2022 PGA Championship Early Week Musings
Who Will Be The True, OK KId?
Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is infamous not only for its arduous test of golf brilliantly carved into the dusty land by Perry Maxwell nearly a century ago, but for the mob hit that took place in the parking lot. Folklore aside, after viewing the awesome drone flyover from Golf Digest, here’s what I gather: players will battle a bevy of long, tough Par 4s with heavily guarded bunkers, and runoff areas into sneakily carved creeks, waiting for the next Pro-V1 to trickle on in. Both Par 5s are straight up beasts, Logan Roy style, as are the Par 3, dare-I-say Oakmontesque. And the wind? Shinnecockian (not quite Hitchcockian, but it'll do). So basically a more difficult version of Augusta National, with more trees and less scoring opportunities. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who could be holding the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday evening…
*All pricing via Draftkings-DFS…and please, be rational-this is all early prognostication subject to change as the week unfolds…
The Top Dogs ($9K and Up)
The winner will very likely come from this group as the upper echelon of talent is currently stronger than it ever has been in the game of golf. Now, this tournament has produced several “no-name” winners over the years, but I strongly suspect this year the cream will rise to the top, headlined by these gentlemen…
Scottie Scheffler-$11,400-I vow to not make the same mistake as I did fading Scotty, like seemingly the rest of The Community did at The Masters. He’s still riding the heater, says this is his favorite course, shot 64 here a few days ago, and has oodles of experience here specifically, and in the South and Midwest in general. Looked just fine at Craig Ranch as well. Play away…
“Good Boy” Viktor Hovland-$9,900-the first of many OSU Cowboys to be highlighted, GIDDY UP! Forget about his familiarity in these parts, if this course sets up to feature ball-striking as the paramount component to success, give me some GBV over anyone right now. If he can just be OK on and around the greens, I think this his best shot yet to join his contemporary in the apex ball-striking department, Collin Morikawa, with a Wanamaker of his own come Sunday evening.
Cam Smith-$9,700-there may be no one in the game more ready for a major right now than Mr. Smith. He kinda got one already at Sawgrass, and narrowly missed out on the green jacket just a few weeks later. Now he comes to a place where some of his, irregularities, off the tee may be mitigated by the removal of several dozen trees on the property (thanks Gil), and his wizardry on and around the greens should have him lurking yet again late into Sunday and somehow at potentially low ownership to boot!
Jordan Spieth-$9,600-speaking of bentgrass magic, the pride of Dallas should feel right at home at Southern Hills. Local knowledge, practice with his BFF and former PGA Champion Justin Thomas, narrowly missing another win yesterday at Craig Ranch, and the hunger to complete the career Grand Slam before Rory (and many other legends as well), has me thinking that ole Jordy boy has the best shot to win this tournament alongside Viktor.
Xander Schauffele-$9,300-completely blacked out yesterday to just narrowly miss the Byron Nelson trophy (won again by KH Lee in case you missed it). Has for a while now been in contention for “best player without a major” and that could all change this week. Similar to his Zurich teammate below, X-Man really does not have any noticeable flaw in his game, and at a course where the all-important all-around metric is key, this may be his best shot yet.
Hideki Matsuyama-$9,200-equal in terms of blackout status at Craig Ranch was Hideki who nearly 1-upped his Sony Open eagle on 18 performance, but nevertheless a few days later there’s no reason to fade now. Hitting the ball as pure and straight as ever, if you believe the comps to Augusta, Hideki’s major breakthrough could come in bunches as we have seen recently with Morikawa, Brooksy, further back Paddy Harrington, and (cover your ears) Phil Mickelson.
Patrick Cantlay-$9,100-if Cam Smith is Numbah 1 in terms of players ready to win an “official” major, then Patrick is 1A. After years of lurking and big boy wins at The Memorial and elsewhere, cementing his status as 2021 Tour Champion and Player of the Year, it’s time for him to make it happen. He’s been right there at almost every major over the last two years, and although my gut says he may have to wait one more month til Brookline to get it, I would be surprised, frankly shocked, if he wasn’t lurking around the top of the leaderboard this week as well.
Brooks Koepka-$9,000-the 800 pound meat missile in the room…knowing his record at majors (obscene) and after watching his decimation of Bethpage Black (Strong Island, represent) in the 2019 PGA the other night on Golf Channel, it’s hard to not advocate the Immortal Hammer on Brooksy. And yet, his recent major record is less than desirable, and despite his win in the desert earlier this year, that gimpy knee seems to still be less than perfect. Oh, and there’s that little wedding he’s planning. Ok, sure, Jena is likely doing 99% of it, but we saw Morikawa and many others take a bit of a post-engagement dip for one reason or another, as I go through it currently myself, there is just an extra layer of responsibility layered on top of the “day job” which for Brooks is contending and winning majors. For those reasons I place him just below the others listed above in terms of likelist winner of the top dogs, but of course, he’s still Live as ever to claim his third, yes, third, Wanamaker, at perhaps 8% ownership you say?
Dark Hawses ($7-8K Range)
We’ve officially entered the “Monday Misprice” range and as is per usual for the majors we will see suppressed pricing, and thus many players who normally would be $8K and above. I am calling this range Dark Horses as they are mainly around 40-1 or more in the outright market, but obviously these are all well-known strikers of the golf ball ... *HH denotes a likely “HUMPDAY HAMMER” (top-tier exposure)...
TW-$8,200-coming back to the site of his PGA victory in ‘07 after an honorable performance at Augusta, he’s a month healthier (whatever that may mean I'll take it), so if he tees is up and goes with the old Hoylake 2-iron assault, he’s absolutely live.
Corey Conners (HH)-$8,000-more on this later…
Fitzy-$7,900-Impeccable 6-month and major form? Yup. Thrives in "windy as shit" conditions? Yup. Destroyed me numerous times over? Yup. I CAN’T QUIT YOU!
Uncle Tony-$7,900-I penciled him in back in my December early season outlook, so thus I feel obliged to mention him here, and do still see significant upside despite an overall mediocre year at best. We’ve seen flashes of his best, highlighted by a final round 63 in Mexico last month, and of course he has a stellar record in majors, along with prodigious length...never say never…
Talor The GOOCHmeister (HH)-$7,400-Cousin Rob from Kentucky better get back on board with the true OK Kid. Downsides exist: so-so form of late, possible inflated ownership (a fear I’ve had since pricing was released last week, but his MC in Dallas will help a bit), and putting too much pressure on himself in front of the home crowd. Outside of that, based on his 6-month form, experience in the wind, and breakthrough win equity, this is a $1,000+ misprice. Hammer away, chalk or not.
Sicko Specials (Usually Sub $7K, but we’ll include flat 7 this week since it’s a major):
HV3-$7,000-After watching him get in to the final pairing at Bethpage alongside Brooksy at the PGA in 2019, and then imploding on Sunday, I think this guy has been chomping at the bit to get another true shot at vengeance, and this will be it. After multiple high-profile wins overseas, and numerous other close calls Stateside, this year especially, we’ve seen much crazier long shots hoist the Wanamaker than this guy.
Stormin’ Alex Noren-$7,000-one of the lesser mentioned of the celebrated OSU Cowboy Posse, if the wind picks up as it seemingly will, there are few I’d rather have wielding a long iron into these tiny greens. He popped over the weekend too at the Byron Nelson, so for a guy who’s won upwards of 10 times on the Euro, (er, DP…lol) Tour, why the hell not?
Rickie Fowler-$7,000-JUST CONSIDER IT PEOPLE-T8 at Kiawah while also in shit form last year, wind-fest expert, and good local vibez are enough for me to pepper for T20 upside. Basically the definition of, “Pinnacle Pepto.”
Uncle Ryan Palmer aka Coach Taylor-$6,900-he has to hit a big putt at some point outside of the Zurich, right, right?!?!? The GIR machine himself lost another Lonestar heartbreaker this past weekend after once again taking a share of the 36 hole lead into the weekend, as he did at the Valero. A T20 mortal lock in these parts, annual contention at other long, difficult tracks where Driving will be of the highest importance, I'm sprinkling away. CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS.
Davis Riley-$6,800-again we revert back to the all-important “all-around” game, or one without noticeable flaws. Now this precocious neophyte (to borrow a line from Uncle Clyde Frazier) may not be quite ready to ascend to the level of X-Man and Cantlay in that department…but he’s pretty damn close. After losing out to Sammy the Bull in Tampa on a crazy long playoff clinching putt, this guy has not cooled off, lurking from Mexico to McKinney. Sort of a Bryson-lite, with a much prettier swing albeit, he drives the golf ball a country mile and can roll it like Crenshaw at his local muni. Especially of late, including last weekend, this guy has been on a birdie bonanza and if we’ve learned anything over these last few years of degeneracy, YOU RIDE THE HOT PUTTER TO THE END!
Prediction: “For months Henry, FOR MONTHS” I was thinking this was Good Boy Viktor’s tournament to lose. The local connection, the Hoganesque ball-striking, sending piss missiles into the Oklahoman ether, and the perpetual lurking both here and abroad, it all lined up. And it still does…except for the fact that the more and more I read, and listen, to those who know best, his around-the-green game is simply not yet where it needs to be to win here. Hey, he could most certainly still do it simply by hitting the greens, simple enough (and my heart hopes he goes). But heading into the Blatant HQ this morning, in a bit of a daze after running a two-day lacrosse tournament this weekend, an interesting little tidbit from soon-to-be Cousin Andy caught my attention over the airwaves: Corey Conners, for whatever reason, is elite around the greens of Augusta National-the main comp course for Southern Hills. Pair that with his world class ball-striking, 6-month form, 3 year major form, and recent 3rd place in Austin, rather than pick the vanilla choice of Spieth, or even Viktor, it’s time for the straight-shooting Canuck to take the next step in his career, a major one no doubt.
Quite simply: I think we are in for an all-out slugfest of the highest order, just as Great Uncle Perry would’ve wanted it…
Wishing you all, the BOL!