PGA Championship Key Fantasy Stats

PGA Championship

May 18th – 21st, 2023

Oak Hill C.C. (East Course)

Rochester, N.Y.

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,394

Purse: $17.5 million

with $3,150,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

The PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, 10 years after Jason Dufner won by two shots over Jim Furyk. Oak Hill Country Club is hosting the PGA Championship for the fourth time, having previously done so in 1980, 2003, and 2013. Only Southern Hills, the site of last year’s PGA Championship, has hosted this championship as often (five times). Oak Hill CC has also hosted three U.S. Open Championships (1956, 1968, 1989). Only three other clubs have hosted at least three PGA Championships and three U.S. Opens: Oakmont (3 PGA, 9 US), Oakland Hills (3 PGA, 6 US), and Southern Hills (5 PGA, 3 US). Jack Nicklaus won the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill CC, while Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open in 1968. The only other club at which Nicklaus and Trevino won major championships is Muirfield, at which Nicklaus and Trevino won British Opens in 1966 and 1972.

Talking about returning to Oak Hill, 33 in the field this week also played in 2013. The prominent players are Adam Scott (T-5th), Dustin Johnson (T-8th), Jason Day (T-8th), Rory McIlroy (T-8th), Keegan Bradley (T-19th), Rickie Fowler (T-19th), Hideki Matsuyama (T-19th), Matt Kuchar (T-22nd), Webb Simpson (T25th), Justin Rose (T-33rd), Shane Lowry (T57th), Brooks Koepka (T-70th), Phil Mickelson (T-72nd), and Gary Woodland (74th). Other prominent players who played but missed the cut include Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Luke Donald, and Russell Henley. Going even further, seven players in this year’s field played at Oak Hill in 2003: Shaun Micheel (Won), Luke Donald (T-23rd), Adam Scott (T-23rd), Phil Mickelson (T-23rd), Padraig Harrington (T-29th), Paul Casey (66th), and Justin Rose (missed cut).

In the middle 1920s, Donald Ross was hired to build two golf courses on 350 barren, treeless acres. While creating the courses, Ross inspired a local lad, Robert Trent Jones, to become an architect. At 18 years old, Jones was the leading golfer in the Rochester area. His dream was to be the best golfer in the world, and it was shattered when a doctor told him he had developed an ulcer and had to give up competitive golf. Not knowing what to do with his life, he thought it would be nice to design golf courses. At about this time, he heard of the two courses under construction at Oak Hill and decided to see what was happening. After convincing him that Jones is serious, Jones meets Ross and shows him the course. Ross took the time to explain what he was doing, and with this meeting, Jones decided to make it his life’s work.
He returned to Rochester in the 1950s and extensively changed every hole except the 14th hole. Jones also extended the length of the course by almost 400 hundred yards and reduced the par from 72 to 70.
In 1975 the club brought in George and Tom Fazio for further alterations. They revised several holes, most notably the fifth and sixth holes.

Over the years, the one thing that Oak Hill is famous for is its trees. When Ross built the course, the land was treeless. Member Dr. John Williams was a botanist and made it his personal project to cover the property with trees. In his backyard, Williams planted seeds and raised them to saplings. He then transplanted them to the course. People began sending him seeds and acorns worldwide as the project became better known. Williams even got one from a tree planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon. With his hard work, Williams transplanted the barren landscape into a forest with over 80,000 trees on the Oak Hill property. When the PGA was played in 2013, over 34,000 trees were on the East Course of Oak Hill.

But in 2015, things changed. In its first 90 years, the Donald Ross course evolved from the original ways that Ross built the course in 1934. With the growth of trees and the changes made by other architects, the course differed from the course that Donald Ross built. The membership wanted to resurrect the way Ross first created the course and hired an unknown architect, Andrew Green. He went through the archives, looked through photos, and understood what the course was like in the 20s. Starting in 2019, many of the 34,000 trees were removed, mostly around tees and greens, to get better sun, eliminate the claustrophobic conditions, and make for better crowd movement. Now this sounds sinister when you think of all the beautiful oaks, elms, and maples on the property. But Oak Hill followed the lead of two famous courses, Oakmont in Pittsburg and Winged Foot outside New York. These two are some of the most treasured courses in the world, and their tree elimination made the course much better.

Another thing that Green did was to change holes 5, 6, and 15 and revert them to the original Donald Ross design. Green also redid all 18 greens and reverted them to how Donald Ross originally built them. The restoration also included reshaping the bunkers and adding chipping areas around the greens. All of the greens, a combination of bentgrass/Poa Annua, reverted to pure bentgrass. Green also restored the shapes and contours of the greens, reverting them to how they were when the course opened close to 90 years ago. Green was also able to add 231 yards from what the course played in the 2013 PGA Championship. The course has two par 5s, the 4th at 615 yards and the 13th at 623 yards. Both won’t be considered “lay-up” holes as birdies will be well-earned. Of the 12 par 4s, four of them are over 480 yards (6th, 9th, 17th & 18th) and just two holes (12th & 14th) are under 400 yards. The 14th is a drivable par-4, and PGA officials will allow players a chance to drive the hole. The hole is steeply uphill, with bunkers fronting the green and a newly designed short grass roll-off. The green is two-tier, and it will be challenging to hold the ball onto the top tier.

Driving will be challenging, and media members on the course on Monday report that the rough is very thick and will make driving difficult. Some are comparing the course to the way Bethpage Black was played in the 2019 PGA Championship won by Brooks Koepka. Eliminating so many of the trees in the fairway will mean that many shots into the greens will have to be gouged out of the thick fescue/Kentucky bluegrass, rye mix.

So the first thing to consider is how different Oak Hill is compared to when the PGA was played in 2013. Back then, the course played to a 72.00 scoring average. The 2003 PGA Championship played even harder to a 74.55 average, but we have to remember that 25 club pros were in the field in 2003 and 20 in 2013. Still, an average of close to par would be acceptable for the week.

So we will take an educated guess on which stats will be needed to succeed at Oak Hills this week. The things to watch for, accuracy will be the key to winning this week, not only in driving accuracy but precious iron play into the greens. This course will demand a great shotmaker, and when you miss a green, you will have to show the skill of handling both sand play and pitch shots from chipping areas around the green. If that isn’t enough, a poor putter won’t cut it on this course. The greens have a lot of undulations and mounds, and since the greens are small at 4,500 square feet, there won’t be any long, lag-putting. The greens will be fast and take a lot of nerves to make most of those nasty five and six-footers.

So this is based on the most important stats for Oak Hills, based on what I feel is essential, and using data from all the players in this week’s field with stats from 2023. Of course, weather plays a factor in scoring, and the course did have a good amount of rain in April, but it’s been dry in May. Since it’s being played in mid-May, it will be cold in Rochester. On Tuesday, high winds with gusts up to 30-35 mph will help dry out the course. Rain is expected to come in Friday evening, with showers likely over the weekend. On some good news, it will only get into the mid-50s on Wednesday and won’t get much above 70 during the week.

Since it’s essential to not only keep it in the fairway but also drive it far, I use a stat that is a bit old and not used much, but I feel crucial Total Driving which adds up the rank of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy to come up with a total rank. This will determine which players will hit it long and straight, two necessary items for the week. In 2013 Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship, and he did it with his ball-striking skills from tee to green. He was the 25th longest driver of the week and was T-18th in Driving Accuracy.
Our second category is Greens in Regulation, the number of greens hit from the fairway. To score and score well on this course, hitting greens is critical. Dunfer showed that as a key in his victory as he hit 54 of the 72 greens and was 3rd in that stat for the week.
Our third category is Strokes Gained Around the Green. This combines all skills in getting it up and down from the short grass and the bunkers around the greens, which have close to 38 of them around them. Those stats weren’t available in 2013, but Dufner was 12th in scrambling and T-73rd in Sand Save Percentage.
Our last category is stroked Gained Putting. This is an excellent way of determining how a player does overall on the greens, and since putting is vital to winning at Oak Hill, I don’t see any stat better to end this stat look with.

*Total Driving: It adds up the rank of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy to come up with a total rank. This will determine which players will hit it long and straight, two items very important for the week.

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

*Strokes Gained Around the Green: This is a combination of all skills in getting it up and down from the short grass and the bunkers around the greens.

*Strokes Gained Putting: This is a great way to determine 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.

The 97 of the 156 players from this year’s field with stats from 2023. There are no stats for the 20 club pros in the field and foreign players.

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

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