The potential for an unforgettable PGA Championship this week is quite high.
Golf’s second major will be settled this weekend at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a well-known track that has seen a renovation since the last time it hosted the tournament when Tiger Woods won in 2007. The tweaks from that renovation are expected to offer a difficult test, one that could become even harder if the weather stays dry and the wind kicks up.
Yes, anything can happen in majors, as evidenced by Phil Mickelson’s improbable win last year. However, an elite field on a tough course is probably going to separate pretenders from contenders real quick.
And as we dig into what Southern Hills might offer as a championship test, a few things stand out.
— It’s a pretty long course (7,300 yards, par 70) that could play even longer with uphill holes playing into the wind
— The green complexes are tiny, and the course is pretty undulating. As such, it’s reasonable to believe courses like Augusta National, Riviera Country Club and the Plantation Course are worthwhile comps.
— Those tiny green complexes combined with the potential for weather (dry, windy) will make holding greens extremely difficult. If you’re not an elite ball-striker, you better be a wizard around the green.
With that, here are power rankings for the PGA Championship with betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
12. Viktor Hovland (+2500) — The former Oklahoma State Cowboy knows the course well, and he’s one of the best ball-strikers on the planet. It’s possible he just goes pin-hunting all weekend and finally breaks through. Perhaps even more likely? His iffy chipping on the rare miss costs him a chance at contention.
11. Xander Schauffele (+2800) — He was a bit in the wilderness before grinding to make the cut last week and then shooting up the leaderboard on the weekend. There’s momentum, and he fits the course well. Even when he misses greens, he can get up and down from just about anywhere.
10. Dustin Johnson (+2500) — We believe the topography, layout and green structures point toward a player who excels at courses like Augusta National, the Plantation Course and Riveria. Johnson has wins at all three and still has the length to overpower a course.
9. Cameron Smith (+2500) — Maybe the best value in the entire field. Smith plays well in fast and firm conditions, and he’s not afraid of the wind. He’s the closest thing you can get to scrappy in a golfer, so he won’t be intimidated by any situation. His four straight top-10 finishes at the Masters bode well here, and his short-game combination of chipping and putting might be the best in the field. If this tournament plays closer to even par for the weekend, he’s the type of player who should be in the mix.
8. Rory McIlroy (+1800) — Long irons will be in play this week, especially if the wind effectively lengthens the course. McIlroy excels there, and he’s underrated around the green. His wedge game is a problem, but it’s possible that’s not a huge factor given the situation this week.
7. Hideki Matsuyama (+2800) — He’s an elite ball-striker, a very good chipper and has the win last year at Augusta National and three top-three finishes at the Tournament of Champions, two courses that at least look like solid comps. He comes in dialed, especially on approach after putting on a ball-striking clinic last week.
6. Patrick Cantlay (+1600) — The man is on a heater with five top-10s since the calendar flipped and that was coming off his win at the Tour Championship last season. The approach game came back in a big way last week. The one concern, though, is he didn’t finish better than 33rd at the Masters, The Players or the Genesis, by far the three best fields he has played this year.
5. Jon Rahm (+1100) — Really an automatic top-five ranking at this point, though the results haven’t really been there, at least if you eliminate the woeful field for his win at the Mexico Open. His around-the-green game in Mexico was very good, but he had lost strokes in that area of his game in the six tournaments leading up to it and had lost strokes putting in four straight. Always possible he puts it together, but there are glaring issues right now.
4. Collin Morikawa (+1600) — Short-game issues are legitimate, but he’s probably the best ball-striker on Tour who won the PGA back in 2020 and added an Open Championship title last summer. He’s just really good.
3. Justin Thomas (+1200) — After a tough 2021 that saw him finish no better than 19th in majors, Thomas nabbed a top-10 at the Masters. He’ll look to build off that in the PGA, where he won his only career major. Thomas might have more short-game creativity than any player in the world, and that might be a difference-maker. One thing to keep in mind, though, is players might need to work the ball right to left this week, which has been an issue in the past for JT, as evidenced by the 13th at Augusta.
2. Jordan Spieth (+1600) — Perhaps no one in the field has a game better suited for Southern Hills, when you consider the premium placed on ball-striking and creativity around the greens. Not only that, it sounds as if the rough won’t be overly penal this week, which is good news for the occasional wayward drives off Spieth’s driver. That might not even be an issue if he keeps up his recent performance off the tee, his best two-tournament run since 2017 that has yielded a win and a second-place finish in his last two starts.
1. Scottie Scheffler (+1200) — At the Masters, we dismissed him because there was no way he could keep it going, right? Wrong. Scheffler loves Southern Hills, and his game seems to suit it well, as evidenced by a 64 in a recent practice round. If Augusta National is a worthwhile comp, that lines up well for him. His game has no weaknesses, and his short-game prowess could prove to be a difference-maker this week, as it was on his way to the green jacket.