Sobel's PGA Championship Preview: Spieth Poised To Complete Career Slam

Sobel’s PGA Championship Preview: Spieth Poised To Complete Career Slam

Click arrow to expand 2022 PGA Championship odds via PointsBet

2022 PGA Championship Odds

Golfer Odds
Scottie Scheffler +1100
Jon Rahm +1200
Justin Thomas +1400
Rory McIlroy +1400
Collin Morikawa +1600
Cameron Smith +1800
Dustin Johnson +1800
Jordan Spieth +1800
Patrick Cantlay +2000
Viktor Hovland +2200
Xander Schauffele +2500
Brooks Koepka +3000
Will Zalatoris +3000
Hideki Matsuyama +3300
Shane Lowry +3300
Joaquin Niemann +4000
Matthew Fitzpatrick +4000
Sam Burns +4000
Corey Conners +5000
Daniel Berger +5000
Tony Finau +5000
Bryson DeChambeau +6000
Louis Oosthuizen +6000
Max Homa +6000
Tiger Woods +6000
Jason Day +6600
Tyrrell Hatton +6600
Adam Scott +7000
Tommy Fleetwood +7000
Abraham Ancer +8000
Cameron Young +8000
Jason Kokrak +8000
Patrick Reed +8000
Billy Horschel +9000
Gary Woodland +9000
Justin Rose +9000
Keegan Bradley +9000
Marc Leishman +9000
Seamus Power +9000
Sergio Garcia +9000
Harold Varner III +10000
Matthew Wolff +10000
Maverick McNealy +10000
Rickie Fowler +10000
Si Woo Kim +10000
Talor Gooch +10000
Webb Simpson +10000
Brian Harman +12500
Cameron Champ +12500
Christiaan Bezuidenhout +12500
Erik Van Rooyen +12500
Russell Henley +12500
Thomas Pieters +12500
Aaron Wise +15000
Adam Hadwin +15000
Alexander Noren +15000
Branden Grace +15000
Bubba Watson +15000
Cameron Davis +15000
Charl Schwartzel +15000
Davis Riley +15000
Jhonattan Vegas +15000
Keith Mitchell +15000
Kevin Na +15000
Luke List +15000
Matt Kuchar +15000
Mito Guillermo Pereira +15000
Robert MacIntyre +15000
Sebastian Munoz +15000
Sepp Straka +15000
Tom Hoge +15000
Joel Dahmen +15000
Cameron Tringale +20000
Chris Kirk +20000
Harry Higgs +20000
Ian Poulter +20000
Kevin Kisner +20000
Kevin Streelman +20000
Kyoung-Hoon Lee +20000
Lee Westwood +20000
Mackenzie Hughes +20000
Matt Jones +20000
Nicolai Hoejgaard +20000
Ryan Fox +20000
Ryan Palmer +20000
Stewart Cink +20000
Adri Arnaus +25000
Anirban Lahiri +25000
Bernd Wiesberger +25000
Carlos Ortiz +25000
Francesco Molinari +25000
Garrick Higgo +25000
Henrik Stenson +25000
J. J. Spaun +25000
Joo-Hyung Kim +25000
Lanto Griffin +25000
Lucas Glover +25000
Lucas Herbert +25000
Martin Kaymer +25000
Patton Kizzire +25000
Richard Bland +25000
Russell Knox +25000
Sam Horsfield +25000
Troy Merritt +25000
Beau Hossler +30000
Brendan Steele +30000
Dean Burmester +30000
Justin Harding +30000
Laurie Canter +30000
Min Woo Lee +30000
Pablo Larrazabal +30000
Padraig Harrington +30000
Zach Johnson +30000
Scott Stallings +30000
Oliver Bekker +35000
Shaun Norris +35000
Adam Schenk +40000
Chad Ramey +40000
Danie van Tonder +40000
Hudson Swafford +40000
Kramer Hickok +40000
Rikuya Hoshino +40000
Takumi Kanaya +40000
Alex Beach +50000
Alex Cejka +50000
Austin Hurt +50000
Bio Kim +50000
Brandon Bingaman +50000
Casey Pyne +50000
Chan Kim +50000
Colin Inglis +50000
Jared Jones +50000
Jason Dufner +50000
Jesse Mueller +50000
Jinichiro Kozuma +50000
John Daly +50000
Kyle Mendoza +50000
Matthew Borchert +50000
Michael Block +50000
Nic Ishee +50000
Paul Dickinson +50000
Rich Beem +50000
Ryan Brehm +50000
Ryan Vermeer +50000
Ryosuke Kinoshita +50000
Sadom Kaewkanjana +50000
Sean McCarty +50000
Shaun Micheel +50000
Shawn Warren +50000
Tim Feenstra +50000
Tyler Collet +50000
Wyatt Worthington +50000

TULSA, Okla. — As far as the PGA Championship goes, Phil Mickelson is the odd man out.

No, no, no. That’s not what you think.

This has nothing to do with Phil Mickelson, the guy who extricated himself from the public eye while presumably preparing to embark upon his LIV Golf career and everything to do with Phil Mickelson, the guy who set the golf world ablaze by coming out of nowhere and winning this major championship at the age of 50 last year.

Allow me to explain.

Over the past decade, the list of PGA winners has served as a collection of players in both short- and long-term form. Essentially, nearly every single one of ‘em played well in his final start prior to that victory, owned a lofty world ranking number and (in most cases) fairly short pre-tournament odds.

Before last year, Jimmy Walker was the greatest outlier on this list — the only one ranked lower than 21st in the world and the only one with odds outside 35/1 — but that changed mightily with Mickelson turning back the clock at Kiawah and undoing everything we’ve come to know about prognosticating this event.

Mickelson’s victory last year remains nearly as shocking as his absence this year, but his numbers listed above should be about the only surprising thing on this list.

Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA of America and the man charged with the annual course setup of this event, is the best in the business at his craft — and there might not be a close second.

One of the end results of his brilliance is the fact that this major never plays into the hands of only one type of player. It’s never just the biggest hitters or the most precise iron players or the best putters. Every year, the PGA Championship tests all aspects of a player’s game, which helps explain why — more often than not — the best of the best often end up near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday evening.

While it’s never easy to predict a Rich Beem or Shaun Micheel triumph, that type of longshot feels especially long this week. At least Mickelson, with his massive odds and triple-digit ranking, still carried the mojo of a five-time major winner entering last year’s edition of this event.

With so many of the world’s biggest talents playing so well right now, it’s tough to believe the year’s second major won’t revert to what we’ve known for much of the past decade, as we should once again give extra credence to highly ranked players who have posted solid recent results.

In other words, as much as it pains me to say this, it could be a chalky kind of week.

That might not be too exciting from a betting perspective, but it doesn’t mean this one will lack excitement.

Which leads us back to that Mickelson guy. If you’re a believer in karma and the Golf Gods — and who isn’t? — this week’s event and those who are running it could use a little boost in that department, like a major story to overshadow the pre-tourney predicament of the defending champion deciding to skip it.

You know, something like a player capturing the career Grand Slam.

That’s where I’ll start my picks, with an outright play on a guy who’s not only trending, but going after an important page in the history books.

One player to win the tournament.

Jordan Spieth (+2000)

On Saturday evening, after the third round of the AT&T Byron Nelson, I hosted the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio postgame show with Craig Stadler. Among the pearls of wisdom from Stads, he offered this when Spieth was trailing by a stroke through 54 holes: “When he isn’t confident, he really doesn’t play well, but when he’s confident, he plays really well.”

Now, I know that might sound like the type of analyst-speak we always hear, just a cliche-riddled take that could apply to anyone. But the reality is, he’s absolutely right — and this applies more to Spieth than any other player in the game today.

You can see it written across his face. When Spieth can’t figure it out inside the ropes, his entire demeanor changes. He appears stressed out. He talks things out with caddie Michael Greller more. It doesn’t take a former Masters champion to understand that in these situations, he’s not fully confident in his abilities.

When he is confident, though, Spieth just carries himself differently. He looks as if he expects every iron shot to go in the hole — and if it doesn’t, then he truly believes he’ll just make the ensuing chip or putt. It’s almost as if he knows a little secret and is trying to keep it to himself, but doesn’t quite own a good enough poker face.

Following a final-round 67 that left him in solo second place, Spieth said, “I’m striking it better, consistently. I feel like I’ve got every shot.” Even if you can’t read body language, you can understand the confidence behind such words. This is not the rhetoric of someone who’s still trying to dig it out of the dirt and find his game.

And if you’re not buying into the karma narrative or the confidence narrative, then try the statistical narrative. In his last two starts, Spieth owns a win and a runner-up, while leading the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.

There’s literally no reason not to like him this week. (For those who still insist that he isn’t long enough to win on a big ballpark such as this one, consider this: Spieth’s driving distance is an average of just two yards shorter than Dustin Johnson this season.)

It’s not easy to claim the career slam, but Mickelson breaking through at the U.S. Open or Rory McIlroy at the Masters seems more daunting than Spieth trying to win the PGA. No player has ever made this one his final leg of the career slam. We have every reason to believe that Spieth could be the first this week.

Potential selections for one-and-done options.

Patrick Cantlay (+2200)/Xander Schauffele (+2500)

So, what have we been talking about here so far? This is an event — from year to year, course to course — that challenges every part of a player’s game. You don’t have to do one thing better than everyone else, but you do have to do a lot of things better than a lot of others.

When I think of the most balanced players at a high-level, Cantlay and Schauffele are two of the first names which come to mind. They’re both proverbial five-tool guys, to steal a term from another sport. Between all the major Strokes Gained categories, neither is ranked lower than 63rd this season in any of them. Speak with their peers and most believe each is not only capable of winning a major championship, but ascending to No. 1 in the world in the not-too-distant future.

In theory, the PGA might be an easier first step in that direction than the Masters or the U.S. Open, which suggests this could be a strong week for either – or both.

Will Zalatoris (+3500)

If he’d shown any sort of form last week, I’d expect that Zalatoris would be a more popular pick for this one. Maybe it’s not a surprise, though. When a tourney requires birdies in bunches, his balky putter is likely to hold him back more often than not, but as we’ve seen in a small sample size early in his career, when scoring isn’t too low, he can ball-strike his way up the leaderboard. Like many of the bottom of the top-tier/top of the mid-tier players on the board this week, his outright price

Corey Conners (+4500)

We’re getting dangerously close to living in a world where Conners is talked about being underrated so often that he’s actually overrated, considering “one of the game’s best ball-strikers” — a label I myself have often used to describe him — is ranked just 45th in Strokes Gained: Approach this season, but we’re not quite there yet. Even so, that 45-1 number (it’s as high as 66-1 at BetMGM) kind of reeks for a player who’s struggled to win his second career title.

I still think he’s built to play well at majors,  though, as proven by five finishes of 17th or better in his last eight major starts. Conners wouldn’t be my first choice in OADs this week, but in major pools, where you might be picking 4-5 players and need a little differentiation, I think he provides a solid alternative.

Tiger Woods (+6500)

Here’s one way to look at Tiger as an OAD selection this week: You know there are only two other places where you even potentially could use him this year.

Here’s another: If indeed he plays well at the PGA and the U.S. Open, expect your fellow poolsters to make that nostalgia play and take him at The Open, where he could actually be a somewhat popular pick, negating his value.

And another: While most of the world’s best players have been out there playing the Wells Fargos and Byron Nelsons, Woods is solely committed to prepping for just the major championships. He’s already revealed this week that he feels much healthier and the swing feels much better than at last month’s Masters.

Returning to the site of previous success has often been a successful proposition for him and a profitable one for his backers. I won’t list him irrationally high when I make my full ranking of the field this week, but I can certainly envision a scenario where the course plays tough, Tiger plods his way to a couple under-par each day and by the time all the dust settles, his name is firmly on the leaderboard come Sunday evening.

Robert MacIntyre (+10000)

While the 25-year-old MacIntyre hasn’t exactly been knocking on the door lately, he has finished between ninth and 36th in each of his last seven worldwide starts. He’s also shown an early propensity for not being intimidated by major championships in his young career, making the cut in all eight appearances so far.

We should expect him to be a more popular play for The Open later this summer — and for good reason — but again, in pools with multiple picks where some contrarian thought is part of the game theory, I don’t mind taking a shot on him.

One player to finish top-five.

Rory McIlroy (+500 for top-five)

Look, I have no idea whether McIlroy will post another one of his patented “back-door” top-five finishes or he’ll take the more traditional “front-door” route, but I do expect him to be right there in the mix at the end of this one.

(For those who haven’t read my take on Rory and “back-door top-fives” in previous weeks, I think it’s one of the silliest narratives around. Players are supposed to play their best in the final round when it matters the most. I’d rather have money on a guy who does that and “back-doors” his way into strong finishes than the alternative, which I suppose is a guy who chokes away a lead at the end and claims what I suppose should be called a “front-door top-five” instead.)

He proved at both the Masters and the Wells Fargo that when his game is clicking, it still might be better than anyone else’s best stuff. The problem, of course, is that he’s been going through these brief periods during tournament weeks when he doesn’t have anything close to his best stuff. If he can get off to a hot start at this one, watch out.

I really think Rory could win one of these by a half-dozen strokes at some point. Even if he doesn’t, though, nobody knows how to play his best golf late in the week like him, so expect another leaderboard-rising round on Sunday.


One player to finish top-10.

Billy Horschel (+650 for top-10)

Start working your way down the top of the Official World Golf Ranking and chances are you’ll simply nod your head while reading the first 13 names on the list. It probably won’t be until you get to Horschel at No. 14 before you mutter a mildly surprised “hmmph” to yourself – not exactly shocked by that number, but still a bit startled that he’s above the likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry.

The truth is, Horschel has enjoyed one of the best stretches of his career so far this year, with seven top-25s in nine appearances that he finished. In our GolfBet staff’s “First Clicks” post, I listed Horschel at +10000 outright as the early-week play which stuck out to me. That’s not my best bet for the week or pick to win, but if you’re looking for a big-time price on a player with some win equity, he’s the guy.

It seems even more logical that he owns value as a top-10 option. I love what the stats are telling us. He ranks inside the top-30 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Around the Greens and Putting; the only major category where he’s losing strokes is with his approach shots. That might seem a bit troubling, considering Southern Hills should be a second-shot golf course, but the iron game has long been Billy’s strength, which keeps me from being too worried about that number.


One player to finish top-20.

Tony Finau (+210 for top-20)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 163 times, shame on me. Well, some might call it shame, some might just insist it’s part of being pot-committed.

Either way, Finau is a guy I’m conservatively chasing this week. It certainly hasn’t been his best year so far, but I really do think some big things are coming for Big Tone — and those big things might only come when we least expect them. Even though his runner-up finish at the Mexico Open remains his lone result better than 19th this year, it does feel like he’s ready to start playing some much better golf.

I don’t know that many players are “PGA Championship types” the same way some players’ games specifically fit the Masters or the U.S. Open or The Open Championship, but Finau might be that rare guy who is better built for this one. He owns three top-10s at this event in seven career starts, including a T4 and T8 in the last two years.

At a discounted price, I don’t mind sprinkling some wagers down the line on Tony, while also using him as an admittedly high-ceiling/low-floor play in DFS.


One player to finish top-30.

Sepp Straka (+360 for top-30)

Already a winner this year with another top-three to his name, Straka is the type of player I like targeting for props at this tourney — the type who’s enjoying a solid run and still owns a palatable number throughout the board. He owns very little major championship experience but in three career starts, he does have a pair of top-30 finishes, so this feels like the smart range to play him. I similarly don’t mind him for DFS, as well.


One player to finish top-40.

Charl Schwartzel (+190 for top-40)

Last Friday, when it was announced that Mickelson had withdrawn from this event rather than defend his title, there was plenty of head-scratching and hand-wringing around the golf world. In the Schwartzel household, there might’ve been some quiet celebrating, as the erstwhile alternate was the beneficiary of that decision.

The former Masters champion went on to finish solo eighth at the AT&T Byron Nelson, just a month after finishing T-10 at Augusta National, which suggests a strong trend in the right direction. I won’t go too overboard on props, but he makes for a nice top-40 play or low-cost DFS option this week.

A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.

Justin Thomas

If you like Scottie Scheffler ($11,400 on DraftKings) or Jon Rahm ($11,200) better, I certainly won’t talk you out of them, but I think Thomas ($10,700) offers the same potential at a cheaper price.

We’re now going on 14 months since JT’s last victory, but there’s some reason to believe that once he puts it all together for four straight days — much like McIlroy — that he could go nuclear and win convincingly. With another T5 at the AT&T Byron Nelson, he now owns 10 finishes of eighth or better in his last 16 starts, dating back to last summer.

The reality, though, is that this is a week where it’s easy to envision any of the best players winning or contending. If you’re making multiple lineups, this is a good week to spread the love. I’ll likely have a greater dispersion rate for this one than usual, just because it’s difficult to eliminate any/many names at the top.

 DFS ‘Dog

A lower-priced option for DFS.

Stewart Cink

Hey, if a 50-year-old can win this tourney last year, then why can’t a guy who turns 49 this Saturday contend for this one?

OK, so maybe Cink isn’t Mickelson, but the man still has plenty of game here in the tail end of his career. With a pair of top-10s in his last four starts, he’ll bring some form to Southern Hills, not to mention some history, as well.

It was back in 2001 at the U.S. Open when, just trying to get out of the way on the final green, Cink three-putted for a bogey, only to have his heart sink a minute later, realizing that a par would’ve gotten him into a playoff the next day. I’ll admit that 21 years is a long time to wait for some vengeance against a host venue, but there could be a nice storyline here, especially early in the week.

At $6,700 on DraftKings, I’ll start a handful of lineups with Cink and build around him with higher-priced stars.

One player to post the low score Thursday.

Russell Henley (+10000 for FRL)/Keegan Bradley (+5000 for FRL)

This is a major, so like any team trying to win a championship, let’s stick with what got us here.

Henley and Bradley are among our favorite FRL plays on a regular basis, and I don’t want to deviate from the strategy now. As always, I’m writing this preview before tee times have been released, so I’m giving an option here to perhaps go after the one with a morning tee time, if indeed that turns out to be the case.

One player who should beat comparable players.

Shane Lowry (+2800)

I don’t like Lowry as much for this major as I do the next one — and I really like him for this one, which should tell you exactly how much I like him for the U.S. Open.

The truth, though, is that it’s hard to dislike Lowry on any given week since he’s finished inside the top-15 in eight of his past 10 starts, including top-three results in three of his last six. I can understand being a bit skeptical of chasing this outright number, but there could be an investment on Lowry as a head-to-head play against some similarly priced fellow competitors.

 Also Receiving Votes

Other players who should provide value.

Scottie Scheffler (+1200), Hideki Matsuyama (+2800), Matt Fitzpatrick (+4500), Sam Burns (+5000), Max Homa (+8000), Harold Varner III (+11000), Mito Pereira (+11000), Talor Gooch (+15000), Erik Van Rooyen (+15000), Marc Leishman (+18000), Keith Mitchell (+20000), Lanto Griffin (+30000)

One top player to avoid at this tournament.

Cameron Smith (+2800)

Considering my big fade plays have often outperformed my favorite outrights over the past month or so, I’d like to give a hearty, “You’re welcome!” to Smith and offer to take a slick 5% of his earnings this week for the reverse jinx.

The truth is, I don’t see an elite player who I really don’t like this week, so I’m picking on the mulleted Aussie here for a few reasons.

First, plainly, is just his odds. If I can have Schauffele, Lowry or Matsuyama at the same price, I take each of ‘em; in fact, I’d take them against Smith in matchup bets this week, too.

The second is his previous results. I get that Smith is a much-improved player, but his track record at this event shows a T-25 in his first start, followed by MC-56th-64th-43rd-59th. There’s something about Haigh’s annual setup that Smith hasn’t quite figured out.

#Sobels #PGA #Championship #Preview #Spieth #Poised #Complete #Career #Slam

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