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PGA Championship Betting Preview: Course Preview, Past Winners, Picks and Predictions

We are here, the second major of the PGA Tour season, as we head to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Southern Hills Country Club for the PGA Championship. Tom Jacobs is here to give you the lowdown with a course preview, past winners and early PGA Championship picks!
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PGA Championship Betting Preview: Course Preview, Past Winners, Picks and Predictions

It is time for the 2022 PGA Championship, and while this a major that was usually played in August in year's past, but in 2019 the schedule changed to move this to May and the PLAYERS Championship to March, so we now have an earlier major on the schedule!

We have a good bank of season form to by at this stage, when looking at PGA Championship picks, and while minds may well have changed after the storming efforts of some of the best players in last week's Byron Nelson field, there are some obvious standout players this time around.

Let us look at the Past Winners of the PGA Championship, so we can get an idea of what area of the betting board we need to target, when looking for PGA Championship Picks.

Past Winners of the PGA Championship

  • 2021: Phil Mickelson
  • 2020: Collin Morikawa
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka
  • 2017: Justin Thomas
  • 2016: Jimmy Walker
  • 2015: Jason Day
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy
  • 2013: Jason Dufner
  • 2012: Rory McIlroy

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Any list that includes Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy twice, along with Collin Morikawa, Jason Day and Justin Thomas doesn't necessarily scream an outsiders' tournament, nor in year's past would the name Phil Mickelson suggest that. So while Mickelson winning last year at triple-digit odds was a surprise, and the same can be said for Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker, this is generally an event that goes to a favorite. This is no great surprise given it is a major, but given this is the one major where people believed an outsider could win, it is worth noting who has done it in the past. The change to May has probably had an effect, as players are right in the business-part of the season, whereas in August there was probably some burnout for players that had already played three majors, multiple WGC's and a PLAYERS Championship by that point. They also had the FedEx Cup Playoffs to consider. In this new slot, the PGA Championship probably gets more of the attention it deserves.

PGA Championship Course Preview - Southern Hills Country Club

Before making any PGA Championship Picks this week, it is important we take into account the challenge that is in front of this field. Southern Hills is playing as a Par 70 this week at a whopping 7,546 Yards from the tips, so that has to be a factor. This is not like the 2007 renewal, where there was perhaps a premium on accuracy, there is little impactful rough this week, and it is no longer a parkland test after a Gil Hanse renovation in 2019 removed many trees. All of the greens have been rebuilt, which has softened the edges and created run-off areas akin to what we see at Augusta, and many fairway bunkers have been repositioned to match the lengthened holes.

It truly is then a different test than we saw in 2007 and given that Tiger Woods was the last major winner here, aside from Alex Cejka who won last year's Senior PGA Championship, there is little to glean from that renewal.

All in all, it looks like a premium on bigger hitters over accuracy, which we are accustomed to when on the PGA Tour picks these days, and a tidy short game looks a big factor as well.

There are very small greens here, which means many will be missed, as the pros struggle to hold the greens, so an inventive short game looks to be a must. Add in the swirling winds forecasted for Oklahoma this week, and it looks like there is going to be a lot of up-and-down's required.

Relevant Betting Course Metrics - Key Stats

Before you go and make your PGA Championship picks, here are the key elements this week, in order to win the PGA Championship, based on the information we have been provided.

  • SG: Approach
  • SG: Around-the-Green
  • Driving Distance
  • Par 4 Scoring 450-500 Yards

Here are some trends that may factor into your decision making, when looking to settle on your PGA Championship picks:

  • 18 of the last 25 Winners of the PGA Championship had already won that season
  • 7 of the last 10 winners have been in their 20's - Young man's major?
  • 7 of the last 10 winners have been American - Home Favorite?
  • 5 of the last 10 winners have been ranked inside the top-10 - Elite's only apply?
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Outright PGA Championship Picks

With all the above in mind, here are two early picks that should be in the mix come Sunday at the 2022 PGA Championship.

Justin Thomas +1600 (Bet $100 To Win $1600)

Justin Thomas is on a roll this year, but with that said he has not won a tournament still, since the 2021 PLAYERS Championship. That might not sound like an alarming drought for too many, but when you are a golfer that has won 14 times on the PGA Tour since 2015, it hits differently.

Thomas has still only won one major in his career, this one back in 2017 at Quail Hollow, so why is he one of our PGA Championship picks? Simply put, he's an absolute beast, and should he get off to a good start this week at Southern Hills there is little that is going to stop him.

He drives it well, is one of two or three best iron players in the world and has a decent around-the-green game to match. We know his struggles come on the green, but he still makes a lot of birdies, just not as many as his ball-striking suggests he should. He has just had a week of filling up the cup at the Byron Nelson, as he was top-20 in the field on the greens, and that should bode well in itself.

This is a tougher test, that is going to reward the best all-round player on the week, and with a single-digit winning score probably on the cards here, I think that plays into Thomas' hands as it did when winning this event in 2017.

Finally, with his Dad and longtime and well-respected PGA Professional, I have to think he takes a little more pride in this event than others, and all these little edges add up.

Hideki Matsuyama +3500 (Bet $100 To Win $3500)

The second of our PGA Championship picks sees us turn our attention to 2021 Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama.

Since winning at Augusta last April, Matsuyama has been on a tear, winning twice more at the ZOZO Championship and the Sony Open and also placing inside the top-4 at the Olympics, the WGC FedEx St Jude and last week a the Byron Nelson.

Now the Olympics might not be a big factor to many, but having to play in Japan in front of a home crowd, as a Masters champion comes with a different level of pressures, and the same can be said at the ZOZO where he did win at home. Dealing with those pressures, losing in a playoff at a WGC and winning twice all while being the defending Masters champion reads very well indeed.

He has dealt with injury throughout 2022, which is why his form has been patchy, but his T14 finish at Augusta was a great defence of his Masters title, and finishing T3 last week, finishing just two behind winner, KH Lee as he shot a final-round 62, all suggests the worst of his injury battles are behind him.

If this is truly the case, then we have a recent major winner, who has won twice this season, has seven other top-10's in majors, including two top-5's in this one and he has never missed a PGA Championship cut.

All of this and an enticing price which has surely still factored in him potentially being less-than 100%, all give great reasons for him to be one of the top PGA Championship picks this week.


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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