May 12, 2019
PGA Championship Preview
Editor's Note: Be sure to follow @_DanDaly on Twitter this golf season for his off-the-cuff remarks and entertaining commentary!
First of all, I am a huge fan of moving the PGA Championship from August to May. I think the PGA has always gotten the short end of the stick being the redheaded stepchild of Majors and a large part of that was its place in the schedule. The truth of the matter is that the PGA has delivered some of the most exciting finishes of all the Majors in years past. Throw in the fact that the PGA features the strongest field of all the Majors based on the Official World Golf Ranking with a classic golf course and I think this is a win-win for all involved…fans included. This year’s PGA Championship will include every player in the top-100 on the world ranking, something which has never happened at a major championship before. That is of course unless someone WDs (see Day, Jason). If we somehow get to see John Daly go full Marshawn Lynch in his golf cart around Bethpage then it could end up being the greatest Major ever played. But I digress….
So who’s going to win the first PGA played in May since 1949 on a course that has hosted two US Opens (2002 and 2009)? I’m glad I asked.
(As always, odds are at the time this was written and will probably change throughout the week)
Let’s start with who’s not going to win the Wannamaker this week:
Phil Mickelson (50/1) – He is 50/1…when someone this popular to bet on is still listed at 50/1 do you really need me to explain why he is a bad bet?
Jason Day (20/1) – He has Top-10s at the Players and the Masters. That’s about as positive as I can get with Day. His iron play has been atrocious (119th in strokes gained: approach) and the guy is a walking time bomb. With the predicted chilly conditions there is a better chance you see him lying on the ground with some fake doctor than hitting a golf ball during coverage.
Justin Rose (20/1) – I’m not sure what frightens me more about Rose this week. The fact that he is the number two ranked player in the world and still only 20/1? The fact that he just went MC Hammer at the Masters? Or the fact that his overall record at Bethpage between the US Opens and Barclays played there is awful. One strike is bad enough, but three str….nope, can’t do it.
Justin Thomas (12/1) – There is no denying his talent but JT withdrew from the Quail Hollow (where he won the 2017 PGA) due to a bad wrist. Somehow his odds haven’t dropped because of it but I don’t do injured players…ever.
Jordan Spieth (25/1) - With a win this week Spieth would become just the sixth player ever to win the career Grand Slam. On a related note, if I find a cure for cancer this week I will win a Nobel Peace Prize. Jordan is my boy and no one wants him out of this slump more than I do but the fact that he has fallen to 39th in the world rankings is astonishingly sad to me. I think 125/1 would be more realistic in his current form. I can see him putting two solid rounds together, just not four at this point.
Bryson DeChambeau (20/1) – The mad scientist hasn’t finished better than T-20 in his last six PGA Tour starts. Sure held a share of the first-round lead at the Masters but then proceeded to play the next 54-holes in two over par to drop all the way to T29. He promptly missed the cut at the Heritage the very next week. In other words, this week will not go well for Bryson at all.
Rickie Fowler (20/1) – Play well early, get everyone excited…then blow up. It isn’t a question of if, but when. Normally he does it early enough Saturday that he has a chance to back door a Top-10 Sunday. Not this week. I think my boy blows up late and in spectacular fashion to go from in contention to out of the Top-10 altogether. I do however think we are going to see the record for ‘most men dressed like Rickie Fowler in one place’ shattered this week. Just call it a hunch.
Rory McIlroy (12/1) – I never like going against Rory, the guy just has too much talent and can win on any course at any time. Especially this week on a course that is going to play long and wet (TWSS), which by all accounts should play right into Rory’s strengths. However I don’t think this course sets up well for Rory. He has struggled at US Open and PGA set ups for the last five years and I don’t think this week is any different. I think best case he finishes around 20th just like he did at Augusta last month.
Jon Rahm (20/1) – I can’t stand Jon Rahm, but I put my feelings aside for the Masters because I really thought he was ready to win a Major. I was wrong. Rahm will probably win a Major or two before it’s all said and done but on a course this challenging both physically and mentally I don’t see the 24-year-old holding it together for four days. He certainly has the talent and length to win on this golf course and hasn't missed a cut since August 2018 with eight top-10 finishes during that span. I think that trend continues this week. His talent gets him into the Top-10 but his attitude keeps him from winning or seriously contending come Sunday.
Tony Finau (33/1) - Finau has finished in the top 10 in four of his past Majors, including a T-5 at the Masters where he played in the last group. He isn’t going to win but the guy is a staple in the Top-10 at Majors lately.
Patrick Cantlay (40/1) – Another guy that isn’t going to win (although he may sooner than later) but has been a fixture on leaderboards as of late. Cantlay has seven top 10s in 11 starts this season, and even held the Sunday lead at Augusta for about 5 minutes before two late bogeys knocked him out of contention. Love Cantlay in a Top-10 play this week.
Francesco Molinari (20/1) – It seemed like he didn’t miss a shot for three and a half days at Augusta, but I was more impressed with his short game than anything else. The guy made EVERYTHING he looked at for four days. Watching him butcher the 15th hole at Augusta was like watching a real life out of body experience for someone. That was not the same guy that played the other 71 holes that week. I think his iron play and short game keep him on the leaderboard this week as well, but I think the golf course is going to be a little too big for Francesco.
Tommy Fleetwood (25/1) – He’s one of, if not the best ball-strikers on the planet. He is playing a course where ball-striking is a premium. He has been playing well the last few weeks. Add it all up and I think you will see Tommy contending until the end this week. I think his first victory on U.S. soil is inevitable, I just don’t think it’s this week.
Xander Schauffele (33/1) – He is basically a poor man’s Brooks Koepka. His last four Majors…T-6, T-2, T-35, T-2. The guy has three top-six finishes in his last four Majors played and has finished T-6 or better in half of the majors he has teed it up in his young career. He’s not quite ready to win but he certainly will be in contention to do so come Sunday afternoon.
Dustin Johnson (9/1) – DJ has one Major win. That is still the single most baffling thing in professional golf to me. This course, with these conditions, should be tailor-made for DJ this week. You have a long, wet golf course that puts a premium on driving the golf ball. What else could you possibly ask for if you are DJ? But his recent final round 74 at the Valspar and 77 at Hilton Head combined with the fact that he has only closed out one Major to this point leads me to believe that DJ will be right there once again come Sunday, but come up just short.
Brooks Koepka (12/1) – Let’s see…defending PGA champion, the two-time defending U.S. Open champion on basically a US Open venue and coming off T-2 at Augusta. Yeah, I like his chances this week…a lot. My one major concern for Koepka is his putting. When he won three Majors in six starts the guy made every big putt he needed to. Down the stretch at Augusta his putter was what failed him in the biggest spots. Well, that and hitting it in the water on 12 didn’t help either. I think Koepka contends this week and the next two Majors for that matter, but I’m hesitant he can make the putts he has to make down the stretch like he did last year at Shinnecock and Bellerive.
Tiger Woods (8/1) – A guy that was left for dead 24 months ago has finished in the Top 6 in last three majors with a win at Augusta. I don’t think we will ever truly appreciate the greatness of this comeback….and it’s far from over. Tiger won the 2002 US Open played at Bethpage and quite frankly would have won the 2009 US Open played there as well if not for the worst weather draw I have ever seen in a golf tournament. Throw in the fact that he arrived last week in his 155-foot yacht (just to remind people that he is still Tiger) and I’m not sure how you don’t like his chances this week. If Tiger wins this week, he goes to Pebble where we all know his track record, and there is a somewhat realistic scenario where Tiger goes to Portrush with a chance to win the Grand Slam and tie Jack’s record at the same time. Just thinking about that scenario, let alone typing it, gives me chills. Look, I will be betting on Tiger to win, place and show this week, and anything else I can find for that matter…you would be a fool not to. He would clearly be my pick to win this 99/100 times if I didn’t have such a gut feeling about….
Adam Scott (50/1) – I LOVE Adam Scott this week…probably more than I should considering I would have bet on my 5-year-old daughter against him in a putting contest at Augusta. The guy hit it better than anyone at Augusta the first three days…and it wasn’t even really that close. Unfortunately he had probably the worst week putting of anyone I have ever seen at a Major. He basically threw in the towel midway through the third round and I can’t blame the guy…nothing is more demoralizing than peppering the flagstick for two and a half days and knowing it doesn’t matter because you aren’t going to make anything. I still don’t completely trust his putter, but fortunately for Scott the greens at Bethpage aren’t nearly as brutal as the ones at Augusta. He had a solo third at last year’s PGA and if he hits it like he did at Augusta I think he has a very good chance to win this week. He is somehow 14th on the PGA Tour in SG putting this year and if he can come even close to putting at that clip this week I think he has a great chance to win his second Major. At 50/1 I think he is by far the best value on the board. Adam Scott is your winner this week, take him any and every way you can get him.