PGA Championship betting guide: 13 picks our expert loves at Oak Hill
Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator, Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is the host of the HeatStrokes podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read below to see his favorite plays for the PGA Championship, which kicks off Thursday at Oak Hill in Pittsford, N.Y. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.
Golf’s second major championship of the season is upon us. The 105th PGA Championship will take place at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY., the host course to six major championships since it opened for play in 1926.
Oak Hill is a Donald Ross design. It last hosted a major in 2013, when Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship, going off at about 40-1. As we have seen on Tour for the past three weeks now, Oak Hill, too, is a big, long, golf course, suited to bombers. It will play as a par-70, at just under 7,400 yards.
When Dufner won in 2013, he did it by driving the ball very straight, finding the tree-lined fairways. The Oak Hill the players will face this year will be substantially different. More than 600 trees were removed in 2019, as part of a restoration by the architect Andrew Green.. The fairways remain narrow, about 27 yards wide on average, but with the tree removal, more room has been created for second shots through the limbs.
The rough will be thick. Not necessarily overly long but dense and wet with this championship being played in May. It was not that long ago that there was snow in this part of the country. The greens have all been redone. Green was assigned the task of trying to revitalize some of the original styles and design intentions of Donald Ross. The greens are on the Ross-like smaller side and will have the traditional Ross run-off areas. All of the bunkers were remodeled and will be very penal with steep faces and deep wells, both around the greens and in the fairways.
Many of the statistics that I have looked at over the past few weeks, in Mexico, at Quail Hollow, and last week at the Byron Nelson, apply this week. Off the tee, I considered Total Driving, Driving Distance, and Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. On approach, I looked at Greens in Regulation Gained and Strokes Gained: Approach. I also looked at Hole Proximity from 175 – 200 yards and from 200+. Note that this course features 12 Par 4’s of over 460 yards, two Par 3’s stretching to 230 yards, and two Par 5’s that are both over 600 yards.
Around the greens, I looked at Scrambling, Sand Saves, Bogey Avoidance, and Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass).
Three tournaments on the PGA Tour are held on Donald Ross designs: the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club, the Tour Championship at East Lake, and the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. I don’t feel like any of these are especially similar to Oak Hill, but there is enough there with a common course designer to at least consider them among the correlated courses this week. The others that I believe have greater similarities are Muirfield Village, home to the Memorial; Bethpage Black, which hosted the 2019 PGA Championship; Torrey Pines, host of the Farmers Insurance Open and the 2021 U.S. Open site, Winged Foot, home to the U.S. Open in 2020; Harding Park, which hosted the 2020 PGA Championship; and Whistling Straits, host of the 2015 PGA Championship. Finally, I also looked at Aronimink, another Donald Ross design in the northeast that played host to the 2018 BMW Championship as a part of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
We got back on the beam last week, hitting Jason Day outright. We also went 3-1-1 in our head-to-head matchups. Let’s see if we can continue that trend in a major.
To Win the PGA Championship (and finish Top 10)
Xander Schauffele (23-1)
Schauffle has been a Top 10-machine in majors, and he’s been dominant at East Lake with finishes of 1-7-2-2-5-4. He was 16th at Bethpage in 2019, 10th at Harding Park in 2020, fifth at Winged Foot in 2020, and seventh at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2021. He’s also been red-hot as of late. His last six starts go as follows, 2-4-4-10-5-19. Schauffele is fifth on Tour in SG Approach, 12th in Hole Proximity from 175-200, 27th in Scrambling, and 14th in Bogey Avoidance. He looks primed to seriously contend once again.
Tony Finau (33-1)
I grabbed this number on Finau after 36-holes were complete in Mexico. I felt that he was going to go on to win, so I jumped on the price before it was chopped. He is much like Schauffele in the sense that he has contended a number of times at major championships and at the correlated courses. In fact, he won at a Ross design last summer, winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. He tops the board in my stats this week with what he does off the tee, his touch around the greens, plus the fact that he is No. 1 on Tour in SG Approach.
To Win the PGA Championship Outright (and finish Top 20)
Brooks Koepka (23-1)
What has long been said about Koepka only truly caring about the majors was never more evident than it was last month when he led the Masters for the first three days, ultimately finishing runner-up. He has four majors to his credit along with nine Top 10 finishes in majors since 2014. He’s won twice on the LIV Tour and comes off of a third and fifth place finish in his last two LIV events, closing with two straight rounds of 65 last week. In those last two events, he was fifth and seventh in Total Driving and 8th each week for Greens in Regulation. As far as the correlated courses, he was fifth at Whistling Straits in 2015, fourth at the U.S. Open in 2021, and won the Wanamaker Trophy at Bethpage Black in 2019. He also has Top 6 finishes at both East Lake at Sedgefield. When healthy, Brooks remains a force in major championships.
Collin Morikawa (25-1)
Morikawa missed the cut in his last start at Quail Hollow and also in the team event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Two weeks before that, he finished 10th at The Masters. I feel like the time away will be good for him to regroup and focus on capturing his second PGA Championship. While he does not drive the ball like some of the true bombers, he does average nearly 300 yards off the tee and also gets his distance more so with carry than with run-out, which I believe is important this week with the moist, softer conditions. He also happens to be third on Tour in Driving Accuracy. If he can find himself in the short grass all week, he will have found his wheelhouse. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks fifth in Hole Proximity from 175-200 yards and 23rd from 200-yards or greater. He’s third in SG Approach and fifth in SG Ball Striking. Morikawa has finished as high as sixth at East Lake and took fourth at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He won at Muirfield Village when they played the Workday there in 2020. If he is hitting fairways and greens, he’s going to be in the mix. Over the last eight tournaments, for both the PGA and DP World Tours, Morikawa is 18th in this field for SG Tee to Green.
Viktor Hovland (30-1)
Like Morikawa, Hovland has cooled off in his past couple of starts since finishing seventh at the Masters but his driving and ball striking are so good, it makes him an excellent fit for this golf course. He is fourth on Tour in Total Driving. He is 21st in SG Approach over the last 36 rounds, 12th in Ball Striking, and ranks 11th on Par 4’s measuring between 450-500 yards. He’s finished fifth at East Lake, fourth at the Wyndham, and has two Top 15 finishes at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He took 13th at Winged Foot in 2020 and finished runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2021. Over the last eight rounds on both the PGA and DP World Tours, Hovland is second in this field for SG Off the Tee. I feel like this week, he is going to contend in a major once again.
Rickie Fowler (100-1)
When I started researching this golf course about a month ago and who might be a good fit, I was surprised to see how well Rickie ranks statistically. He is 31st on Tour in Total Driving. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks 17th for SG Ball Striking, seventh for SG Approach, 13th in Bogey Avoidance, 22nd in Scrambling, 39th in Hole Proximity from 175-200, and 39th in SG Putting (Bent grass). He’s finished runner-up twice at the Memorial, was eighth at Aronimink in 2018, and it would be incredible to see Rickie win a major. With the way he’s playing, I think he has a good shot — better than 100-1 anyway.
Russell Henley (125-1)
Here is another guy who I believe has a better shot than what his price is indicating. Henley is not a long hitter but is No.1 on Tour in Driving Accuracy. Augusta National caters to longer hitters but Henley just finished fourth there last month. Like Morikawa, if he is hitting from the short grass all week, he could make a run again for the second straight time in a major. It wasn’t only The Masters either as Henley has three Top 20’s and a Top 5 finish in his last four starts. Over the last eight events on both the PGA and DP World Tours, Henley ranks ninth in this field for SG Approach, 18th for SG Around the Green, fifth for SG Tee to Green, second in SG Putting, and second for SG Total. Pretty impressive.
Gary Woodland (150-1)
In finishing 14th at the Wells Fargo three weeks ago, Woodland led the field in SG Tee to Green. The week prior, he was 3rd tee to green in the field in Mexico. Woodland has been playing very well and with his length off the tee and long iron game, he makes a great deal of sense for this golf course. The problem is the short game as he ranks 131st in Scrambling and 109th in SG Putting (Bent grass) over the last 36 rounds. Still, 150-1 seems too long of a price for me. He finished eighth at Bethpage in 2019, 12th at Aronimink in 2018, and has two Top 10 finishes at the Memorial.
Full Tournament Head to Head Matchups (26-19-3 YTD)
Jason Day (-115) over Dustin Johnson
Collin Morikawa (-140) over Max Homa
Rickie Fowler (-120) over Tom Kim
Russell Henley (-125) over Mito Pereira
Taylor Moore (-130) over Tom Hoge
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