PGA Championship best bets: Eight players I like

May 19, 2022 06:43 AM
USATSI_18269125

K.H. Lee had posted just one top-10 finish since earning his first PGA Tour victory last year at the 2021 Byron Nelson, the main reason he was priced at 100-1 to defend his title. Lee pulled it off Sunday, though, shooting 26-under par to hold off Dallas native Jordan Spieth by one stroke. Rounding out the top five was one of our tips Hideki Matsuyama (third, led the field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Proximity to the Hole), Sebastian Munoz (third), Xander Schauffele (fifth, 3-over par after 23 holes before shooting 26 under for the remaining 49 holes), Justin Thomas (fifth) and Ryan Palmer (fifth). 

This week, the golf world travels four hours north from Dallas to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the second major of the year, the PGA Championship. Southern Hills Country Club last played host to the PGA Championship in 2007 when Tiger Woods, who is in the field this week at 66-1, won his fourth PGA. 

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (12-1) won his first major six weeks ago at the Masters and has won four times (Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Match Play, Masters) in a nine-week span. World No. 2 Jon Rahm (12-1), who won three weeks ago for the first time since winning the U.S. Open in June, is the co-favorite. Thomas (16-1) has six top 10s in 10 events in 2022 but is still seeking his first victory in more than 14 months (2021 Players Championship) and is looking to break a nearly five-year major drought after winning the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. Rory McIlroy (16-1) is a two-time PGA Champion (2012, Kiawah Island; 2014, Valhalla), but his major drought dates to Valhalla almost eight years ago. Perhaps no player has better recent form than Jordan Spieth (18-1) who won the RBC Heritage five weeks ago and finished runner-up last week. Spieth is attempting to complete the career grand slam this week. 

Collin Morikawa (20-1), the World No. 3, has had a relatively quiet season but has won a major championship in each of the last two years (2020 PGA Championship, Harding Park; 2021 Open Championship, Royal St. George's). World No. 5 Patrick Cantlay (22-1) and World No. 4 Cameron Smith (25-1) are the highest-ranked players without a major. Smith's best chance was last month at Augusta before finishing third. Cantlay has earned four wins and a FedEx Cup in the last 11 months. Recently married Dustin Johnson (25-1) has fallen out of the OWGR top 10 (currently 12th) for the first time since 2015, and his last victory was in January 2021. World No. 6 Victor Hovland (25-1) has four worldwide victories in the last 12 months but has not played an individual event since the Masters. He elected to prepare at his home in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he played his college golf at Oklahoma State and just an hour drive to Tulsa. 

Xander Schauffele (28-1) has six top-five finishes in majors and comes in with some momentum after a final-round 61 at the Byron Nelson. Hideki Matsuyama (33-1) fired a final-round 62 Sunday and has three wins worldwide since his 2021 Masters title. Shane Lowry (35-1) has finished in the top three in three of his last six starts, including the Masters, plus was fourth at last year's PGA. Will Zalatoris (35-1) disappointed last week with a missed cut at his hometown event. Brooks Koepka (45-1) and Bryson DeChambeau (100-1) are wild cards due to recent battles with injuries over the last year. Koepka claims he is back to good health, while DeChambeau's health is still in question.

The Event

The PGA Championship returns to Southern Hills Country Club for the first time since 2007. The PGA was originally scheduled for Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, but the PGA of America stripped the course of the event on January 10, 2021, four days after the storming of the United States Capitol building, due to what the organization said would be “detrimental to the PGA of America brand.” Two weeks later, the PGA of America announced that they were awarding the PGA Championship to Southern Hills. 

The PGA Championship is the only one of the four majors exclusively for professionals. Furthermore, 20 PGA of America teachers and club professionals earn spots for the event. In all, 156 players are in the field and the low 70 and ties will make the weekend. 

​The Course

Southern Hills Country Club is no stranger to hosting majors. It has played host to four PGA Championships (1970, 1982, 1994, 2007) and three U.S. Opens (1958, 1977, 2001) plus numerous USGA events and most recently the 2021 Senior PGA Championship. 

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