Out of the Rough: The PGA Championship
As predicted, the AT&T Byron Nelson saw some very low scores. Lee Kyoung-hoon won at -26. We had Justin Thomas and Xander Scauffele in each of our lineups last week who tied for fifth at -23. Besides that, there wasn’t much success. We made our money back however, and that’s half the battle. We didn’t see much success with any of our cheaper guys which is something we always pride ourselves in. We now get the second major of the year with the PGA Championship. Let’s get into it!
AT&T Byron Nelson Results
Justin Thomas (-23) - T5th
Sam Burns (-4) - MC
Talor Gooch (-3) - MC
Mito Pereira (-18) - T17th
Ryan Armour (-1) - MC
Scottie Scheffler (-19) - T15th
Xander Schauffele (-23) - T5th
Aaron Wise (-13) - T51st
Marc Leishman (-13) - T51st
Martin Laird (E) - MC
This year’s installment of the PGA Championship will take place at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This is a familiar course to the tour however as this is the seventh time it will be hosting a major championship. Although the course has seen its fair share of championships, it hasn’t hosted since 2007 with the PGA Championship. Southern Hills also hosted the 2001 U.S. Open.
Since the last time the course has hosted a major, it has gone through an extensive renovation. The renovations were led by Gil Hanse who helped redesign Winged Foot prior to the 2020 U.S. Open and designed the 2016 Olympics’ course in Rio.
The course will play as a rather long Par 70 at over 7,500 yards. That in itself will force golfers to get off the tee with distance as a strong importance.
Ten of the holes feature a dog leg and the par 5’s play over 620 yards. Long irons and those efficient in strokes gained: approach will be of the utmost importance; more so than driving distance off the tee. Even those that get off the tee with great distance will face long iron plays throughout the tournament.
The rework of the greens is something that needs to be watched. The Bentgrass greens were shrunk and more runoff areas have been put into place. Therefore, strokes gained: around the green (scrambling) will be important as we’ll see more chip-ups than the tour average.
Alluding back to the importance of strokes gained: approach, those who can place the ball from the wide fairways onto the small greens will see a big advantage.
Being a major, clean ball striking will of course be important. We’ll see higher scores than what we have seen as of late. Phil Mickelson won the event a year ago at -6.
Important statistics to pay attention to include Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Strokes Gained: Around the Green (Scrambling) (SG: ATG Scrambling,) Driving Distance Gained, Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards and Bogey Avoidance.
Trends to pay attention to include the fact that five-of-the-past-six winners played in the PGA event leading into the PGA Championship, six-of-the-past-nine winners placed T15th or better in their previous event and four-of-the-past-six winners had already won an event in the same season.
As we did with The Masters and will do for each major, we will be offering three different golfers per price range. We’re leading off here with my favorite of the week and that is Justin Thomas ($10,700.) Boy does my formula like this guy a lot. Thomas is currently top five in four-of-five statistical categories we used this week. He’s second on tour in bogey avoidance, fourth in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards and fifth in SG: APP and SG: ATG Scrambling. Heck, he’s also 14th in driving distance gained. When it comes to majors you need those extremely well rounded golfers in your lineups as these types of events will test every aspect of the golfers’ game. Off the tee, approach, around the green, Thomas does it all. He doesn’t have a win on the season outside of the Ryder Cup, but he does have eight top tens and five top fives. He’s fresh off a T5th at the AT&T Byron Nelson as well. I’m all in on Thomas this week. Also consider Jon Rahm ($11,200.) I’m not in love with this price range after Thomas, but you can’t count someone like Rahm out. What really hinders Rahm’s score this week is he’s currently ranked 130th on tour in SG: ATG Scrambling. However, he’s fifth in driving distance gained and 14th in SG: APP. This should set him up well hole-in-and-hole-out. Additionally, he’s tenth in bogey avoidance and 31st in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards. Of course, he won his last outing at the Mexico Open at Vidanta two weeks ago. He didn’t play last week. Also consider Rory McIlroy ($10,000.) Being at the bottom of the price range really boosts Rory. Rory of course is elite off the tee where he currently ranks eighth on tour in driving distance gained. He’s also 40th in SG: ATG Scrambling and bogey avoidance. He’s top 76 in SG: APP and par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards as well. Rory is fresh off a second place finish at The Masters, capped off by a fantastic hole-out from the sand on 18 and a fifth place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also did win The CJ Cup this season.
I think it’s about time for the return of Jordan Spieth ($9,600.) Boy is he catching fire as of late. We’ve seen the struggles Spieth can have but also the World #1 type of talent he has when he’s on. In my formula he’s second to just Thomas who we already talked about. This Thomas-Spieth stack is going to be something! Spieth is currently tenth on tour in both SG: ATG Scrambling, which has been what makes Spieth, Spieth, and bogey avoidance. He’s then 18th in SG: APP and top 33 in driving distance gained and par 4 efficiency 450-500. He won the RBC Heritage in April and is fresh off a second place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson a week ago. Everything is there for Spieth to compete this week. This is also the last notch in the belt he needs for a career grand slam. Could we see history this week? Also consider Xander Schauffele ($9,300.) Xander is towards the bottom of this price range and if you want to spend up for the Scottie Schefflers or Jon Rahms, you need to save money where you can. Schauffele is currently third on tour in bogey avoidance and tenth in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards. From there he’s 23rd, 22nd and 32nd in SG: APP, SG: ATG Scrambling and driving distance gained respectively. He finished T5th last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, tied with Justin Thomas and won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in late April. He’s playing great golf as of late and his game suits this course well. Also consider past Masters’ winner Hideki Matsuyama ($9,200.) When it comes to ball striking, few are better than Matsuyama as he’s currently sixth on tour in SG: APP. He’s also 12th in bogey avoidance, 22nd in SG: ATG Scrambling and 44th in driving distance gained. He has won the Zozo Championship and Sony Open in Hawaii this year as well. He played in the AT&T Byron Nelson last week where he took T3rd. He’s won a major already, is one of the best ball strikers on tour and has the resume to do well this week.
Shane Lowry ($8,700) is becoming a regular in this series. He won me a good amount of money back at The Masters and I’ve played him several times since. Boy does his game line up perfectly with this course. He’s best on tour in terms of bogey avoidance, second in SG: ATG Scrambling, third in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards and fourth in SG: APP. What’s bringing down his score this week in our formula is his 92nd ranking in driving distance gained. At $8,700 I can’t see a world where he isn’t in my lineup for The PGA. In his last three outings, he placed T3rd at each of The Masters, RBC Heritage and Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Also consider Joaquin Niemann ($8,500.) Niemann is one of the best on tour when it comes to par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards as he is second on tour in that category. He’s also 24th in SG: ATG Scrambling, 36th in bogey avoidance and top 50 in driving distance gained and SG: APP. Niemann won the Genesis Invitational back in February. He played last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week and placed T25th. Also consider Sam Burns ($8,800.) I was very high on Burns last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson but he disappointed with a missed cut. Despite that, he’s 13th on tour in bogey avoidance, 15th in SG: APP and 34th in both driving distance gained and par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards. He’s also top 75 in SG: ATG Scrambling. He won the Valspar Championship in March and took second at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans a few weeks ago.
With just two price ranges to go, we’ll lead off here with Tom Hoge ($7,100.) Hoge is like Lowry where he’s fantastic in all categories except driving distance gained. That won’t deter us from playing him this week though. Hoge is currently eighth in SG: ATG Scrambling and tenth in SG: APP. On top of that he’s 17th in bogey avoidance and 19th in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards. He's 110th in driving distance gained which is bringing down his overall score. Of course Hoge won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February. He also played the AT&T Byron Nelson a week ago where he finished T17th. At $7,100 this could be a steal. Also consider Gary Woodland ($7,300.) Woodland is the first of our choices who uses the long ball to propel himself in our rankings. He’s 17th on tour in both driving distance gained and par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards. It’s not like he’s terrible in the other statistical categories either as he ranks 40th in SG: APP and 42 in SG: ATG Scrambling. On top of all of that, he’s 52nd in bogey avoidance. Woodland has three top tens and two top fives since the Honda Classic in February. Also consider Alex Noren ($7,000.) Priced at the absolute bottom of this price range, Noren will allow flexibility up top without having to sacrifice a ton of the important statistics we’ve talked about. When it comes to par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards and bogey avoidance, Noren ranks sixth and ninth respectively. He’s also 11th in SG: ATG Scrambling. Heck, he’s even 53rd in SG: APP. He is around the median average driving distance for the tour as well so it’s not like he can’t get off the tee.
We had a good run of finding gems in this price range the past few tournaments. Let’s hope we can keep that going this week. Last week I was super high on Mito Pereira ($6,700) and I’m going to double down on him again. Currently, he’s ranked sixth on tour in bogey avoidance, 11th in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards, 13th in SG: APP and 15th in SG: ATG Scrambling. He’s also 63rd in driving distance gained. You’re getting all this, top 15 in four-of-five important statistical categories in the lowest possible price range. Steal. Pereira played last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson where he finished T17th. Dating back to the Valspar Championship in March, he hasn’t missed a cut. Since the Genesis Invitational in February he has two top 15’s as well, highlighted by a T13th at Valero Texas Open. Also consider Aaron Wise ($6,800.) This is shaping up a lot like last week’s suggestions for the AT&T Byron Nelson. Wise placed T51st last week. Prior to that he took T6th at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. Heck, he’s missed just one cut in his last six tournaments. Wise is top 48 in all five of the statistical categories we have harped on this year. He’s 25th in bogey avoidance, 30th in SG: APP, 44th in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards and 48th in both SG: ATG Scrambling and driving distance gained. We’re already talked about the importance of well rounded golfers at majors, and Wise is just that. I’m going to deviate away from the formula for my final suggestion here. I’m going to go with Kevin Na ($6,900.) Why? Because when it comes to putting on Bentgrass, he’s one of the best on tour; third to be exact. In 296 recorded rounds, Na has gained nearly 0.75 strokes on the field while putting on Bentgrass. On top of that, he’s 38th on tour in SG: APP. Na has also made four straight cuts and placed T9th at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play back in March. He quietly finished T14th at the Masters as well.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, we will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week Lenny went with the legend that is Harry Higgs. Higgs missed the cut however.
This week Lenny is going to go with Talor Gooch. Gooch was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma. That is just under an hour away from Southern Hills Country Club. He played college golf at Oklahoma State as well.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
The Mexico Open - Carlos Ortiz (-5) - T51st
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Harry Higgs (-4) - MC
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
Last week was a big let down with Sam Burns. We have to find a way to bounce back after some lackluster performances outside of Shane Lowry in our first week of this. We’ll go with Justin Thomas here for the reasons I stated above.
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)
The Mexico Open - Gary Woodland ($60,955)
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sam Burns ($0)