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PGA Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 08/05/2014
This week we have the final Major of the season as the PGA Championship will be contested for the 96th time, this time from Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the third time Valhalla has hosted the PGA Championship, the last coming in 2000. That year, Tiger Woods defeated Bob May in a playoff and the previous time, Marks Brooks defeated hometown favorite Kenny Perry in a playoff as well. Valhalla has also hosted two Senior PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Valhalla Golf Club is a par 71, 7,458-yard track that has seen some major renovations come through recently. Following the most recent Senior PGA held in 2011, every green was redone on the Jack Nicklaus design that is actually owned by the PGA of America. This is the ultimate shot makers course and by that it can reward or penalize many second shots along the way. Because of the lack of experience here for a lot of the players, it evens out the field so there are not many advantages from a history standpoint.
While the course itself is a challenge, parity remains constant in the majors as of the last 23 Majors, there have been 18 different winners with Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer being the only multiple Major winners. Not since 2008 has there been a repeat major winner. Padraig Harrington is the last player to do so, winning The Open Championship and PGA Championship back-to-back. The challenge now sits with McIlroy following his win at the Open Championship.
Since 1993, there have been 17 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. This tournament is known for its surprising winners even though there have been some big names at the top in recent years. It is interesting to note that the last 10 winners of the PGA Championship have had a top 25 finish in their last start so it has been a "who's hot" event.
No one is hotter than McIlroy (+550) who is the favorite this week following consecutive wins at the Open Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational last week. He is once again the top ranked player in the world and he is a PGA Champion when he won the Wannamaker Trophy in 2012 at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Three in a row will be tough but he certainly has the game to do it.
Sergio Garcia (+2,000) came painfully close once again last week but had to settle for his fifth top three in his last seven starts on the PGA Tour. His only missed cut this year was at the Masters and in his 11 cuts made, he has finished in the top 10 eight times. He has not won since 2012 when he won the Wyndham Championship which came after a missed cut at the PGA Championship.
We used Keegan Bradley (+3,500) last week and while his T4 was nice, a bad Sunday back nine did him in. Still, he comes in playing very well as he also had a T4 at the Greenbrier sandwiched around a T19 at the Open Championship. He won the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club and followed that up with a T3 in 2012 and a T19 last year. His T4 at the U.S. Open doesn't hurt.
Graeme McDowell (+4,500) had his best ever finish at Firestone with a T8 thanks to a pair of 66's over the weekend. That was his third top ten in his last three starts including a T9 at the Open Championship, his best finish in a Major since a T12 at the PGA Championship last year. He has experience here as he played in the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla and was one of the top European performers.
Mark Leishman (+5,000) is playing better than these odds indicate. He is coming off a solo third last week at Firestone which came after a T5 at the Open Championship. He has missed only one cut since April and has finished outside the top 23 only once in his last eight cuts made. Overall he six top tens and last year at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, he finished T12.
Patrick Reed (+10,000) is coming off a strong performance last week which fits the hot trend. He finished T4 as a Saturday 71 kept him out of contention. That was his best finish since winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship back in March which was his second win of the season. He had a rough three-month stretch after that but the birth of hid first child played into that.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the PGA Championship (all for One Unit)
Sergio Garcia (+2,000)
Keegan Bradley (+3,500)
Graeme McDowell (+4,500)
Mark Leishman (+5,000)
Patrick Reed (+10,000)
2014 Record to date after 29 events: -88 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge -5 Units
Farmers Insurance Open -5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am +22 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC - Accenture Match Play +23 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Valspar Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -7 Units
Zurich Classic -5 Units
Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
Quicken Loans National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units
John Deere Classic -5 Units
The Open Championship -5 Units
RBC Canadian Open -5 Units
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational -5 Units