Out of the Rough: PGA Championship (2023)
What could be better than watching the World’s best golfers and downing an infamous garbage plate all in the same day?
If you read that opening statement and thought to yourself, ‘nothing!’ then you’re in luck!
This year’s PGA Championship is to be held at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. Rochester is known for the delicacy known as the garbage plate, which is any foodie’s dream.
I frequent Rochester as that is where my oncologist and surgeon are and I’ve had my fair share of the local meal. As I pride myself as a professional foodie, if you are attending the event this week, take a trip over to “DogTown” over on Monroe Ave. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
Now that the talk of food is out of the way, let's talk about golf.
Oak Hill Country Club is hosting its sixth Major championship in its storied history. The last Major championship to be held at Oak Hill was the 2013 PGA Championship won by Jason Dufner.
Extensive renovations have been performed at Oak Hill since the last time we saw the course on the biggest stage the sport has to offer as it has now resorted back to its “traditional” look.
The course in itself is one of the most storied championship courses in all of the United States and I could not be more excited for this week.
Oak Hill Country Club was designed by Donald Ross in 1901 and has gone on to become one of the most storied championship courses in the country.
Upon the completion of the 2008 Senior PGA Championship, the course became the only club to have hosted all six of the United States’ rotating Men’s Major Championships. It has hosted the US Amateur twice, the US Open three times, the PGA Championship three times, the Ryder Cup once, the US Senior Open once and the Senior PGA Championship once.
It goes without saying that with the versatility to host the diverse list of events listed above, this course displays pristine topography and the care it has taken to hold such a standard over its 122 year history.
This is the third time that Oak Hill will host the PGA Championship. As mentioned previously, the last time the event was held here was a decade ago when Dufner claimed victory. Dufner shot a course record 63 in the second round of that event to shoot a total -1.
Oak Hill has seen names such as Jack Nicklaus (1980 PGA Championship,) Lee Trevino (1968 US Open,) Cary Middlecoff (1956 US Open) and Curtis Strange (1989 US Open) claim victory for Major championships
It plays as a par-70 at under 7,400 yards and is designed in a way to expose any mis-hits from anywhere on the course.
As I previously mentioned, the course has recently undergone some extensive renovations. Work began in 2019 headed by Andrew Green on restorations that corrected the original philosophy that challenges players with elevated, back-to-front sloping greens.
An extensive tree removal project too was undertaken at Oak Hill that changed the course from a tight, positional layout to a more long and open course that still rewards those who create the correct angles, while hitting the correct side of the fairways and greens.
To top the restoration process off, a state-of-the-art drainage system was put into place that allows greens to roll faster than ever before.
Through these renovations and restorations, Oak Hill is in line to host a modern Major that features the length, narrow fairways, penal rough, challenging greenside hazards and of course, elevated and fast greens to challenge the best golfers in the world.
In all, the course will play much different than what we saw in 2013.
Golfers must be prepared to grind their way through four days at Oak Hill if they want to claim the second Major of the year. As previously mentioned, Dufner won the event a -10 in 2013, to show the difficulty of this venue. The winner this week will likely end-up in the single-digits under par.
It’ll take an all-around-game from tee-to-green to claim victory this week.
Off the tee work will be of the utmost importance this week. Distance off the tee will be advantageous to clear the fairway bunkers that were modernized by Green in 2018.
Although distance can be key, accuracy off the tee too is just as important. With the long and penal rough that meets Major championship qualifications, surrounding narrow fairways, the fairway-finders too can have success here.
The fairway-finders will have to combine their accuracy with elite long irons and a soft touch around the green to keep pace with the long bombers however.
Approach shots too can get away from even the best of ball strikers at Oak Hill as wayward approach shots can become problem some with the awkward greenside runoffs and hazards.
Elite ball striking will be rewarded this week with all of the defenses Oak Hill has to offer but even the best will be forced to scramble from awkward positions all week long.
With all of this trouble already explained, the added challenge of Allen Creek that runs through half of the holes is present. The creek forces layups off the tee on several holes, making the course play even longer than paper suggests.
There are very few, if any, breathable holes at this venue. Par-fives are often times where the scoring is done on courses like Oak Hill. However, two measure over 615 yards. This will most likely take three quality shots on both of the holes to generate a viable birdie opportunity.
The par-fours too are challenging. The 14th hole is technically reachable at just 320 yards but with severe hazards left, right and behind the hole, players will most likely opt for a safer approach.
Just two other par-fours measure under 460 yards as they serve as the best opportunities for birdies.
Seven of the par-fours measure over 460 yards and the par-threes are over 230 yards. Those nine holes will play over par for the week
Overall, Oak Hill is a pristine piece of golf history designed in a way to test even the World’s best.
With this week being a Major, we’ll get all of the world’s best in one place at one time.
The field consists of 156 golfers with the top 70 plus ties making the cut.
In order to qualify for the PGA Championship, golfers must fit one of the following classifications:
Former PGA Champion
Last five Masters, US Open and Open Championship winners
Last three PLAYERS Championship winners
Senior PGA Champion
Low 15 scores and ties in the last PGA Championship
Low 20 scorers in the previous PGA Professional Championship
Top 70 in PGA Championship points from 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson to 2023 Wells Fargo Championship
Players from the most recent US and European Ryder teams (if within OWGR top-100)
Any tournament winner co-sponsored by the PGA TOUR since the last PGA Championship
Special invitations offered by the PGA committee
This year’s special invitees include Webb Simpson, Paul Casey and Joel Dahmen.
Of course, the field is highlighted by Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler who open as co-favorites to claim the second Major of the season.
Although Rory McIlroy is struggling, he’s married to a Rochester native and is a member at Oak Hill. Of anyone participating this week, he’s arguably the most familiar with the post-renovation course than anyone.
Beyond Rahm, Scheffler and McIlroy, the second-tier of golfers include Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau.
With the event being a major, LIV Tour golfers too will be in attendance. Names from the LIV Tour in attendance this week include Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Micklenson, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer, Dean Burmester, Casey, Talor Gooch, Martin Kaymer, Sihwan Kim, Anirban Lahiri, Joaquin Niemann, Mito Pereira, Thomas Pieters, Brandan Steele and Harold Varner III.
Former PGA Champions in this week’s field include Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Koepka, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day and McIlroy.
The biggest name not in this week’s field is of course Tiger Woods who continues to recover to full health post-leg surgery.
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: AP)
Approach Shots from 175+ Yards
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Scrambling / Scrambling from the Rough
Bogey Avoidance / Reverse Bounce Back
Birdie or Better Percentage
Sand Saves Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Proximity to the Hole
Par Five Average Scoring
It goes without saying that my favorite in this price range is Jon Rahm ($11,400.) The 2023 Masters’ Champion and World #1 opened as co-favorites with World #2 Scottie Scheffler. He rolls out as the most expensive golfer in the entire tournament and again, that should go without saying. He’s currently first on Tour in all three of birdie or better percentage, reverse bounce back and par five average scoring. He is also second in GIR%, third in SG: APP and bogey avoidance, fifth in proximity to the hole, seventh in SG: PUTT, 16th in SG: OTT, 28th in scrambling, 47th in SG: ATG and 85th in approach shots from 175-plus yards. If there is a knock to his game when it comes to the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week, it’s a near, Tour worst scrambling from the rough. On top of winning the Masters on the season, he’s also won the Genesis Invitational, The American Express and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The last time we saw Rahm was three weeks ago when he placed second at the Mexico Open. Rahm has placed in the top ten in eight of the 12 tournaments he’s played this year. Also consider, you guessed it, Scottie Scheffler ($11,200.) The World #2 opened as co-favorites with Rahm. Scheffler has victories at THE PLAYERS Championship and WM Phoenix Open on the season. He also has placed top ten in nine of the 13 tournaments he’s played this season. Scheffler teed it up last week at his hometown tournament, the AT&T Byron Nelson where he placed T5th. Scheffler is currently best on Tour when it comes to all three of SG: OTT, bogey avoidance and GIR%. He is also third in reverse bounce back, fourth in both birdie or better percentage an par five average scoring, sixth in SG: APP, 16th in scrambling from the rough, 21st in SG: ATG and scrambling, 50th in proximity to the hole, 80th in approach shots from 175+ yards and 102ndi n SG: PUTT. Like Rahm, Scheffler has a glaring weakness. His weakness happens to be playing from the sand as he ranks fifth worst on the entire Tour at 201st in sand saves percentage. If you’re turned off by the price that Rahm and Scheffler bring, consider Collin Morikawa ($10,200.) The 2020 PGA Championship winner comes in with a very fair price tag this week on DraftKings. Morikawa is currently fourth on Tour in SG: APP, fifth in GIR%, seventh in par five average scoring, 23rd in SG: OTT, 24th in proximity to the hole, 28th in birdie or better percentage, 30th in reverse bounce back, 34th in bogey avoidance, 40th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 73rd in scrambling, 77th in both scrambling from the rough and sand saves percentage and 107th in SG: ATG. We’ve yet to suggest a golfer without a glaring weakness in their game and the trend continues with the discussion on Morikawa. His struggles come on the greens where he ranks 169th in SG: PUTT. Morikawa has missed the cut in consecutive events (Zurich Classic and Wells Fargo Championship) but if this season has proven anything (outside of Rahm or Scheffler) is that recent form can be thrown out the window at times. Morikawa did place second at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, third at The American Express, T6th at the Genesis Invitational, T10th at The Masters and T13th at THE PLAYERS. This is the type of event and course that fits Morikawa’s game and the type of event he plays his best at. It’ll take some luck on the greens but if he can get a few putts to fall in his favor, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.
My overall favorite this week per my model is none other than Tony Finau ($9,500.) Finau offers a very fair price at just $9,500 and his game fits this course to a tee (pun intended.) We’re just two weeks removed from Finau topping Rahm in Mexico to claim the Mexico Open title. Finau’s worst finish on the calendar year has been T31st at the RBC Heritage and outside of that, placed in the top 26 in the other nine tournaments. Finau is currently the best on the entire Tour when it comes to SG: APP. He’s also third in birdie or better percentage, fifth in par five average scoring, 11th in bogey avoidance, 14th in GIR%, 20th in proximity to the hole, 21st in sand saves percentage, 24th in SG: OTT, 26th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 33rd in scrambling, 44th in SG: PUTT, 53rd in SG: ATG, 87th in scrambling from the rough and 99th in reverse bounce back. He’s one of a few golfers in our model this week that is currently above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week. I’m all in on Finau claiming his first Major title and at +2900 to win, that’s a very fair number. Also consider Xander Schauffele ($9,900.) If you’re unwilling to spend up for the likes of Rahm or Scheffeler, getting Schauffele at the top of this price range can go a long way in developing a very strong DFS lineup. He is currently fifth in SG: APP, sixth in par five average scoring, ninth in birdie or better percentage, 14th in bogey avoidance, 19th in both SG: PUTT and GIR%, 27th in both scrambling and reverse bounce back, 30th in SG: ATG, 42nd in scrambling from the rough, 55th in sand saves percentage, 56th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 68th in SG: OTT and 137th in proximity to the hole. I know I’m not one to really buy into recent form but we can’t ignore the type of form Schauffele is currently in. He placed second in his last outing at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also went T4th at the Zurich Classic, fourth at the RBC Heritage, T10th at The Masters, T5th at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and T19th at THE PLAYERS Championship in his last five outings. On the season he has played 13 events and has placed in the top 25 in ten of them and has placed in the top ten in eight of them. At +2400 he’ll receive a few dollars on my behalf as well. Also consider Patrick Cantlay ($9,700.) Cantlay too is in some great form heading into this second major of the season. Dating back to the Genesis Invitational in February, his worst finish has been T21st at the Wells Fargo Championship. Outside of that his worst finish was T19th at THE PLAYERS. He placed third at the Genesis, T4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T9th at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, third at the RBC Heritage and T4th at the Zurich Classic. He is also tied with Rahm as the best on Tour when it comes to par five average scoring. Cantlay is also second in birdie or better percentage, third in SG: OTT, eighth in GIR%, ninth in bogey avoidance, 18th in SG: PUTT, 40th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 43rd in SG: APP, 45th in scrambling from the rough, 46th in scrambling, 86th in SG: ATG, 92nd in proximity to the hole and 101st in reverse bounce back. If there is a knock to his game it's his 145th placement in sand saves percentage. That’s a little worrisome with the magnitude of this week’s bunkers but the rest of his game should carry him.
If you’ve read one of my articles this season or listened to one of my podcasts, you know I love Jason Day ($8,900) each and every week. On the back of his first PGA Tour victory since 2018, he’s got that mental barrier behind him. He’s a former PGA Championship winner as well and is playing some of the best golf of his very decorated career. If we take a look at what he’s been able to do in this resurgence season, outside of the victory a week ago, he has placed fifth at the WM Phoenix Open, T7h at the Farmers Insurance Open, T9th at the Genesis Invitational, T10th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T18th at The American Express and T19th at THE PLAYERS Championship. Statistically speaking, he’s currently second on Tour in both scrambling and bogey avoidance, tenth in birdie or better percentage, 11th in SG: PUTT, 16th in SG: APP, 17th in GIR%, 23rd in both reverse bounce backs and sand saves percentage, 25th in SG: OTT, 29th in SG: ATG, 35th in scrambling from the rough, 76th in par five average scoring, 105th in proximity to the hole and 111th in approach shots from 175+ yards. In the final round a week ago as he went on to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, he was unphased by the pressure of not winning a tournament in over 1,000 days as he continued to throw darts onto the greens to keep his lead on the field. I’m all in (no surprise) once again on Day. Also consider Tom Kim ($8,000.) Kim is at the very bottom of this price range which will go a long way if you’re looking to afford the Rahms or Schefflers this week. Kim is currently third on the Tour in scrambling, fifth in bogey avoidance, 13th in GIR%, 14th in SG: APP, 17th in reverse bounce backs, 35th in SG: APP, 37th in proximity to the hole, 38th in birdie or better percentage, 40th in par five average scoring, 47th in SG: OTT, 52nd in scrambling from the rough, 67th in approach shots from 175+ yards and 87th in sand saves percentage. The weak-link of his game comes on the green where he currently ranks 129th on the Tour in SG: PUTT. He’ll need to catch a hot flat stick on these Bentgrass greens this week and get a few putts to fall that he typically would not if he were to be in contention on Sunday. On the calendar year he has made the cut in eight of ten events. His highlights include a T6th at The American Express, an impressive T16th in his debut at The Masters and a T23rd in an elevated event at the Wells Fargo Championship. Also Consider Max Homa ($8,700.) The last time we saw Homa was at the Wells Fargo Championship where he placed T8th. On top of that he won the Farmers Insurance Open, placed second at the Genesis Invitational, T6th at THE PLAYERS and T14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the season. Homa has not won a major yet but this could be the week as his game lines up well to Oak Hill. He’s currently eighth on Tour in birdie or better percentage, ninth in SG: APP, tenth in SG: PUTT, 18th in bogey avoidance, 23rd in both scrambling and reverse bounce back, 26th in SG: APP, 63rd in proximity to the hole, 64th in both SG: OTT and GIR%, 66th in par five average scoring, 73rd in scrambling from the rough, 75th in sand saves percentage and 106th in approach shots from 175+ yards. Homa is an elite putter and on these challenging Bentgrass greens, that will go a long way this week.
This is a very fun price range this week as it often is in Majors or elevated events. My first suggestion in this price range is none other than Wyndham Clark ($7,500.) Call it recent bias as I hit on Clark at +6000 at the Wells Fargo Championship but beyond his first Tour victory, Clark has been playing some fantastic golf this season. Clark has also placed third at the Zurich Classic, fifth at the Valspar Championship, sixth at the Corales Puntacana Championship and T10th at the WM Phoenix Open. He is currently 13th in par five average scoring, 20th in SG: App, 21st in bogey avoidance, 25th in birdie or better percentage, 35th in GIR%, 39th in scrambling, 50th in sand saves percentage, 57th in SG: OTT, 59th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 61st in SG: PUTT, 62nd in SG: ATG, 71st in scrambling from the rough, 73rd in proximity to the hole and 89th in reverse bounce back. In all, he’s above average in each of the statistical categories I took into consideration this week. With a win at an elevated event under his belt and his game matching up well here, his +7500 to win this week’s PGA Championship will receive a donation on my behalf. Also consider Justin Rose ($7,700.) Although a decade ago, Rose is a former US Open victor, which this week’s venue in Oak Hill plays more to the tune of. Rose comes in with great value in this penultimate price range. He’s very quietly been on some great form heading into this week’s event, putting a stretch of results together that included a T6th at THE PLAYERS, T36th at the Valspar Championship, T16th at The Masters and T25th at the RBC Heritage. Rose also has a victory on the season, winning at Pebble Beach back in February. Rose is currently third on Tour in sand saves percentage, eighth in proximity to the hole, 28th in birdie or better percentage, 31st in SG: PUTT, 33rd in par five average scoring, 36th in scrambling, 41st in SG: APP, 48th in scrambling from the rough, 52nd in bogey avoidance, 67th in reverse bounce back, 71st in SG: ATG, 73rd in GIR%, 76th in SG: OTT and 86th in approach shots from 175+ yards. Like Clark, Rose is above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week and is in some decent form. Also consider Si Woo Kim ($7,100.) Kim at $7,100 fresh off a second place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson is one of my favorite value plays this week. On top of his runner-up placement a week ago, Kim has a victory on the season at the Sony Open in Hawaii back in January. He has made the cut in ten of the 12 events he’s played on the calendar year. In half of those events where he made the cut, he placed in the top 25. Kim is currently ninth on Tour in reverse bounce back, 18th in sand saves percentage, 24th in scrambling from the rough, 25th in SG: APP, 28th in bogey avoidance, 30th in scrambling, 43rd in birdie or better percentage, 44th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 46th in SG: OTT, 50th in SG: ATG, 56th in GIR%, 58th in proximity to the hole and 107th in SG: PUTT. If there is a weakness to Kim’s game it is the par fives where he ranks 129th on Tour in par five average scoring.
When it comes to this price range, we’re looking for our selections to mainly make the cut. When it comes to these grind-it-out types of events, Matt Kuchar ($6,900) has to be included. Kuchar simply doesn’t allow strokes to get away from him as he is currently the Tour’s best when it comes to both scrambling and sand saves percentage. He is also second in SG: ATG. He’s a true magician when it comes to around the green work, which there will be plenty of this week. Kuchar is also fourth in bogey avoidance and eighth in reverse bounce back, to add to his ability to save par and not lose strokes. He is also 13th in par five average scoring, 26th in scrambling from the rough, 45th in SG: PUTT, 66th in GIR%, 69th in SG: APP, 79th in birdie or better percentage, 87th in SG: OTT, 134th in proximity to the hole and 153rd in approach shots from 175+ yards. Kuchar has made the cut in four consecutive events coming into this week. Included in that stretch of tournaments was a T3rd at the Valero Texas Open and a T19th at the RBC Heritage. It is also worth noting that Kuchar has made the cut in seven of the ten events he’s played in 2023. Along with the previously listed results, he also placed eighth at the Genesis Invitational (a course that compares well to Oak Hill) and T7th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Also consider Brian Harman ($6,800.) Like Kuchar, Harman is another golfer that is elite when it comes to saving par and won’t lose too many strokes on the field, which is crucial in an event like this week’s where the winner will be in the single digits under par and the cut line will likely reside over par. Harman is currently fifth on Tour in scrambling, sixth in bogey avoidance, ninth in scrambling from the rough, 11th in proximity to the hole, 15th in reverse bounce back, 17h in SG: OTT, 19th in par five average scoring, 20th in sand saves percentage, 21st in GIR%, 69th in SG: PUTT, 75th in birdie or better percentage, 111th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 142nd in SG: ATG and 156th in SG: APP. Harman may have missed the cut in six of the ten tournaments he’s played in 2023, but in the events he did make the cut, he has made the most of it. In a full field elevated event at the RBC Heritage a few weeks back, Harman placed T7th. Also consider Adam Svensson ($6,600) who is one of my favorite value plays of the week. Svensson has made the cut in seven of the ten events he’s played in 2023. If we remove back-to-back missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open and WM Phoenix Open early in the year, Svensson has missed just one cut in his last seven events. He placed T9th at the Genesis Invitational, again, a course that compares wells to Oak Hill, this year. He also went T13th at THE PLAYERS. Svensson is currently 16th in scrambling, 39th in bogey avoidance, 40th in SG: PUTT, 45th in reverse bounce back, 46th in scrambling from the rough, 49th in proximity to the hole, 50th in par five average scoring, 53rd in SG: APP, 60th in approach shots from 175+ yards, 65th in sand saves percentage, 74th in SG: OTT, 76th in SG: ATG, 95th in GIR% and 109th in birdie or better percentage. Svensson does a lot of things well and has been on some great form heading into this week.
Brooks Koepka (+2100) - 3u
Patrick Cantlay (+2100)- 3u
Xander Schauffele (+2400) - 3u
Jason Day (+2800) - 2u
Tony Finau (+2900) - 3u
Max Homa (+3600) - 2u
Tom Kim (+7500) - 1u
Wyndham Clark (+7500) - 1u
Patrick Reed (+9000) - 1u
Joaquin Niemann (+9000) - 1u
Si Woo Kim (+12000) - 1u
Justin Rose (+12000) - 1u