It's almost game time at the 2021 PGA Championship, which goes down beginning Thursday morning from the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. Normally, PGA Championships are fairly straightforward majors. You have a list of 10 guys that are playing good golf and a course that is fairly simple to prognosticate. That's not true this year.
In fact, a few of the top-10 players in the world are hitting it well, and the Ocean Course itself is wily. A whipping wind and tricky length nearing 8,000 yards has everyone wondering how the next four days are going to go.
Here's what we think we know as we buckle in for 72 holes in South Carolina:
- Even par every day likely won't win, but you'll be in it
- Long irons (even into par 4s) are in play
- Big numbers are out there, you cannot make them
- You need to drive it brilliantly (and with discipline) to avoid trouble
- Your short game has to be on
- Iron play should ultimately win the day
It's a full-on examination, which is exactly what you want from a major championship venue. With the PGA of America's ability to shift tee boxes and pins around, the weekend should be an absolute blast. But right now, it's all about who can win the tournament.
Based on the parameters above and everything we know going into the last few hours leading up to the tournament, I think your eventual winner is going to come from this list of nine golfers. Their chances are listed below, but check here for a full slate of PGA Championship odds as the event gets underway.
Watch the 2021 PGA Championship beginning Thursday with Rounds 3-4 streaming live over the weekend on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports App and Paramount+. Check out the updated PGA Championship schedule for how to watch the year's second major all week long.
|He's the obvious choice since he won here in 2012 and he's coming off a victory at the Wells Fargo Championship, but the reality is that he's probably one of the five best drivers of the ball ever, and his long iron game is tremendous. He should thrive in difficult, windy, harsher conditions where creativity and ball-striking reign. Odds: 11-1|
|He's the best iron player in the world, and putting seems as if it will be less important this week than it normally is on the PGA Tour. That's his flaw, his weakness, but he's capable of ball-striking the rest of the field into chasing him around the island all weekend. Odds: 33-1|
|You might see "windy conditions" and think everyone will miss the green and it will become a chipping contest, which Spieth could win. I see one of the preeminent iron players in the world and think about how well he's labored to major victories in years gone by. A Spieth-McIlroy dual on Sunday would be ludicrous. Odds: 16-1|
|He's the second-best iron player in the world behind Morikawa. With him, I worry a bit about how well he can maneuver driver around the place. As with McIlroy and Spieth, sometimes big numbers present themselves. All three will have to guard against a handful of doubles lurking, which mentally will be an absolute war. Odds: 16-1|
|He's not being talked about much, but his game is extremely complete, and he's been solid over the last five weeks (including his performance at the Masters). Mentally, he's tough and he's performed very well at The Open Championship, which is the type of this tournament this could turn into. Odds: 22-1|
|His varied ball flight for this tournament is really intriguing, and he ranks No. 6 on the PGA Tour in bogey avoidance. Having his best year ever both off the tee and with his irons, and like I've pointed out all week, he'll fear nobody coming down the stretch on Sunday. Odds: 30-1|
|I have a ton of concern over the fact that he's not hitting the ball well, but I have so much respect for his overall game that I have to include him. He has pretty much every shot you could want on this course, can move the ball any number of ways and is long enough that he'll have a big advantage in terms of what clubs he's hitting into some of this wind. He's scary this week. Odds: 14-1|
|I worry a bit about his inexperience, especially in majors, but he certainly has the ball-striking to get it done. He will not be flustered by the conditions (that's what playing college golf in Stillwater, Oklahoma, does for you), and if his short game is on, he'll contend. Odds: 20-1|
|I don't want to have him on here because I don't really believe in him. However, I got scared after I heard that Kiawah Island with wind compared to Bay Hill and thought about how well he's played there over the course of his career. Odds: 18-1|
Who will win the PGA Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and best bets, all from the model that's nailed six golf majors and is up over $10,000 since the restart.