Not quite the week we had last week, but Stuard finished 39th, which gives our team a decent points total. This week is one of the big ones as we preview the PGA Championship from Kiawah Island. The tournament will be played on The Ocean Course between May 20 – 23. Without further ado, let’s get started.
This is one of the oldest golf tournaments around, first played back in 1916 and won by James Barnes. The prestigious tournament has seen titleholders representing the best of the best in golf history; men such as Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy. Let’s look at the past five winners and what their form was leading heading into the tournament.
2020 – Collin Morikawa -13 (Form 20-1-48-CUT)
2019 – Brooks Koepka -8 (Form 4-22-2-56)
2018 – Brooks Koepka -16 (Form 5-CUT-39-19)
2017 – Justin Thomas -4 (Form 28-CUT-CUT-CUT)
2016 – Jimmy Walker – 14 (Form 14-CUT-16-CUT)
It’s clear to see homegrown players have excelled in the PGA Championship recently. That’s where our profile for this year’s winner will start. Also, we want to find a player in good form as four of the last five winners have had at least one top 20 finish leading up to the tournament.
There isn’t a massive round bias when looking at the previous winner’s scores. A good steady round is required each day to lift the trophy here.
The Ocean Course from the championship tees stretches to 7,876 yards with a slope rating of 155 and a course rating of 79.1, the highest in the country, according to the United States Golf Association. It’s hard and it will weed out the boys from the men.
This is the second time the PGA Championship will take place at Kiawah Island. The last time it was played here was back in 2012 when Rory McIlroy ran away with the tournament, winning by a massive eight shots, which is the most significant victory margin ever. He comes into the Championship in excellent form, having won the Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago, and he must be salivating at the mouth at the prospect of taking this course on again.
The weather forecast looks good for this often blustery course, so we could see some very low scores shot this week.
The course starts with one of the easier holes and presents the player with the chance to make an excellent start to the tournament. The fairway is one of the narrowest on the course, so driving accuracy off the tee is the biggest challenge. Hole two is the first par five on the course, and players will be aiming to make the green in two and come away with at least a birdie.
The third hole is another par four where approach play is vital as missing the green will lead to a tough up and down. The next hole is the hardest on the front nine and is the first real test for the players. Coming away with a par on this home can often feel like a birdie.
Hole number five is the first par three on the course and has the largest green, which means players may be left with a long put. The next hole is a par four, and the green is very narrow; therefore, the approach shot into it is the biggest challenge here, and players will need to decide whether to aim for the center or take on the hole depending on the pin location.
The seventh hole is a par five, and with very few challenges, most players will attack the green in two. However, putting can be tricky, and therefore picking up a birdie or better may not be as straightforward as it looks. The next hole is a par three, and the difficulty will depend on the pin location.
The front nine concludes with a par four that has a wide fairway. The green slopes to the left, so putting is the biggest challenge here. The back nine kicks off with another par four, and approach play is critical as the green is pretty well guarded by bunkers.
The 11th hole is a tricky one, and making par here is a good score. The next hole has the widest fairway on the course but is followed by one of the narrowest approaches, so shots into the green will need to be accurate.
Hole 13 is most definitely unlucky for some as this is the most challenging hole on the back nine. This hole will test player’s accuracy off the tee as well as their approach play. After a problematic 13th follows a tricky par three 14th where players will need to hold their nerve and set up an excellent finish to their round.
The next hole looks easy, and as long as players are straight off the tee, they shouldn’t find any problems. Hole 16 is the last par five on the course, and players will undoubtedly be looking to make birdies here to set up an excellent finish to their round.
After hopefully making birdie or better on the 16th, players will need to be cautious on the 17th as this par three is very difficult, and picking up a par will be a good score. The final hole is all about accuracy off the tee, setting up the hole to make an excellent finish to your round.
Many will look at the yardage of this course and believe it will be the long hitters that prevail here. However, I believe approach play is more vital as with these wide fairway’s players should be in an excellent position to attack the pins and fire in some low scores.
Therefore, we will focus our attention on players doing well with their approaches to the green and greens in regulation.
Approach The Green
- Collin Morikawa
- Justin Thomas
- Will Zalatoris
- Matt Wallace
- Russell Henley
Greens In Regulation
- Stewart Cink
- Collin Morikawa
- Emiliano Grillo
- Jon Rahm
- Matthew NeSmith
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are two of the biggest names in the field this year. Johnson is returning to the Tour after pulling out of the Byron Nelson last week, and it will be interesting to see how his fitness is coming into this one. Brooks Koepka is a two-time winner of this tournament and always seems to be a reliable bet as he has never failed to make the cut in eight attempts.
The defending champion Collin Morikawa is back, and he comes into this one in good form, having won the Workday Championship earlier this season. The win put Morikawa in good company as he and Tiger Woods are the only players in PGA history to have won a major and WGC event before the age of 25. Justin Thomas will also be another player to follow. He is a past winner of the Championship, is the reigning Masters champion, and has never missed the cut in this tournament.
After looking at the above data, I have come up with the following picks for this week.
Stewart Cink – $6900
Stewart Cink offers by far the most value in the field as he is arguably the most in-form player on Tour right now as he has had three top 20 finishes in his previous four tournaments. As such, he ranks 11th on Tour for his scoring average this season. He certainly has the putting game to win here as he ranks third for putts made between 20 – 25 feet, which could be a significant factor here, seen as he has made 22 consecutive greens in regulation.
Collin Morikawa- $9800
It’s hard to ignore the form of the defending champion who has two top 20 finishes to his name recently. He appears to have the all-round game this season as he ranks 8th for driving accuracy this season which means he should be in good positions to attack the pins around this course. For a player that ranks tenth for proximity to the hole, this is a deadly combination. While he isn’t the best putter on Tour, he still ranks 17th for putting average, presumably because he manages to get so close to the hole regularly. He also ranks ninth for scoring average, as well as 4th for his birdie average.
Will Zalatoris – $8800
You have to feel a big win is coming Zalatoris’ way soon, and given his excellent form, his time could be now. He has one of the best putting games on Tour, which could see him go close this week. He has made one of the highest number of eagles and birdies, which shows he dares to take on pins regularly. He, too, has an excellent scoring average this season.
Other players to consider with longer odds:
Justin Thomas – $11300 – It’s hard to ignore his form, and he seems to relish the big occasion. However, I think he comes with a hefty price tag and is hard to fit into a lineup. If you fancy few outsiders, then it could pay to have the solid Thomas in your team.
Russell Henley – $7200 – Henley is a solid player with the approach play game to take on these pins, but his form hasn’t been great as of late.
Who are you taking this week? Have you read our BeerLife Sports analyst Bradley Gibbs’ selections for the PGA Championship? Who’s got the better team?