The time has come for the second major of the year, as the PGA Championship is set to take place this week at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. The event features a 156-player field, including last year's winner Justin Thomas and this year’s betting favorites, Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm. We’ll go over my plays for the tournament before going over some course information and stats to know/look for when betting on the event.
Tony Finau To Win (+2200): It's hard to bet against Rahm and Scheffler this week, but based on pure value and skills needed to succeed at this course, I think Finau is perfect. Not only is he first in strokes gained on approach to the green, but he is third in strokes gained tee to green, and has a driving accuracy percentage of 62.2%.
The struggles in majors have been noted, but he is coming into this week with some momentum with his win in Mexico over Jon Rahm, and I think his game is at a point where he can put himself in the mix on any course or event.
Collin Morikawa Top 10 Finish (+335): Morikawa won this event in 2020 and has four top-ten finishes this season. His strokes gained in putting does concern me, but with his precision, I think he can put himself in better spots on this course than most of the field.
He’s fourth in strokes gained in approach to the green, and third in driving accuracy percentage. Putting could keep him from hoisting the trophy again, but the rest of his game should have him in the mix.
Tyrell Hatton Top 20 Finish: I have always been drawn to golfers who wear their emotions on their sleeve, and Hatton falls into that category. I’m not entirely sold on whether he can stay at the top of the board as we get into the back end of the weekend, but I think he has the skills to compete and succeed at Oak Hill. Hatton is 11th in strokes gained approach to the green, 32nd in driving accuracy, 25th in stroke gained putting, and is 6th in back-nine scoring average.
Taylor Moore (-120) over Denny McCarthy in Round 1: Not only has Moore made seven straight cuts, but he is 26th in total strokes gained and 12th in strokes gained for putting, which is needed when going up against one of the best putters on tour in McCarthy. That said, though, I think McCarthy may struggle to set himself up in terms of putting since he is 106th in strokes gained for approach to the green.
J.T Poston (-125) over Mackenize Hughes in Round 1: Not only is Hughes ranked 141st in first-round scoring average, but he is also 176th in driving accuracy, 154th in strokes gained approach to the green, and 148th in Par 4 scoring average. Poston is 29th in greens in regulation percentage and has been slightly better in his approach to the green.
The last time the PGA Championship was played at Oak Hill was in 2013 when Jason Dufner came away with the victory and lifted the Wanamaker Trophy. Accuracy off the tee is crucial with this course due to narrow fairways and deep bunkers. Driving accuracy is why 2020 winner Collin Morikawa an interesting name to keep an eye on, as he is 3rd in driving accuracy percentage and has the 11th-best odds of winning the event.
Not only will driving accuracy play a significant factor this weekend, but approach shots onto the green will be just as vital due to challenging putting conditions on most holes. For bettors looking to do their own research for this tournament along with this article, I suggest looking at the stat, strokes gained on approach to the green. Tony Finau is currently the leader on the tour in this category, and he has the 7th best odds to win the tournament and the 6th best odds to be in the Top-10 after the first round.
The ability to finish rounds strong is another area that will play a role in deciding a winner come Sunday since the final few holes of Oak Hill are arguably the most brutal stretch on the course.
After a 155-yard par three on hole 15, the golfers finish with three straight par fours that cover 458, 502, and 497 yards in that order. The 497-yard 18th hole has one of the most narrow fairways on the course at 20 yards and three of the deep bunkers previously mentioned, so the final hole requires a lit bit of everything we have covered so far.