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PGA Championship Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/12/2009
The season’s final major commences on Thursday with the 91st PGA Championship taking place from Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Hazeltine is no stranger to majors as it is hosting its seventh (1966 U.S. Women's Open, 1970 U.S. Open, 1977 U.S. Women's Open, 1983 U.S. Senior Open, 1991 U.S. Open and 2002 PGA Championship). The PGA back in 2002 was won by Rich Beem which happened to be his first and only major victory.
The course has changed since then and quite a bit actually. In 2002, the yardage was 7,360 yards and back then that was pretty long. This year, it has been lengthened to 7,674 yards which makes it the longest course in major history. Three of the par fives are over 600 yards while half of the four par threes are over 200 yards. For the 2002 season, Hazeltine was the second hardest course of the 57 courses played and it would not be surprising to see that difficulty again.
The runner-up to Beem in 2002 was none other than Tiger Woods (+150) whose late Sunday charge came up one shot short. He is the overwhelming favorite again this week and that really should come as no surprise. He has won each of the last two weeks and he is obviously playing some of his best golf. He has the length to tame Hazeltine to go along with his shot making abilities. He is seeking his fifth PGA Championship.
I was on Hunter Mahan (+3000) last week at Firestone and even though he did not win, he certainly did not disappoint. His last start prior to that came at the Open Championship where he missed the cut but the time off helped as he registered his fourth top six in his last five events. He has missed only two cuts this year and has six top tens. He did miss the cut in last year’s PGA but that matters none now.
I was surprised to see Stewart Cink (+4000) with such high odds. He was the Open Champion and after taking a couple weeks off, he came back with a T6 last week at Firestone. He does have only two other top tens on the year but he is hot and he should not be overlooked. He is hitting the ball further the last few years than at any other time in his career and that will be needed here.
Angel Cabrera (+4000) is another surprise as he is having an exceptional season. He won the Masters and while he struggled at the U.S. Open, he was right in the thick of the Open Championship until a weekend struggle. He had a very quiet T4 last week at Firestone so he is playing at a high level now. He is ranked 7th on the PGA Tour in driving distance and that length will be beneficial here.
A strong sleeper pick is Chad Campbell (+8000) who was the PGA runner-up to Shaun Micheel back in 2003 at Oak Hill. He is not an extremely long driver of the ball but he is good enough to hit it a good ways and keep it in play. People seem to forget that Campbell was in the playoff at the Master with Cabrera and Kenny Perry. He slipped some after that but his T25 and T11 the last two weeks is reassuring.
We had the winner last week with Tiger (+150) and the safety valve kept us from going too much in the black.
Recommended plays for the PGA Championship
Tiger Woods (+150) 2 Units
Hunter Mahan (+3000) 1.5 Units
Stewart Cink (+4000) .5 Unit
Angel Cabrera (+4000) .5 Unit
Chad Campbell (+8000) .5 Unit
YTD -9.25 Units