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PGA Championship Preview: What are the best bets and stays this weekend at Oak Hill?


Credit: Jordan Speith (Instagram)

Lost in the shuffle of a busy spring sports schedule is the PGA Tour’s second major is upon us - the 2023 PGA Championship will be played at Oak Hill CC in Rochester, NY!


Sure, the Kentucky Derby just happened, the NBA and NHL are deep into their playoffs and baseball has reached the quarter pole as we close in on Memorial Day, but the golf world takes center stage this weekend in what will be a true test of golf at a re-designed Donald Ross golf course in a somewhat climate challenged Northeast.


The PGA moved this major to the month of May in 2019 and when this course was picked, the tournament was held in August. It won’t be sultry in a city that is less than 170 miles from Toronto, Canada, but the course will be ready, long, full of rough and slick greens with a worthy champion crowned late Sunday.


Here at AaronTorresOnline.com we are all encompassing and wanted to provide our loyal audience with a preview as well as some players who should be in contention come Sunday and some who may be home for the weekend. What would a golf preview be without a sleeper or two as well?


Our partners at Betfredsports have you covered with plenty of options for your perusal from winning odds to top 5 and top 10 finishes to a variety of other options..


First, a little background on the course:


First, Oak Hill is no stranger to hosting major golf championships having been home to the US Open twice, PGA Championship three other times, including 2013, the 1995 Ryder Cup, the US Amatuer, Senior US Open and Senior PGA Championship.


Like any golf major, the right draw, which looks like late Thursday and early Friday, keeping the ball in the fairway and greens in regulation will all play a vital role. That will be the theme for players who should play themselves into contention and who might not have the type of week they are hoping for.


The rough is crazy thick so a premium on driving accuracy will be important this week. Driving distance will matter too since the two closing holes total over 1000 yards and both are par 4’s. Throw in a 628-yard par 5 with a 328-yard carry over water if you are up to the challenge and the #1 handicap sixth hole, which is only a 500-yard dogleg par 4, that features water on the right and bunkers galore on the left and a multi-tiered green.


Best Bets:


Patrick Cantlay (+1600)


Cantlay has a nice combination in tour rankings in important categories to contend at Oak Hill. He is second in total driving, 8th in greens in regulation (GIR), and in the top 20 in driving accuracy (18), GIR from less than 125 yards (19), and GIR not from the fairway (20). He was in the second-to-last group at the Masters, albeit shooting a 75, and has added Tiger’s former caddy Joe LaCava to his golf team.


Sungjae Im (+3000)


Im is another solid play as he is in the top 20 in five important categories. He is 8th in GIR from less than 125 yards, 17th in fairway hit percentage, 18th in total driving, 19th in GIR from over 200 yards out, and 20th in driving accuracy. He’s coming off a win in his home country of South Korea to boot. Other than jet lag, he should be able to ride that momentum into contention this weekend.


Collin Morikawa (+3000)


Another player who fits the profile who is looking for his third major title is Collin Morikawa. His approach game is second to none as he sits fourth in approach and fifth in GIR. Add in a third-place ranking in driving accuracy and 7th in fairway hit percentage and all that is stopping him from being a top-flight favorite is his putting (161st in SG/putting). If he can roll the ball well, a third major may be added to an already-impressive resume for Morikawa.




Stay Aways:


Justin Thomas (+2500)


On a course that requires great iron play, Thomas is 65th in GIR. That will need to be much better if Thomas wants to go back-to-back hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. This hasn’t been a stellar year as he sits only 67th in FedEx Cup standings.


Rory McIlroy (+1200)


The PGA Tour’s greatest supporter would love nothing better to play himself into contention this week and add a fifth major to his resume. He did finish 8th here in 2013 and he is impossible to root against. But, he had to take a break from golf after The Masters and is in a slump for his standards.


Jordan Spieth (+3500)


Spieth needs a PGA Championship trophy to be the sixth player to win the career grand slam. Like McIlroy, Spieth needed time away from the tour last week with a wrist injury. He’s going to tee it up and he’s had a fine season (five top-6 showings since February), but the crazy thick rough at Oak Hill could pose a serious problem should he hit it there too many times.


Some sleepers to consider…


You can’t call Dustin Johnson (+2500) a sleeper but if there were one player from the LIV Tour who might make a run up the leaderboard it’s DJ. He won last week and was tied for eighth here in 2013…Brian Harman (+20000) sits fourth in fairway percentage hit, seventh in driving accuracy, 14th in GIR from 200 yards out, and 21st in GIR overall. That’s pretty good odds for those stats…Adam Scott (+8000) is 42 years old but not playing like it. He’s coming off two top-8 finishes at Quail Hollow and TPC Craig Ranch) and needs more outings like that as he sits outside the Top 100 in the FedEx standings. He finished tied for fifth here in 2013…No names here but let’s hope one or more of the 20 club professionals who qualified for this major plays themself into the weekend.


Will Jon Rahm win after his Masters triumph?


Can Scottie Scheffler stay ahead of Rahm?


Or will someone like John Daly make a run no one saw coming?


Someone will be hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy Sunday night at a hallowed golf track called Oak Hill. Enjoy the golf! It will be a true test of patience, clutch shots, driving accuracy and controlled putting. The real winner may be Oak Hill Golf Course when all is said and done.


Follow Stephen Kirck on Twitter - @SKirck


For full PGA Championship odds visit the Betfred Sportsbook


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