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The PGA’s second major of the year is here as the tour heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club for the first time since 2007. Considering there is no recent course history, I turned to YouTube for a deep dive on the challenges the course could provide. Southern Hills is a par 70 but extends to over 7,500 yards with only two par-fives, both measuring at well over 600 yards long. You’ve got undulated Bermuda fairways, greenside bunkers, creek beds that could disrupt, thick rough and small, sloped and firm bentgrass greens.
It’s a beautiful layout that could cause some headaches. In one video, there were two courses referenced that drew comparisons: Shinnecock Hills (US Open) and Augusta National (The Masters).
Since those are the two courses referenced, I will focus on players that both have experience and success at either. These are two names that caught my attention for a top-40 finish. These are players I like for a top 20 but I'm still getting a good return for a top 40.
Robert MacIntyre, Top 40 (+130)
Bobby Mac is one of my favorite players to bet on. Although he doesn’t play too often in the states, you can count on his consistency.
In 2022, Mac has only played in five PGA events and finished top 40 in four, with the one missed being the Zurich team event. Since 2020, he’s performed well in majors, including a T-12 in the 2021 Masters and a 23rd-place finish in the April Masters. Despite not having many stateside results, the Scottish pro is top 20 in strokes gained in the short game.
Give me a player who may not have distance but is accurate off the tee, can work his way around the greens, putt well and has consistently made the cut in majors, then yes, lock me down for backing Bobby Mac to finish in the top 40.
Aaron Wise, Top 40 (+180)
I keep backing Wise for top 20s and it doesn’t quite work out so I’ll look instead to a top-40 finish. The University of Oregon grad is part of ‘team no putt’ that make him a risky top 20, but his strengths in other parts of his game make him a viable top-40 option.
In the last 20 rounds, Wise is third in the field for strokes gained tee to green behind only Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. He gained strokes ball striking in six straight events, and more important to me, he's gained strokes around the green in his last three, contributing to a T21 at RBC and a T6 in Mexico.
On bentgrass greens, Wise has four straight top-20 finishes, including a T5 at THE CJ Cup last October. Since 2021, on courses that extend over 7,500 yards, Wise has three top-20 finishes including a T17 in last year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. His ball striking is there. If he can maintain his recent around-the-green success and keep his putting in check, a top 20 is in the cards, but +180 for a top 40 is less risk for a good reward.