2023 PGA Championship picks to win: Here’s who our staff is betting on at Oak Hill
“I’ve been to Rochester once before, for an amateur tournament, and it was in June, and I remember it was really cold,” the world No. 2 said last week. “So that’s kind of all I remember.
“I know that it’s a great golf course. I’ve heard it’s very challenging. I think Teddy [Scott, his caddie] was telling me that [Jason] Dufner maybe set the record at Oak Hill last time the tournament was there at like 10-under, so a record for a tournament being 10-under means it’s typically pretty difficult.”
Indeed. Notably, Scheffler’s minimal insight there is actually a pretty telling one as we try to pick a winner this week. The takeaways here:
— Cold is a relative term, of course, but by most objective standards, it won’t be this week. According to weather.com, the temperatures will be around the 60s over the event’s four days. Still, that won’t exactly qualify as steamy. Your winner must be all-weather good.
— There’s no arguing difficulty. Oak Hill has previously hosted seven majors, and the winning scores have been 10-under (2013 PGA, by Dufner); four-under (2003 PGA, by Shaun Micheel); two-under (1989 U.S. Open, by Curtis Strange); six-under (1980 PGA, by Jack Nicklaus); five-under (1968 U.S. Open, by Lee Trevino); and one-over (1956 U.S. Open, by Cary Middlecoff). Word is Andrew Green’s restoration has turned a monster into a full-blown beast. Add in the fact that you’ll no doubt get all of the wonderful tests of a major championship — thick rough, tricky pins, fast greens — and your winner must have a complete bag, with a lean toward driving accuracy.
— Scheffler won’t be the only one without course knowledge. As noted above, Oak Hill hasn’t hosted a major in a decade. If you buy into the ‘horses-for-courses’ thought, you may lean toward a vet. Or Rory McIlroy, who’s a member. Or go with someone whose game is flexible.
With that, members of our staff have each made a to-win bet. The hope is, of course, we help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook.
On to our picks.
2023 PGA Championship picks to win
To-win: Adam Scott, +9,000. When it comes to recent play, Scott has been on a hot streak, and although his putting can be a little up and down, the two things that aren’t are his driving and ball striking — and Oak Hill is going to require those strengths. If he keeps hitting it well, putts are going to drop. Scott has a great chance to win this week.
To-win: Viktor Hovland, +2,500. The past two major-winners at Oak Hill have been off-the-board picks. Hovland, who’s played well enough to find himself in the Sunday conversation at both the Masters and the Open Championship in the past 12 months, remains one of the better players not to break through at a major. His win at Oak Hill would also count as a reasonable underdog selection, so I’ll take it.
To-win: Xander Schauffele, +2,000. I’m fully committed to the bit of picking Xander to win every single major. But I also believe it. That’s the key — full immersion. Method-bitting. I don’t see how anyone else could possibly win. Well, except for Scottie Scheffler. I could see him winning. Or Jon Rahm. But Schauffele is coming in hot, with a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow and top-10 results in his past five events, if that’s any good. Oak Hill should demand a well-rounded golfer. Few are better rounded than this one.
To-win: Hideki Matsuyama, +3,300. Given Matsuyama’s odds here, it’s hard not to take a flier on the 2021 Masters champ. Prior to last week’s Byron Nelson, we haven’t seen Matsuyama play an event since Augusta. Given the time off, something tells me his mind is sharp, his game is ready, and he’s using Dallas as an opportunity to work on both his driving accuracy and putting stroke for Oak Hill. Look out!
To-win: Jon Rahm, +700. I respect my colleagues searching hard for the highest return on their investment, but we’re here to win, regardless of value. The reason you can get most of the World Top 10 players for better than 20-1 odds is because Rahm is highly likely to beat them all, as he’s done all season. He had an unprecedented four wins at the end of April, and now he’ll have five wins and two majors before May is through. If you’ve watched a single round of Rahm’s this season, you know that’s what he’s capable of.
To win: Xander Schauffele, +2,000. I have the same pick as Dylan, but for the complete opposite reason. I’m picking Schauffele because I *can’t* keep picking Collin Morikawa to win every major. All that aside, Schauffele brought Quail Hollow to its knees two weeks ago — his 15-under-par total would have been enough to win or force a playoff at the Wells Fargo in all but two years of its existence before this year. Wyndham Clark just went on a heater. Schauffele has also been working on a streak of five-straight top-10s going back to the Match Play, and has finished T15 or better in the past four majors. It’s time for the X-Man to get his marquee win.
To-win: Brooks Koepka, +2,000. After an impressive run at the Masters, I’m not leaving Koepka off my major championship shortlist. His game feels like a good fit for Oak Hill, and he’s long had a reputation for saving his best stuff for golf’s biggest events. I’m banking on the shot of confidence from his T2 at Augusta, mixed with the LIV “I’ve-got-something-to-prove” mentality, to result in major No. 5 for the expectant father.
To-win: Tommy Fleetwood, +5,500. The form is there. The game has always been there. But there’s more to this pick for me. A psychic kinda told me. Consider it a teaser. Come back to GOLF.com later this week for one of the weirdest — and most fun — stories I’ve ever assembled. I’m dead serious. We talk about Oak Hill. And the supernatural.
To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +750. Scheffler is going to remind us that he’s standing alongside Jon Rahm on golf’s mountain top. We’re due for a battle between these two in a major, and this is the week we get it. And Scheffler gets the job done.
To-win: Corey Conners, +8,000. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s either going to be Rahm or Scheffler. But since we are looking for a reasonable payout, we need to go slightly further down the board — to a guy who has a handful of top 10s in majors, a win this season and the kind of placid demeanor that is going to come in handy for a course that is going to require a ton of patience. Plus, Rochester is practically Canada … just with better chicken wings and worse donuts, so this should feel like a home game for Conners.
To-win: Brooks Koepka, +2,000. Four majors in a three-year span and with confidence out of this world, Koepka dreams it and achieves it. He could be our winner. Also maybe a bit partial because his wife’s last name is Sims.