The US PGA Championship – who wants to be a millionaire?
Follow me @happyhornet27 on twitter
The final Major of the year heads to Baltusrol, New Jersey. With Tom having written a great course preview in his article, I won’t reinvent the wheel. It should be noted, however, that the course hasn’t been used since the 2005 PGA and while I won’t be writing much about the course, below are the last six winners on Tillinghast courses. It may give a clue to the type of player who will excel this week.
2014 Barclays: Hunter Mahan (DA – 37, DD – 18, GIR – 1, PA – 33)
2012 Barclays: Nick Watney (DA – 15, DD – 29, GIR – 2, PA – 32)
2010 Barclays: Matt Kuchar (DA – 30, DD – 34, GIR – 15, PA – 7)
2009 US Open: Lucas Glover (DA – 13, DD – 8, GIR – 4, PA – 11)
2006 US Open: Geoff Ogilvy (DA – 21, DD – 6, GIR – 13, PA – 9)
2005 US PGA: Phil Mickelson (DA – 37, DD – 75, GIR – 8, PA – 33)
From the above, it looks clear that lack of accuracy doesn’t hurt, and you have to hit the greens. I’ll therefore predominantly be focusing on strong tee to green players.
Another Major, another week of soft pricing. The options are there to include one or two of the “Big 4”, and I’ll likely take that option up. Despite that, there’s no need for a stars and scrubs approach. Even with a top player a balanced approach looks achievable and I’ll mainly staying above $6k. As always, remember to leave some $ on the table to differentiate your team.
Dustin Johnson ($11,600) –
For me, it’s pretty much impossible to fade Dustin. His recent form is outrageous with six consecutive top 10s, including two big wins. His recent major form is incredible with eight of his last nine finishing in the top 12, with the other a choke from a half-way lead. Ranking 2nd in SG T2G his game suits the course perfectly, with his long straight driving likely to be rewarded. The thing that strikes me most, however, is that DJ leads the tour on par 4 performance, key on par 70 course. With scores likely to be tough, you need a player who can win in high scoring conditions, and six of DJ’s 11 wins have come at -9 or higher. The standout play in this field for me.
Henrik Stenson ($10,500) –
Nick Price, Tiger Wood x2, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy. Five times in the last 22 years, the winner of The Open has also won the US PGA. Unsurprising given the fact they’re close together and winning The Open shows you’re a top player in great form. Henrik Stenson looked imperious at The Open and I’d expect him to go close this week. His play off the tee at Troon was magnificent, and he is known as one of the elite long iron players on tour. He played here in 2005 in his US PGA debut, finishing T47 which is a positive. His recent form and tournament form are both fantastic, with two wins in his last three tournaments, and four top 6s in his last six US PGAs.
Justin Rose ($9,800) –
Rose was one of the unlucky players who fell on the wrong side of the draw at Troon. He did, however, finish in the top 25 meaning he now has 14 top 25 finishes in his last 19 Majors. He made comments post Open with regards to his health and how excited he is for the rest of the year now he feels at 100%. His tee to green game is world class sitting 4th in SG T2G. With his recent injury and his lack of recent top finishes, I’m hopeful Rose will be low owned.
Sergio Garcia ($9,400) –
1-5-5-5 – Sergio’s last four tournaments, including two Majors. At a course where he finished in the top 25 in 2005, he looks primed to challenge. His long game is in exceptional form, in the top 11 in both SG Off The Tee and Approach The Green. I fully expect Garcia to be in the mix on Sunday, and at this price point you can match him with one of the “Big4” and still have cash available to play a strong lineup.
Rickie Fowler ($9,200) –
With big upside, Rickie is likely to be very low owned and could be a good pivot off Sergio. Having missed three consecutive cuts, Rickie has now made his last three weekends including a top 10 at the WGC-Bridgestone. Despite the disappointing recent form, Rickie’s long game has still held up well and ranks 6th in SG T2G this season and 13th in his last measured tournament at the WGC-Bridgestone. While his Major form is hit and miss, his made cut at The Open is a promising step in the right direction. At low ownership, Rickie could be a very sneaky, high upside, play.
Zach Johnson ($8,400) –
Under the radar, ZJ has put together a very solid run of form. Finishing in the top 12 in both the US Open and The Open, he’ll be looking to contend for the third leg of his Grand Slam. Not the longest off the tee, Zach makes up for it with excellence around the green. Ranked 18th in SG Around the Green, and 32nd in scrambling, this tough scoring will suit. A player whose achievements are largely overlooked, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him close again.
Branden Grace ($8,000) –
At The Open, Grace was the flavour of the week; however, a low finish will likely have put many off this week. He has, however, finished in the top 5 in the last three US Majors which weren’t the Masters. His performance at the very tough Oakmont course – T5 – shouldn’t be forgotten in a hurry. With four wins in his last 40 tournaments, we know that Grace has upside. He is deceptively long off the tee (53rd in Driving Distance) and is 20th in SG Approach the Green. With his win at the Heritage proving he can compete in tough scoring, I’ll be on Grace this week.
Keegan Bradley ($7,700) –
OK, hear me out. The guy may not be able to putt for toffee, but this week is about tee to green prowess. That’s where Keegan excels. Alongside Grillo, Keegan is statistically the best driver on tour at 1st in Total Driving. Add this to his 12th in GIR and 26th in SG Approach the Green and he doesn’t look so bad. Has seen a recent upturn in form with a top 20 at The Open following on from a made cut at Congressional, and a top 10 at The Memorial a few weeks back. A course horse, he has two top 5 finishes in five US PGAs. At this price he’s likely to be low owned and could be a difference maker.
JB Holmes ($7,700) –
It may have gone a little bit under the radar, but JB Holmes has two top fives in the Majors this season. His play at The Open was very impressive with four rounds of 70 or better. He has the game for this course as a huge hitter, and is 7th in SG Off the Tee. Importantly, he’s also 10th in approaches from over 200 yards. A key distance this week. Has the upside to win a GPP, and with nine top 25s in 15 events this season is a strong play.
Brandt Snedeker ($7,500) –
Last week Snedeker was over $10k and low owned. He nearly delivered finishing in the top 5. This followed a top 25 in The Open showing that he is trending in the right direction. Promisingly he noted that his driving was much improved in Canada which should suit this course. With 10 top 20 finishes in his last 18 Majors, we know that Sneds can contend. Having won already this year, coming off some strong form, Sneds could be a great play at such a low price.
Scott Piercy ($7,400) –
I get the feeling people may lay off Piercy due to his missed cut at The Open. Before that, however, he finished 2nd to DJ at both the US Open and the WGC Bridgestone. He is long off the tee and should suit this course well. It should also be noted that he loves this time of year. His five professional wins have all come in July or August. This could be a coincidence, but I have no doubt it’ll give him confidence which is key in golf.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,300) –
Likely to be high owned but this price is almost offensive. A Masters champion with three wins this season and six consecutive top 25 finishes. The change in clubs has clearly not affected his game with a T18 at The Open. Ranked 9th in SG Approach the Green this season, and 53rd in Driving Distance, Charl has the game to play the course. At such a low price, he is a must. There are opportunities to differentiate elsewhere.
Billy Horschel ($7,200) –
Billy Horschel’s Open was a game of two rounds. Opening with a 67, he struggled in the wind in the second round hitting an 85. Pretty terrible, but I like the look of that 67! This was the first cut he’d missed since his opening tournament so I’m willing to overlook it. He has the sort of game to excel here ranking 20th Off the Tee and 34th in Approach the Green. Having won the FedEx cup previously, we know he can compete with the best. I get the feeling he’ll want to prove the doubters wrong after his disappointing Open 2nd round. This looks like a good course to do it at.
Steve Stricker ($7,000) –
After his great performance at The Open finishing 4th, Strickers made cut streak at Majors extended to 21. This includes 14 top 25s, an incredible feat. He didn’t play here in 2005, but has form at Tillinghast courses placing well at Ridgewood and Winged Foot. While he doesn’t hit the ball a long way (192nd in distance) he makes up for it with his top class short game (2nd in SG Putting, 14th in SG Around the Green).
Aaron Baddeley ($6,900) –
Long and wild off the tee, this isn’t a course that should suit; however, being ranked 1st in SG around the green, 7th in scrambling and 7th in SG putting, Baddeley is a player who can score on any course. His game has been in fine form recently with figures of T12-T17-1. Coming off a win he’ll be excited to get back into a Major. Likely to be very low owned despite the recent upturn in form.
Emiliano Grillo ($6,900) –
Grillo has only ever played four majors. In the tournaments he has finished 61-17-54-12 showing improvement and making all four cuts. Ranking 1st in Total Driving and 36th in GIR, this is a course that should suit his skills. Making 16 of 18 cuts, he is a play in both cash and GPP this week having finished top 15 in four of last six tournaments. While disappointing last week with a T43 when heavily owned, people might be off him this week.
Tony Finau ($6,900) –
A favourite of mine, Finau is long off the tee, and can make birdies on any course. He disappointed last week which should hopefully bring his ownership down. His major form in his short career has been very impressive with four attempts yielding three top 20s. A long course with bentgrass greens should suit Finau down to the ground.
Kevin Chappell ($6,700) –
While many are talked as best yet to win a major, Chappell is likely the best yet to win. This holds, despite a number of chances including two RUs in elite fields this year. Ranking 10th in SG T2G, Chappell is primed for a push. His recent form is promising including a 3rd at the WGC Bridgestone, a long par 70 course. He’s also no stranger to contention in a major having finished 3rd and 10th in the US Open previously.
Kevin Na ($6,700) –
Kevin Na is a short hitter who hardly ever wins, but always seems to score well in DK Majors. Finishing 7th and T22 in the last two majors, he is primed to push for another top finish. His recent form outside that is pretty unspecular showing that he can raise his game for the big occasion. With his lack of length, he’ll likely be hitting irons from the short stuff, and curently sits 9th in SG approach the green which will suit this second shot course well.
Gary Woodland ($6,700) –
Woodland is coming off his best major performance, a T12 in The Open. Has the long game to suit this course sitting 14th SG T2G and 9th in driving distance. Along with the T12 at The Open, he has two top 5 finishes in his last four tournaments.
David Lingmerth ($6,300) –
Consecutive missed cuts in Europe may see Lingmerth as a forgotten man in this range. In my opinion, he’s an absolute steal at the price. Prior to the Scottish Open he had gone T22-T27-12-T7 in quality fields including the US Open and WGC Bridgestone. Deceptively good off the tee he is 54th in SG T2G. Astonishingly, Lingmerth is yet to miss a putt from inside 3 feet in 492 efforts. This consistency could be key this week. Finished 12th at the US PGA last year meaning he has two top 15s in his last four majors, far better than most in this price range.
Andy Sullivan ($6,100) –
The Englishman is in hot form at the moment, and ranked 35th in the world should not be down here. Six consecutive top 25s include a T23 at the US Open and a T12 and The Open. The course may be a little long for him; however, he is an elite scrambler and has shown major ability so far this year.
Brendan Steele ($6,000) –
Steele looks like a great low end play this week. 13th in strokes gained off the tee and top 15 in greens in regulation he has a game which fits. His form recently has also been solid with five top 20s in his last eight. He also has previous in the PGA having led going into the final round in 2011 as well as finished T12 last year.
James Hahn ($6,000) –
The type of boom or bust play that could make you the millionaire. This season Hahn followed eight consecutive MCs with a win at next year’s host course Quail Hollow. Since then, Hahn has made six straight cuts without breaking the top 40; however, the fact that he has won at two long, ball striking courses (Riviera in 2015) shows he has the upside.
Jason Kokrak ($5,900) –
The type of big hitter (10th in SG off the tee) who could show up in the PGA. Hasn’t hit the heights recently but is trending with a T37 at the US Open followed by T29 at Congressional. Finished T2 earlier in the year at the Northern Trust showing his ball striking prowess. The best of the $5k plays in my opinion.
The World Ranking Play:
Charley Hoffman ($6,000) –
Having WDed last week just before tee off citing illness, there is a chance The Hoff will be lower owned this week. He’s ranked 42nd in the world yet is 107th in this DK field. Has played well this year with a win in Texas, making 17 of 19 cuts, including his last six. He’s made the cut in all three majors this year with finishes of T29-T37-77, pretty good for a $6k play. Ranking 32nd in driving distance, and 33rd SG T2G, The Hof has a game that could suit this course, and looks a great price.
Jason Day ($11,700) –
Something’s not quite working for Day at the moment. Since winning at The Players 10 weeks ago, he has finished T27-T8-T3-T22-T14 with every tournament including one blow-up round. He has the game to win at any course, but I expect him to be relatively highly owned. Given how tough the course is, his game will need to be on point.
Matt Kuchar ($8,600) –
I said last week to fade Kuchar in Majors and I’m a man of my word. Six top 10s in his last eight will make sure he’s heavily owned. The two non-top 10s were, however, in the US Open and The Open. He failed to break into the top 20 in any of the Majors this year, with T24-T46-T46. While he has top 10 upside, his inability to win tournaments limits the upside in a tournament where points may rely on finishing position.
Brooks Koepka ($7,800) –
Brooks has a top record in the major making nine consecutive cuts including seven top 25s. He has, however, been out injured for the past few weeks with a right ankle injury. He has been spotted on the range with an ankle brace. It looks like it’ll be a give it a try scenario. While I think a fully fit Koepka would be a great play this week, he withdrew from the WGC a few weeks ago and I fear a similar scenario.