Golf Picks: A PGA Championship Modeling Strategy

The wait is over and the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club is upon us.

It is the course’s first major course since the 2007 PGA and follows historic restoration in 2018 and 2019. The par-70 extends over 7,500 yards and features wide fairways along with heavy bunkers and green runoff.

Scotty Scheffler and John Ram (+1200) arrive as co-candidates for the event while Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy (+1400) follow. Among the top five in the odds table is Jordan Spieth (+1800), who is looking to complete the Grand Slam.

But, before we dive into our best bets for the week, we’ll start as always without a statistical event modeling strategy. In addition to the following six stats, I used two sorters—“easy” to access fairways and courses over 7,400 yards—to help improve the form.

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Key Stat #1 – Shots Earned: Style (20% Concentration)

Given the width of the trails in Southern Hills, I wouldn’t expect driving distance or accuracy to play a big role here.

However, a gameplay approach will be key. As mentioned earlier, Gil Hansey’s restoration of the South Hills in 2018 removed the roughness around the greens and replaced it with steep runoff areas that would punish players who lack precision with their irons. In addition, the greens are not particularly large, which will provide players with an additional challenge.

Accordingly, I am ranking this category as the most important for this week and I think you will see a strong correlation between the gains in this statistic and the final position.

Here are the 36 round leaders in SG: Approach plus their betting odds for this week:

  1. Henrik Stenson (+40000)
  2. Justin Thomas (+1400)
  3. Justin Rose (+15000)
  4. (+1400) Rory McIlroy
  5. Keegan Bradley (+8000)

Odds provided by BetMGM

Key stat #2 – Driving distance (18% focus)

Hanse’s restoration eliminated many of the tough penalties for microdrives in 2007, which means accuracy isn’t that important this week.

The lanes have also been expanded from about 28 yards to nearly 40 yards, so expect players to use the big stick a lot. To me, that means driving distance on a track with 5 bonuses at 625 yards and seven 4 bonuses at 440 yards will be important.

In addition, three of the remaining five 4s are less than 375 yards, so the distance can give players short routes that lead to birding opportunities.

Here are the distance leaders of the last 36 laps with their betting odds for the week:

  1. (+2500) Dustin Johnson
  2. (+1400) Rory McIlroy
  3. Bubba Watson (+20000)
  4. Gary Woodland (+10000)
  5. (+5000) Tony Finno

Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Palestinian Authority

Key stat #3 – Shots won: 4 (18% focus)

Given that 12 of the 18 holes in Southern Hills are Par 4s, it should be clear that this will be key to player performance this week.

Furthermore, the aforementioned length of the 5 marks – the number 5 is 656 meters while the number 13 is 632 meters on the scoreboards – and the length of the 4 segments 3 – only one is less than 220 meters – means that players should see the majority of chances in these holes twelve.

As a result, this statistic was given great importance to me. Also, while somewhat expected, the last three PGA Championship winners at the ’70s Bar didn’t rank fourth in those stats for the week.

Here is the SG: Par 4 leaderboard over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds this week:

  1. (+1800) Jordan Spieth
  2. Daniel Berger (+5000)
  3. Justin Thomas (+1400)
  4. Ricky Fowler (+15000)
  5. Louis Oosthuizen (+8000)
Jordan Spieth completed the Grand Slam with his PGA win.
Jordan Spieth completed the Grand Slam with his PGA win.
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Key stat #4 – Strokes earned: Around the green (17% concentration)

As described by Southern Hills golf director Carrie Cosby, the 2022 PGA champion will own the “elite” short.

Cozby adds that the rugged terrain can roll up to 50 yards, especially after Hanse restored the steep slopes on the green ledges. For these reasons, players will need to get creative around the green, and shoot the winning shot: around the green, which is an essential number for Southern Hills betting.

Additionally, Southern Hills has plenty of bunkers around the greens – 75 in total across 18 holes – so creativity in the sand will be required as well.

Here are the SGs: On the Green Leaders over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds for this week:

  1. (+12500) Se Woo Kim
  2. Lee Westwood (+30000)
  3. Matt Jones (+30000)
  4. Jason Day (+8000)
  5. Padraig Harrington (+50000)

Key Stat #5 – Birds or Better Earnings (15% Concentration)

Bookmakers could see lower scores in the Southern Hills – especially if the weather forecast continues and it rains Friday night – which means the birds’ winning could be impressive.

They also tend to be a staple in most PGA tournaments. Three of the last four PGA Champions have placed third or better in that category while four in a row have been in the top ten in those stats for the week.

While there aren’t many “bird holes” in Southern Hills, expect players who are creating opportunities to lead the pack this week. Here are the LP leaders in this category with their betting odds for this week:

  1. (+1800) Jordan Spieth
  2. Matt Jones (+30000)
  3. (+2500) Dustin Johnson
  4. (+6600) Tiger Woods
  5. Ricky Fowler (+15000)

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Key stat #6 – Shots won: By 3 (12% concentration)

Southern Hills Country Club offers only four 3-player parts, but it’s a challenging four-hole game.

As mentioned, three of the four holes are 220 yards or more while the only exception—the three 11 feet—feature a high water hazard and four green side bunkers as a defense.

While I wouldn’t expect these four holes to net many birds, this could be a game-changer in terms of keeping the rounds low. So, while it’s not a very important statistic, I think it will play a role.

Here are the leaders in this category over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds for the week:

  1. Mark Leishman (+12500)
  2. Lee Westwood (+30000)
  3. Justin Thomas (+1400)
  4. Matt Fitzpatrick (+4000)
  5. (+2500) Dustin Johnson

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