The PGA Championship returns to Southern Hills for the first time since Tiger slayed the field in 2007. The course has recently undergone a re-design at the hands of Gil Hanse and the players, so far, have been very complimentary of the revised layout.
Like most PGA setups, the course will favour a player who has all aspects of his game on form. At least that will be the plan. It is more of a traditional, tree-lined golf course with its green complexes re-built to add some runoffs. This will put added focus on accurate approach shots but also provide options around the green.
Because most players are seeing this course for the first time, I decided to take a slightly different approach in handicapping the field for this second major of 2022. I looked at two things: which players performed the best over the last four major championships and how are they playing lately. Here is what I found:
The six players who made the cut in all four of the most recent majors and their average placing:
Collin Morikawa – 4.5; Scottie Scheffler – 6; Jon Rahm 9.75; Shane Lowry 21; Rory McIlroy 26; Daniel Berger 35.
Of these six players, only Morikawa and Berger have been a little off-form lately. Morikawa came fifth at the Masters but was a T26 at the Heritage and a T29 at the Zurich (which really doesn’t count). Scheffler has to be considered the class of the field with two wins a T18 and T15 in his last four events. Rahm won in Mexico against a weak field but a wins a win after his T27 at the Masters. Lowry is someone to watch as he has been in the hunt consistently for the last couple of months. And Rory has to be considered one of the favourites after a fifth place at the Wells Fargo and his runner-up (albeit a back-door job) at the Masters.
The ten players who made three cuts in all four of the most recent majors and their average placing:
Brooks Koepka 4; Paul Casey 9; Corey Conners 13; Dustin Johnson 13; Jordan Spieth 17; Hideki Matsuyama 21; Justin Thomas 22; Viktor Hovland 23; Patrick Cantlay 26; Cameron Smith 32.
Koepka, who may or may not have been nursing an injury, has not played since his MC at the Masters. But always hard to count him out of a major, especially considering his strong finishes in last year’s main events. Thomas is always a threat to win in the big events but he has been mired in a good week / bad week trend lately and his last result was a T5. Smith has taken a break after the Zurich and the Masters disappointment. He was not a factor in last year’s majors but we have all seen what he is capable of. Casey is injured, Conners and DJ will likely be in the top-15, and Hovland and Cantlay have yet to show they are ready for a major win. That leaves Matsuyama and Spieth. Matsuyama has broken through as the big-game player we all thought he would be many years ago. It would be no surprise to see him in one of the final groups. Spieth has the added pressure this week of trying to be only the sixth player in history to win all four major championships in their career. I don’t think that will adversely affect him. He is coming off a win and a runner-up finish, hitting it longer and straighter than ever off the tee, and is his usual self around the greens. As long as he avoids too many short-putt brain cramps, this could be his week.
Who should win? – Scottie Scheffler 11/1
Who could win? – Collin Morikawa 20/1; Rory McIlroy 14/1; Jon Rahm 12/1; Hideki Matsuyama 22/1; Shane Lowry 28/1
Longer shots to consider – Brooks Koepka 35/1, Corey Conners 60/1, Cameron Young 75/1; Tyrell Hatton 80/1
Who will win? – Jordan Spieth 18/1