tag of $11,400.  Yes, he won in Canada and shot 66-64 on the weekend to finish T-3rd.  But I still think that for this week Bellerive is not a course that suits his game.  Hey, I thought that Carnoustie suited Johnson’s game, and we saw what happened there, so anything is possible, but for me, I am staying away from Johnson.  As for Rory McIlroy at $11,000 I like him.  Yes, he has crapped all over himself in the final rounds this year, but I think just like what happened at the Arnold Palmer that he is a couple of good putting rounds away from winning.  Jordan Spieth at $10,700 should be a natural no for anyone, sorry the putting is not there, and I can’t see him putting it together for 72 holes.  Rickie Fowler at $10,200 is a yes, again he is floating under the radar screen, and that is when he is at his best.  Boy am I disappointed about Tiger Woods.  At $9,900 he is just too damn expensive, and he hasn’t proven that he is worth the money, don’t think he will do it this week.  Now Justin Thomas at $9,700 is in my eyes a bargain.  Have to wonder which brainchild at DraftKings put him at $9,700 and Dustin Johnson at $11,400.  Thomas played Bellerive earlier this summer and shot 65; I say he will have an excellent week.  Last week I thought that Thomas was super cheap at $8,800 and remembered to take a pass and looked what happened.  Anyways Thomas is back, and when he goes on these roles, it lasts for weeks.  Brooks Koepka at $9,600 is a reasonable price, remember he flew under the radar screen at last week at Firestone and finished T-5th.  Look for more of the same this week.  Justin Rose at $9,300 is going to take a leap of faith.  He played great on the weekend at Carnoustie but two weeks later comes up lame with a sore back.  In this day and age, bad backs give me the willy’s so I am taking a pass on him.  Tommy Fleetwood at $9,300 could be a perfect pick, yes he finished T-14th at Firestone but did shot 74-71 over the weekend.  Look for him to have that straightened out.  Francesco Molinari at $9,200 is probably a pass, I thought he would be tired last week at Firestone, and I was right, think things won’t be better this week.  Jon Rahm at $9,100 is a good pick, don’t worry about last week at Firestone, he shot 73 which ruined a good week.  Jason Day at $9,000 is also a good pick, yes he has been hit or miss this year, but I think he could be a hit this week.  Patrick Reed at $8,900 is another good pick, he has been pretty consistent since finishing T-2nd at the Valspar and will be ok this week and will at the least give you a top-20 finish.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,800 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Boy, a lot of crap in the high ranges with guys like Hideki Matsuyama at $8,800, Henrik Stenson at $8,700, Sergio Garcia at $8,500 and Phil Mickelson at $8,300 that you should run away from this week and for the rest of the year.  Alex Noren at $8,600 is a toss-up since the Match Play in March when he finished 3rd he has had lukewarm performances but was T-3rd at the BMW PGA and won the French Open.  So he is priced high but could be worth the price.  Love Patrick Cantlay at $8,400; he could be a winner this week.  Also, love Tony Finau at $8,100, he has had a great year and here is one important nugget.  Going into the PGA Championship he is the only player that has finished in the top-ten in the previous three majors, yes he will do well this week.  Paul Casey is also priced right at $8,000. Again you never know when he is going to spirit out of the gate, yes it could be this week. Another good price is Marc Leishman at $7,800, last week he opened up with a 65 in the first round at Firestone and finished T0-14th.  Joaquin Niemann at $7,600 is also an excellent price, matter of fact a bargain that you have to take.  Brandt Snedeker at $7,500 is also too good to be true, he was T-8 in Canada and T-3rd at Greenbrier, and he should add that yes he missed the cut at Carnoustie but still think you can’t pass him up

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the PGA Championship

Lot’s of good bargains in the under $7,400 category.  Be careful; there are 20 club pros sitting in these lower price range so don’t get suckered with one of those club pros at $6,000, they aren’t a bargain at any price.  Still, there are a lot of deals out there, Brian Harman and Ian Poulter are great picks at $7,400.  Poulter faltered over the weekend at Firestone, but he has had a great year.  Kevin Kisner at $7,300 is good, he was T-7th last year with a miserable weekend and was T-2nd at the British Open.  Tyrrell Hatton at $7,200 is an excellent price, remember he was T-6th at the U.S. Open and T-9th at the Scottish Open.  Hard to believe that Kyle Stanley was at $7,100.  Probably because the prices came out before he finished T-2nd at Firestone.  No matter it’s your good fortune to get him at such a bargain price.  Hard to believe that there are still more bargains, how about Matthew Fitzpatrick at $7,000, he was T-12th at the U.S. Open, T-8th at the BMW PGA Championship and T-3rd earlier this year at Abu Dhabi.  He shouldn’t be priced this low.  Eddie Pepperell is at $7,000.  In his last 2 starts, he was 2nd at the Scottish Open and T-6th at the British Open, so he is a high price.  Billy Horschel at $6,900 can be hit or miss, still like him for this week.  Beau Hossler at $6,900 was T-2nd at the Travelers and T-6th at the Quicken Loans and could have a good week.  Andrew Putnam at $6,900 is another excellent pick when you consider he won last week at Barracuda and was T-8th in Canada.  The bargains continue, how about Kevin Na at $6,800.  He won at Greenbrier last month and has been solid since the Players and will give you great production for the money.  How about getting a player like Thorbjorn Olesen at $6,700.  He was T-3rd last week at Firestone, T-12th at Carnoustie and T-6th in Ireland last month and is a grand bargain.  After that have to say there is nothing left, as I said the bottom of the barrel is players you want no part of.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the PGA Championship:

Key stat of the week

Hit it long and straight, avoid the 25 fairway bunkers and putt well making all your putts inside of ten feet.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Since the course will play at more than 7,316 yards, the “experts” will say bombers hold an advantage. But as you will see length is not the only strength you need to keep your ball in the fairway at Bellerive.  With the combination of trees, rough and bunkers it will be tough if you get off the fairways this week.
  • Since the greens don’t have many undulations and will be slow due to the weather and condition of them, poor putters will prevail this week.  So guys like Rory McIlroy and even Jordan Spieth who have both scrambled with the putter this year could do very well. Sharp iron play will also help along with the imagination when you do get in trouble. But as we have seen in the last decade of PGAs with winners as diverse as Jason Day, Jason Dufner Y.E. Yang, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods anything can happen. The key is to be peaking about Wednesday right before the start of the championship. That’s what happened to Dufner, Beem, Micheel, Singh, Mickelson, Harrington and Woods so look for someone that is playing well.
  • Scrambling will be at a premium, look for good chippers like Phil Mickelson or a Jim Furyk to have a significant advantage here. On this year’s scrambling list, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Na, Jason Day, Just Rose, Matt Kuchar and even Dustin Johnson are in the top-ten for 2018, so these are folks to watch this week.
  • There is also the unknown factor in which the course could yield low scores to an unknown player. In 17 of the last 26 PGAs, the winner has claimed his first major in the PGA Championship with names like last year’s winner Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and 2015 winner Jason Day.  So this could be a good omen for a Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar or Paul Casey. Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel weren’t household names when they won, so you never know if that will get repeated.
  • Now I don’t want to jinx the tournament, but whether in St. Louis has been terrible all summer with high heat and humidity.  June and July have been the hottest months on record for this city, and it will continue this week, with lot’s of rain showers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.  This and a combination popup thunderstorms could be a problem, but there is good news, and that is a cooling trend could hit St. Louis on Thursday and bring lower temperatures for the four days of the championship.
  • Need for patience is not the answer this week, the rallying cry will be made as many birdies as possible on what will be a vulnerable course.

 

Who to watch for at the PGA Championship

Best Bets:

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T66 18

Last week showed that he is on the move and ready to go on a big streak again. This guy just can’t play good one week and fall back, his good play lasts for several events so look for him to contend on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 CUT 17 Win T8 Win T64 T3 T3

All I can say is that he is one good putting week away from a win, with slow greens this week it could be a good omen for Rory.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T5 T33 30 T3 T19 CUT T51 T58

Only a matter of time when he is the right place at the right time to win a major.

Best of the rest:

Brooks Koepka

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 T4 5 T15 T70

Guy is healthy and on a run, think this could be another good course for him to play well on if he drives it good like he did at Shinnecock.

Tony Finau

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T44 CUT 10

Has shown that he is gone up a notch and is a premier player. Look for him to finish in the top-ten and complete the year with four top-tens in the majors for 2018.

Tommy Fleetwood

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T61 CUT CUT

Guy seems to be there every week.

Jon Rahm

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T58

His game has been coming around of late and could prove very valuable

Solid contenders

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 CUT 7 T8 T48 CUT T5 T10

He could be very good this week, just have to wonder which Johnson shows up, the one ready to win or the one that does well some of the time and then struggles for a few holes.

Justin Rose

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T22 4 T24 T33 T3 CUT CUT CUT T9 T12 T41

Just worried about his back, he is up to winning but his body may not be able to carry him to the finish line.

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 2 Win T15 T8 CUT CUT T10

You would think that he would be on the edge of winning every time he tees it up. Think his game is in good shape for this week.

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 T10 30 CUT T33 CUT T72 T12 T15 T40 CUT

Guy keeps on knocking on the door, one day he will back into a major win.

Long shots that could come through:

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T33

Playing really good right now, a person to watch. He is ready and can win a major.

Joaquin Niemann

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Guy has been knocking on doors ever since he turned pro, only a matter of time that he opens up one of them.

Kyle Stanley

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT CUT

Watch him, he played well last week and it could carry over.

Brandt Snedeker

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T56 12 T13 T66 CUT CUT T39 CUT T24 T18

His game has been shaping up all summer, people tend to forget how really good he is.

Not this week:

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T28 T13 2 CUT CUT

Sorry but there are more stories on how bad Jordan is putting than stories on the President’s tweeting habits. If Spieth scrambles with the putter, his game scrambles.

Francesco Molinari

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T2 T22 54 T58 T33 T54 T34 T33 T10

One week your a hero, the next week a dog. Sorry but think that Molinari has used up all the powers in his good playing streak.

Tiger Woods

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT T40 T11 CUT T28 2 Win Win

After him shooting 73 on Saturday and Sunday at Firestone, think that he isn’t ready to win.

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