Scott Shapiro's PGA Championship preview
The first major of the 2020 season is finally here, and I cannot wait!
The PGA Championship was originally scheduled for May 14-17 but was pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s event will take place in San Francisco at TPC Harding Park, which has not hosted a PGA Tour event since the 2015 WGC-Match Play won by Rory McIlroy. The course was a 7,234-yard, par 71 back then, but has been lengthened, converted to a Par 70, and will play much more difficult this week.
The keys to winning at Harding Park will be driving the ball accurately down the narrow fairways to avoid the penal rough, strong play with long irons, and making putts on the bentgrass greens.
I will lean heavily on players who are accurate off the tee, rank high in strokes gained approach, score well on long par 4s, and can scramble when they get into trouble.
After a win at the WGC-St. Jude Invitational, Justin Thomas is listed as the co-favorite at BetAmerica, along with two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, who finished in a tie for second last week in Memphis.
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McIlroy, Memorial Tournament winner Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, and Dustin Johnson make up the rest of the golfers listed below 20-1.
None of the super elites would be a surprise, but I am going to look for a trio of players who offer a bit more bang for my buck.
Daniel Berger (+3500)
The two-time All-American at Florida State fought through injuries in 2018 and 2019, but the 27-year old has been awesome this season.
He posted three consecutive top 10 finishes before the break, and showed no signs of rust when he won the Charles Schwab in a playoff in mid-June.
Berger followed that up with a third-place effort in the RBC Heritage and tied for second in Memphis last week.
The three-time PGA Tour winner brings strong form into the PGA Championship and fits the course extremely well.
He ranks third in the field over the last 24 rounds in scoring on par 4s between 450 and 500 yards, first in scrambling, eighth in approach, and is accurate off the tee. At his outright price on BetAmerica, he offers great value.
He is my pick to win the PGA Championship.
Webb Simpson (+2500)
Much like Berger, the 34-year-old North Carolina native has notched a victory since the hiatus and brings strong form to the Bay Area.
After he shook off the rust at the Charles Schwab, Simpson dazzled over the final nine holes in his victory at the RBC Heritage and has posted a pair of top 12 finishes over his last three events, including a 12th-place effort in Memphis.
The 2012 U.S. Open champion ranks third in the field (last 24 rounds) in scoring on par 4s between 450 and 500 yards and is in the top 30 in driving accuracy and strokes gained approach.
He will need to putt above field average to contend at Harding Park, but if he gets hot with the flatstick, he can win his first PGA Championship.
Chez Reavie (+10000)
The former Arizona State Sun Devil ranks high in my model this week, because of= his accuracy off the tee, his ability to score on long par 4s, his scrambling, and his strong approach game.
Reavie finished tied for sixth last week at the WGC-St. Jude, even though he lost nearly five strokes on the greens. His lack of length off the tee is a concern, but at massive odds, he is worth a sprinkle in the outright market and more of a healthy swing to finish in the top 10 and top 20.
Good luck this week, in the first major of 2020!