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PGA Golf Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/06/2012
This week we have the final Major of the PGA season as the PGA Championship will be contested from the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. This is the first major for the Ocean Course as the last real main event there was the 1991 Ryder Cup, dubbed the 'War by the Shore'. Because of the lack of experience here for almost every player, it evens out the field in that regard so there are not any advantages from a history standpoint.
The Ocean Course becomes the longest track in major championship history as it can be stretched out to 7,676 yards. Numerous tees are on every hole which means the setup each day is going to be different which makes for a bigger challenge. On top of that, because it is right on the Atlantic Ocean, wind is going to play a big part in trying to tame the track. Put these two factors together and there can be up to an eight-club difference in shots from one day to the next.
Because of the length, hitting the ball a long way off the tee is an advantage but it is not as big as in other long courses. The Ocean Course demands smart play as knowing where to hit it and where to miss it are extremely vital. That makes solid ball strikers the favorites because they can avoid the most trouble with highly executed shots. The greens are unique as they are surfaced with a Paspalum turfgrass known as OC03. The grainless grass can be deceiving in that it may look slow but in reality, is far from it.
While the course itself is a challenge, parity remains constant in the majors as after Ernie Els brought home the Claret Jug at the Open Championship, there have been 16 different winners in the last 16 majors. This is the longest streak ever so picking a winner becomes even tougher. Since 1993, there have been 15 different winners of the PGA Championship with only Tiger Woods (4) and Vijay Singh (2) being repeat winners which adds even more complication to the scenario.
The defending champion is Keegan Bradley (+2,500) who won at Atlanta Athletic Club over Jason Dufner on the third playoff hole. He had not won another tournament until just last week when he fired a final round 64 and took advantage of a Jim Furyk meltdown on the final hole to take home the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He is obviously full of confidence but winning back-to-back is never easy out there.
The favorite this week is Tiger Woods (+650) who is seeking his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open. He has three wins on tour this year and while some will say he is back to his old form, until his can collect his 15th major, there will be doubters. He is a four-time winner of the PGA Championship, his last coming in 2007 at Southern Hills, but there is little to no value with him this week.
Jason Dufner (+2,000) is our favorite this week after narrowly missing out last year. After a relatively slow start to the season, he has caught fire over the last three-plus months as he has collected two wins, a runner-up and another top five. He played well at the Masters prior to the weekend and had a T4 at the U.S. Open. He is coming off a seventh place finish at the Bridgestone so he is still at the top of his game.
Dustin Johnson (+2,000) has some short odds but he has quietly put together a very solid year despite missing some time with a back injury. He has five top tens including a win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and he has missed only one cut all year. Who can forget his triple bogey on the final hole at Whistling Straits that denied him a chance for the 2010 PGA Championship. The setup there and at the Ocean Course are very similar.
Steve Stricker (+3,500) is one of the best players in the world without a major and while he hasn't been a contender this year, this could be the one that sets up well for him. He is one of the best long iron hitters on tour and with the length of the Ocean Course, that will come in handy. Overall, his ball striking is average, which goes against how that is a big edge, but he can make up for it in putting.
Hunter Mahan (+4,000) has cooled off after a very strong start to the season but that only gives us better odds this week. He has definitely fallen off the radar with only one top ten in his last 11 starts but he has missed only one cut over that stretch. He leads the tour in ball striking so any lack of contending over the last couple months can be negated with that stat which gives him a big edge on this course.
We have used Bo Van Pelt (+5,000) a lot this year and he has come painfully close to cashing for us so leaving him out will likely mean he wins. Therefore, we are backing him again and turning the five-pack into a six pack. He is coming off a T8 last week in Akron, which was his tour-leading eighth top ten and while he has not won, he looks ready to break out. He is tied for 12th on tour in ball striking.
Longshots have won this major more than any other over the last couple decades and one that stands out this week is Bill Haas (+8,000). Haas has a win already this year at the Northern Trust Open and is coming off consecutive T19's, most recently last week at the Bridgestone. He has not had a top ten in a while but he has played well in the majors the last two years including a T12 at the PGA Championship last year.
Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the PGA Championship – All for 1 Unit
Jason Dufner (+2,000)
Dustin Johnson (+2,000)
Steve Stricker (+3,500)
Hunter Mahan (+4,000)
Bo Van Pelt (+5,000)
Bill Haas (+8,000)
Record to date after 29 events: +58.1 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units
Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units
The Memorial -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -5 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
AT&T National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units
John Deere Classic +8 Units
The Open Championship +36 Units
RBC Canadian Open -5 Units
Bridgestone Invitational -5 Units