It's time for major championship golf baby! Welcome to PGA Championship week, the red-headed stepchild of golf's major championships. This year's edition brings us to Oak Hill Country Club, just outside of Rochester, NY. This is the 7th major tournament contested at Oak Hill, and the 4th PGA Championship. Oak Hill has also hosted 3 US Opens, along with a Ryder Cup and 2 US Amateurs. Needless to say, it's a bona fide top notch major championship track.
The last time the PGA was contested here was in 2013, when Jason Dufner edged out the likes of Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson with a Sunday 68. Duf Daddy actually set the course record on Friday with a 63, a score that hasn't since been matched. Other notable names rounding out the Top 10 included 2023 participants Adam Scott, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy.
Last year's PGA was won by Justin Thomas in a playoff over Will Zalatoris. All of that, of course, happened after the historic meltdown on the 72nd hole by Mito Pereira where it literally looked like he was electrocuted on his downswing. The win capped of an incredible comeback where JT started the day 7 back and earned him his 2nd PGA Championship.
Last year's leaderboard and tournament winners, along with the 2013 leaderboard….
2022 PGA Championship Leaderboard
2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Leaderboard
Oak Hill CC is a Par 70 designed by Donald Ross measuring just a hair under 7,400 yards. In the scheme of par 70's, that's definitely on the longer side. In terms of layout, there's no one feature that sticks out about this course… but it's got some serious all-around teeth. The fairways are relatively narrow, there's a good assortment of doglegs, and the rough appears to be grown out pretty good. Not quite US Open rough where you're gonna be chopping out into fairways, but plenty penalizing as shown by our troops on the ground.
There's a ton of bunkers out there too. 78 of them in fact, most of them deep and cavernous. They look glorious tbh.
You may look at the leaderboard in 2013 and make the assumption that ball-striking is king here. Duf Daddy, Furyk, and Stenson were hardly guys known for their length as much as they were their phenomenal accuracy both off the tee and on approach. However, this course was renovated in 2019, which widened the fairways a touch and removed a ton of trees on the property. Those By all accounts, it'll play as a wildly different course versus the previous version and should favor somebody with an all-around game. As it should be for a major.
Best Hole - 13th hole, 623 yard Par 5
The signature hole at Oak Hill is a beast, an uphill lengthy par 5 well over 600 yards. There is a creek about halfway home that would require about a 340 yard carry off the tee - which will force damn near the entire field to lay up short. But if we get a downwind day, some of the longer guys might be tempted to give it a rip.
Cool feature about this hole is the Hill of Fame up the right side, featuring a tribute to those who have contributed to the game and Oak Hill. 45 men and women have been honored, including the likes of Ike Eisenhower, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and the 1995 winning European Ryder Cup team from the edition played at Oak Hill. There's also a flagpole on the hill that will be plenty visible throughout play.
The green is protected by a variety of bunkers and featured a bowl shaped green. Should feature some interesting pin positions and prove to be a tough test all week.
Stroke Play, 72 holes, 156 golfers. The PGA Tour shifted to a 65-man cut a couple of years ago, but the PGA Championship has stuck with the Top 70 and ties cut. Playoff is a 3-hole aggregate, as we saw last year.
This field is comprised of a variety of the world's best who have qualified on the merit of their current game, past PGA Championship winners, and 20 PGA professionals who are more or less club pros who qualified through their own qualification process. Typically only a couple (if any) of those guys make the cut, and when you factor out the Rich Beems and Shaun Micheels of the world, the true field size of this event is more like 125 golfers.
The weather is going to be a biiig topic on Thursday, as it is going to be FRIGID for the morning wave. Frost appears inevitable and delay the start of festivities. Breezy weather should affect play throughout the weekend, and some showers on Saturday will play a factor too. When you go this far north for a major championship in May, this is the risk you run. Hopefully we don't come out of the weekend clamoring for a move back to an August PGA Championship.
Thursday: ESPN+ from 7 AM to 7 PM, Main coverage on ESPN from 1 PM to 7 PM.
Friday: ESPN+ from 7 AM to 7 PM, Main coverage on ESPN from 1 PM to 7 PM.
Saturday: ESPN+ from 8 to 10 AM, ESPN from 10 AM to 1 PM, CBS from 1 to 7 PM.
Sunday: ESPN+ from 8 to 10 AM, ESPN from 10 AM to 1 PM, CBS from 1 to 7 PM.
If this is your first time to my preview blogs, welcome. This is the section where I review the week's hardware. The Wanamaker is right up there with the best. It's just a classic design. Many other trophies emulate this design and come up short. Those aren't major championship trophies and they shouldn't try to be. Stay in your fuckin lane, RSM Classic. Anyways, it's an iconic trophy, it's got great size for the mantlepiece, and hopefully it stays in one piece thru the ceremony on Sunday. It's an 8.6/10.
Scottie Scheffler is your slight betting favorite this week over Jon Rahm at +750 at the Barstool Sportsbook. I can't really put my finger on what it is that has put Scheffler ahead of Rahm here because I think it should be the other way around… but it's clear the two have separated themselves from the pack.
I'm going to go another direction here and say this is the week Tony Finau breaks through and wins his first major. He's +2000 and has had a strong 2023. He beat out Rahm head-to-head on Sunday at Mexico and he's got the all-around game to get it done. The length is his strength, but he doesn't have a major hole in his game. I can point to a handful of other guys (including Scheffler, who's sand save percentage this year is among the worst in the game) and nitpick reasons where they might lose, but I don't see the same in Tony. It's time for Tony.
Xander Schauffele To Win +1600/Top 5 +335 - Schauffele was a narrow miss to be my official pick. He's ready to break through just like Tony is, and is another all-around stud. Data golf has him as the 3rd most likely to win here.
Dustin Johnson to win +2800/Top 10 +300 - By all accounts seems to be close to his usual self. I think there's value on LIV guys across the board here, much like there was at Augusta.
Talor Gooch +7000 to win/Top 10 +700 - Guy won back to back LIV events a few weeks back. Say what you will about LIV golf events, but I think there's good value here.
Keegan Bradley to win +8000/Top 10 +700 - Former PGA winner and Vermont native tends to play well on Northeast courses. Having a strong year too.
Harold Varner Top 20 +350 - Another LIV guy who has played well recently.
Cameron Young FOMO Pick To Win +3000 - Would be a heckuva week for the NY guy to break through in his home state.
That's the card for this week. Lotta top heavy guys.
Should be an awesome major tournament. Enjoy the PGA at Oak Hill.