Southern Hills is a 7,546 yard par 70. That sounds long for a par that small, but it’s mostly due to the fact that it has two 600+ yard par 5s that eat up most of that distance.
Reaching the greens in two shots on the par 5s isn’t realistic for the majority of the field, so it’s not a course where the bombers will be at a big advantage like they would at a course with more reachable par 5s.
Augusta National has been described as being a good course comparison. Water will come into play on 15 holes and there are many well placed bunkers off the green, so precision both off the tee and with the irons will be key.
The fairways are forgiving for a major — upwards of 40 yards wide on most holes — however if they miss the fairway it will be very challenging to get birdies.
Controlling spin on the approach is going to be very important this week and it will be impossible to do that out of this rough, so even though the fairways are wide, the players are going to have to be hitting them.
Statistics to Look At
We will be looking to bet on players who gain strokes off the tee, but do so because of accuracy other than distance alone. We want to bet on the players who are long off the tee, accurate going into the small greens, gain strokes on approach and are good at scrambling.
This week the key metrics that our model is using to compile our portfolio are: Stroke-Gained: Off-The-Tee, Strokes-Gained: Approach, Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes-Gained: Par 4s, Scrambling, Bogey Avoidance, and Hit Fairway Percentage. We are also looking to play players who have had success at Augusta National since this course is similar in many ways.
It’s rare that you can find value at the very top of the oddsboard, but this week Scottie Scheffler is the clear favorite and deservingly so. He is the number one player in the world right now after winning the Masters last month — a victory which capped four wins over a six-tournament stretch.
Scottie has cooled off slightly since winning the Masters last month, he finished 15th at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week, shooting a 19-under but was seven strokes off the lead and uncharastically struggled with his putting.
We like Scottie’s chances to get back in the winners circle this week — Southern Hills is his favorite course and he won the Big 12 title here back in college when he played for the University of Texas. The course has undergone renovations since then, but he played here a week ago in a practice round and shot a 64, so he is one of the few players who has familiarity with this course and by all accounts he is is poised to hit the ground running on Thursday.
Southern Hills has a lot of similarities to Augusta National and as we saw at the Masters — his game is tailor made for difficult courses like this one. His game has no weaknesses and his attitude is elite. He is a total grinder and is as unflappable as they come. His calm demeanor and world class short game should have him right in contention come Sunday and don’t be shocked in the least if the best in the world wins his second major of the year.
Justin Thomas has been a staple in our outright and derivatives portfolio this season and he has been nothing short of fantastic at cashing derivative tickets, a true Top-10 machine. He has placed Top-10 or better in five of his last six starts including a T-3 at Valspar, T-8 at the Masters, and most recently a T-5 last week at the Bryon Nelson — cashing our best bet of the tournament in the process.
Thomas’s game translates to everything we are looking for as far as key metrics this week. He is No. 1 in the field in Par 4 Scoring Average, No. 2 in Bogey Avoidance, No. 3 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and No. 5 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Scrambling.
Thomas has been the most consistent golfer who hasn’t won yet this season, and it is just a matter of time for a player of his caliber to break through and we think the 2017 PGA Champion has a great chance at getting his second major again this week, or at the least, come very close.
Best Bet Alert: JT to finish in the top 10 is our best bet of the week, and we love his outright odds at +1800 at DraftKings.
If Southern Hills is going to be as similar to Augusta National as it is being made out to be, then Cameron Smith will be right at home this weekend. Over the past three years Smith finished T-2, T-10, and T-3 at the Masters, a player who is at his best at challenging golf courses.
Smith was in excellent form earlier in season, with the aforementioned third at the Masters after winning the The Players Championship the event prior in horrific weather conditions. Smith’s game is hardly affected by unpleasant weather or high winds, two elements which are on the weather forecast for this weekend.
Smith is right up there with Thomas with having high metrics in all of the categories we are looking for this week: No. 2 in Par 4 Scoring, No. 6 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, and No. 9 in Bogey Avoidance.
Smith has never placed inside the Top 20 at a PGA Championship, but we look for that to change this week playing at a course that is a perfect fit for him and his skillset. Look for a strong weekend out of Cam and for him to be in another final pairing in a major like he has been many times in his young career.
You could argue that he is the second-hottest player in the world only behind Scheffler, and he’s getting the seventh-best odds in the field. That is what we call value.
Matsuyama already has two wins on Tour this season and just came in third at the Byron Nelson last week. He was dealing with some health problems early in the season, but all of that seems to be behind him as he is coming into the PGA Championship in terrific form.
Outside of Strokes Gained: Approach, where he is ranked No. 6, Matsuyama isn’t elite in any other category we are looking for this week but he is extremely well rounded and has the all-around game to be a fit for this course. He is the only player in the field who ranks in the Top 20 in all of our identified metrics, and he is one of the very best long iron players on TOUR, which is the most important metric we identified for this course.
Matsuyama had success at Augusta National as well, winning his first major there in 2021. Matsuyama’s biggest flaw has always been his putting, but he is in the midst of the best putting stretch of his career. Since the start of 2022, Matsuyama has gained 0.19 strokes per round and as long as he can avoid losing strokes putting this week, he has a good chance to win his second major.
Despite having seven wins on Tour and an Olympic gold medal, Xander Schauffele is still searching for that elusive first major win. He has come very close many times, notching ten Top 10’s or better in his last 16 majors, but he has never been able to finish the job.
He is coming in with great form after a scorching 11-under 61 in his final round at the Bryon Nelson last Sunday and his game fits this course very well. He is No. 3 in Bogey Avoidance and Par 4 Scoring and Top 20 in Strokes Gained: Approach, Off-the-Tee, and Tee-to-Green.
He has three Top 10 finishes in his last four tournaments at the Masters, including a runner up in 2019 and a T3 in 2021. Outside of the Olympics, Schauffele has yet to fully put it together for four full rounds in a major golf event. But for a player of his caliber it’s just a matter of time before that happens. At +2800 he is underpriced, and we love backing a player who is coming in with excellent form like Xander is. He is our best value of the week and love his Top 10 value as well.
Daniel Berger hasn’t played since his T21 at Hilton Head a month ago, but he is coming in very under the radar because of it.
Berger isn’t long off the tee, but he is accurate, ranking No. 4 in Hit Fairway Percentage in this field, and that is the far more important factor this week. He has one of the best short games on Tour, ranking No. 4 in scrambling and No. 1 in sand save percentage.
He’s also Top 7 in Strokes Gained: Approach, Tee-to-Green, and Driving Accuracy. He is extremely well-rounded and a four time Tour winner and this price honestly just feels a little disrespectful.