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PGA Championship Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/05/2013
This week we have the final Major of the season as the PGA Championship will be contested from Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York. This is the first major for Oak Hill since the 2003 PGA Championship when Shaun Micheel stunned the field and brought home the Wanamaker Trophy as the 169th ranked player in the world. Because of the lack of experience here for a lot of the players, it evens out the field in that regard so there are not many advantages from a history standpoint.
This is the third time the East Course at Oak Hill has hosted the PGA Championship. Of all the players that teed it up in 2003, 37 of those are back this year which is roughly 24 percent of field that has seen the course under tournament conditions. In addition to 2003, it was contested here in 1980 with Jack Nicklaus winning by seven shots over Andy Bean to capture his 17th Major victory. The East Course has also hosted three U.S. Opens and a Ryder Cup so it is not a stranger to big events.
The East Course is a par 70, 7,163-yard track designed by Donald Ross. It has gone through several modifications throughout the years but Ross' trademark small greens and course routing are still present. It takes pride in its namesake oak trees which can cause trouble for errant tee shots. Making matters even worse, the fairways are less than 30 yards wide and the rough this week is long and dense so missing the short grass will force a lot of layups as advancing the ball will not be an option in most places.
While the course itself is a challenge, parity remains constant in the majors as of the last 20 Majors, there have been 18 different winners with Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson being the only two-time Major winners over that span. Since 1993, there have been 16 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.
The favorite this week is Tiger Woods (+350) and a big one at that. He is coming off his fourth victory of the season at the Bridgestone Invitational this past week and that was his eighth win at Firestone. Woods last won the PGA Championship in 2007 which was his fourth and his 13th Major championship at the time. He played in 2003 at Oak Hill and it wasn't pretty as he shot 12 over, good for T39.
The defending champion is Rory McIlroy (+2,500) who ran away with an eight-shot victory at Kiawah Island - The Ocean Course. He later won at the Deutsche Bank Championship and the next week at the BMW Championship but he has not won since. An equipment change could be part of the problem but any way you look at it, something is not right. He does not have a top 25 in his last four starts.
Because of the short price on Tiger, we are catching great odds on others including Matt Kuchar (+2,500). He has yet to win a Major but he looks ready as ever. He has two wins on the season to go along with five other top tens including two runner-ups. He has not missed a cut this season and in the first three Majors, he has a T8 at the Masters, a T28 at the U.S. Open and a T15 at the Open Championship.
We used Henrik Stenson (+2,500) last week and if not for Tiger's runaway, he would have been right in the mix. I do not see a reason to get off him as he has been on a roll. He is coming off his third runner-up of the season and has two other top tens while being around in contention at all of the Majors. He is second on tour in greens hit, fourth in total driving and second in ball striking.
It has not been the best season for Luke Donald (+3,000) but it hasn't been horrible either. He is ranked ninth in the world and is still gunning for that elusive first Major. He missed back-to-back cuts at the Open Championship and the RBC Canadian Open but he came back with a T9 at the Bridgestone last week, his fourth top ten of the season. He is accurate off the tee and still one of the best scramblers in the game.
Keegan Bradley (+3,000) won the PGA Championship in 2011 and finished T3 last year and while the venues are different, I think he keeps his success going. He is coming off a T2 at Firestone last week so he was right there once again if it wasn't for Tiger. He has not won since last year's Bridgestone Invitational but he does have eight top tens including four top threes.
This week's longshot will be Graeme DeLaet (+15,000). If there is a Major that can produce a longshot, this is the one as we have seen it before and we have seen it on this course. DeLaet disappointed us at the Canadian Open with a missed cut but his stats prove to fit the bill here as he is first on tour in greens hit and first in total driving. His five top tens shows he can contend.
Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the PGA Championship (all for One Unit)
Matt Kuchar (+2,500)
Henrik Stenson (+2,500)
Luke Donald (+3,000)
Keegan Bradley (+3,000)
Graeme DeLaet (+15,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 30 events: -35.4 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units
The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
AT&T National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units
John Deere Classic -5 Units
Open Championship -5 Units
RBC Canadian Open +10 Units
Bridgestone Invitational 0 Units