About Southern Hills
The course has undergone major alterations from the 2007 Championship that Tiger Woods stormed to victory on, and the consensus is that the course is now one fitting of a major owing to the work done by architect Gil Hanse.
Hanse has lengthened some holes, widened the fairways and removed some of the foliage, making it an extremely attractive prospect off the tee, though ultimately the intricate work done on and around the greens is what has restored this course to what made it once great.
Hanse suggests it’s going to be dialled-in iron play that will separate the winner from the rest, with small and (hopefully) firm greens leaving very little room for error in what will be enticing approach shots for this field.
The edges of these greens need to be treated with caution, with many running away, leaving this to be a good scrambling test, and it’s for that reason that we once again can’t look past Jordan Spieth completing a career grand slam.
PGA Championship Contenders
We got behind the Texan last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson where he finished just a shot behind back-to-back winner Kyoung-Hoon Lee, though there were very few faults in his game and with form of 1-2 heading into this, confidence will be extremely high.
Being in a shootout last week was the perfect distraction with this event just around the corner, and falling just short is the perfect foundation on which to push for the title this time round.
Tee-to-Green there’s no-one more in touch with their game than Spieth at the moment, ranking first or second in Strokes-Gained: T2G in four of his last six stroke-play made cuts, and with his scrambling game being as good as ever and his putter getting hot, it’s extremely hard to look past him.
It’s true that the same could be said of all of the world’s elite, as on their day they’ll be able to take this course by the scruff of the neck, though none are showing the consistency to string their game together to the extent that Spieth is at the moment. Couple that with the fact that he’s already a three-time major winner and that, on a new course, confidence and compatibility is going to be extremely vital, then Spieth is your man.
If a magic touch around these greens is required, then it’s hard to ignore the qualities of Shane Lowry, who has been one of the most consistent players on tour this year. His third place at Augusta this year was courtesy of that exquisite scrambling game where he ranked second in the field, and this course should be a similar test.
PGA Championship winners almost all come into the tournament off the back of some strong results, with eight of the last 10 producing top-20 finishes in their last previous start, with half seeing top-five finishes. Lowry is yet to finish outside the top-25 this calendar year, with his singles stroke play form reading 12-24-14-2-13-12-3-3, and he’ll be determined to convert one into a victory soon.
He has a strong PGA Championship record in recent years, finishing in the top-12 in three of his last four starts, and Southern Hills looks potentially more suited to his game than any of those courses. He ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Total on tour this year, and looks good value to go well this week.
When looking for a major winner, one man certainly can’t slip under the radar and that’s Collin Morikawa. The American hasn’t been as scintillating this year as the last couple of seasons, though a fifth at Augusta and a second place at the Genesis Invitational shows that he’s never far away, especially in the bigger events.
While he’s not been on the radar of many, and results aren’t going his way, his iron play remains one of the best on tour and he ranks eighth for Strokes Gained: Approach and fifth for Greens-in-Regulation.
He's taken the weekend to prepare by playing a few practice rounds here at Southern Hills, and that could give him an edge over those that played over in Texas, and confidence will be soaring after he managed a hole-in-one at the Par 3 sixth.
Many will be sleeping on Morikawa as he hasn’t set this year’s tour alight as we’ve become accustomed to from him, and that lack of pressure may play directly into his hands on a course that seems to suit him well.
With Augusta potentially lending itself well here, one player further down the market that may be worth a punt is Min-Woo Lee. We backed him at 350/1 E/W at the Masters, where he stormed into a temporary fourth on Sunday before dropping down on the back nine to a tie for 14th, and while he’s not featured since then, it could prove beneficial that he’s been away harnessing his game before competing again.
His sister, Minjee Lee has just claimed her ninth LPGA Tour title, and they’ve both spoken on how that sibling rivalry has served to spur them on in their respective careers, with Minjee backing her brother to provide a serious threat this week.
He has a long game to match anyone on tour, while his putter, that has often let him down, was on fire at Augusta as he averaged 27 putts per round, and his all-round short game has looked impressive on his day.
He has two DP World Tour wins to his name already, both on links courses and with the wind expected to pick up this weekend, that could play very much into his hands. An unlikely winner, though with some sportsbooks paying 10 places he looks well worth his price.
JORDAN SPIETH E/W
SHANE LOWRY E/W
COLIN MORIKAWA E/W
MIN-LOO WEE E/W
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