If TPC Harding Park at this week's PGA Championship event is reduced to a driving contest like it was Bethpage Black last year, then you can be sure that it will be the course that ultimately determines who wins the 102nd edition of this golf tournament. While I've heard critiques on both sides of this theory, the crux of it is that a course that plays long with thick rough disproportionately favors big bombers because it's so much easier to hit 9-irons out of the juicy stuff than it is to hit 4-irons.
If this is true -- and it might not be compared to 2019 when only Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson were left standing -- then your field shrinks in a huge way even before a shot is hit on Thursday morning. Your Abraham Ancers and Matthew Fitzpatricks are completely erased from the equation. Again, this might not be how it goes, but I'm going to lean toward the fact that it is and say only one of the following nine players can win the first major of 2020 this week.
With that in mind, let's take a look at my nine favorites to take home the Wanamaker Trophy following four grueling days competing in the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
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Odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
|New Zealand, Mars, the moon, it doesn't matter. As long as there's a premium on distance and elite iron play and nerves are involved, Koepka is going to thrive. A month ago he was more or less cooked for this season. Now? He's again the favorite, and for good reason! Odds: 10-1 |
|There are only two players averaging over 315 yards off the tee this season, and DeChambeau is averaging nearly 325. That adds up at some point, and unless these greens are mega-firm and slick then this does feel like a place where he can tee it up, let it rip and absolutely thrive. Odds: 11-1|
|He's averaging less than pretty much everyone else on this list off the tee at 301.6 yards, which isn't even good for top 50 on the PGA Tour this season. Yet every other aspect of his game is elite and he makes up for the distance by hitting so many fairways (he's currently 18th in strokes gained off the tee). Odds: 10-1|
|He's won here before, and if there was ever a time for one of the great drivers of all time to shine, this is it. I'm mildly concerned about the iron play, but if he can find anything there whatsoever, it could be major No. 5 for Rory. Odds: 14-1|
|Underrated driver, underrated player. My only issue with Schauffele is that I want to see him win from out in front. Leading is uncomfortable, and he doesn't seem to have gotten used to it yet. This is the perfect spot for him to break out, though, and certainly has the toolbelt to get it done. Five top-six finishes in 11 major starts. Odds: 22-1 |
|Who? Scott hasn't played since the restart, but he's one of the best drivers of the ball in the world. It would be very Adam Scott-like for him to drop in and win a PGA Championship before exiting back to Australia. If it turns into a driving contest, he's well-equipped, and these green complexes won't be befuddling (which should be to his advantage). Odds: 50-1 |
|He's sort of a low-key sleeper this week. One of the 10 best players in the world, Cantlay finished T3 last year at this event. He's another strong driver of the ball, and literally nobody is talking about him going into Thursday. Odds: 24-1|
|I don't love his volatility of late, but he certainly has the good to go do it. If you tell everybody in the field, "Hey, all systems go off the tee, let it ride," D.J. would open some eyes. He was terrific on the weekend at Bethpage last year (69-69); he just needs to open better this time around. Odds: 20-1 |
|Like Thomas, he's not as long as you think, but he's far more accurate. Rahm's ability to work it both ways off the tee will come in handy, too. Along with Thomas and Patrick Reed, he has probably the most underrated short game in the world. If he gets locked in on finding fairways, we could be looking at a Muirfield Village-Harding Park double. Odds: 14-1|
Who will win the PGA Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard, all from the model that's nailed six golf majors and is up more than $8,000 since the restart.