This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: Southern Hills Country Club (7,556 yards, par 70)
Winner: $2,160,000 and 600 FedExCup points
Southern Hills will play host to the PGA Championship for a record fifth time in 2022. The Tulsa course last hosted back in 2007 when Tiger Woods won his fourth Waunamaker trophy. Tiger will return this week after a remarkable performance at the Masters following his life threatening car accident in February of 2021. The course will play different this week, however, as Southern Hills underwent a significant restoration back in 2018 when Gil Hanse attempted to bring the course back to its original design. Several fairways were widened, trees were removed, bunkers were shifted to adjust to today's distance, a winding creek will come more into play on several holes, and the edges of greens were shaved off to repel balls away from the putting surfaces.
There are a multitude of storylines coming into the week. Of course there is always the Tiger factor, but the biggest hype machine outside of that is probably Jordan Spieth going for the career grand slam following a win at the RBC Heritage and a runner-up last week at the Byron Nelson. World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler will look to become the first player since Spieth in 2015 to win the first two majors of the season on what he has called one of his favorite courses in the world. World No. 2 Jon Rahm enters on the heels of his own win at the Mexico Open, while Rory McIlroy showed good form at the Wells Fargo Championship a couple weeks ago following a runner-up at Augusta. The PGA Championship is one of the best fields of the season and the number of players capable of winning a major championship this week is so deep.
By all early accounts from the players, Southern Hills has been set up beautifully. If you're clicking on all cylinders, you can shoot a low number, but if you are just a little off in any area of your game then bogeys are very easy to come by. The first two rounds will be hot and windy, but temperatures will drop significantly over the weekend and the winds should as well. There's always a chance for a passing shower or thunderstorm at this time of year in Oklahoma, but it is looking like we should get a pretty firm and fast test around Southern Hills.
2021 – Phil Mickelson (Kiawah Island)
2020 – Collin Morikawa (TPC Harding Park)
2019 – Brooks Koepka (Bethpage Black)
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 (Kiawah Island)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- Driving Distance
Southern Hills is a big boy golf course. We should expect a variety of tees to be used throughout the week, but it can max out at over 7,500 yards. For a par-70, that's pretty much unheard of. There really aren't a lot of easy birdie opportunities with the two par-5's playing well over 600 yards. There is enough room of most of these tees for some of the bigger hitters to free up to hit some bombs and have shorter clubs into some greens. With the course expected to play firm and the edges of the greens being sharpened, two aspects of your game have to be on to make a score around Southern Hills. That would be approach play and short game. The restoration has created a ton of closely mown chipping areas around these greens that will be advantageous for players who rank highly in a lot of short game categories. There's also a really good chance the guy that leads the field in greens in regulation is hoisting the trophy at week's end. The bentgrass greens should be pretty speedy, so keeping the ball below the hole will be important to making a score.
FanDuel Value Picks
Cameron Smith ($11,400)
Other than Scheffler, Smith has been the best player on Tour this season. He notched wins at the Tournament of Champions and THE PLAYERS and also nearly picked up his first major at the Masters. Smith should thrive in firm and windy conditions at Southern Hills. He ranks seventh in SG: Approach, fourth in SG: Putting, eighth in GIR percentage and first in both birdie average and scoring average. There's nothing not to like here, especially at just the seventh highest salary.
Jordan Spieth ($11,000)
I was a bit surprised to see Spieth as the 11th option on the FanDuel board. It's hard to come up with anyone who has played better than him since the Masters with his win at Harbour Town and a near-miss at TPC Craig Ranch where he finished 25-under. Spieth was second in SG: Tee-to-Green last week and is hitting the ball as well as he has in years. He also may be the best player in the world with a 60 degree wedge around the greens. If Spieth can stay solid over the short putts, it's really hard to not see him having a chance to secure the career Grand Slam on Sunday.
Xander Schauffele ($10,900)
Schauffele was quiet throughout much of the early portion of the season, but that has changed in recent weeks with his win at the Zurich Classic and his 61 Sunday at the Byron Nelson en route to a T5. Schauffele is so consistent in all aspects of his game, ranking top-32 in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach and SG: Around-the-Green. The reigning Olympic gold medalist is also 16th in GIR percentage, fourth in total driving, 22nd in scrambling and ninth in birdie average. Schauffele always seems to play his best golf in the big events.
Shane Lowry ($10,700)
It's hard to find a player that has been a better combination of iron play and short game play this season than Lowry. The Irishman ranks fourth in SG: Approach, first in proximity to the hole, second in scrambling and second in sand-save percentage. Lowry is also 13th in SG: Putting and finished outside the top 13 just once in his last six stroke play events, including a T3 at the Masters.
Longer Shots with Value
Talor Gooch ($9,500)
I'm very high on Gooch due to his combination of elite iron play and short game. He ranks 21st in SG: Approach, seventh in SG: Around-the-Green and 26th in GIR percentage. With those kind of numbers it is no surprise that he plays well on difficult golf courses, and I would expect him to do the same at Southern Hills.
Keegan Bradley ($9,200)
Bradley has been rolling over the last couple months with five top-11 finishes in his last seven starts. In recent years the ball striking has always been there for Bradley, but his short game and putter has kept him from getting back to a top-25 player in the world. This season Bradley is now gaining strokes in every category and continues to be the type of elite iron player needed to compete at Southern Hills.
Russell Henley ($8,700)
Over his last couple starts Henley hasn't had the same results he posted earlier this season, but this price is too good to pass up for one of the best iron players in the game. The Georgia Bulldog ranks second in SG: Approach, 12th in GIR percentage and 15th in proximity to the hole. Henley is also 26th in SG: Around-the-Green and seventh in scoring average this season.
Alex Noren ($8,500)
Noren has quietly had a very consistent last few months of the season. Over his last nine starts, Noren has racked up six top-26 finishes. The Swede is gaining strokes in every measured category this season. He is also 11th in scrambling and 32nd in scoring average on the PGA Tour this season. Noren has played well on tough golf courses throughout his career.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
The list of strong options for Southern Hills extends well below $8,500. Names like Chris Kirk ($8,200), Cameron Young ($8,200), Adam Hadwin ($8,100), Mito Pereira ($8,000), and Davis Riley ($7,700) are all names very worthy of making their way into lineups this week. This level of depth gives DFS players a lot of different ways to construct lineups. There are a few players like Dustin Johnson ($11,500), Brooks Koepka ($11,300), and Bryson DeChambeau ($10,600) all have salaries that do not fit where their game is at currently. Finally, if I haven't made it clear already, invest in players who rank highly in both approach play numbers and short game statistics.