2023 PGA Championship Betting Picks and Predictions
For the first time in a decade, the PGA Championship returns to the iconic venue of Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. The club has hosted three U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, plus a Ryder Cup and two U.S. Amateurs. Yet the golf course that pros will see this week has a completely new look due to an incredibly well-received 2019 restoration by Andrew Green. The claustrophobic, tree-lined golf course that Jason Dufner triumphed at in 2013 is long gone, as Green removed upwards of 600 trees from the property. Players will now face far more open sightlines, with new angles of attack into the completely re-modeled Bent-grass putting surfaces.
Justin Thomas will return to defend his 2022 title, and he will be challenged by the strongest field in golf. Storylines are abound this week in upstate New York. Can Jon Rahm continue his historic season? Can Rory McIlroy finally end his major drought at a golf course where he is an honorary member? Can Brooks Koepka or Phil Mickelson carry forward their momentum from strong Masters performances? Can Jordan Spieth complete the grand slam? Can Scottie Scheffler re-claim World No. 1 with his second major championship victory? However it plays out, we are certainly in store for some fireworks in Rochester.
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PGA Championship: Course Preview
Oak Hill’s East Course is one of the most revered and historic championship golf courses in America, and it has been the home to some of the game’s most iconic moments. The aforementioned Andrew Green 2019 restoration has helped bring back the integrity of the original 1925 Donald Ross design. While the tree removal will get all of the attention, Green’s finest work was done on the putting surfaces, flattening off the edges and restoring many of the contours and subtle ridges that had been lost over time. Golfers will now face a far different test than what they were tasked with at previous major championships at Oak Hill.
The golf course still features extremely narrow fairways, thick rough, small, elevated putting surfaces guarded by brand new closely mown collection areas, and menacing fairway bunkers. Golfers will need a complete game to compete at this golf course. Off the tee, distance now certainly trumps accuracy, as the consequence of 30-yard misses are now not dissimilar from the consequence of two-yard misses. Longer drivers of the ball should have a huge leg up in Rochester this week, and I would not be surprised to see a leaderboard reminiscent of the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage, or the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
As part of the restoration, the course was also lengthened by over 200 yards, and I would expect upwards of 50% of all approach shots to come from over 175 yards. Just like at most major championships, mid to long iron play will be absolutely essential. Another key piece of Green’s restoration was re-tooling the bunkers to actually play as hazards, which I can say from personal experience was certainly accomplished. Ultimately, the new-look Oak Hill will test every aspect of a player’s game and certainly go down as one of the world’s great championship tests.
PGA Championship Key Stats
Proximity 200 yards plus
Strokes Gained Off the Tee: Long Golf Courses
PGA Championship: Outright Winner
Rory McIlroy (+1400) (Bet $100 to collect $1,500) Go to DraftKings to get the best Rory McIlroy odds
What better venue for Rory McIlroy to break his nine-year major drought than where he is an honorary member, in the city where his wife is from? While that would certainly be a nice story, it has nothing to do with the reason why I believe Rory McIlroy is going to win this golf tournament. Rory McIlroy is going to win this golf tournament because Oak Hill was built for him, and my numbers suggest that there is not a player in this field that fits the course better than the eclectic four-time major winner.
McIlroy is still one of the most dominant drivers of the ball in the field, ranking first in distance, 10th in recent off-the-tee form, and first off-the-tee on long golf courses. He also ranks top-10 in long iron play, top-25 in overall bunker and around the green play, top-10 in Bent-grass putting, second in difficult scoring conditions, and second ball-striking on long golf courses with narrow fairways.
He finished eighth at Oak Hill in 2013, eighth at Bethpage Black in 2019, where he gained four strokes off the tee, eighth at Winged Foot in 2020, where he gained 5.8 strokes off the tee, fifth at Aronomink in 2018, where he gained 10.9 strokes ball-striking, and eighth at Southern Hills where he gained 10.5 strokes off the tee. I could not be less concerned with recent uninspiring finishes at the Masters and Wells Fargo Championship, as McIlroy has never needed form to win. I love that the industry and betting markets are more down on him than usual this week, as it will make victory taste so much sweeter.
As you can see from the odds above, DraftKings are going out on a limb and are taking an industry-best stance on Rory McIlroy to win this week at +1400. Make sure you are comparing the odds for the PGA Championship this week, to ensure you are making the most profit from Andy Lack's standout selection.
Xander Schauffele (+2400) (Bet $100 to collect $2,500) FanDuel has the best Xander Schauffele odds
I’m simply playing the numbers this week and betting the top-two players in my model, and Xander Schauffele checks in as the number two strongest course fit at Oak Hill. While he is not the driver of the ball of a Rory McIlroy or a Jon Rahm, he is certainly above average in that category and ranks 10th off the tee on long golf courses. The iron play is absolutely immaculate, as Schauffele ranks third in this field in recent approach play and third in proximity from 175 yards plus. His short game and bunker play are absolutely passable, and he loves himself some pure Bent-grass putting surfaces.
The five-time winner is absolutely playing some of the best golf of his career and enters this event on the back of five top-10s in a row and three top-fives in a row. Over 12 starts this season; he’s working on over a 50% top-10 rate, which is absolutely remarkable. The San Diego native ranks 13th in this field in difficult scoring conditions and sixth in ball striking on long golf courses with narrow fairways.
A 16th at Bethpage, a 13th at Southern Hills, a sixth at Winged Foot, and a third at Aronomink is about as good as it gets on the comp courses I am referencing. From a statistical standpoint, Xander is a slam dunk, and I would be far from surprised if this is the major championship where he finally comes out on top.
This is where odds comparison really comes into its own, as you can see Xander Schauffele's PGA Championship odds differ significantly at FanDuel and DraftKings. Win an additional $800 just by betting Schauffele at FanDuel rather than DraftKings this week.