PGA Championship - Preview Day 3
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When it comes to predicting who will win a Major Championship it can be difficult to discern the contenders from the competitors. In a sea of similarity, we must look for clues amidst all the information. Continuing with our chat with Cary Cozby, PGA sentiment in Part 1 of this betting preview, Southern Hills has shown us some clues through those past PGA Championships.

22 Southern Hills Promo Image
The Wanamaker trophy, awarded to the annual winner of the PGA Championship, sits at the base of the clocktower at Southern Hills Country Club.
Credit: Brooke Allen/PGA of America/PGA

Before we start picking players, the first priority is explaining the specific skill set it will take to play well on this Perry Maxwell masterpiece. In the seven prior Major Championships, the previous champions all share two very specific player traits. They were excellent approach players displaying tremendous control with their iron game. Then in the small chance they missed a green in regulation, they all possessed serious skill with a wedge around the green.

Of course, picking the winner is very hard, so let’s dig a deeper into those two traits. Southern Hills is a Par 70 7,556-yard golf course. That’s very long by championship standards. If you just go by the scorecard, one will quickly develop a bias toward length. There are eight Par 4’s over 440 yards long and three Par 3’s over 220.

PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Justin Thomas chips on the fourth green during a 2022 PGA Championship practice round. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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In speaking with Cozby and those on the PGA of America Championships Team, their perspective is quite different. Southern Hills has a perfect complement of long AND short holes. Consider the six Par 4’s that are less than 455 yards long. There’s a couple crossover holes there by yardage, but when you combine those approaches with the two Par 5 third shots, there’s over 40% of your approach shots less than 125 yards!

PICK YOUR PROS: Build Your 2022 PGA Championship Fantasy Team

Digging a little deeper, the long holes have more receptive greens. The short holes have treacherous green complexes. Accuracy with a wedge will be at an absolute premium to score.

The second common trait amongst the previous major winners at Maxwell’s tremendous Tulsa layout is deft skill around the greens. Raymond Floyd, Dave Stockton, Hubert Green, Retief Goosen and Tiger Woods are all highly regarded around the green. As all the information pours over you as you consider who might win this weekend, pay attention to the phrase “Maxwell Roll.” A design concept where the greens at Southern Hills were designed to maximize roll off.

When Gil Hanse renovated the course in 2018, he brought back the roll. Closely mown areas were established everywhere. When a player misses a green this week they will NOT be left with a simple chip from the rough. Balls will roll twenty or thirty yards away from the target. To save par, players will need to be expertly skilled at pitching from tight lies over all sorts of topography. This one element of Southern Hills will provide more entertainment than anything else you will see throughout the coverage.

READ: How Four Past PGA Champions Prepared for Southern Hills

Greens with level edges play smaller than their size. The average green size at Southern Hills is 5,275 square feet. That’s over 1,200 square feet smaller than the precise targets at Augusta National! Small greens, flat edges, uneven lies, all of this puts incredible pressure on a player’s approach game. If we are looking for a great iron player who is deft with a wedge and can strike towering long irons the list is pretty short. Add that to the recovery skill one must possess around the green and our contender group gets even smaller. From my PGA Professional perspective, here’s my perspective on those at the top of the odds board for the 104th PGA Championship.

Scottie Scheffler (+1200) and Jon Rahm (+1200)

The number one and two ranked players in the world are the perfect place to start. Rahm is an incredible ball striker, but ranked 122nd in the field Around the Green (ARG) and 91st in Putting (PUTT). Conversely, Scheffler is ranked 12th ARG and 17th PUTT. They both are amazing on approach, but Southern Hills requires great skill around the green. At the top of the odds board, Scheffler looks stronger here.

PGA Championship - Preview Day 3
Scottie Scheffler will be a betting favorite at the 2022 PGA Championship. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
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Justin Thomas (+1600) and Jordan Spieth (+2000)
Two very popular picks this week. Both players have world-class approach statistics on short and long approaches. JT is ranked 4th on Approach (APP) and Jordan is 3rd! JT has a little edge in scrambling, and both putted well enough to contend last week. Overall either one makes sense.

Collin Morikawa (+2000) and Viktor Hovland (+2500)
Viktor is the best long iron player in the game. Collin inside 150 yards is also world-class. Both are ranked outside the Top 120 in the field ARG. There are only 156 players in this field. Contending for these two could be a struggle.

PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Viktor Hovland will be in search of his first career major at the 2022 PGA Championship. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Patrick Cantlay (+2200) and Xander Schauffele (+2500)
The defining Ryder Cup duo are two strong contenders at Southern Hills. Schauffele ranks in the Top 50 for every major skill, Off the Tee (OTT), APP, ARG, PUTT. Problem is he doesn’t rank inside the Top 20 either. He’s a great placement consideration. The FedEx Cup champion Cantlay’s career will be measured by major championships. Ranked 90th in the field in proximity to the hole, his approach will really need to improve prior to Thursday.

Rory McIlroy (+1600) and Tiger Woods (+6600)
Rory has succeeded on short game in 2022. What concerns me coming into the PGA is his wedge play on approach. He’s ranked 126th in the field on those short wedges. Tiger believes he’s ready to contend. Can’t argue with the greatest ever, but without the tournament reps to sharpen the game needed for a special Sunday, Tigers chances to hoist the Wanamaker are very limited this year.

BETTING ODDS: BetMGM Odds for Entire 2022 Field at Southern Hills

PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Cameron Smith practices for the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
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Others on the list to consider for contending:

  • Cam Smith (+2200) - #1 Ranked putter in the field. Amazing season so far.
  • Hideki Matsuyama (+2500) – Ranked 2nd in proximity to the hole. Masters victory was all about short game.
  • Shane Lowry (+3500) – If you love approach game then Lowry is your guy. Easily as good as JT and Spieth and better odds.
  • Daniel Berger (+5000) – 4th is the field for Scrambling. Just awesome with a wedge anywhere.
  • Corey Conners (+6600) – Gained 4.5 shots against the field at the Masters. Awesome ball striker as well.
PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Brooks Koepka practices a bunker shot prior to the start of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
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A couple players to hold off this week:

  • Brooks Koepka (+4000) – WD last week and health has been a concern since that epic major run.
  • Will Zalatoris (+4000) – Can’t get past the putter performance from last week.
  • Louis Oosthuizen (+8000) – Last year’s major player has yet to find any of that form in 2022.
PGA Championship - Preview Day 2
Matt Kuchar and Ryan Vermeer of the Team of 20 talk during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/PGA of America)
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Long shots with the skills for contention:

  • Cam Young (+8000) – He’s ranked #1 for proximity to the hole in the field. In his last 10 starts he’s gained over 5.5 shots on the field playing tough courses.
  • Matt Kuchar (+15000) – Best ranked ARG player at Southern Hills. His scoring ability with a wedge makes him very dangerous.
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+15000) – A player who pops in major championships due to his scrambling (3rd) and proximity (20th).

Part 3 later Wednesday will cover the most fun aspect of gaming on golf.

Proposition bets make the experience entertaining and the opportunities I see this week are extremely enticing. Digest this outright discussion and I’ll be back Wednesday evening with the breakdown on the props!

Odds listed are from Bet MGM’s website as of midday Wednesday, May 18.

PGA Professional Keith Stewart writes for Read The Line.

The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (“PGA”) is not an online gambling operator, and is not a gambling site of any kind. Odds are provided for information and entertainment purposes only. Odds were sourced from BetMGM and last updated 3:00 p.m. EST May 18, 2022 PGA makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of information given.

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