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BlogPGA Championship Preview and Picks

PGA Championship

May 16th – 19th, 2019

Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

Bethpage, N.Y.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,459

Purse: $11 million (last year)

with $1.98 million (last year) to the winner

Defending Champion:
Brooks Koepka

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 afternoon, the field includes 102 of the top 102 in the latest Official World Rankings.  The field features 34 major champions, 69 international players representing 27 countries, and 12 players who have been ranked No. 1 in the world.

But the most amazing stat is that for the first time ever (barring something bad happening to a player) there is a possibility that the top-100 ranked players will tee off on Thursday.  Of all the majors, the PGA which doesn’t have the same qualifying like the U.S. Open and the British Open and has historically had fields of 156, something the Masters doesn’t have is the one event, (possibly the Players Championship could do the same) that can get every one of the top-100 players.  They go through the effort in asking the top-110 of the rankings to play.  But in the two weeks that happens someone who was out of the top-110 could slip into the top-100.  But as of this moment, there is still the 100 top ranked players in the field.  Looking through the history of the world rankings we have seen 99 of the top-100 in the field and they are all PGA Championships in 2002, 2012 and 2013.

UPDATE: With Justin Thomas withdrawing late Monday that means there won’t be any top-100 in the field at least for this week

The field includes all 25 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2019 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: Brooks Koepka (2018), 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) and John Daly (1991).

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 Byron Nelson British Masters Wells Fargo Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Valero Texas WGC Dell Match Play Corales Puntacan Valspar Champ. The Players Arnold Palmer Honda Classic
Brooks Koepka
(271.33 pts)
4
(80)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
DNP T2
(133.33)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T2
(33.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(263.33 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP 2
(100)
T25
(16.67)
T36
(18.67)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP DNP T5
(35)
T3
(30)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(244 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T9
(60)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP T6
(20)
T12
(19)
DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(230.67 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP T54
(0)
T22
(14)
DNP T9
(15)
Tiger Woods
(221 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP DNP T30
(10)
DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(216 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
T12
(50.67)
T7
(36.67)
2
(50)
DNP DNP T26
(12)
DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(212.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T41
(6)
T21
(38.67)
DNP Win
(66)
DNP T24
(8.67)
T22
(14)
T23
(9)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(208 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
T2
(133.33)
DNP T40
(5)
DNP T6
(20)
T5
(35)
DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(200.17 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP T9
(60)
T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
T40
(3.33)
T2
(33.33)
Rory McIlroy
(197.17 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP T21
(38.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP DNP Win
(66)
T6
(20)
DNP
Scott Piercy
(193.67 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Joel Dahmen
(186.33 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
T18
(32)
T16
(22.67)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP T12
(12.67)
T30
(6.67)
T12
(19)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Francesco Molinari
(175.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T5
(93.33)
DNP 3
(45)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
Win
(44)
DNP
Ryan Palmer
(168.67 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T28
(14.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP T4
(26.67)
Eddie Pepperell
(167.67 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
T51
(0)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP T3
(45)
57
(0)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(166.33 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP T16
(22.67)
T5
(93.33)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(17)
DNP T36
(4.67)
Jason Kokrak
(150.5 pts)
DNP DNP 69
(0)
T22
(28)
T16
(22.67)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
T47
(1.5)
T10
(13.33)
T9
(15)
Sung Kang
(149.5 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T47
(1.5)
T6
(20)
T51
(0)
Ian Poulter
(147.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
T10
(26.67)
T12
(50.67)
DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
T23
(9)
DNP
Charley Hoffman
(145.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
T45
(3.33)
T29
(28)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Xander Schauffele
(141.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
T2
(133.33)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(139.83 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T28
(22)
T18
(32)
DNP T36
(18.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP T24
(8.67)
CUT
(-5)
T17
(11)
DNP
Max Homa
(134 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T52
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
Jason Day
(129.33 pts)
DNP DNP T24
(26)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T5
(93.33)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T8
(25)
WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Paul Casey
(128.17 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP Win
(44)
CUT
(-5)
DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(126.67 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP T3
(45)
T23
(9)
T16
(11.33)
Matt Wallace
(125 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T40
(5)
DNP DNP T30
(10)
T6
(20)
T20
(10)
Justin Rose
(124.17 pts)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP DNP T8
(25)
T63
(0)
DNP
Keith Mitchell
(123.17 pts)
T59
(0)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T43
(9.33)
DNP T40
(5)
DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
T6
(20)
Win
(44)
Patrick Cantlay
(118 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T3
(60)
T9
(60)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP DNP
Lucas Glover
(115.67 pts)
DNP DNP T31
(19)
T18
(32)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-5)
T10
(13.33)
T4
(26.67)
Graeme McDowell
(115.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
T48
(1.33)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP Win
(44)
T46
(1.33)
DNP T54
(0)
82
(0)
Sungjae Im
(115.33 pts)
83
(0)
DNP T31
(19)
T37
(13)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T7
(18.33)
T4
(26.67)
CUT
(-5)
T3
(30)
T51
(0)
Hideki Matsuyama
(113.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP T32
(24)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP DNP T8
(25)
T33
(5.67)
DNP
Justin Harding
(111.83 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP T32
(18)
CUT
(-6.67)
T12
(50.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Byron Nelson British Masters Wells Fargo Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Valero Texas WGC Dell Match Play Corales Puntacan Valspar Champ. The Players Arnold Palmer Honda Classic
Michael Kim
(-51.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Danny Willett
(-35.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Cameron Champ
(-32.5 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-2.5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Cameron Smith
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
T51
(0)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Chesson Hadley
(-17.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
CUT
(-5)
T17
(11)
T20
(10)
Martin Trainer
(-17.17 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP 66
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T41
(4.5)
T66
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Harold Varner III
(-17 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
T51
(0)
Shugo Imahira
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Long
(-11.67 pts)
DNP DNP T45
(5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T79
(0)
T10
(13.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Fox
(-10 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Boy, the last nine months went fast since we heard some folks talk about the hazards of moving the PGA Championship to May.  Well, it’s that week and things couldn’t be better, other than the heavy rains that dumped a couple of inches of rain on Bethpage the last couple of days.  So, unfortunately, the course will be soft, nothing can be done about that.  The one thing people will not miss is the look of the course, it’s very green which meant that the experts and the PGA of America officials did their homework and yes they can go to the Northeast in mid-may.

The one thing we will not miss is the heat and humidity that was always associated with the PGA Championship.  Even when the championship went to Wisconsin and Minnesota it was hot and humid.  This week the weather will be nice in the mid-60s each day and hopefully stay dry.

Another disappointing finish for Rory

Again Rory McIlroy had a great shot at winning the Wells Fargo two weeks ago only to shot 73 in the final round.  It’s a shame over the course of the last year McIlroy was playing well only to fold in the final round, of course the one he won the Players Championship he came from behind.  Maybe that will be the key for Rory this week, don’t get close to the lead and then do what he did in the Masters when he was completely out of things and shot 68 on Sunday to rise up the leaderboard.  McIlroy has some history playing at Bethpage, in the 2016 Northern Trust he finished T-31st and then the next week won in Boston.  In 2012 McIlroy won the PGA Championship and then his next start was the Northern Trust and he finished T-24th.  Guess what happened the next week, of course he won in Boston.  McIlroy did play in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage and finished T-10th.  So he does have experience at Bethpage.

Others that have done well at Bethpage

The first winner at Bethpage is Tiger Woods, who in 2002 shot rounds of 67-68-70-72 to beat Phil Mickelson by three shots.  Tiger played in the rain in 2009 and was T-6th.  Woods big problem that year he got a poor tee time and was at the mercy of some poor weather and shot a first round 74.  He came back, his game was sharp and he shot 69-68-69 but was four shots back of winner Lucas Glover.  Tiger didn’t fare well in 2012 finishing T-38th including a final round 76.  He didn’t play in 2016.

Now how about Phil Mickelson.  We know that he was runner-up to Tiger in 2002, in 2009 he also was runner-up just two shots back of Lucas Glover.  At the 2012 Northern Trust Mickelson was T-38th and just like Tiger shot 76 in the final round.  In 2016 Mickelson was T-13th so he should be a good pick for this week.

But the one person we have to look at is Sergio Garcia.  In the 2002 U.S. Open he shot a final round 74 and finished 4th, six shots back of Tiger.  In 2009 he was T-10th, six shots back of Lucas Glover.  At the 2012 Northern Trust Garcia had the 2nd and 3rd round leader but shot 75 on Sunday to finish T-3rd, four back of winner Nick Watney.  In 2016 Garcia didn’t play.

Tournament information:

This is the 101st 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:
  • Bethpage Black
  • Farmingdale, New York
  • 7,459 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • In 1996, when the USGA announced the selection of Bethpage State Park’s Black Course as the site of the 2002 U.S. Open, the choice was hailed as a major breakthrough for the common man. Only two previous U.S. Open courses were not private facilities, Pebble Beach and Pinehurst No. 2.  The appeal at the time was that Bethpage would be the first “municipal” course, which means it’s a true public golf course to hold the U.S. Open.  For years St. Andrews, another true municipal course has held the British Open so it was a big deal.  In the 20 years since Torrey Pines joined Bethpage as the two municipal courses to hold the U.S. Open.
  • The facilities at Bethpage consist of a state park with five courses in the middle. When the project was first considered in the early 1930s, a private club was already on the property. The club was called the Lenox Hills C.C., designed by Devereux Emmet. This would become the Green Course. At the time, three more courses would be built: the Blue, Red and Black courses. They would be built by A.W. Tillinghast.  With the advent of the Great Depression, Bethpage became a model for the work relief project. The Green, Red and Blue courses opened in August of 1935, with the Black opening the following year.
  • Two unusual things about the Black Course stand out. One, it is that is a “walking only” course; golf carts are not allowed. Two, there is a sign near the first tee warning about the difficulty of the course, saying that it is a course for “highly-skilled golfers.”  This is not the norm for municipal courses which in general are much easier and appealing for high handicap golfers.
  • Bethpage was thought to be a regular of the USGA when they went back to it in 2009 after hosting the 2002 U.S. Open.  But that was when both Winged Foot and Shinnecock were out of favor with the USGA.  With those relationships getting good again and future Opens being held on those courses, the need for another New York area course became unnecessary.  With the USGA going away, the PGA of America has stepped into the picture and will play the PGA Championship on the course this week and the Ryder Cup in 2024.

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

he PGA Championship starts a new era by moving the championship away from the heat and humanity of August to May that holds great weather and now adds a major just four weeks after the Masters is completed.
Many worried that going to the northeast in May could be deadly with not only cold weather but a course that could possibly not be ready for championship conditions, but that isn’t the case this week.

This is based on the most vital stats from Bethpage, based on data from the four championships played at Bethpage (2002, 2009 U.S. Open, 2012, 2016 Northern Trust) when the course was last used and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2019.

Bethpage is an A.W. Tillinghast on record even though many feel it is doubtful he had anything to do with the actual building of it. Yes, he did the designs and drawings. However, some historians say that Tillinghast never spent a day at Bethpage after the drawings were completed, and the workers took them and did the best they could to follow his plans.
It doesn’t matter, the course is a gem and probably the finest municipal golf course in America. Now before people jump down my throat saying, hey places like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes are “municipal” courses because they are opened to the public, they aren’t. Municipal are courses run by a local or state government, in the case of Bethpage, it’s run by the state of New York. Yes, people could say that Torrey Pines is a better course, it’s run by the city of San Diego. It’s a very scenic course and has held a U.S. Open, but for regular challenges, Bethpage is the best.
Now for the U.S. Open par was 70, for the Northern Trust par is 71. For the PGA Championship par will be 70 as the 7th hole, which was a par 5 during the two Northern Trust’s will be a par 4 during the PGA Championship. The change will be important because it gives bombers one less hole to dominate.
Since the course is “public” the greens are fairly flat and don’t have much roll in them, thus giving a poor putter a chance. You can see this in action as one of the worst all-time putters on the PGA Tour is Lucas Glover who won the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2009. Another example is the 2012 winner Nick Watney, who also is not that great of a putter. Now Patrick Reed who won the 2016 Northern Trust at Bethpage is not a great putter, but not a poor one as he is in the middle of the pack. So it just makes you think that a poor putter can do well on this course.
Still, you have to get to the greens, and the course is filled with hazards. One is fairway bunkers, sand in the fairway appears on 10 holes, #4, #5, #6, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13,and 18. The course is tightly tree-lined with rough, but since the course has had a short growing season I don’t expect killer rough. So the course will appeal to bombers, but there are some hazards for them. Holes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, and 15 have bend which means that fairways will run out so long hitters need to throttle back with possible long irons on the holes to make sure they are in position for shots into the green. So there are some hazards and dangers to driving at Bethpage. Now there are bunkers around the greens, 42 of them, but they aren’t wicked like the greenside bunkers at Oakmont or even Baltusrol. With many of the greens risen, missing them means tough pitches to the hole, this will be the challenge for the players this week. Despite this don’t think the course is a pushover, it’s so unique that is the reason the PGA of America will is holding not only this championship but the 2014 Ryder Cup on this course. Both the PGA and the USGA set up courses harder than the PGA Tour, so that is part of the secret. Tiger had a winning score of 3 under at the 2002 U.S. Open; Lucas Glover was 4 under in 1999 while Nick Watney shot 10 under at the 2012 Northern Trust and Patrick Reed shot 9 under. If you take the 4 championships together and look at the 1,674 rounds played the average score is 72.90. So I can see the winning score going as low as 12 under this year.

So will every phase of the game be examined at Bethpage? Probably not for those playing well, I can see a lot of birdies and around a dozen players breaking par for the 72 holes.
So in looking at our four categories, our first is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. This is going to be the most important item and frankly, go to the top and sort through it, I would say that someone in the top-30 will win this week. Now for the U.S. Open and the 2012 Northern Trust they didn’t have Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, so we have to look at several stats. It ranked T-28th in driving distance for the year on the PGA Tour, it was 27th in driving accuracy and 18th in greens hit. For the 2016 Northern Trust it ranked 34th in driving distance for the year, it was 21st in driving accuracy and 18th in greens hit.
For the U.S. Open in 2009, it ranked 6th in driving distance, 24th in driving accuracy and 5th in greens hit. Again that greens hit becomes important, in 2016 the winner Patrick Reed was T-13th, 2012 the winner Nick Watney was T-2nd, in 2009 Lucas Glover was 4th and in 2002 Tiger Woods was 1st.
Our second stat is scrambling, lot’s of players will miss greens at Bethpage and will have to get it up and down. In 2016, the course ranked 11th while Patrick Reed was T-10th. In 2012, the course ranked 13th in scrambling while Watney was T39th, Glover in 2009 was 19th and Tiger was 2nd in 2002.
Our third stat is putting inside of 10 feet, yes this will be substantial because the greens will be flat with tiny undulation. One problem for the players, the greens are poa aunna and will be bumpy in the afternoon. Still, the winner will come close to making 100% of his putts from 10 feet and in.
Our fourth category is par 4 average. I see this as being a critical stat with 12 par 4s this week. I also think that one of the strong suits of Bethpage is its strong par 4s.

Bethpage is a great course and if the weather is ok then it will have a great winner. Right now there is heavy rain on Sunday and Monday that will soften up the course. After that, the only poor day is Thursday which sees a 50% chance of rain. Winds will be mild, every day around 9 mph and temperatures will be in the mid-60s each day.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: A combination of driving distance, accuracy and greens hit this will tell you who plays the best from tee to green which will be important this week.

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

*Putting inside 10 feet: Very easy, counts every putt from ten feet in to see who makes the most.

*Par 4 Average: How players do on par 4s, who plays them the best.

Here are the 102 of 156 players from this year’s field with stats from 2019

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

Here is a link to the other 92 players with stats from 2019

DraftKings tips

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

  • Tiger Woods – $11,300
  • Dustin Johnson – $11,100
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,900
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,400
  • Justin Thomas – $10,100 (Withdrew on Monday)
  • Justin Rose – $9,900
  • Francesco Molinari – $9,700
  • Jon Rahm – $9,500
  • Rickie Fowler – $9,300
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,200
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,100
  • Jason Day – $9,000

Am a bit surprised to see some of the prices, a bit shocked to see Tiger Woods the top player at $11,300.  Sure he won the Masters and should be one of the favorites, but I don’t think he is the top-ranked player.  I know that Tiger played well to win in 2002 and also played well in 2009, but I just don’t think this course favors his game.  Think from tee to green the course is too much for Tiger, you need to really bomb it out there to have an advantage which Tiger can’t do anymore.  But one thing in Tiger’s favor, the greens are flat and easier to putt, which brings up the fact that possibly a poor putter like Lucas Glover who won the 2009 U.S. Open and Nick Watney the 2012 Northern Trust winner could come out on top.  We now consider Tiger as not being a great putter.  Bottom line, I think Tiger will finish in the top-ten, Tiger will contend on Sunday but Tiger won’t win.  I like Dustin Johnson at $11,100 a lot.  First, he seems to do well on Poa Annua greens and that’s what they have at Bethpage.  Also, think he can overpower this course and have a big advantage.  So yes Dustin is a good buy.  Also on paper, Rory McIlroy at $10,900 is a good buy.  But how much longer are we going to put up with his poor final round performances and not winning?  He isn’t my first choice, but still, the money is right on him.  I do think that Brooks Koepka at $10,400 is a bargain.  This guy should do very well at Bethpage and I like him a lot.  As much as I like Brooks, the opposite with Justin Thomas at $10,100.  He is a BIG NO for this week.  His has wrist problems that hasn’t been sorted out, odds are he may not even play on Thursday so don’t even think of taking him.  As for Justin Rose at $9,900 I at first glance would say yes, but in looking at his record he has played three times at Bethpage and struggled all three times, his best finish was T-19th at the 2016 Northern Trust and that is with a final round 66.  So be careful and think him out.  As for Francesco Molinari at $9,700 I have no problem with it, he has played great this year.  This could be a very good course for Jon Rahm at $9,500, he could be a hidden gem that will do well.  I don’t know what direction to go with Rickie Fowler at $9,300.  Yes he is going to win a major one day but it probably won’t be this week, his record at Bethpage is terrible in three starts missed one cut and was T-7th in 2016 Northern Trust, T-24th in the 2012 Northern Trust so I say maybe to him.  Tommy Fleetwood at $9,200 is a good buy and playing well.  Think he will do well.  The same with Xander Schauffele at $9,100 I think he will be great on the greens and will contend on Sunday.  Can’t say the same for Jason Day at $9,000 I still worry about his wrist problems.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Our first pick is Tony Finau at $8,800.  He played well at the Masters and I think he has this attraction towards the majors in which he always plays well.  Think Bethpage will be perfect for his game and wouldn’t it be great to see Finau, who is the one guy who grew up on true public courses to win on a public course.    For once I like Jordan Spieth at $8,600, think the greens will be good for him and the course is also up his alley, he was t-10th at the 2016 Northern Trust so I like him.  Hideki Matsuyama at $8,500 is a good buy, think his tee to green game will be good and the putting greens will help him.  Not a big fan of Patrick Reed at $8,400 but he did win in 2016 at Bethpage so that means something.  Like Patrick Cantlay at $8,200, greens will be good for him and he can handle the tee to green part with on problem.  I know the Phil Mickelson was terrible at Wells Fargo, but at $8,000 his price is too small to not snap it up.  We talked about his record at Bethpage, again he could contend.  Sergio Garcia at $7,900 is the best price of anyone in the field and he should be one of your picks, no matter what.  Also like a pair of $7,600 players, both Ian Poulter and Webb Simpson will be great at that value.

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

Lot’s of good bargains in the under $7,500 category.  Be careful; there are 20 club pros sitting in these lower price range so don’t get stuck 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, Sungjae Im at $7,400 is good.  I also like Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Joel Dahmen at $7,300.  Lucas Glover at $7,300 is also cheap a past Bethpage winner is still hitting the ball as well as when he won in 2009.  SiWoo Kim and Ryan Palmer at $7,200 should be considered.  Remember one of Keegan Bradley’s biggest problems is putting, at $7,200 his tee to green game is worth the price.  Also like Justin Harding at $7,000, he could contend on Sunday.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at Bethpage Black:

A player that drives the ball long and straight and will make almost all of his putts inside 8 feet.  That is very easy to say, is there a human being that can do that?  Yes, there will be a few but we won’t know it until the weekend.

The key stat for the winner:
  • Hitting greens in regulation will be paramount. The tight venue will require good ball control, which will result in hitting lots of greens. Look for the winner to hit a plethora of greens in regulation this week, that was the way Tiger Woods won at Bethpage in 2002 (53 of 72, rank 1st).
  • Putting will be an important role this week since the greens are flat this lets players that are not the best in putting to do well.  Lucas Glover may be one of the best iron players on the PGA Tour but he is a very poor putter on the PGA Tour but he was able to win the 2009 U.S. Open despite all of this.
  • Is there any rhyme or reason for a player to win this week?
  • Wisdom says that a player with a lot of experiences will win but since this course is not a well know entity a newcomer could do well.
  • This week is a mix of tour stars like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy with a lot of first-time winners and a lot of non-winners.  In past years winning had a lot to do with the weather, when it’s good the tour stars seem to shine but in bad weather, it becomes a long shot delight.
  • 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 27 PGAs, the winner has claimed his first major in the PGA Championship with names like 2017 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.

Who to watch for at the PGA Championship

Best Bets:

Brooks Koepka

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win T13 T4 5 T15 T70

I really like him a lot this week, he is playing well and this is a course he can attack and play well on.

Dustin Johnson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T27 T13 CUT 7 T8 T48 CUT T5 T10

Lot’s of things work in his favor, the poa greens are what he likes, he is a good tee to green player and will be able to overpower Bethpage.

Rory McIlroy

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T50 T22 CUT 17 Win T8 Win T64 T3 T3

Another who will overpower Bethpage, have to think the slow Poa greens will work in his favor.

Best of the rest:

Tiger Woods

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
2 CUT CUT T40 T11 CUT T28 2 Win

He will play well but not win. The course is too difficult for him, yes the greens will help just don’t think his game will be long enough. Still, he will give us a top-ten finish this week.

Tony Finau

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T42 T44 CUT 10

Guy will overpower the course and with the slow, flat greens play up his alley.

Xander Schauffele

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T35 CUT

The greens will be great for him, he also is great from tee to green.

Sergio Garcia

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT CUT CUT 54 T35 T61 CUT T12 CUT CUT T2 WD

Has had lot’s of success at Bethpage, look for him to have a great week.

Patrick Cantlay

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T27 T33

Guy is ready to win again and it could happen at this course. Bethpage Black is well suited for his game.

Solid contenders

Francesco Molinari

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T6 T2 T22 54 T58 T33 T54 T34 T33 T10

Guy is still playing like a champ, after what he did at the Masters have to think he is one of the top-players in golf.

Jon Rahm

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T4 T58

He too is good from tee to green and will be able to overpower the course. Also a good scrambler he is perfect for Bethpage.

Justin Rose

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T19 CUT T22 4 T24 T33 T3 CUT CUT CUT T9 T12

Not totally sold on him at Bethpage, still he is a good shotmaker and could do ok but I don’t it.

Rickie Fowler

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T12 T5 T33 30 T3 T19 CUT T51 T58

Another major, another chance for Rickie to finally win one. His the advantage from tee to green.

Jordan Spieth

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T12 T28 T13 2 CUT CUT

This course is a great place for him to break out of his slump, it’s very forgiving for a player like Jordan.

Long shots that could come through:

Phil Mickelson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT CUT T33 18 2 T72 T36 T19 T12 73 T7 T32

You never know what he will do next, has played well at Bethpage we just don’t know which Phil will show up on Thursday.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T10 CUT T49 CUT 73 T29 CUT

Guy has been great for the last three years, only a matter of time before he goes crazy over her and win a lot.

Si Woo Kim

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT WD CUT

Guy is very under-rated, he can win on tough courses and is game is coming around.

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