Weekly Preview: PGA Championship

Weekly Preview: PGA Championship

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

PGA Championship

Southern Hills Country Club
Tulsa, OK

The PGA Tour heads to Tulsa for the season's second major.

As is customary, when it's the week of a major, I jump right in. So, here we go. My first observation is the number of golfers who will be in contention for the Wanamaker Cup. This was not the case heading into the Masters, as nearly every big name outside of Scottie Scheffler was struggling. That was the exception, though, and the PGA Championship will host a handful of guys peaking at the right time.

What should we expect then? With so many high-end golfers having a chance to win, I'm expecting something entirely different than the Masters, which Scheffler ran away with. This week, we are going to get a classic. There are going to be a handful of elite golfers battling it out until the very end and I think I know who the victor will be, but it might not be someone you expect. I landed on Scheffler at the Masters and I can tell you before we even get to the picks that I'm not on him this week. In fact, as you'll see in a bit, my pick to win is not even one of the guys in top form.

All odds via golfodds.com as of 12:00 PM ET Tuesday.

LAST YEAR

Phil Mickelson shot a final-round 73 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.

FAVORITES

Scottie Scheffler (12-1)

PGA Championship

Southern Hills Country Club
Tulsa, OK

The PGA Tour heads to Tulsa for the season's second major.

As is customary, when it's the week of a major, I jump right in. So, here we go. My first observation is the number of golfers who will be in contention for the Wanamaker Cup. This was not the case heading into the Masters, as nearly every big name outside of Scottie Scheffler was struggling. That was the exception, though, and the PGA Championship will host a handful of guys peaking at the right time.

What should we expect then? With so many high-end golfers having a chance to win, I'm expecting something entirely different than the Masters, which Scheffler ran away with. This week, we are going to get a classic. There are going to be a handful of elite golfers battling it out until the very end and I think I know who the victor will be, but it might not be someone you expect. I landed on Scheffler at the Masters and I can tell you before we even get to the picks that I'm not on him this week. In fact, as you'll see in a bit, my pick to win is not even one of the guys in top form.

All odds via golfodds.com as of 12:00 PM ET Tuesday.

LAST YEAR

Phil Mickelson shot a final-round 73 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.

FAVORITES

Scottie Scheffler (12-1)

Scheffler is finally getting the respect from the oddsmakers he deserves, but the problem is, he probably shouldn't be favored in this spot. Nothing against Scheffler – I've been on his side all year and he's in the midst of an historic season – but we're starting to see some cracks, something he hadn't shown leading up to the Masters. He's human and he can't keep this up forever. He's not Tiger. Do I expect Scheffler to flame out? No way. But at this number, he just doesn't bring enough value to the table.

Jon Rahm (14-1)

It's interesting to see Rahm check in here, as he was favored at nearly every stop earlier in the season and remains second despite a recent win. I get that Scheffler surpassed him in the rankings, but things are going to even out and Rahm is trending up. Is he going to go on a run like Scheffler? It's unlikely, but there are three majors left on the schedule and Rahm is still considered by many to be the best golfer on the planet. As for this week, this price doesn't provide enough value for a win bet, but Rahm is one of a few guys with a great chance to wind up in the winner's circle.

Justin Thomas (16-1)

There are three guys listed at this number: Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. I went with the guy who has the best chance to win this week. There's an argument – and a good one – to be made for all three, but when it comes to majors, I lean on my gut, and my gut is telling me that JT is closest. Spieth looks good right now, but I feel like he's the guy with all the steam and I don't like jumping on the train. Rory is pretty much in the same boat, so I'm not going there either. Thomas feels like the best among this bunch, and at this price we're starting to see some value.

THE NEXT TIER

Collin Morikawa (20-1)

Morikawa is the horse creeping up the backstretch. All the attention is on the golfers peaking or near their peak right now and those are the guys everyone is picking. Meanwhile, there's Morikawa, who was "the next big thing" until Scheffler made us forget about everyone else. Morikawa is still the wicked good ball striker who has the mentality to hang at the majors. If he brings anything close to his best, he will be a factor at Southern Hills.

Viktor Hovland (25-1)

By the time you get down to this point on the board you've already passed up a lot of good options, so I should warn you that we will not be going particularly deep in this section. Hovland has the game to start winning majors at any time, and don't mind his showing at Augusta. He is always going to struggle on that track until he gets his short game in order. He might be able to get by with his ball striking this week, though, as this course should be more forgiving around the greens than Augusta. Take away the short game and Hovland is as good as anyone out there.

Will Zalatoris (35-1)

I'm expecting the fire hydrant to burst as soon as Zalatoris picks up his first win, but obviously he still has to pick one up. Like Hovland, there's a hole in Zalatoris' game right now, and that's putting. Also like Hovland, Zalatoris might be able to shield himself from that issue with his ball striking. Zalatoris doesn't mind the big stage, posting top-10s in four of his last six major appearances. He just needs to avoid a disaster round.

LONG SHOTS

Corey Conners (60-1)

Conners was seemingly on the verge not long ago, and although he struggled for a stretch earlier this season, he seems to be back where he was when a lot of us were wondering if he was the next man up. It's tough to expect Conners to win a major when there are so many elite golfers playing well, but every once in a while someone breaks through and takes down a big event. That happened with Cameron Smith at THE PLAYERS a few months back.

Tiger Woods (80-1)

I thought a win bet on Woods at the Masters was akin to throwing money in the fire, but what I saw that week – along with what we've seen since – makes me wonder if he could pull this off. Do I think he'll win his 16th major? No, but that's why he's listed at this number. He started well at Augusta and faded in his first appearance coming off a long layoff, but that was a month ago. You can do a lot in a month, and all I'm saying is he has a chance. 

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Jon Rahm - I'm guessing the picks will be all over the place, but I also think many OAD players were waiting for anything from Rahm before using him, and his win a few weeks ago was enough. As I mentioned, Rahm is on my short list this week, so I can't argue with this play. You'll likely get some separation if he wins because there are so many good options.

Moderately-owned Pick: Justin Thomas - As is the case with the previous pick, I could make an argument for several guys here. Thomas should be pretty popular as well, but it's going to be spread out so much that most guys will fall into a middle tier. Thomas looks like one of the best selections in that group of players, as his game appears to be rounding into form. Let's face it, he's due for another major.

Lightly-owned Pick: Viktor Hovland - His short game is going to scare a lot of OAD players off, and you could miss him with so many other players to consider. However, Hovland should not be forgotten about. Ball striking will be key at Southern Hills, and Hovland is one of the best on the planet in that department. It's not often you can get a player of this caliber without everyone else being on him, but this is the week it should happen.

Buyer Beware: Xander Schauffele - Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 20 times, well, you know who's to blame. Look, Schauffele is a great golfer, but for years he's walked the line between great and elite – and notice how I referred to him as great? The fact he shined this past Sunday and almost won actually makes me like him less, as it gave him too much helium.

Last Week: Jordan Spieth - T2 - $991,000

Season Total: $7,754,016

This Week: Collin Morikawa - As noted, Morikawa has been forgotten about a bit, and that's exactly how I like my picks in majors. I've mentioned ball striking several times already, and I'll do it again, because it will be paramount this week. The greens at Southern Hills won't be as forgiving as they were in 2007, so precision with the irons will be key, and Morikawa is one of the best at approaching the green.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Collin Morikawa ($11,600)
Middle Range: Corey Conners ($9,800)
Lower Range: Russell Henley ($8,700)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Talor Gooch - MC

Streak: 0

This Week: Collin Morikawa - I went away from the double-up one time and got burned. I'm back on it this week, as Morikawa garners plenty of trust in this format. He hasn't been as sharp as some of the other guys of late, but he has been good enough to make cuts, and the pressure of a major is never a worry with Morikawa.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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