This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $2.16M
FedEx Cup Points: 600 to the Winner
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Course: Southern Hills Country Club
2021 champion: Phil Mickelson
There are many compelling storylines entering the 104th PGA Championship: Will Scottie Scheffler make it halfway to the 2022 Grand Slam and put a vice grip on the No. 1 ranking in the world? Will Jordan Spieth become only the sixth golfer to complete the career Grand Slam? Will Tiger Woods take positive steps forward in his second appearance of the year? One huge question will not be answered, as Phil Mickelson will not tee it up. Just a year after becoming the oldest major champion in history, Mickelson announced Friday that he will not defend his title, just the latest seismic ramification stemming from his controversial comments about the Saudi golf league.
Mickelson is one of only four top-100 golfers not in a tournament that annually delivers the strongest field in golf. Injured or ill Harris English, Sungjae Im and Paul Casey are the others. Heading the 156-man contingent is Scheffler, who occupies the top spot in the RotoWire Majors Value Meter for the PGA Championship. if Scheffler wasn't on enough of a heater as it is, he now gets to vie for his fifth title of the year at a course he calls his absolute favorite.
Venerable Southern Hills is on the short list of American courses to host the most majors. It is set to play host to to its eighth major and record fifth PGA – no other course has had more than three. We last saw it in 2007, when Woods won his second straight PGA Championship, fourth overall and 13th major. Southern Hills will be far different from 15 years ago, thanks to a substantial 2019 Gil Hanse-led renovation to help restore the original vision of architect Perry Maxwell back in 1936.
The narrow, tree-lined fairways that Woods negotiated to shoot an 8-under 272 and defeat Woody Austin by two strokes – only five golfers shot under par with a 5-over cut line – have been been cleared of many trees and significantly widened. The course is some 400 yards longer than in 2007 and remains a par-70. In an interview with the Fried Egg website, Hanse said there was a "reemphasis on the little creeks that run through Southern Hills," leaving water in play on 15 of the 18 holes. When asked what makes Southern Hills a stern test, Hanse said, "Ultimately it's going to come down to the greens, the small targets. ... The targets are tiny." Hanse went on to say that the rough around the small, heavily bunkered, bentgrass greens (averaging around 5,000 square feet) has been replaced by short grass. "If I miss it five feet left of my target," he said, "that ball is going down 30 yards as opposed to rolling off the green and hanging in the rough."
So while the course is super long, and long hitters will surely have an edge – and as befitting a major – golfers will need to use all 14 clubs in their bag, it appears Southern Hills will be second shot test with a huge emphasis on scrambling. Hanse said the greens won't be super fast, only around 11-12 on the Stimpmeter, but that didn't stop the famed architect from using words such as "nightmarish" and "diabolical" to describe some of the putting surfaces.
There are other characteristics that will help shorter hitters. For one, there are 10 doglegs of differing angles to blunt distance on the undulating fairways. There are only two par-5s, and they are both SO long – more than 630 yards each – that it actually levels the playing field for the shorter hitters because both are unreachable in two.
Three of the four par-3s are 220 yards or longer and there are seven par-4s of at least 440 yards, including the 491-yard, uphill 18th that Hanse called "the quintessential American championship finishing hole." The 2021 Senior PGA was contested at Southern Hills, and No. 18 was the hardest hole on the course. Alex Cejka won at 8-under – one of only seven players under par at a far shorter track – and he thus earned an invite to this week's event.
A few more details on some holes, courtesy of the Southern Hills website: The sixth is a 226-yarder that it is adorably calls a "short par-3." ... The 12th is a 461-yarder that no less than Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer called "one of America's greatest par-4s." ... And the 632-yard 13th is described as "likely the last good birdie opportunity."
All told, there are 87 bunkers, mostly strategically placed at pinch points in the fairways or heavily guarding the the greens.
Let's talk lineup construction. The field is a maxed-out 156. There are 20 club pros who, if we eliminate them from consideration, leaves 136 options. And with the top 70 and ties making the cut, that's more than half the field. We probably can bring the field down to the 110-125 range after eliminating the older "legacy" champions and some lower-ranked golfers from lesser Tour. Roughly two-thirds of them will make the cut. This means there will be lots of guys in the $6,000s – even the lower $6,000s – reaching the weekend, which is good, because you would need them to fill out your lineup alongside a high-priced guy or two. With the course playing so long, we believe the winner will come from a narrow pool of 10-to-12 – perhaps 15 – guys. These are largely the most expensive guys. One caveat about the $6000 range: While math tells us a good number will make the cut, we had a hard time identifying many we liked when deciding upon each golfer individually.
Weather-wise, it rained Sunday, rain is in the forecast for Tuesday and again over the final three days of the tournament, though nothing substantial. There will be a big temperature swing, from the upper 80s and 90s over the first two rounds down into the low 70s on the weekend. Similarly, winds bordering on 20 mph could gust. If that happens, Southern Hills could be a real brute.
Southern Hills major history: The 1958 U.S Open was won by Tommy Bolt, the 1970 PGA by Dick Stockton, the 1977 U.S. Open by Hubert Green (who played the final round after a death threat was phoned into the tournament), the 1982 PGA by Ray Floyd, the 1994 PGA by Nick Price, the 2011 U.S. Open by Retief Goosen and the 2007 PGA by Woods. In addition, the 1995 and '96 TOUR Championships were played there and were won by Billy Mayfair and Tom Lehman, respectively.
Key Stats to Winning at Southern Hills
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Driving Distance/Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation – 175-200 yards
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Greens/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Par-4 Efficiency 450-500 yards
• Bogey Avoidance
• Major History
2021 - Phil Mickelson (the Ocean Course)
2020 - Collin Morikawa (Harding Park)
2019 - Brooks Koepka (Bethpage)
2018 - Brooks Koepka (Bellerive)
2017 - Justin Thomas (Quail Hollow)
2016 - Jimmy Walker (Baltusrol)
2015 - Jason Day (Whistling Straits)
2014 - Rory McIlroy (Valhalla)
2013 - Jason Dufner (Oak Hill)
2012 - Rory McIlroy (Ocean Course)
We keep coming back to what Hanse said up top, the part when he was asked what will make Southern Hills a stern test: "Ultimately it's going to come down to the greens, the small targets. ... The targets are tiny." That's so unlike a PGA, at least to think of the short game before tee balls. Safe to say, as befitting a major, golfers will need to use all the clubs in their bag, even their driver, no matter how forgiving to renovate fairways may be. While length may be not quite as important as we've come to see in PGAs, fairway placement will still matter on all these dog legs. As usual, long hitters have an edge but not a hammer lock on winning. A moderate hitter with a lights-out short game can come away with the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday night. Historically, the PGA likes to have its winners somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-under-par. Golfodds.com set the over/under on the winning score at 270.5 – 9.5-under-par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Scottie Scheffler - $11,400 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1200)
It's hard to imagine anything aligning any better for a golfer: Scheffler has won four tournaments in the past four months, is ranked No. 1 in the world and now is heading to what he calls his very favorite course. Aside from driving accuracy, there is not a weakness in Scheffler's game right now, and calling that a "weakness" is probably stretching it. Besides, if there's one weakness to have this week, driving accuracy is high on the list.
Justin Thomas - $10,700 (+1200)
Thomas notched another top-10 last week, his sixth in 10 starts in 2022. Again, something went awry to keep him out of the winner's circle, but as always, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what. Thomas has all the requisite tools to win on this golf course. Even his biggest shortcoming, putting, is not all that short, as he's ranked 82nd on Tour. And if all else goes well, Thomas can get by with good but not great putting. He's ranked second on Tour in bogey avoidance.
Rory McIlroy - $10,000 (+1800)
The conventional wisdom says the wedge is McIlroy's weakest club. That's probably so, but he's ranked 14th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and is coming off a runner-up at a place where short game matters a whole lot – Augusta National. As is often the case, we might get a real good reading on McIlroy by Thursday night, and whether he shoots himself out of another major in the first 18 holes.
Cameron Smith - $9,700 (+2500)
Smith is the seventh guy on DraftKings' DFS board and eighth at their sportsbook. Yet he's ranked fourth in the world. The prices always seem a little light, and the odds a little long, for Smith, who as yet is not viewed with the same gravitas of some golfers behind him in the world rankings. Ordinarily, a PGA wouldn't be the best place for Smith, but this is no ordinary PGA track. In fact, there are enough similarities to Augusta to turn to a player with perhaps the best short game (wedge/putter) in golf right now.
Tier 2 Values
Jordan Spieth - $9,600 (+1600)
Spieth lovers, of which there are many, must be thrilled to see their guy with a 9 at the beginning of his price and not a 10. We are too. Spieth needs a PGA title to complete the career grand slam, which makes sense because conventional PGA and U.S. Open tracks don't align best with his game. He was fortunate when Dustin Johnson handed him an Open in 2015 at quirky Chambers Bay. But with Southern Hills looking more Augusta-like than most PGA Championship tracks, this may be Spieth's best shot for the grand slam for the foreseeable future. For all of Spieth's missed three-footers, he's ranked 10th on Tour in bogey avoidance.
Xander Schauffele - $9,300 (+2800)
When we typed in Schauffele's name just now, a vision of Lucy yanking the football away just as Charlie Brown was about to kick it popped into our head. How many times will we turn to Schauffele only to be disappointed? He still hasn't won in forever. And he's not even having a good year by his standards. But he has had two top-10s in majors every year for the past four years and is coming off a Sunday at the Byron Nelson – an 11-under 61 – that shows us what he can be when he's at his best. Schauffele's stats are still outstanding this season, even if his results have not been. He's ranked third on Tour in bogey avoidance.
Shane Lowry - $8,700 (+2500)
Lowry's DK Sportsbook odds are the same as Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama's. We get it. We've touted Lowry many times this season and he's delivered virtually every time. And now he's not even $9,000; he's at a price that can fit into just about any lineup. Lowry was third at the Masters, then third again at Harbour Town, after being second at the Honda. He's been in the top-12 in five of his six PGA Tour starts this year. He's amid the best stretch of his career, better than when he won the 2019 Open Championship. One reason is that he leads the Tour in bogey avoidance.
Max Homa - $8,100 (+7000)
Homa just won for the fourth time in his PGA Tour career, but as we documented in the Wells Fargo recap, he's an all-or-nothing guy. And he's been almost all nothing in majors, never finishing better than 40th and most of the time missing the cut. Homa is just too good – his game really doesn't have a weakness – to be this bad in majors. He finished 48th at the Masters last month, and we'll consider that a baby step.
Tier 3 Values
Matt Fitzpatrick - $7,900 (+4500)
Fitzpatrick is bound to be highly owned, for a variety of reasons. Namely, he plays well on hard golf courses, is playing well this season and his price begins with a 7. Fitzpatrick is coming off a T14 at Augusta, was T23 last year at the PGA and has been a reliable cut-maker in majors, 20 out of 27 to be exact. The Englishman is ranked top-25 in every single strokes-gained category, including No. 1 in the most important one of all: Strokes Gained: Total. He's also ranked seventh on Tour in bogey avoidance.
Keegan Bradley - $7,500 (+6500)
Bradley is on a heater. He started the year ranked 87th in the world and is now 45th, following three top-8s in his past five starts, beginning with a solo fifth at THE PLAYERS and ending with a runner-up to Max Homa at the Wells Fargo last time out. We know all about how good his tee-to-green game is, and now his putting is pretty average, which is a vast improvement. Bradley has made nine of 11 cuts in PGAs and shared 17th place last year.
Harold Varner III - $7,000 (+11000)
This may be our favorite play in the whole field. Varner is 37th in the world rankings. He was sixth at THE PLAYERS and is coming off a T3 at Hilton Head. He was T23 at the Masters, and that was with an 80 on Saturday. It was reminiscent of his 81 when paired with Brooks Koepka in the final round of the 2019 PGA. Varner is really coming on, and if that horrid 80 at Augusta had merely been a terrible 75, he'd have notched a top-10. He's ranked 30th on Tour in SG: Around-the-Green.
Alex Noren - $7,000 (+13000)
Here's another great value play. Noren has made his past nine cuts to move to the brink of returning to the top-50 in the world (52nd). He can contend a birdie-fest (12th at the Byron Nelson) and at a stingy course (T5 at the Honda). He's ranked ninth on Tour in bogey avoidance. Remember, Noren used to be a top-10 golfer.
Robert MacIntyre - $6,900 (+11000)
While we mentioned up top that a lot of $6K guys will make the cut – that's just math – the task becomes harder when deciding on each guy individually. We'll start with the young Scotsman who has never missed a cut in eight major starts, most recently a tie for 23rd at the Masters. It hasn't been a great year for MacIntyre; he's played only three PGA Tour stroke-play events in all of 2022. But he's made all three cuts, including shared 15th place at Riviera.
Matt Kuchar - $6,800 (+8000)
Guys in the $6000s don't go off at 80-1 very often. Like, never. But that's where the DK sportsbook puts Kuchar, who has been on a roll of late. He was second at the Valero, third at the RBC Heritage and 12th last week at the Nelson, fueling a return to the top-100 in the world at No. 78. He's ranked fifth on Tour in bogey avoidance. You're gonna have to ask yourself what side of Kuchar's recent PGA Championship history you're on: In the past seven years, he's had three top-10s and four missed cuts.
Kevin Kisner - $6,800 (+18000)
Kisner will be challenged by the length, for sure. But he is a very accurate driver, which should allow him to at least position himself on the correct side of the fairway. From there, he has good GIR% and we all know about his short game. Kisner has made four his of his past six cuts at PGAs – and all four of them have been top-20s.
Adam Hadwin - $6,300 (+18000)
As with Kisner, a long track isn't the best place to play Hadwin. But we think the course offers enough nuance and Hadwin has enough game to make it to the weekend. He usually finds a way. He's made six of his past eight cuts in majors, including three straight PGAs. Other than driving distance, his numbers look good for Southern Hills, notably a ranking of 19th in SG: Around-the-Green and 15th in bogey avoidance.