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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: PGA Championship (2024)


Just like that, the second Major of the 2024 PGA Tour season is upon us.


Attention is now turned to Valhalla Golf Club for the 106th playing of the PGA Championship.


Named after Odin’s domain to preside over slain warriors in Norse mythology, Valhalla Golf Club continues on with his storied history on the PGA Tour, hosting its fourth PGA Championship in just its 38 years of existence.


The club in Louisville, Kentucky last hosted the PGA Championship in 2014 where we saw Rory McIlroy win his last Major. Tiger Woods won here in 2000 and Mark Brooks won the first playing of the PGA Championship here in 1996.


The Field

Being a Major, we’ll be treated to one of the best fields the world of golf has to offer. Unlike The Masters which holds a limited field, this week’s field will consist of 156 golfers from all walks of life.


The qualification criteria for the PGA Championship is as follows:


  • Former PGA champion

  • Last five Masters, US Open, and Open Championship winners

  • Last three PLAYERS Championship winners

  • Senior PGA champion

  • Low 15 scorers and ties in the last PGA Championship

  • Low 20 scorers in the previous PGA Professional Championship

  • Top 70 in PGA Championship points from 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson to 2024 Wells Fargo Championship

  • Players from the most recent US and European Ryder teams (if within OWGR top-100)

  • Any tournament winner co-sponsored or sanctioned by the PGA TOUR since the last PGA Championship

  • Special invitations offered by the PGA Championship committee


Despite this list, the PGA of America stepped in and extended a special invitation to six LIV golfers that would not otherwise qualify. Those names include Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Dean Burmester, Adrian Meronk, Lucas Herbert and David Puig.


With it being a major, the extensive list of storylines is ever present as well.


McIlroy won his last Major here ten years ago. He’s fresh off back-to-back victories at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and last week’s Signature Event, Wells Fargo Championship. A repeat victory here at Valhalla would mark the fifth Major victory of his storied career.


LIV Golf’s Brooks Koepka claimed victory last year at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. He’s seeking his sixth Major victory this week.


Jordan Spieth is just a PGA Championship away from the career grand slam. He last won a major in 2015. In that same year, he took second at the PGA Championship.


Scottie Scheffler looks to make it two-for-two for Majors on the season, winning The Masters roughly a month ago. He also has since won the RBC Heritage, a Signature Event.


Former PGA Championship winners in this field include Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Koepka, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day and McIlroy.


The Course

Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky has seen one of the most rapid ascents ever in hosting Major championships.


The venue was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1986. Just ten years after opening, it hosted its first PGA Championship in 1996.


From there, Valhalla has hosted two other PGA Championship (2000 & 2014,) making this year the fourth time in the course’s 38 year history.


Valhalla has also hosted two Senior PGA Championship and the 2008 Ryder Cup.


The rapid ascent of the venue to notoriety has a lot to do with the PGA of America holding a 50-percent ownership stake in the club up until 2022, making it a flagship club.


This may be the last time we see a Major championship in Louisville for a long time.


It plays as a Pat 71 at 7,609 yards, making it one of the longest Par 71’s on the PGA Tour circuit.


Like most Eastern Major Championship venues, the course offers a stern all-around test from tee-to-green.


Despite the overwhelming distance posted on the scorecard, Valhalla offers many scoring opportunities compared to more recent PGA Championship host courses.


It features three scorable par-fives and two sub 400-yard par-fours. We simply don’t see that anywhere else when it comes to a Major host.


Compared to recent hosts such as Oak Hill, Southern Hills and Kiawah Island, Valhalla offers a much easier route to victory.


Off the tee, those with plus distance will get a leg up. We saw this with victories from both McIlroy and Woods in the Tour’s last two outings here.


Although it’s not necessarily a bomber’s paradise, those who can carry drives 300-plus yards and opt for mid-irons on its four 200-plus yards par-threes will definitely have the leg up this week.


Compared to last year’s Oak Hill where distance was 100-percent the key, accuracy off-the-tee should be more rewarding this week.


Firm and fast fairways help bridge the distance gap and in true Nicklaus’ design tendencies, there are wider pockets on the fairways for a more dialed-back approach than a year ago.


With the distance though, golfers will be forced to attack these Bentgrass greens with approach shots from over 200-plus yards on the regular.


There have also been several changes to this course since we last saw it in 2014.


The most notable of them is that this is the first time that the course will be played in May. The PGA Championship was once historically held as the final major of the season in August.

Additionally, the course was Bentgrass throughout previously but the fairways and tee boxes have been converted to Zeon Zoysiagrass in 2021. This change was intended to maintain the same playability of the course and allow for firm and fast conditions in the earlier months of the year.


There were five new tee boxes added on holes one, 12, 13, 14 and 18 as well. This was done to add 151 yards to the course.


The Weather

As of the time of writing this, Friday is calling for a 50-percent chance of precipitation and Saturday a 30-percent chance. The rest of the week looks to be clear. There is a strong chance of some precipitation, including Thunderstorms, for Tuesday and Wednesday leading into the event which could result in some softer conditions for the first round and lack of practice rounds. Temperatures will begin at 81-degrees on Thursday before climbing to 86-degrees come Sunday. Winds will be at the lowest on Thursday at six miles-per-hour and will peak at just nine miles-per-hour on Friday and Sunday. In all, it doesn’t appear to be that bad weather wise this week.


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: T2G)

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Average Driving Distance

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Proximity to the Hole from 200-plus Yards

  • Scrambling / Scrambling from the Rough

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Sand Saves Percentage

  • Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

With this week being a Major, I will be offering three golfers per price range. With that being said, I’m kicking this article off the way I start any of them and that’s with Xander Schauffele ($10,900.) Say what you want about his inability to finish a tournament, but as of right now, he may be the second best golfer in the world. Take into account that McIlroy ran him down last week at the Wells Fargo, adding to the stigma that he can’t win a tournament and with the names around him, his ownership is going to be lessened due to that. Schauffele is currently first on Tour in approach shots from 200-plus yards, second in both SG: T2G and bogey avoidance, fourth in both scrambling and par five average scoring, seventh in SG: APP, eighth in SG: OTT, 23rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 30th in SG: ATG, 39th in average driving distance, 52nd in scrambling from the rough and 59th in sand saves percentage. That’s the resume of one of the best golfers in the world. On top of that, if we throw out the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his worst finish on the season was a T25th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In other words, in 11 72-hole events, he has placed top 25 in all of them. He also has placed top ten in eight of them and top five in five. So, he has placed top ten in 72-percent of events he’s played this season and top five in 45-percent of them. What else do I need to say about that? Also consider Scottie Scheffler ($13,200.) Do I really need to go into detail about Scheffler? He has won four-of-his-last-five events including The Masters, the RBC Heritage, THE PLAYERS Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The one event he didn’t win in that stretch was a T2nd at the Texas Children’s Houston Open. His worst finish on the season was a T17th way back at The American Express. In ten events he played this season, he has placed top ten in nine of them and top five in seven. He’s currently tops on Tour in all of SG: T2G, SG: OTT, SG: APP, bogey avoidance and par five average scoring. He is also fifth in SG: ATG, sixth in scrambling, tenth in scrambling from the rough, 43rd in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards and 80th in average driving distance. He does have some downfalls though which include a 161st placement in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 166th in sand saves percentage. There’s no doubt he’ll be in contention on Sunday and with a $13,200 price tag, may have a lower ownership than my next suggestion in Rory McIlroy ($12,000.) We know McIlroy is already a fan favorite. Add that with the fact he has won back-to-back events coming into this week and that he won the last Major held here in 2014, his ownership is going to be through the roof. However, he has to be mentioned here. He is currently second on Tour in average driving distance, fourth in SG: OTT, sixth in SG: T2G, 22nd in sand saves percentage, 24th in scrambling, 29th in bogey avoidance, 32nd in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 49th in scrambling from the rough, 53rd in SG: APP, 62nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 76th in SG: ATG and 79th in par five average scoring. He also has eight top 25s in ten events played this season with three top tens.


$9,000-$9,900

My top play in this price range will likely carry the largest ownership percentage of this price range in Wyndham Clark ($9,500.) A missed cut at The Masters and a T47th last week at the Wells Fargo Championship may help that ownership number a bit but he also has a victory on the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and back-to-back runner-up finishes to Scheffler at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship. He also recently placed T3rd at the RBC Heritage. Although not to that of a US Open standard, the PGA Championship continues to inch closer and Clark is the defending US Open Champion for a reason. He is currently third on Tour in average driving distance, ninth in par five average scoring and sand saves percentage, tenth in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 15th in SG: T2G, 19th in SG: OTT, 46th in SG: APP, 54th in bogey avoidance, 71st in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards and 73rd in SG: ATG. Now he does have some red flags including a 149th placement in scrambling from the rough and 155th in scrambling. Also consider Max Homa ($9,700.) Another fan favorite that should garner some higher ownership but heck, everyone in this price range likely will. Homa has really turned it on as of late. He’s fresh off a T8th at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T3rd at The Masters, T8th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T16th at The Genesis Invitational this season in some of the biggest events the Tour has to offer. He is currently 21st on Tour in sand saves percentage, 25th in SG: ATG, 27th in scrambling, 33rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 38th in par five average scoring, 41st in SG: T2G, 44th in bogey avoidance, 45th in scrambling from the rough, 60th in SG: APP, 67th in average driving distance, 106th in SG: OTT and 128th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Also consider Justin Thomas ($9,300.) Of the three suggestions I’ve made, Thomas will hold the lowest ownership per my model. Thomas’s form coming into this week is much improved. He placed T5th at the RBC Heritage and T21st at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T12th the WM Phoenix Open, T6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and T3rd at The American Express this season. I truly believe Thomas is not far away from returning to the winner’s circle. Heck, he won the PGA Championship just two years ago and also won in 2017. Thomas is currently 11th on Tour in SG: T2G, 12th in SG: APP, 14th in par five average scoring, 21st in average driving distance, 26th in SG: ATG, 34th in scrambling from the rough, 49th in bogey avoidance, 88th in scrambling and 127th in sand saves percentage. His downfalls this week come in the form of a 154th placement in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards but he is 58th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards. He is also 142nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass but he did gain 2.666 strokes putting at the RBC Heritage recently. He also gained at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WM Phoenix Open. If he comes with a competent putter this week, we could see Thomas finally back in the winner’s circle.


$8,000-$8,900

I’m all over Hideki Matsuyama ($8,600) in this price range. Now, this isn’t a course we could instantly jump on Matsuyama at but if we look at how he matches up stats wise, it’ll tell a different story. He is currently second on Tour in SG: ATG, third in SG: T2G, 13th in scrambling from the rough, 19th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 20th in scrambling, 25th in SG: APP, 34th in bogey avoidance, 40th in SG: OTT, 57th in sand saves percentage, 66th in par five average scoring and 102nd in average driving distance. His downfall of course comes on the greens as he ranks 163rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He does have the ability to spike with the putter. He gained 4.297 strokes putting in his victory at The Genesis Invitational this season as well as at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Now, we haven’t seen Matsuyama since The Masters but prior to that, he had a run of four events where his worst finish was a T12th. That run of events included his victory at The Genesis, a T6th at The Players and a T7th at the Valero Texas Open. If he brings a hot flat stick, watch out, because he can win this thing. How ownership will also be lower due to his withdrawal last week from the Wells Fargo Championship. We’ve seen this story 100-times before. Don’t be scared. Also consider Sahith Theegala ($8,100.) Theegala will likely hold a higher ownership simply on name value alone as a fan favorite but a T52nd in his last outing a week ago may help that. Theegala is currently 22nd on Tour in both SG: OTT and proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 28th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 29th in par five average scoring, 31st in SG: T2G, 36th in bogey avoidance, 39th in SG: APP, 49th in average driving distance, 54th in scrambling from the rough, 68th in scrambling, 106th in sand saves percentage and 138th in SG: ATG. As we talk about with most players when it comes to a spike putting week, Theegala will need to spike around the greens to be in contention this week but he has the ability to do that. Theegala has a bit of that Spieth or Thomas around-the-green magic that can’t simply be put into a statistical figure as well. He recently placed second at the RBC Heritage and also has finishes such as T9th at THE PLAYERS, T6th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and fifth at the WM Phoenix Open. Also consider Tyrell Hatton ($8,200.) Now, with the LIV guys, I don’t have the same statistical breakdown as the PGA Tour guys but for Hatton, we have a full season of PGA Tour data from a season ago to go off of. He finished last season 15th in SG: OTT, seventh in SG: PUTT, 63rd in SG: ATG and 30th in SG: APP. He has the plus distance we’re looking for, has quality long irons and scrambles like no other. He’s been playing some quality golf on LIV recently as well, placing fifth in his last outing in Singapore. He also placed sixth in Miami recently. The ownership on these LIV guys is undoubtedly going to be lower than their PGA Tour counterparts as well. 


$7,000-$7,900

I better hope that fairway finders can have some success here this week with my suggestions in this price range. First up we have Alex Noren ($7,200.) I say this often when it comes to DFS plays, not all of your picks cannot win. Making the cut and getting six guys into the weekend is the biggest hurdle we face. With that, Noren has played 11 events this season and has made the cut in all of them. He also very quietly has placed in the top 25 in eight of them. He also recently placed third at THE CJ Cup Byron Nelson which called for distance off the tee, which Noren does not have. He is currently first on Tour in both scrambling and scrambling from the rough, third in bogey avoidance, sixth in SG: ATG, eighth in SG: T2G, ninth in par five average scoring, 20th in sand saves percentage, 35th in SG: OTT, 44th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 119th in average driving distance and 153rd in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. When making the cut is the name of the game, I’m putting trust in Noren. Going along with guys who are locks to make the cut is Si Woo Kim ($7,700.) Kim has made the cut in all of the 13 events he’s played this season. He also has placed top 25 in nine of them. Dating back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Kim’s worst finishes have been T30th at both the API and The Masters. In his last three outings he has gone T18th at the RBC Heritage, T13th at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson and T16th at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T6th at THE PLAYERS Championship. Kim is currently fourth on Tour in SG: T2G, ninth in both SG: APP and bogey avoidance, 14th in SG: OTT, 17th in par five average scoring, 18th in scrambling, 23rd in SG: ATG, 71st in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 84th in sand saves percentage, 95th in scrambling from the rough, 133rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 140th in average driving distance. Also consider Talor Gooch ($7,600.) Gooch is a name I always gravitate towards. He’s currently second best on LIV in scrambling, fifth in putting, fifth in birdies and offers plus distance off the tee. He placed fourth in his last outing in Singapore and also placed eighth in Jeddah and second in Las Vegas. When we last saw Gooch full time on the PGA Tour in 2021-2022, he was a wizard on approach and around the green. His downfall is accuracy off the tee but he makes up for that with plus distance. He’s also improved drastically as a putter since then.


$6,000-$6,900

My first play in this price range is Keith Mitchell ($6,600.) I love the value we’re getting out of him. He’s currently fifth on Tour in SG: T2G which alone should get you fired up. He is also sixth in SG: OTT, ninth in par five average scoring, tenth in SG: APP, 11th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 17th in bogey avoidance, 28th in average driving distance, 56th in scrambling from the rough, 68th in sand saves percentage, 77th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 80th in scrambling and 135th in SG: ATG. Not a bad resume at all for someone in this price range. Mitchell is currently having a fantastic season. He has made the cut in 11-of-13 events including seven top 25’s and two top tens. In his last two outings he has gone T20th at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson and T14th at the Valero Texas Open. Also consider Kurt Kitayama ($6,500.) We talk about it often when talking about Kitayama, he is realistically one of the few in this price range who offers actual win equity. Kitayama is currently 16th on Tour in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 22nd in SG: T2G, 26th in SG: APP, 29th in scrambling, 30th in SG: OTT, 37th in average driving distance, 48th in bogey avoidance, 85th in par five average scoring, 100th in both scrambling from the rough and sand saves percentage, 120th in SG: ATG and 133rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Kitayama has missed one cut in 12 events played this season. He’s played six consecutive events since that one missed cut as well. His best performance on the season came at the WM Phoenix Open where he placed T8th. Also consider Adrian Meronk ($6,700.) Another LIV guy that is a world-class golfer that very few people know about as he went straight from the DP World Tour to LIV. Meronk made the cut last year at both The PGA Championship and The Open Championship. Meronk has historically been great on the approach and has plus distance off the tee. He’s proven to be a quality putter on LIV currently ranking 16th. He placed 13th in his last outing in Singapore and had back-to-back tenth place finishes at Las Vegas and Jeddah.


$5,900-

My overall favorite play in this price range just so happens to make an appearance on my betting card in Maverick McNealy ($5,900.) McNealy has made the cut in ten of the 11 events he’s played this season. In those 11 events he has three top 25’s and two top tens. Those top tens came at THE PLAYERS Championship and the WM Phoenix Open. What I love about McNealy is his rare combination of distance off the tee and elite putting. He is currently third on Tour in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 11th in scrambling, 24th in bogey avoidance, 26th in SG: OTT, 33rd in SG: ATG, 37th in SG: T2G, 53rd in average driving distance, 63rd in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 66th in par five average scoring, 90th in sand saves percentage, 115th in SG: APP and 139th in scrambling from the rough. You’re getting an elite putter who is top 40 on Tour in SG: T2G with plus distance. What else could you ask for? Also consider Robert MacIntyre ($5,900.) MacIntyre is becoming a bit of my go-to value play on any given week. He is currently third on Tour in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 26th in sand saves percentage, 50th in par five average scoring, 54th in scrambling, 58th in scrambling from the rough, 59th in SG: OTT, 67th in SG: T2G, 84th in SG: ATG, 94th in bogey avoidance, 96th in average driving distance, 104th in SG: APP and 130th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. I’m in love with his elite long irons this week with a competent all-around game to make the cut. He has not been a model of consistency this season by any means but placed T13th in his last outing at the Myrtle Beach Classic. He also placed T6th at the Mexico Open at Vidanta on the season as well. Also consider David Puig ($5,800.) Do you remember the former Arizona State University stand out that cut his college career short to join LIV Golf? That’s Puig. Puig is the youngest member of LIV where he has shown his plus distance off the tee combined with a competent putter. He hasn’t had the best of seasons on LIV but as a member of the Asian Tour he placed second at the International Series Macau to John Catlin in a playoff. He also made the cut at the US Open last year.


Betting Card

  • Xander Schauffele (+1600) - 2u

  • Wyndham Clark (+4000) - 1u

  • Justin Thomas (+5000) - 1u

  • Hideki Matsuyama (+5500) - 1u

  • Matt Fitzpatrick (+7000) - 1u

  • Talor Gooch (+10000) - 1u

  • Tom Kim (+12000) - 1u

  • Maverick McNealy (+40000) - 1u


Tom Kim (+12000)

Please, always take my Tom Kim suggestions with a grain of salt. He’s simply my favorite golfer and when I have the chance to play him at a number like +12000, I’m going to do just that. End of breakdown.

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