Weekly Preview: PGA Championship

Weekly Preview: PGA Championship

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

PGA Championship

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean Course)
Kiawah Island, SC

The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina for the season's second major.

Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room. No, this major is not being held in Hawaii, I know it's impossible to look at the name of this course and associate it with South Carolina, but it is what it is. Now, onto what to expect this week. If you've read anything at all about the upcoming PGA Championship, you've undoubtedly heard plenty about the wind and the length of the course. While we should be aware of both factors, I caution everyone to not take it too far when making your picks. Golfers from Australia aren't automatically going to thrive in windy conditions, and golfers that hit it long aren't all going to have a huge advantage. It may end up that a long-hitting Australian wins the Wanamaker Trophy, but I've seen too many overreactions to the expected conditions to fall into that trap again. The winner this week will end up being the guy who played the best, not because he's the best player in the wind or the longest hitter, but because he simply played the best. I know, that sounds so simple, but just like in any other sport, analytics only work over the long haul and can't predict every single outcome. Now, if you're trying to pick between two guys and want to use some of these factors as a

PGA Championship

Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Ocean Course)
Kiawah Island, SC

The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina for the season's second major.

Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room. No, this major is not being held in Hawaii, I know it's impossible to look at the name of this course and associate it with South Carolina, but it is what it is. Now, onto what to expect this week. If you've read anything at all about the upcoming PGA Championship, you've undoubtedly heard plenty about the wind and the length of the course. While we should be aware of both factors, I caution everyone to not take it too far when making your picks. Golfers from Australia aren't automatically going to thrive in windy conditions, and golfers that hit it long aren't all going to have a huge advantage. It may end up that a long-hitting Australian wins the Wanamaker Trophy, but I've seen too many overreactions to the expected conditions to fall into that trap again. The winner this week will end up being the guy who played the best, not because he's the best player in the wind or the longest hitter, but because he simply played the best. I know, that sounds so simple, but just like in any other sport, analytics only work over the long haul and can't predict every single outcome. Now, if you're trying to pick between two guys and want to use some of these factors as a tie-breaker, I'm all for it. Just don't count on seeing the Australian flag all over the first page of the leaderboard.

LAST YEAR

Collin Morikawa shot a final-round 64 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey.

FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy (12-1)

McIlroy's stint outside the group of favorites didn't last long. After his win two weeks ago, McIlroy is again in the top tier. Oh, and in case you haven't heard, he did play pretty well when the PGA Championship was held here in 2012. The question with McIlroy is, can he finish again at a major? It's been a long time since his last major win, and it's fair to wonder if he can perform under the pressure of the big lights on Sunday afternoon. McIlroy looks like a decent play this week, but unfortunately the public has already been all over him at the betting window, so the value is gone.

Justin Thomas (12-1)

If not for McIlroy's win two weeks ago, Thomas would have been alone atop the odds chart this week. But perhaps that win by McIlroy added some value to this play. Thomas, like McIlroy, opened at 16-1, but was quickly bet down to his current number1. It's not a great sign that both favorites are 12-1 because the public pushed them there, but in this case, I think it was a wise move, as JT should be the favorite in my mind.

Dustin Johnson (16-1)

I honestly can't remember a major where the favorites were bunched together like this, but considering the best players from the past 12 months aren't in the best form right now, it makes sense. DJ is one of those big names that always draws attention from the betting public regardless of his form. If this were the Open Championship or the U.S. Open, I don't think he'd be up here, but the length of this course brings him back into the mix. With that said, he will have to really turn it on to get into contention, and that's never a good spot to be in heading into a major.

THE NEXT TIER

Xander Schauffele (20-1)

I'm really starting to suffer from Xander fatigue. I really didn't want to put him here, but he just keeps hanging around, making it look like he's going to break through for his first major championship. He nearly won the Masters last month and has already posted a couple runner-ups this season, and he's going to get one of these at some point. However, I'm getting tired of expecting him to do it. With that said, if he puts himself in contention – which he probably will – he will be worth the price.

Collin Morikawa (25-1)

As Morikawa and others proved over the past few years, the days of paying your dues on the PGA Tour before winning a major are long gone. The kids are now seemingly ready for the spotlight from the moment they turn pro. Morikawa not only won a major last year, he backed that up with a WGC win earlier this season. He's the defending champion, which makes things a little more difficult, but Morikawa has managed to surprise at every turn.

Viktor Hovland (25-1)

Hovland will always be linked with Morikawa as part of the Class of 2019. Although Hovland has had a lot of success already, he's well behind Morikawa in terms of accomplishments on the PGA Tour. That would change with a win, however, and it appears Hovland is ready to take the next step. Like Schauffele, he's regularly in the mix. Now he just needs to find that extra gear.

LONG SHOTS

Brooks Koepka (50-1)

Koepka doesn't appear to be healthy enough to win, but at this number he's certainly worth a look. Koepka turns into a different golfer at the majors, and if he's even close to being 100 percent, he just might will himself into contention. These odds are about the longest you will ever see on Koepka in a major, so you might want to take advantage.

Cameron Champ (80-1)

We're in "take a flyer" range here, so why not take one on a guy who can bomb it and has played well in the PGA Championship before? Is he likely to win? Of course not, but guys in this range aren't supposed to win. It's all about potential, and Champ certainly has that.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Justin Thomas - I'll start by saying this: Thomas is going to be very popular this week. With the way DJ has played lately and McIlroy's performance at majors in recent years, OAD players are going to be looking for the safest option with the highest upside, and that's JT. If you are in the middle or above in your league, I'd go with this pick. If not, you should probably find someone who won't be on as many rosters.

Moderately-owned Pick: Jordan Spieth - This is where I had Spieth last week, and while he didn't win, he did cash a decent check. For those that still have Spieth available, this looks like a good spot to deploy him, as the length of this course is likely to scare some OAD players away. If Spieth is on his game, he can figure out a way to get around this course efficiently.

Lightly-owned Pick: Justin Rose - You don't want to stray too far off the path in a major, but Rose is someone who has played well in major championships before. Although he's not at the top of his game, he can still pop, as he showed at the Masters last month. The key, of course, is to sustain that level for four rounds, and while I'm not certain he can, I'm sure he can play well enough, long enough, to earn a top-10 or better.

Buyer Beware: Hideki Matsuyama - For the second consecutive week Matsuyama finds himself in this spot. That's not a knock on him; it's just the fact that he's only a month removed from a life-changing win, so you can imagine all he's had to deal with – both stateside and at home – over the past several weeks. Beyond that, his win at the Masters was his first top-10 of the season, so I'm not even sure his game is where it needs to be, particularly with him recording a T39 this past week.

Last Week: Jordan Spieth - T9 - $212,625

Season Total: $3,937,363

This Week: Bryson DeChambeau - I'd like to take Thomas, but unfortunately I'm not in a position to take the trendy pick, so I have to go with someone who will be less popular yet has a chance to win. There are a couple golfers that fit that profile, but DeChambeau stands out from the pack. I have a good feeling about DeChambeau this week. He will gain an edge on most of the field with his distance, and if the rest of his game is in place he has as good a shot to win as anyone. He's not at the top of his game right now, but he's not that far off.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Justin Thomas ($11,900)
Middle Range: Collin Morikawa ($10,900)
Lower Range: Charl Schwartzel ($8,300)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Jordan Spieth - T9

Streak: 2

This Week: Rory McIlroy - The only way I see this flaming out is if the increased expectations somehow get into Rory's head. He went from an afterthought two weeks ago to one of the favorites, and he hasn't thrived in that spot in recent years. I'm guessing he will be fine, though, and while I can't rely on him to win, I trust he will at least play the weekend.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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