2022 PGA Championship Prep & Preliminary Projections

Here we go again! It feels like only yesterday since Side Hustle Bets set the tone during the Masters and finished +20.931 units on the week. That said, we’re on to the next one and ready to deliver you results for the PGA Championship next week. 

So who’s going to take home the second major of the year? Similar to our approach for Augusta, we’re going to let history spill the tea for us. Enjoy our preliminary projections for the week, feel free to tinker with our logic wherever you see fit (if you dare), keep an eye out for our favorite bets round by round and always remember to bet smarter, not harder.

Southern Hills Recipe

YearTournament WinnerGIRDriving AccuracyScramblingDriving DistanceAVG PuttingPar 3 AVGPar 4 AVGPar 5 AVG
2021Senior PGA Championship Alex Cejka68.06% (4th)69.64% (34th)60.87% (14th)281.6 (28th)1.714 (4th)2.88 (1st)3.92 (1st)4.75 (27th)
2007PGA ChampionshipTiger Woods69.44% (4th)66.07% (9th)59.09% (12th)313.6 (14th)1.74 (7th)3.06 (19th)3.9 (1st)4.5 (4th)
2001US OpenRetief Goosen66.67% (4th)67.86% (15th)70.83% (3rd)298.3 (17th)1.85 (80th)3.06 (28th)3.94 (1st)4.75 (15th)
1996Tour ChampionshipTom Lehman69.44% (1st)60.71% (19th)59.09% (16th)275.3 (10th)1.6 (1st)2.81 (1st)3.9 (2nd)4.5 (3rd)
1995Tour ChampionshipBilly Mayfair62.5% (1st)76.79% (1st)62.96% (5th)278.3 (14th)1.8 (10th)3.13 (13th)3.98 (1st)4.88 (11th)
1994PGA ChampionshipNick Price70.83% (5th)75% (13th)71.43% (4th)290 (33rd)1.667 (5th)3 (13th)3.88 (1st)4.38 (1st)
AVG67.82% (3.17)69.35% (15.17)64.05% (9th)289.52 (19.33)1.73 (17.83)2.99 (12.5)3.92 (1.17)4.63 (10.17)

Lucky for us… the PGA elected to move the PGA Championship from Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (which would’ve been the first time the course has ever hosted a major championship) to Southern Hills Country Club (a course that’s hosted a large number of majors over the years) in 2021. Unlucky for us… while it’s nice to have at least some historical data to go off of as far as Southern Hills, there’s still far less quantitative clues from the past compared to Augusta National where the Masters is played every year. 

The stats listed above should allow us to peek behind the curtain in regards to what it takes to win at Southern Hills but we’ll have to keep in mind renovations to the course since 2018 as well. So, what are these numbers telling us?

By taking the standard deviations of these different common stat categories and where each player finished compared to the rest of the field we can get a feel for which categories have consistently mattered the most over time (lower standard deviations implying a greater sense of reliability). By utilizing the last six tournaments played at the course since 1994 we can create a baseline for these calculations and then zero in on the last three majors specifically to look for correlations. 

YearTournament WinnerGIRDriving AccuracyScramblingDriving DistanceAVG PuttingPar 3 AVGPar 4 AVGPar 5 AVG
2007PGA ChampionshipTiger Woods69.44% (4th)66.07% (9th)59.09% (12th)313.6 (14th)1.74 (7th)3.06 (19th)3.9 (1st)4.5 (4th)
2001US OpenRetief Goosen66.67% (4th)67.86% (15th)70.83% (3rd)298.3 (17th)1.85 (80th)3.06 (28th)3.94 (1st)4.75 (15th)
1994PGA ChampionshipNick Price70.83% (5th)75% (13th)71.43% (4th)290 (33rd)1.667 (5th)3 (13th)3.88 (1st)4.38 (1st)
AVG68.98% (4.33)69.64% (12.33)67.12% (6.33)300.63 (21.33)1.75 (30.67)3.04 (20th)3.91 (1st)4.54 (6.67)

The two stat categories to pop off the page right away for both sets of tournament data are Greens In Regulation (GIR) and Par 4 Average. Calling out Par 4 Average specifically, only one champion over the last SIX tournaments at Southern Hills didn’t finish #1 overall vs the field in Par 4 Average… and guess what… that one player was #2 vs the field… It doesn’t get more clear cut than that folks. The standard deviation for GIR was also significantly lower than the other stat categories for both data sets so our course formula will definitely show some love for both stats.

Two other stat categories that seem to have inverse relationships are Scrambling and Driving Accuracy which would make sense since a champion would logically have to excel at one or the other (if not both) in order to win. It makes sense that both of these stats would hold importance given the difficult fairways that players face at Southern Hills as well as the heavy rough and danger all over the place if they veer off course.

Two stat categories that we can fade appear to be Putting Average and Driving Distance. This makes sense given the fact that Southern Hills doesn’t possess overly challenging greens like an Augusta National and taking into account the likelihood that most players won’t be hitting driver very often because of how important it is to hit fairways and greens on this punishing course.

So what about the renovations of the course over the years? The main renovations are tied to the greens, bunkers, lengthening the course and adding more danger in regards to restoring the creeks that run rampant through most holes and adding more trees throughout the course. The old greens contained edges that created a funneling effect towards the hole, that’s no longer the case. The edges of the greens now have an opposite effect that causes the ball to more easily run off the green, forcing players to know where to land the ball and placing a premium on ball striking/accuracy. The bunkers have been moved to the opposite side of the fairway to force players to know their best position into the green (again placing a premium on ball striking/accuracy) and the edges have been restored to make them more limiting than in the past. The course was lengthened to play ~7500 yards which is about 300 yards longer than in the past but, again, given the heavy rough and challenging fairways it shouldn’t make much difference since most players have the length and will be more focused on simply positioning themselves well IN the fairway vs hitting bombs. The creeks are menacingly placed in landing spots all over the course and will surely play spoiler to numerous prospects throughout the week (once again, ball placement and accuracy is paramount). So in general, the renovations all point towards elite ball striking and accuracy being the keys to success at Southern Hills.

So how do we formulate our “winning recipe” using all of this information? 

Southern Hills Recipe For Success

Par 4 Efficiency 350-400 yards (6%) + Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards (8%) + Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards (8%) + Strokes Gained: Approach the Green (21%) + Historical Major Performance (20%) + Strokes Gained: Around Green (8%) + Scrambling (3%) + Bogey Avoidance (3%) + Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (8%) + Driving Accuracy (5%) + Strokes Gained: Putting (10%) = PGA CHAMPION

We are once again using the “Strokes Gained” method to more fully encompass stats such as GIR and FIR but we’re also including more granular stats such as Scrambling, Bogey Avoidance and Driving Accuracy for maximum efficacy. 

Par 4s are clearly super important at Southern Hills. So important that we’ve broken down our recipe into three different distance efficiencies in order to be more precise. There’s 11 different Par 4s on the course, the average distance is ~435 yards and the percentages you see above correlate to those distances. Combined, we’re allocating 22% of our recipe to Par 4 efficiency overall.

Strokes Gained: Approach the Green will make up 21% of our formula given the importance of ball striking/accuracy throughout the course. Strokes Gained: Around the Green with an additional emphasis on Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance with make up 14% of the formula overall since realistically players will eventually miss a green and/or fairway so they’ll have to be able to recover. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee with an additional emphasis on Driving Accuracy will make up 13% of the formula overall since there’s danger everywhere other than the fairways. Strokes Gained: Putting will make up 10% of the overall formula which is a slight fade compared to the Masters but putting will always be relevant to a considerable degree in a major regardless of the greens. Historical Major Performance will make up the final 20% of the overall formula by utilizing a newer “Strokes Gained” stat called Strokes Gained: Major Outperformance which specifically aims at indicating which players play their best in major tournaments specifically.

So there’s our logic. Enjoy our preliminary projections and keep an eye out for our favorite round by round bets as the tournament progresses.

If any of the statistical categories we listed out for this week are confusing to you, feel free to reference our explanation of “Strokes Gained” statistics from our preliminary Masters article.

Preliminary PGA Championship Success Projections

Vegas did a good job with their pre tournament favorites for the PGA Championship this time around but we think they still left some value on the table.

Favorite “Favorites”

FavoritesCurrent Odds
Justin Thomas+1600
Collin Morikawa+1600
Scottie Scheffler+1200
Jon Rahm+1200
Patrick Cantlay+2200
Viktor Hovland+2200

Justin Thomas: JT ranks at the top of our projections for the PGA Championship for a few reasons. Thomas ranks towards the top of the field in all Par 4 categories, might be the best ball striker in the group in regards to approach, he plays well in majors and if he can avoid his trademark choke in the first round he could run away with this. The PGA Championship is the only major he’s ever won so he should feel less pressure to win than he felt at the Masters. His driving accuracy has been suspect as of late but his ability to scramble and avoid bogeys should make up for that. As long as he rolls the ball well (and it looks like he’s doing just that this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson) and he keeps his emotions in check, this could be major #2 for Mr. Thomas.

Collin Morikawa: Collin Morikawa is one of if not the best/most accurate ball strikers on tour and he plays his best in majors. Morikawa is on a trajectory to become one of the all time greats and he’s finished inside the top 10 in four out of the last six majors… that’s clutch (two of which were victories). Morikawa is elite off the tee and approaching the green but the one place he has struggled is once he actually gets there. He’s struggled heavily around the green and his putting has been so-so but he tends to figure it out on golf’s biggest stages. This course suits his game nicely.

Scottie Scheffler: Despite his recent hot streak and first major victory at the Masters last month (which we called perfectly), Scheffler barely cracked the top 10 in our projections this week. That said, we’re comfortable with that range and you just can’t write this guy off right now. Add to the equation that he called Southern Hills one of his favorite golf courses in an interview last year and the fact that he won a Big 12 Championship there in college… too many positives to ignore here. 

Jon Rahm: Jon Rahm is one of those former #1 players in the world who will do anything to get back to the top of the pack. His determination is undeniable, he’s #1 in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (as well as #1 on tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green) and his victory at the Mexico Open indicates that he might be cleaning up his short game. Rahm looks like a guy who still has something to prove and what better way to do that than to rack up your second career major championship in Tulsa this week. Don’t expect his successful trend in majors to change at Southern Hills.

Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay is one of those players who you assume has a major championship victory but in reality he only won the FedEx Cup (not trying to belittle that, but it’s not a major). He’s been absolutely on fire this season with a victory in New Orleans alongside Xander Schauffele and two second place finishes at Hilton Head and the Waste Management Open. He plays great in majors, he’s accurate off the tee/around the green and he can putt the lights out if he’s feeling it. I think Cantlay is the best player on tour without a major championship victory and he’s due.

Viktor Hovland: Hovland and Morikawa have similar games in the sense that they’re both elite ball strikers and they both have the same Achilles heel… around the greens. If either one of them cleans up that part of their game any given weekend, they’re both pretty tough to beat. Hovland loves Par 4s, he’s accurate off the tee and he’s #3 overall in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. Still… he ranks almost dead last in the field in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and it’s very likely the only reason why he doesn’t already have 3-4 victories already this season. That said, he does have one win this year already and he absolutely has the skill set to break through for his first major win of his career this week at Southern Hills if he can clean it up around the greens.

Favorite Underdogs

SleepersCurrent Odds
Xander Schauffele+2900
Shane Lowry+3300
Matt Fitzpatrick+4100
Will Zalatoris+3500

Xander Schauffele: Xander just can’t seem to break through in majors so far but it feels like that tide could be turning after his Gold Medal victory at the Olympics and first place finish with Patrick Cantlay at the Zurich Classic last week. His game is super balanced which should bode well at Southern Hills and he tends to play great in majors… he just hasn’t finished on top yet. Will this week be the breakthrough we’ve all been expecting for a couple years now? Time will tell but I’d be surprised if he didn’t at least contend at this difficult course considering he ranks second in the field overall in majors performance. It definitely also doesn’t hurt that he just shot a 61 in his final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson today (his last round before the PGA Championship).

Shane Lowry: People always sleep on Shane Lowry. He’s inside the top 5 of the field for Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance (#1 overall). He putts well, plays solid in majors and already has a British Open under his belt. He’s coming off a third place finish at the Masters and at +3300 odds I’m all over that value considering his game aligns perfectly for Southern Hills.

Matt Fitzpatrick: Fitzpatrick is one of our favorite true long shots at +4100 odds. He ranks within the top tier for virtually every category involved at Southern Hills, specifically around the greens and his ability to avoid big numbers (scrambling, bogey avoidance, etc). He’s fantastic off the tee (#6 in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and #1 on tour in Total Strokes Gained), he putts well and he plays his best on the most difficult courses. He’ll be looking to build off his 14th place finish at the Masters last month and Southern Hills should set up nicely for him to do just that.

Will Zalatoris: Zalatoris is becoming a household name in major tournaments and for good reason (#10 overall in the field in major performance). His iron play has been exceptional (#2 overall in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach the Green) and he’s been impressively consistent off the tee (#10 in the field for Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and #2 on tour for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green). He’s played great in majors right off the bat and if he can figure out his short game (especially his putting) then he’s going to give the field a run for its money.

Disclaimer: SidehustlebetsMJQ.com is not an online gambling operator or a gambling site of any kind. Our insights about sports/sports betting are purely for entertainment purposes only.

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