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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Event Preview - 2022 PGA Championship

Hello PGA DFS family and welcome back to Horse For The Course! We expected the AT&T Byron Nelson to produce crazy-low scores and that's just what happened at TPC Craig Ranch, as K.H. Lee beat a stellar field by going bananas to finish at 26-under par and defend his Nelson title.

Due to its close proximity to Southern Hills, the Nelson served as a warm-up for this week's PGA Championship for several of the world's best golfers. They will find a much different test in Tulsa this week.

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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2022 PGA Championship Overview

It's hard to believe that the year's second major championship is already upon us. Outside of the Masters, all major championships rotate golf courses on an annual basis, which makes each one a fun and unique challenge for PGA DFS players. This year's PGA Championship takes us to the legendary Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This article normally centers around course history, but with the last PGA Tour-level event at Southern Hills coming way back in 2007, that's not really possible this week. Instead, this week's edition of HFTC is meant to serve as something of a first look at the 2022 PGA Championship. We'll discuss the golf course, the event, and the field in an attempt to find which golfers should be strong DFS options on this slate.

Tiger Woods won the last PGA Championship at Southern Hills in 2007, but what we'll see this week is a very different golf course than the one Tiger conquered 15 years ago. The classic layout has undergone extensive renovations under the watchful eye of Gil Hanse and his team, with the goal of returning the course to the vision that the original architect, Perry Maxwell, intended. This undertaking included the mass removal of trees that lined fairways and rough that surrounded greens. This "new look" Southern Hills did host the 2021 Senior PGA Championship that was won by Alex Cejka at eight-under par, which also happened to be the four-round total that Woods logged en route to victory in 2007.

While it can be debated how much we can draw from the winning scores of Woods in '07 and Cejka last year, we can expect Southern Hills to provide a challenging test this week. We're routinely blown away by how low the current generation of pros can go on a consistent basis, but the combination of just two Par-5s and lengthy, difficult Par-3s on the scorecard, should largely keep scoring in check this week. Below, we'll attempt to identify which players in this week's stacked field should best fit this golf course.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!

 

The Course: Southern Hills Country Club

Par 70 - 7,556 Yards, Greens: Bent, Designed By: Perry Maxwell (1936), Renovation: Gil Hanse (2019)

We spent a good portion of the overview discussing the golf course, so I'll try not to dive too deep here. That said, figuring out the golf course is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to major championships and rotating venues.

Course doctor, Gil Hanse, performed an extensive renovation on Southern Hills in 2019, with the result being a layout that harkens back to architect Perry Maxwell's original vision. This includes the extensive removal of trees lining the fairways and rough surrounding greens, as well as the reworking of bunkers. We'll also see several creeks and tributaries that wind throughout the property come into play on multiple holes.

Length will always be an advantage on any course, and that will again be the case this week, but we shouldn't underestimate precision and accuracy, as well as creativity around the greens. I see some resemblance between this new-look version of Southern Hills and Augusta National, with undulations and short-grass runoffs being the most prominent similarities, so I think there will be some crossover success for players that have performed well in the Masters.

I always recommend checking out RotoBaller's PGA Premium Course Breakdown by Josh Bennett for an in-depth breakdown of this week's golf course! This week, I also like supplementing with some excellent videos that are available on YouTube by both The Fried Egg & Golf Digest

 

Recent PGA Championship Winners

  • 2021: Phil Mickelson (-6)
  • 2020: Collin Morikawa (-13)
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka (-8)
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (-16)
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8)

 

Event Notes

  • Southern Hills has hosted seven men's major championships, including three U.S. Opens and four PGA Championships.
  • 2021 PGA Championship winner, Phil Mickelson, will not defend his title this year. He's just the third player in 75 years that won't defend their PGA Championship title.
  • Southern Hills is (in)famous for its scorching heat, but the weather forecast is currently projecting mild temperatures for this week.
  • Kerry Haigh has been in charge of PGA Championship course setups since 2013. His work has been widely applauded.

 

The Horse

Scottie Scheffler

  • PGA Championship Scoring Average: 69.63
  • Recent Form: T15 (AT&T Byron Nelson), Win (Masters), Win (WGC-Dell Match Play) 
  • DraftKings Price: $11,400 FanDuel Price: $12,000

Scottie Scheffler heads to the year's second major championship in the midst of a historical run in 2022. The 25-year-old has posted four wins in nine starts this calendar year and captured the first major championship of his career at the Masters in April. While it might seem impossible for this eye-popping run to continue against the depth of talent in today's game, there are several reasons to believe that Scheffler can keep things rolling this week at the PGA Championship.

The native Texan has not been shy about publicly proclaiming Southern Hills to be his favorite golf course, which I'm sure the rest of the field just loves to hear, since they basically haven't been able to beat him anywhere this year. During his college days at the University of Texas, Scheffler won the 2015 Big 12 Championship title at Southern Hills and scored a T5 in the same event in 2018. During a practice round earlier this month, the rising star reportedly scorched the legendary Tulsa layout for a 64.

While I don't know that it is a direct comp course, I do think there are some notable similarities between Augusta National and what we'll see this week at Southern Hills...and we know how Scheffler performed at the Masters. His prodigious length off the tee (25th on PGA Tour in Driving Distance) means no ballpark is ever too big, while his rock-solid iron play (25th SG: APP L24) and dependable short game (seventh SG: Short Game L24) power a game that has no real weaknesses.

When we add up the natural talent, current form, major-championship pedigree, and course experience, it's pretty easy to see why Scheffler is both the highest-priced DFS play on this slate and the odds-on betting favorite. Let's not overthink this one.

 

The Ponies

Rory McIlroy

  • PGA Championship Scoring Average: 70.22
  • Recent Form: 5th (Wells Fargo Championship), 2nd (Masters), MC (Valero), T33 (The Players)
  • DraftKings Price: $10,000 FanDuel Price: $11,800

In addition to the aforementioned Scheffler, there's a lot to like about the top of the salary scale this week. With proper acknowledgement for all those terrific options, I find myself drawn to Rory McIlroy.

We all know about the major championship drought that McIlroy is mired in - he last won a major in 2014 - but just because he hasn't found the winner's circle, it doesn't mean that he hasn't played well in golf's biggest events. McIlroy has posted an eye-opening 14 top-10 finishes in majors since his last victory in one, with the most recent coming at the Masters, when an epic final-round led to a runner-up result. Perhaps it's recency bias, but it feels as though that magical Sunday run produced some good mojo, as McIlroy looked sharp in his only subsequent start - a fifth-place outing in the recent Wells Fargo event.

I look for Southern Hills to be a terrific overall test and perhaps no player in the world is better physically equipped to handle that type of challenge than McIlroy, who has talent to spare, but admittedly has some mental demons hanging around. Perhaps he exorcised many of those last month at Augusta National and it seems as though the major-championship pressures are at least eased for him when he's not at the Masters.

If we put all those narratives aside and simply focus objectively on the statistical fit, Rory still makes tons of sense. After abandoning an ill-fated chase for more distance and ending his time with swing guru Pete Cowen, McIlroy has appeared reenergized by returning to the roots of his swing. He's gained an average of 4.6 strokes T2G over his last 20 starts and has won twice within that span.

Jordan Spieth

  • PGA Championship Scoring Average: 70.34
  • Recent Form: 2nd (AT&T Byron Nelson), Win (RBC Heritage), MC (Masters), T35 (Valero)
  • DraftKings Price: $9,600 FanDuel Price: $11,000

We roll from a player in Rory McIlroy that's one piece shy of the career grand slam, to another that's chasing history in Jordan Spieth. While McIlroy will have to wait another year for his shot at the slam in the Masters, Spieth will have the opportunity to complete the accomplishment this week at the PGA Championship on a layout that represents perhaps his best chance to capture the major that has eluded him to this point.

The Texan rebounded from a disappointing effort at the Masters to score a surprising win at Harbour Town. Spieth has been buoyed by that success and looked tremendous last week en route to a runner-up result at the AT&T Byron Nelson. We've mentioned throughout this article the projected comps between Augusta National and Southern Hills, so it doesn't take much imagination to envision a suddenly-in-form Jordan Spieth performing well on this week's layout that will place an emphasis on short-game creativity and excellence. A confident Spieth is a dangerous Spieth, and the wonder boy will show up to Southern Hills with his cup running over.

Shane Lowry

  • PGA Championship Scoring Average: 71.26
  • Recent Form: T3 (RBC Heritage), T3 (Masters), T12 (Valspar), T13 (The Players)
  • DraftKings Price: $8,700 FanDuel Price: $10,700

Shane Lowry is putting together perhaps the most under-the-radar-great year on the PGA Tour. Despite top-three finishes in three of his last five starts - including at the Masters - it seems as though Lowry - who looks more like the guy that shows up to fix your sink than the 27th-ranked golfer in the world - is rarely in the conversation when golf's elite are discussed.

Prior to winning the 2019 Open Championship, the Irishman put forth a similar stretch of results to what we've seen from him this year and another major championship victory isn't out of the question this week. While it might not always translate statistically, Lowry's touch on and around the greens is among the best in the world. With that magical short game in tow, it's the uptick in his ball striking that's led to a spike in results this year. He grades out third in this week's PGA field in both SG: Ball Striking & SG: Approach over the last 12 rounds.

In addition to the sharp form, Lowry has also demonstrated a comfortability with PGA Championship setups in recent years by logging a top-five result at Kiawah Island last year and a top-10 at Bethpage Black in 2019.

 

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Like what you read today? You can show your support for Joe by using the discount code NICE when purchasing a PGA Premium Pass. You get 10% off and full access to all of our Premium PGA articles, DFS tools, and Lineup Optimizer! You also get access to weekly betting picks from Spencer Aguiar, one of the top betting minds in the industry. Spencer is absolutely crushing out of the gate in 2022!

Talor Gooch

  • PGA Championship Scoring Average: 72.33
  • Recent Form: MC (AT&T Byron Nelson), T14 (Masters), MC (The Players), T7 (API)
  • DraftKings Price: $7,400 FanDuel Price: $9,500

Talor Gooch gets the "hometown hero" treatment this week, as he's an Oklahoman through and through. Born and raised in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Gooch stayed home to play his college golf at OSU. Needless to say, he's intimately familiar with Southern Hills and any windy conditions that might arise this week.

In addition to the Oklahoma connection, Gooch has just been downright good over the past year, picking up his first career PGA Tour victory back in the fall at the RSM Classic. He's carried that positive momentum into 2022 and has found himself in serious contention on multiple occasions this year. Gooch showed some moxie with a T14 in his Masters debut last month but has seen limited action since. A missed cut in last week's Byron Nelson doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but a second-round 68 indicates his game is just fine and leads me to view it as simply a knock-the-rust-off outing.

This will be just the sixth major championship start of his career, but his familiarity with Southern Hills and his track record on hard golf courses help to ease any concerns over his inexperience. As a bonus, we can grab Gooch at the dirt-cheap price of just $7.4k on DraftKings this week.

 

 

 

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