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BlogPGA Championship Preview and Picks

PGA Championship

May 20th – 23rd, 2021

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean Course)

Kiawah Island, S.C.

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,876

Purse: $12 million 

with $2,160,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Collin Morikawa

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 99 of the top-100 off the latest Official World Rankings.  Last year they had 91 of the top-100 players, not bad for the for the times.  The only top-100 player not in the field is #27 Matthew Wolff who has wrist problems.

The field includes all 25 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2021 are in the field.

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

The field includes 12 past champions: Collin Morikawa (2020), Brooks Koepka (2019 & ’18), Justin Thomas (2017), Jimmy Walker (2016), Jason Day (2015), Rory McIlroy (2014 & ’12), Jason Dufner (2013), Keegan Bradley (2011), Martin Kaymer (2010), Phil Mickelson (2005), Shaun Micheel (2003) and Rick Beem (2002)..

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 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 Valspar Champ. Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Valero Texas Open WGC – Match Play Corales Puntacana Honda Classic The Players Arnold Palmer
Sam Burns
(281 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T4
(53.33)
T39
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Abraham Ancer
(262.33 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
5
(70)
DNP T18
(21.33)
T26
(32)
T23
(9)
T18
(16)
DNP DNP T22
(14)
DNP
Jordan Spieth
(259.17 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(120)
Win
(44)
T9
(22.5)
DNP DNP T48
(1)
T4
(26.67)
Charl Schwartzel
(245.33 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T14
(36)
T21
(29)
2
(66.67)
DNP T26
(32)
T69
(0)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Viktor Hovland
(234.67 pts)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
T3
(90)
T25
(16.67)
DNP T21
(38.67)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T49
(0.33)
Corey Conners
(225.5 pts)
DNP DNP T43
(7)
T21
(29)
DNP T4
(53.33)
T8
(66.67)
T14
(12)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP 7
(27.5)
3
(30)
Keegan Bradley
(224.83 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
2
(100)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
T29
(10.5)
T10
(13.33)
Marc Leishman
(213 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T5
(93.33)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Hideki Matsuyama
(203.33 pts)
T39
(11)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
T30
(6.67)
T42
(4)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T18
(10.67)
Will Zalatoris
(200.5 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
2
(133.33)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP 21
(14.5)
T10
(13.33)
Cameron Smith
(198.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
T9
(30)
T10
(53.33)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP
Jon Rahm
(193.5 pts)
T34
(16)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 7
(36.67)
DNP T5
(93.33)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP
Xander Schauffele
(193 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP T3
(120)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Brian Harman
(187.33 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T12
(50.67)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP DNP T3
(45)
DNP
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
(177.83 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP T58
(0)
T29
(21)
T23
(18)
T56
(0)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T41
(4.5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Justin Thomas
(169.67 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T21
(38.67)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP
Matt Wallace
(169 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T23
(18)
T18
(21.33)
T34
(21.33)
3
(30)
T28
(11)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
Stewart Cink
(157 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(153.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(50)
2
(66.67)
DNP T26
(32)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T41
(4.5)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(151.83 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
T13
(37)
T8
(33.33)
DNP T26
(32)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Charley Hoffman
(147.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
T11
(26)
T18
(21.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T17
(16.5)
T10
(13.33)
Scottie Scheffler
(145 pts)
T47
(3)
DNP DNP T29
(21)
T8
(33.33)
DNP T18
(42.67)
T54
(0)
2
(50)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(143.33 pts)
T55
(0)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(5.33)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP DNP T3
(45)
Win
(44)
Daniel Berger
(139.83 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP
Patrick Reed
(138.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP T22
(14)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rory McIlroy
(138 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T10
(13.33)
Billy Horschel
(134 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
T25
(16.67)
T50
(1.33)
DNP Win
(66)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Joaquin Niemann
(130.17 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP T40
(13.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP T25
(8.33)
T29
(10.5)
DNP
Robert MacIntyre
(122.83 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T59
(0)
T12
(50.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T36
(4.67)
Emiliano Grillo
(117.33 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
DNP CUT
(-5)
T21
(9.67)
Matt Fitzpatrick
(116.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
T34
(21.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T10
(13.33)
Paul Casey
(113.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T26
(32)
DNP T28
(11)
DNP DNP T5
(35)
T10
(13.33)
Lee Westwood
(111.67 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 63
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
2
(50)
2
(33.33)
Ryan Palmer
(105 pts)
T47
(3)
DNP DNP T63
(0)
7
(36.67)
DNP T34
(21.33)
T17
(11)
17
(16.5)
DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP
Cameron Tringale
(102 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T3
(90)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-5)
T31
(6.33)
Jason Kokrak
(100.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(37)
T21
(19.33)
DNP 49
(1.33)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T8
(16.67)
Shane Lowry
(99 pts)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
T21
(38.67)
DNP T42
(4)
DNP T36
(4.67)
8
(25)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brendan Steele
(98.5 pts)
DNP DNP T70
(0)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP 77
(0)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T41
(4.5)
T18
(10.67)
Matt Kuchar
(93.67 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
T12
(12.67)
3
(45)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Si Woo Kim
(91.83 pts)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
T12
(50.67)
T23
(9)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
WD
(-1.67)
Alex Noren
(90.67 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
T21
(19.33)
T25
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
CUT
(-5)
T49
(0.33)
Danny Willett
(90 pts)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T8
(33.33)
T18
(21.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
Gary Woodland
(88.33 pts)
DNP DNP 5
(70)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T40
(13.33)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(88 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T39
(7.33)
T18
(42.67)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T21
(9.67)
Chris Kirk
(88 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
27
(15.33)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
T48
(1)
T8
(16.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Byron Nelson British Masters Wells Fargo Valspar Champ. Zurich Classic RBC Heritage Masters Valero Texas Open WGC – Match Play Corales Puntacana Honda Classic The Players Arnold Palmer
Chez Reavie
(-41.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-5)
T49
(0.33)
Brian Gay
(-40.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Byeong Hun An
(-32.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
67
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-5)
T43
(2.33)
Hudson Swafford
(-31.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rasmus Hojgaard
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Robert Streb
(-26 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Jim Herman
(-25 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brooks Koepka
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(-21 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T36
(4.67)
Francesco Molinari
(-18.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP 52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So the PGA Championship returns to its new home on the calendar, May and this week’s PGA Championship will be very interesting.  Not because it’s being played at Kiawah Island, but because the PGA will be allowing 10,000 people a day on the course.  So for the first time in over a year, players will finally get to play in front of a large number of fans.  For many including Rory McIlroy, this is going to be a very welcome sight.  All year long McIlroy has said that he has had a hard time playing in front of no grounds and sure enough two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo with about 5,000 fans Rory wins.  There is doubt that not having fans has not helped sports, but with this week, golf will start seeing a sizeable amount and this will make it seems more legitimate and vibrant News.

Tournament information:

This is the 102nd edition of this event, one of golf’s four major championships it’s the third oldest behind the British Open and U.S. Open.  The PGA Championship returns to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, nine years after Rory McIlroy won by eight shots.  The Ocean Course is one of the most scenic courses in all of America.  The Pete Dye Course, built on the southeastern tip of a ten-mile long, mile and half wide barrier island, was constructed in the late 1980s.  The purpose was to be a replacement course on the 1991 Ryder Cup because the powers to be got a lot of flack from British media and TV that it would finish in California in the wee hours of the morning in the United Kingdom.  That was the excuse given, but the truth was when the Bob Hope was played at PGA West, the players revolted.  The Tour had never heard as many complaints as they got, to the point that PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman only took days to move the Hope off of PGA West.  At the time all of this was happening, Landmark Land, who owned PGA West, was buying up Kiawah Island, and with the purchase, they had a plot of land at the end of the island that would be perfect for a seaside golf course.   So the owners of PGA West, which was Landmark Land, bought the island to build an excellent course for the Ryder Cup.

Course information:
  • The Ocean Course
  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • 7,876 yards     Par 36-36–72

When Pete Dye set foot on the land that would be the Ocean Course, he told people the land was the finest piece of ground he had ever worked on.  One player described the land the course was on as “the greatest place ever for a course, even God couldn’t screw this up.”  The layout has the largest number of oceanside holes in the Northern Hemisphere, with 11 holes that run alongside the Atlantic.  The land we see today was not the way it was before Dye brought in bulldozers to build every dune and hollow along with marshes and lagoons.  When opened just months before the Ryder Cup in 1991, it was given a slope rating of 155 and a rating of 79.1, which was the highest in the country then.  Over the years, they have tamed the course a lot. When opened in 1991, it could play from the championship tees to 7,849. For this year’s PGA Championship, the course will play at 7,676.  That’s a remarkable figure when you consider in major championship history it’s 135 yards longer than Erin Hills played during the 2017 U.S. Open, and up to now, it was the longest course in a major.  The back nine will play at 4,061 yards. There has been no other course that has broken the 4,000-yard mark.  There will be seven par 4 holes that will play longer than 450 yards, of that, two will be over 500 yards.  Before we fall off a cliff with this absurd notion of how unfair this is, we have to understand that the characteristics of the course itself and why it sets up to play long.  The course is a linksland style course, next to the ocean with seashore paspalum fairways which will be bone dry, and the ball will run a long way.

On top of that, elements will either help a ball go further downwind or shorter against the wind.  When Pete Dye started building the course in 1990, his wife Alice, a terrific player in her own right, was there to talk Pete into many innovations.  When Pete was stuck on what to do to the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, Alice told Pete to make the 17th hole a short par 3 with an island green.  Today the spot is probably one of the most talked-about golf holes in golf.  So back in 1990, Alice told Pete that each hole should not be built through dunes but sit on top so that every inch of the course would see the Ocean.  Now Alice wasn’t thinking of the scenic value of this decision. Alice was thinking about making sure that nothing blocked the elements of mother nature and that each hole should experience the full wrath of what winds could do to a player’s round.  So yes, the yardage is long, but they will receive more roll for most players than they get on an average course.  Another element of the course, most of the holes are set up so that shots should land short of the green and bounce up to the hole, thus shortening the yardage.  So in reality, the course will play at around 7,500 yards which still is long.

One other factor for this week is the person in charge of setting up the course.  Kerry Haigh is the chief championships officer and the man in charge of how the course will play.  He is well respected by all the players and, in his 30 plus years of setting up courses, have shown all that he sets up one of the fairest layouts in golf.  We can rest assure that Haigh will know of the weather conditions for every moment and will adjust the course to suit the elements.  Still, it doesn’t mean that the course will be easy, it won’t be.

Lot’s will be written about the natural hazards that will play a part of the PGA Championship, but for players, they will be looking to adopt their games for Kiawah.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing on the Ocean Course:

The PGA Championship is going back to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, a course that held the Ryder Cup in 1991 and the PGA Championship in 2012. The course also has held the 2003 World Cup and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.

This is the 103rd edition of this event, The last time the PGA Championship was held at Kiawah in 2012, Rory McIlroy blew away the field with an 8 shot victory over David Lynn. With the win, 23-year-old McIlroy became the youngest player since Seve Ballestero to win two majors. Rory won thanks to shooting 67-66 over the weekend, and he was bogey-free on his final 23 holes.

This year, the course will play at 7,876 yards, 200 yards longer than it played in 2012. Now the 7,876 figure is remarkable when you consider in major championship history it’s 135 yards longer than Erin Hills, which hosted the 2017 U.S. Open and was previously the longest course in a major. The back nine will play at 4,061 yards. There has been no other course that has broken the 4,000-yard mark. There will be seven par 4 holes played longer than 450 yards, of that, two will be over 500 yards. Before we fall off a cliff with this absurd notion of how unfair this is, we have to understand that the characteristics of the course itself and why it sets up to play long. The course is a linksland style course, next to the ocean with seashore paspalum fairways which will be bone dry, and the ball will run a long way. Not only will the ball run farther off the tee, but the course is set up to allow players to bounce shots into the green.

This is a very different course because there is a different experience if you miss the fairway. The course is played on one big sand dune, and there are no trees. The fairways are strips through the dunes, if you miss the fairway, good luck. It’s either unkept sand, a possible marsh, or sagebrush. So off the fairway, it turns into a major adventure, high scores will be seen this week.

The most prominent element of the course is mother nature. Since it’s next to the ocean and with no natural protection from the winds that generally blow at 15 mph. This will create its own element to make sure there are no low scores. For the average person, the course is daunting, but for players with precision shotmaking, the course is very fair. Now once you get to the greens, they are tough. 6,000 square feet they have a lot of subtle undulations and even though they are flat, will be easy to putt. So just like last year at Harding Park, weak putters can do well on this course (we saw it last year, Collin Morikawa won, he is considered a weak putter).
I still can’t stress the importance of finding the fairway off the tee and making sure to get the ball on the green in regulation.

Since we have very little data to base our conclusions for our four categories, we will take an educated guess on which stats will be needed to succeed this week at Kiawah for the PGA Championship. The key for Kiawah is to hit it long and straight. With lots of roll in the fairway, along with wind, it makes it essential. In 2012 Rory McIlroy averaged 311.5 yards and ranked 1st in the field. The average drive for the course was 282.8 yards, and for the year, it was the 13th longest course. Now in accuracy, Rory hit 37 of 56 fairways which ranked T-42nd. The field hit 66.07% of the fairways for the week, which ranked 35th out of 48 courses, so the course proved to be fair to hit the fairways. So our first category for Kiawah is Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee which combines driving distance with accuracy. Our second category is Greens in Regulation, and that is based on the fact that K Kai in 212 saw 56.42% of the field hit the greens, and it was the 5th hardest for the year. As for McIlroy, he hit 48 of the 72 greens and was T-13th in the field. We all know the greens are average size, but with players bouncing the balls in, that helps ease hitting the greens. But when a player doesn’t get it onto the green in regulation, this will cause lots of trouble. The greens are in the middle of the sand, so you miss the green, either chipping from off the edge or hitting it from the sand. Now the sand won’t be easy, it’s not like a normal bunker that caddies rake up after a player finishes, so there will be the possibility of footprints and complicated lies. In 2012 Kiawah ranked 2nd in scrambling as the players only got it up and down 48.89% of the time. One of the keys for Rory winning was getting it up and down 75% of the time, which led the field. Our last category is Strokes Gained putting, which is always crucial in a major. In 2012 Kiawah had a 1.817 putting average and was the 5th hardest course that year. As for Rory, he took 109 putts for the week and was T-8th in overall putting.

*Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee: This determines how many strokes are saved or wasted in driving off the tee, figuring hitting the fairway, and hitting it far.

*Greens in Regulation: Number of greens hit from the fairway or rough.

*Scrambling: This stat figures out who gets it up and down the most when a green is missed.

*Strokes Gained Putting: This is a great way in determining how a player does overall on the greens by determining the length of the putt and calculating the percentage the player should make the putt and coming up with a stroke figure.

Of the 156 players in the field, 105 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2021:

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

Here is a link to all 105 player stats for 2021

DraftKings tips

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

  • Rory McIlroy – $11,500
  • Justin Thomas – $11,300
  • Dustin Johnson – $10,900
  • Jon Rahm – $10,500
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $10,200
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,100
  • Collin Morikawa – $9,800
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,600
  • Brooks Koepka – $9,500
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $9,400
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,300
  • Webb Simpson – $9,200
  • Patrick Reed – $9,100
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,000

So your first “hunch” on seeing Rory McIlroy at $11,500?  Many will know the reason is because Rory broke out of his 18 month victory slump at the Wells Fargo.  With that many will automatically pick Rory with the assumption that he has his game in shape.  Picking him his tempting, he won two weeks ago, he won big on this course in 2012.  But the reality is that it’s best to pass on McIlroy.  Just think he isn’t ready to win right now, in a way his Fargo win made it look like he was ready to win everything.  But remember this, he had one poor round at the Wells Fargo, a first round 72.  In the past those one bad rounds were terrible for McIlroy mostly because it would happen in the final round. So he was able to comeback after the poor round but another thing really bothers me about Rory’s Wells Fargo win.  That is fairways hit, at the Fargo McIlroy only hit 19 fairways which is the new dubious record on the PGA Tour for a winner hitting the lowest number of fairways in a victory.  These are problems that could create havoc for McIlroy in future tournaments.  Have to say believe Rory’s game is better and the victory helped boast his ego and confidence, something that will help him this week.  I may not be very positive on McIlroy but I am very positive on Justin Thomas at $11,300.  Thomas is under the radar screen, but I know he is hitting the ball the way he wants to.  He also won at the Players Championship a couple of months back and TPC Sawgrass is a lot like Kiawah so that should help Thomas.  Scrambling is always important and Thomas is 10th in Strokes Gained Around-the-Green so he is good on greens he misses.  He will win this week.  Dustin Johnson at $10,900 is a player to avoid, sorry know he is one of the best on tour, but he hasn’t played well in months and we don’t know what the deal is with his injuries.  Remember this, he was suppose to play the week before the Masters at the Valor Texas Open, withdrew and a week later missed the cut at the Masters.  Johnson withdrew from the Byron Nelson citing pain in his knee.  Best to avoid him.  Jon Rahm at $10,500 is a good choice, yes he seems to have problems winning, but it’s only a matter of time.  Remember this about Rahm, he won the Irish Open twice on great links courses Portstewart and Laninch, so don’t be surprised to see him winning at Kiawah.  Bryce DeChambeau at $10,200 is a no for me.  Of course many will say, geez they are playing the longest course in major history, DeChambeau’s length gives him a big advantage.  Yes you are right, Bryce does have a advantage over the field, but the dark secret about him he just struggles in wind and we know there will be wind at Kiawah so save the pick.  Jordan Spieth at $10,100 is also a good pick, he is playing really good or shall we say he has so much confidence that his game is good right now.  Only thing that worries me, it’s really hard to have the added pressure of winning the final leg of the grand slam.  In the last 50 years great players like Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Raymond Floyd, Tom Watson and Rory McIlroy have needed that one win and haven’t been able to achieve it.  So it’s harder than you think, good luck to Spieth love to see him do it this week.  Collin Morikawa at $9,800 is a not for me, other than his T-7th at the Heritage, he hasn’t played well since winning the WGC-Workday Concession.  Don’t think this course will suit his game and think he will struggle, this is my opinion which many will disagree with.  Xander Schauffele at $9,600 is a yes, he is good in big tournaments, has played great this year but hasn’t been able to win that could end this week.  Brooks Koepka at $9,500 is a big no for me, sorry just think he isn’t at 100% with his knee and if he can’t play regularly on tour, why try to play in a major.  Koepka has so much talent but if he isn’t at his peak he can’t win.  Hideki Matsuyama at $9,400 caught everyone off guard at the Masters but I don’t see lightning striking twice.  He will have a lot of pressure on him that will make it too hard for him to win, so he is a no.  Viktor Hovland at $9,300 is a good pick, he has played well of late and is a great ball striker that will be perfect for Kiawah.  Only problem I have with him his putting is weak and he ranks 94th in Strokes Gained Around-the-Green so he isn’t the greatest when he misses the green.  Webb Simpson at $9,200 is a good choice, he likes Kiawah and feels his game is well suited for the course.  Plays well in the wind has played well in the majors in the last year, he has to go on your list of players to watch.  The same with Patrick Reed at $9,100, he is a good wind player and many people won’t see that and pass on him.  Patrick Cantlay at $9,000 is a no and very surprised he is that high.  Something seems to be off with Cantlay’s game, he has missed four cuts in his last six starts at events like the Players, Masters and Wells Fargo.  I say he struggles to make the cut this week.

*Players in that $7,600 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Hard to believe that Cantlay is valued at $9,000 while Cameron Smith is $8,900.  Smith has done good things in the last year, has proven to be able to play under any conditions including wind.  He is a big yes in my eyes.  Will Zalatoris at $8,800 is a no for me.  Realize how good he has played, but sense from his last couple of starts that he has cooled a bit.  Daniel Berger is a yes at $8,700, he has shown that his game has been solid.  He had some rib problems in the Florida swing, but he is over that now.  Tony Finau at $8,500 is a no, sorry but like with Cantlay just don’t know what is up with Finau’s game, it’s in a rough path and don’t see that getting better this week.  A big yes for Matthew Fitzpatrick at $8,400.  Have thought all year that this week could be a very good week for him.  Does play well in wind and on links courses.  The same with Tommy Fleetwood at $8,200, his price is low and think he will like Kiawah.  Also watch Tyrrell Hatton at $8,000 he is a guy that could sneak up and win this week.  Boy there are so many people in this category with a good chance, look at Louis Oosthuizen at $8,000.  Was T-21st at Kiawah in 2012, Won the British Open at St. Andrews, plays great on links courses and in the wind.  Abraham Ancer at $7,900 is another good pick because his game has heated up, his last two starts was a T-5th at Valspar and 2nd at Wells Fargo.  He too plays well in tough conditions.  Also hard to believe you can get Marc Leishman at $7,600.  Grew up playing links courses, if there was a perfect major site Kiawah is for him.  A perfect sleeper pick.

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

Hard to believe that the hottest player in golf right now Sam Burns is only $7,500.  He did win the Valspar and was 2nd at the Byron Nelson.  Guess he is valued so low because he doesn’t have a good track record in majors and did miss the cut at the Players.  Still think he is a good pick.  The same with Gary Woodland at $7,500.  He has been up and down all year, mostly due to injuries but seems to be good now after finishing 5th at the Wells Fargo.  Lee Westwood at $7,400 is also a good buy, he has played good and will make the cut.  Max Homa is $7,300 and in looking he does play well in wind.  Think his game is sharp and the worst that will happen is he makes the cut.  The same with Keegan Bradley at $7,300, his game has been good of late plus he was T-3rd at Kiawah in the 2012 PGA Championship.  Looking for a cheap pick that will make the cut and could squeeze a top-20?  Look no further than Robert Macintyre at $7,000, he will be good at Kiawah.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at TPC Harding Park:

  • 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.
  • A very important part of playing well at Kiawah will be how you do when you miss the green.  No matter how good you are, you will miss greens and one of the reasons Rory McIlroy won in 2012 was getting it up and down 75% of the time.  A winner this week will do about the same.
  • You have to remember that Kiawah is a resort course and one of the things you don’t see on resort courses are undulations on the green.  In the 30 years since Pete Dye built the course the one thing they have done is flatten out the greens, so poor putters will do better this week.
  • There is also the unknown factor in which the course could yield low scores to an unknown player. In 18 of the last 30 PGAs, the winner has claimed his first major in the PGA Championship with names like 2020 winner Collin Morikawa, 2017 winner Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and 2015 winner Jason Day.  So this could be a good omen for a Bryce DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, Matt Kuchar or Patrick Cantlay. Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel weren’t household names when they won, so you never know if that will get repeated.
  • There is a reason this course is called the “Ocean Course.”  It is on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with ten of the holes running along the Atlantic.  The biggest thing when the course was built was to raise the fairways and greens, so you always have the elements to deal with.  You better be a great wind player, because that is who will win this week.  Players will catch a break as the weather can’t be any better for the week.  Each day will be in the low 80, very little humidity and winds around 10 to 15 mph.  Trust me that doesn’t sound high, but with no protection that wind will play a factor.

Who to watch for at the PGA Championship

Best Bets:

Justin Thomas

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T37 T6 Win T66 18

As of this moment he seems like he will be the best for Kiawah, has the game to play well on links courses, play well in windy conditions, and on fast, firm courses. Winning the Players is a big sign that he can win the big one, also T-2nd at Zozo, 3rd at the windy link style Kapalua course at Sentry TofC.

Jordan Spieth

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T71 T3 T12 T28 T13 2 CUT CUT

I know the pressure to win his fourth different major will be hard, but Spieth will be able to withstand that pressure. Since February has played the best of anyone, he is great when motivated and he wants to win that last grand slam event. Also a good wind player, won Valero Texas Open, T-3rd at the Masters, T-9th last week at AT&T Byron Nelson.

Cameron Smith

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T43 T64 T56 CUT 25

This is the most underrated player in golf, hard to believe he has six top-tens for the year including a win with partner Marc Leishman in New Orleans and runner-up at the Masters in November and T-10th in April Masters. He has been so close it’s only a matter of time when he wins.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T33 T8 T50 T22 CUT 17 Win T8 Win T64 T3 T3

With his win at Wells Fargo showed that all of the time to rework his game since the Masters was worth it. Plays well on links courses, in the wind and he won the PGA at Kiawah last played in 2012. We will also see if his game is getting better.

Xander Schauffele

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T10 T16 T35 CUT

Has done everything but win this year, was runner-up three times, was T-3rd in the April Masters. T-14th in his last start at Wells Fargo, it’s only a matter of time before he wins.

Daniel Berger

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T13 T71 T12 CUT T73 CUT

He too has had a great year, in 14 starts only been out of the top-25 four times. Did have rib problems, but over it now. Won at Pebble, was T-3rd last week at the Byron Nelson.

Viktor Hovland

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T33

A very consistent year, with a win at Mayakoba, a pair of runner-ups at Farmers and WGC-Concession has been T-3rd in his last two starts at Valspar and Wells Fargo. Was T-21st at the April Masters, T-13th at the U.S. Open in September, and T-33 at PGA last year.

Jon Rahm

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T13 CUT T4 T58

Has won Irish Open twice at Portstewart and Lahinch, both great links courses. Plays well on firm courses in the wind. Was the most consistent play on the PGA Tour before missing the cut at Wells Fargo and T-34th at Byron Nelson.

Players born to play great on a links course:

Louis Oosthuizen

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T33 T60 T2 T22 30 T15 T21 CUT CUT CUT

Was T-21st at Kiawah in 2012, Won the British Open at St. Andrews, plays great on links courses and in the wind. Was 3rd at the U.S. Open in September, was runner-up at Zurich and T-8th at Valspar. Always a good pick in majors.

Marc Leishman

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT CUT T71 T13 T60 CUT T46 T12 T27 T48

Grew up playing links courses, if there was a perfect major site Kiawah is for him. A perfect sleeper pick, he won Zurich team play with Cameron Smith, was T-21st last week at Nelson.

Matt Fitzpatrick

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T41 CUT CUT T49

Have thought all year that this week could be a very good week for him. Does play well in wind and on links courses. Was T-4th at RBC Heritage, yes he missed the cut at Bryon Nelson but that course wasn’t suited for his game like Kiawah is.

Players you just can’t ignore for this week:

Webb Simpson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T37 T29 T19 T33 T13 54 CUT T25 CUT CUT

Always plays well in windy conditions in Hawaii. T-8th at the U.S. Open, T-10th at November Masters, T-12th at April Masters, and T-9th at his last start RBC Heritage.

Sam Burns

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T29

His game has heated up in the last month, showing he can play well in any conditions. In his last three starts, T-4th at Zurich Classic with Billy Horschel, won Valspar and 2nd at Byron Nelson.

Abraham Ancer

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T43 T16

His game seems to be better in tough conditions and on tough courses, likes playing in wind. His game has heated up, his last two starts were 5th at Valspar and 2nd at Wells Fargo.

Have lot’s of concerns about these stars:

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T2 2 T27 T13 CUT 7 T8 T48 CUT T5 T10

Am worried that there is more to why Johnson withdrew than he is saying. Johnson also withdrew from Texas Open the week before the Masters and look what happened, he played terribly and missed the cut at Augusta. Realize he was T-13th at Heritage and T-48th at Valspar, but something is not right with Johnson right now. The last time he played decently was Genesis back in February that is not the Dustin Johnson we all know, something is up.

Bryson DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 CUT CUT T33

DeChambeau is very talented and does have an advantage over the field, but we are seeing he has a dark secret, he struggles in the wind. All of his ten wins in PGA Tour, European Tour, and Korn Ferry have come in perfect weather, no wind. Have noticed that when it gets windy as it did over the weekend at the Byron Nelson, Bryson struggled. Look how bad he has done at the British Open and the other venues with wind. So this week will be miserable for Bryson and he needs to figure out this problem in the future.

Brooks Koepka

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T29 Win Win T13 T4 5 T15 T70

Sorry but he is not close to being 100% since having knee surgery in March. He tried to play at the Masters and missed the cut, the same at the Nelson the odds are better in his missing the cut over winning. You can’t try to play in an event with bad knees

Comments

  1. bootheperry@gmail.com says

    No love for Schwartzel at $6,800?

  2. Booth, you are right, no love for Schwartzel who is playing well and should have been at the least one of my bargain picks for DraftKings. The problem is there are too many good choices this week. It’s so hard to weed through the good picks and crap. A perfect example is Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryce DeChambeau. These guys are favorites and really shouldn’t be, so you have to waste time explaining why you shouldn’t waste your time on them. Another big problem, players lie, they don’t really tell you the truth and stand up during a media interview saying there is great shape when it’s a lie, their game is terrible right now. The last problem is we just don’t know when a player is all of a sudden coming out of a slump, like two weeks ago with Rory McIlroy. Could this be Dustin Johnson’s time to shine or does he still have discomfort in his knee? So yes you are right, probably should of in the least made Schwartzel a bargain pick on Draftkings, In hindsight a couple of things turned me off on him, that he finished T-59th at Kiawah in 2012.

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