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2024 PGA Tour Preview: PGA Championship

Scottie Scheffler will try to win for the first time as a new dad after welcoming his first baby into the world. Looking to earn the second leg of the career grand slam, the current world number one heads into the Bluegrass state red hot. Less than a month ago, he captured the Masters for his second green jacket before following up with a victory at the RBC Heritage the next week. 

It's been a decade of close calls for Rory Mcilory at major championships. Looking to snap his ten-year drought, the 35-year-old returns to Valhalla for the first time since capturing the 2014 PGA Championship at the course. We also cannot forget about defending champion Brooks Koepka. Just like he did a year ago, the Florida native won his last start on LIV.

Chris Gallagher and Everett Davidson contributed to this article.

The Course

One of the toughest tests in golf, Valhalla is a Jack Nicklaus design. Set to host the PGA Championship for the fourth time, the course is a par 71 that has been pushed to 7,609 yards, making it the third-longest track on the PGA Tour this season. Home to two iconic holes, the 13th is a short par that features an island green. Additionally, the 18th offers a three-tiered green and a huge risk-reward opportunity for players, leading to an exciting finish on Sunday afternoon. Furthermore, with the fairways featuring Zoysiagrass and the rough being grown out to a reported four inches, wayward tee shots will be penalized heavily, and less of an edge will be given to players who have elite short games.

The Field

The first major of the season has the smallest field out of any of the four majors, but with that small field comes a higher percentage of players who have a realistic chance to win. Only two of the top 60 players in the OWGR aren't playing this week, with the highest ranked of those being World No. 56 Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Defending Champion Jon Rahm and 2022 Champion Scottie Scheffler highlight the field, as well as 16 other champions in the event's history; the most recent champion not in the field is 2009 Champion Angel Cabrera, but he is not playing due to legal trouble in his home country of Argentina. Each player hopes to bring home the coveted Green Jacket at the end of the weekend, and unless you are Talor Gooch, there is no question that this tournament is one of the greatest in the world and brings the world's best to play.

Chris' PGA Championship Picks

Outright: Scottie Scheffler

In rarified air heading into the PGA Championship, Scheffler is currently listed at +450 to win, the second lowest odds in tournament history behind Tiger Woods in 2013. Over the last three months, the reigning world number one has lost one time to Stephan Jaegar at the Houston Open while racking up victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Masters, and THE PLAYERS Championship. Moreover, in 15 appearances at major championships over the last four years, the Texas native has a pair of wins at Augusta while placing inside the top ten eight other times. This includes a runner-up finish at Oak Hill a year ago after holding the 36-hole lead. There doesn't appear to be anything that can stop Scheffler right now. Look for him to come away victorious on Sunday.

Outright: Brooks Kopeka

Koepka, the defending champion at the PGA Championship, has had a stellar track record at the event throughout his career. In addition to his three Wannamaker Trophies victories, the 34-year-old has three other top-five finishes. One of the best major championship players of this generation, the Florida native has two wins and a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open and four top-10 finishes at the Open Championship. He has also been runner-up twice at the Masters. Entering the week in strong form, Koepka appears to have put his early season putting struggles behind him after capturing the LIV Golf Singapore event. The nine-time PGA Tour winner pulled away from the field with a 64 in round two. Following a disappointing showing at the Masters in April, expect major Brooks to flex his muscles and come out on top.   

Outright: Jon Rahm

Despite a disappointing T45 at the Masters, Rahm has had a solid start to his season. The two-time major champion has finished inside the top ten in each of his seven starts, including a T3 at LIV Golf Mayakoba. Along with this, he ranks eighth on the Saudi-backed Tour in greens in regulation (73.81), sixth in driving distance (312.9), and first in birdie average (5.24). With the game to score well at Valhalla, the 29-year-old is a strong driver of the golf ball and an excellent long iron player. Moreover, the Spaniard is also a solid Bentagrass putter. Rahm has won at similar long and demanding courses in the past. He captured the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Top 10: Xander Schauffele

Schauffele has been the most consistent player on Tour during the 2024 season outside of Scheffler. In 11 starts, the San Diego native has placed inside the top ten eight times, with five of those being top-five finishes. Nearly victorious at the Wells Fargo Championship a week ago, the 30-year-old led after 54 holes. However, after shooting even par on Sunday, he would lose to Rory Mcilroy by five shots. The former Olympic gold medal winner has had an outstanding track record at major championships. Schauffele has finished runner-up at both the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship. Meanwhile, he has also placed inside the top ten at the U.S. Open six times. Currently paying +170 for a top ten finish; bank on Xander's consistency this week.     

Head-to-Head: Tommy Fleetwood over Hideki Matsuyama

Still searching for his first victory on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood heads into the PGA Championship in good form. The United Kingdom native has secured three top-ten finishes this season, with two of those coming in his last four starts. This includes third place at the Masters and seventh place at the Valero Texas Open. One of the best players off the tee in the field, Fleetwood ranks seventh in driving accuracy (77.8). Back in action for the first time since playing in the Masters tournament last month, Matsuyama grabbed a disappointing 38th-place finish. With an up-and-down track record at the PGA Championship throughout his career, the current world number 15 has not logged a top-20 finish at the event since 2019.

Everett's PGA Championship Picks
Outright: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy's most recent major championship victory came in this tournament at this course ten years ago, as he pulled away down the stretch to win by one stroke over Phil Mickelson. At that time, he was ranked first in the OWGR, and he had won his previous two events, the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. This year, he comes in on similar form, with two straight wins at the Zurich Classic (with Shane Lowry) and last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, and he is ranked second in the OWGR, only behind Scottie Scheffler, who has also been on an insane run of form, winning four out of his last five tournaments, with a second-place finish in his non-win. McIlroy filed for divorce from his wife, Erica Stoll, on Tuesday, and that might lead to some unnecessary noise coming his way, but Rory is the type of player who seems to thrive on pressure. He has won this tournament twice before, once at this course, and if history repeats itself, he will be in contention on Sunday.

Outright: Ludvig Aberg

If rookies win a major, it tends to be the PGA Championship. Eight players have won the tournament in their first appearance, most recently Keegan Bradley at Oak Hill in 2011. Aberg nearly won the Masters last month in his first major championship appearance, holding a tie for the lead on the back nine before falling back and finishing solo-second, four strokes behind Scheffler. However, by coming back from his double bogey on the 11th hole and beating the rest of the chasers (at that point, it became Scheffler's tournament to lose), Aberg showed that he has the clutch gene that is required to win major championships. Since the Masters, he has only played once, a T10 finish at the RBC Heritage, and he comes in on good form, with eight straight top-25 finishes, with two runner-ups and only two finishes outside the top-15. For Aberg to win, he would need to have four great rounds, but he has already shown that he can compete in majors, and the 24-year-old has what it takes to win.

Outright: Jason Day

Day is the 2015 PGA Champion, but this isn't the same Jason Day who won that tournament. At the time, he was consistently going toe-to-toe with Jordan Spieth, and the two were far and away the two best players in the world. After several injuries, Day's career took a nose-dive, but he has returned with a vengeance over the last two years, and he broke through to win his first tournament in five years at the 2023 Byron Nelson. Day comes in on good form, having finished T4 last week at the Wells Fargo, and he has made four straight cuts. Last year, Day missed the cut at the PGA Championship for the first time since 2012, but he finished T15 here in 2014. This week, the players will need to hit the ball long and straight, and they also will need to be good on and around the greens. While not being as long of a hitter as he was at some time, Day is still among the best drivers on the PGA Tour this season, and he ranks among the best putters and scramblers in the game, too. This week, if Day plays like he has been, he will be in contention come Sunday.

Top 10: Tony Finau

Finau hasn't had a top-10 in a major since the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, but he has been consistent to start the year, with only one missed cut in 12 events to go with six top-25s and a runner-up at the Texas Children's Houston Open. Finau has won five events since his last top-10 in a major, and his career has seemingly flipped: after his first win in 2016, he often finished in the top 10 in majors and was always on the first page of the leaderboard, but he was never able to break through and win. Since his second win at the 2021 Northern Trust, he has won four more times, but he wasn't able to continue his good play in the majors. He hasn't won since the Mexico Open last year, so it could be time for his career to flip back. If he could do both at the same time, he would be one of the best players in the world.

Head-to-Head: Cameron Young over Viktor Hovland

Hovland is favored to win this matchup on DraftKings (-120 as of the time of writing), but given both players’ form heading into this week, along with Young's pedigree in majors, I am somewhat surprised that Young is not being favored. This season, Hovland has played in seven events with a best finish of T19 at the Genesis Invitational, and he missed the cut at the Masters in April. Meanwhile, Young has played in 11 events, and he hasn't missed a cut with four top-10s; the headline moment of Young's season was a solo second at the Valspar, where he finished two strokes behind Peter Malnati. The two play similarly, and despite Hovland's runner-up finish last year at Oak Hill, Hovland has been playing worse coming into the tournament, and he should not be favored.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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