10 2023 PGA Championship best bets, according to a longtime pro caddie 

Cameron Young hits a tee shot on Tuesday during a practice round for this week's PGA Championship.

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The last time I was in Rochester, N.Y., was 17 years ago, and the week was memorable for two reasons. Still green in my caddie career (at least that’s what I tell myself), and trying to speed up play, I managed to get my pro a two-stroke penalty by raking the bunker before he played a shot. Notably, the offense happened at Irondequoit C.C., which happens to share a fence line with this week’s PGA Championship host, Oak Hill C.C

Earlier that week, I was also fortunate enough to play their West course and remember witnessing its big brother. Since then, the Donald Ross-designed East has been beautifully restored and modernized, and my guess is it will play as tough as ever. With an aptly timed cool and breezy forecast, the only course in the U.S. that has hosted the rotating major championships and the Ryder Cup will play like a U.S. Open this week. 

Here’s my view of the betting board and 10 players you could wager on to win or place: 

— I may or may not have taken my modest winnings from the Masters (Jon Rahm first-round eagle!) and invested, on the spot, in Cam Young (+2,800 win and +550 T5). Even with better numbers available one month later, I’m still excited about this New York-born, long-driving thoroughbred getting a crack at another major after finishing T7 at Augusta. Veteran jockey Paul Tesori is also now in the saddle, and the addition is extremely valuable.

Patrick Cantlay (+1,800 win and +350 T5) has showed good form in majors of late. Notably, his best-ever finish was T3 at the ’19 PGA at similarly difficult Bethpage Black, and this time around, he’s got New York’s finest, Joe LaCava, on the bag. Cantlay’s stats are absurdly good at the moment, particularly off the tee (where you’ll need it this week with dense rough), and every inch of the greens at Oak Hill have been covered with bentgrass — Patty Ice’s preferred putting surface.    

— My “research” picked up while talking to another caddie about whom he was ‘on’ this week. The one who stood out the most was Rory McIlroy (+120 T10). Now, I know you may have lost your money on Rors when he went for the trunk slam at Augusta, but hear me (my friend) out. McIlroy is still hungry for another major and has played the PGA better than any. He smartly went back to the putter that he had been winning with, AND he is playing in the hometown of his wife! Not many things will relax you more than a road home game with smiling grandparents and a tidy sand game. FWIW, my caddie friend was also on Dustin Johnson (+220 T10).

— Doing some digging on DataGolf.com, two names stuck out farther down the board that could win and certainly should play well. Tyrrell Hatton (+4,000 win and +650 T5) has a second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finish over the past four months on the PGA Tour, so his game is peaking at the exact best time. And I love, more than hate, that Sungjae Im (+3,000 win +275 T10) spent last week hoisting a trophy in South Korea. 

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— I think Rickie Fowler (+210 T20) should be good for his eighth top 20 of the year. If Fowler can be even a tenth of a stroke positive off the tee, his approach game, and most importantly his putting, appear to be back on track. 

— There’s no way of knowing which version will show up, but Hideki Matsuyama (+175 T20) makes a lot of sense as @PGASplits101 noted that ’Deki is second-best in the field in average finish combined (20.6) in the PGA or U.S. Open since ’17 — behind only Brooks Koepka (16.4).

— Maybe two majors too early, but I can’t quit Tommy Fleetwood (+5,500 win and +400 T10), especially since he’s been positive in every major stat category since March, well above his career average. 

— And a final shoutout for my man Stephan Jaeger (+400 T20), who got in for John Daly on Monday and is building a solid season after finally gaining strokes last week (since Hawaii!) on the bentgrass greens at the Byron Nelson. This will be Jaeger’s first PGA, but with ball speeds in the mid- to high 170s, his driver can also hang this week. 

Enjoy the action!     

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