Event: The PGA Championship
When: Aug 10 13, 2017
Where: Quail Hollow Club Charlotte, NC
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com
Is it the end already? Well, not quite and lets not mention that the PGA season seemingly never ends but we are on the verge of the final Major of the year. The PGA Championship is on tap this week and while this event has a little less history than the Masters and both Opens, a Major is a Major and no one looks at a PGA Championship win as less than anything but a pinnacle achievement in a golf career. Jimmy Walker broke through to win last year and he will defend his crown against an amazingly talented field. The PGA has been kind to the big names for most of the 2000s with Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Yang Yong-eun serving as the only examples of journeymen who went on to win the Wanamaker Trophy. More often it has been names like Kaymer, McIlroy (twice) and Day that have won recently with Tiger, Phil and Vijay all winning as well. The PGA has also been very friendly to international players with six non-US champs crowned since 2008. The PGA of America doesnt overdo the difficulty like we see at many US Opens ran by the USGA but this will be a true test of golf and the best grinders will come out in better shape than those that want to put the pedal down from the first tee shot.
Quail Hollow has been part of the PGA Tour since the late 1960s and the days of the Kemper Open. 2003 saw a return to the rotation as host of the then Wachovia, now Wells Fargo Championship so there will be plenty of familiarity for those in the field. The course typically plays at 7,450 yards and par-72 for the Wells Fargo but the PGA will see the distance balloon to nearly 7,600 yards and the par value drops one to 71. Course length kind of jumps off the page when you see things like 524 yard, par-4s but the US Open taught us that raw distance doesnt necessarily eliminate the shorter players. If the course is playing slow due to rain, it will give the bombers and advantage but nearly everyone will have a look at playing well if the layout is playing dry and firm. The finishing sequence from #16-#18 will have a lot to say about the contenders as the par 4-3-4 finish features three very tough approach shots that will not likely be wedge plays for anyone.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think can win it all. We make some picks to win versus the odds that you can find at Bovada Sportsbook (50% bonus up to $250 FREE and your credit card will work there!). Here are our picks to win the 2017 PGA Championship.
Rickie Fowler (16 to 1 odds to win)
Rickie has been good in the Majors this season with a T22 at the British marking his worst result. He was T11 at the Masters and T5 at the US Open so it appears that his Major game is ready to push for a win. He has done well in previous PGAs with six of seven cuts made and a high finish of 3rd in 2014. This season has seen a win at the Honda as well as a runner-up and two 3rd place finishes. All that is really missing is that Major in 2017. Most know that Fowler is a top-notch overall talent but he may be uniquely cut-out to win the big events based on his ability to gain strokes on the field off the tee. Rickie is 3rd in total driving and is good enough with the iron to rank as the 11th best overall tee-to-green performer this season. That is basically saying that Fowler will have looks at birdie throughout the round and the week. His finishing results basically hinge on his putting. He is 8th in putting average on greens in regulation and 27th in overall putting average but he does three-putt a little more often than average. If Rickie has the speed and line figured out from the start, I think he will be on the front page all week. He could still win with a slow start but that is less likely given the field strength. Fowler does have a steely nerve in the short game, ranking 9th in scrambling and that is bonus stat in a Major.
Matt Kuchar (40 to 1)
Kuch is one of the more veteran players on Tour these days with a Major record dating all the way back to 1998. Even with that longevity, Matt is playing in just his ninth PGA Championship. He has been hit-or-miss through the previous eight with four missed cuts but his good weeks have been very good with a top-25 or better in each of his made cuts including a T7 in 2015. His 2017 Major record shows a T4 at Augusta, a T16 at the US Open and we just watched him duel Jordan Spieth on the way to a British Open runner-up. He has been busy with travel overseas and back through the Canadian Open on the way to Quail Hollow but Kuchar is a focused player and should be able to keep the juice going despite the tough schedule. There is not a true standout stat on Matts sheet but there are no weaknesses either. He is 30th in tee-to-green metrics and gains shots on the field through the green almost every week. His 54th best overall putting average will need to peak a bit to win but he doesnt back track on the greens or compound errors. He is 7th in scrambling and should be a steady presence through the week as we have seen in each Major so far.
Charley Hoffman (66 to 1)
Golf is game of hot and cold streaks and few are experiencing a hot streak like Charley. It hasnt added up to multiple wins or dominant performances but Hoffman is playing the best golf of his career by many standards and has gone toe-to-toe with the best multiple times this season. A T22 at the Masters, a T8 at the US Open and finally a T20 at Royal Birkdale is what Charley has done at the Majors this year and that has to be one of the better overall records for any non-winner in this field. Getting 66 to 1 value on someone who can put those results together is the definition of a value bet. I like players that have proven it before and Hoffman does have a 5-stroke win at the 2010 Deutche Bank to prove he can win against a deep field. He has made 14 of his last 15 cuts overall and enters the week 16th in birdie average. Hoffman is 10th in off-the-tee performance and is one of the longest drivers of the ball from a consistency standpoint. He should have another good week and maybe he can catch that lightning in a bottle and get a Major win.
Jason Dufner (100 to 1)
Dufner is just four years removed from winning the PGA Championship and his overall PGA record shows three top-5 finishes in just eight starts. His win at the 2017 Memorial is evidence that he can beat the deep field and he is coming off a T14 at the British. He has always been a top-tier ball striker with top-34 or better ranks in greens hit, fairways hit, tee-to-green performance and strokes gained off-the-tee. He is 27th in approach proximity and that helps him to a top-40 putts per GIR mark and a good scoring average despite being an average overall putter by Tour standards. I dont think he is quite back to the form he showed in winning a Major in 2013 but he isnt far off from it either. A good week on the greens just might turn back the clock and bring a handsome return.
Good luck and good golf!