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Phil Mickelson pulled off the seemingly impossible in the event last year, so why couldn't Tiger Woods contend in the 2022 PGA Championship, which tees off Thursday? The event is at Southern Hills, where Woods won the PGA Championship in 2007. This will be the eighth major championship played on the Tulsa course that has held four PGA Championships and three U.S. Opens. Woods might not be fully recovered from a serious car crash that badly injured his legs 15 months ago, but he put in a gutsy performance in last month's Masters. Woods also will face a loaded 2022 PGA Championship field headlined by world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson as well as multiple major winners Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Mickelson said over the weekend that he will not defend his title after becoming the oldest major winner in PGA Tour history last year at Kiawah Island.

Caesars Sportsbook lists Scheffler as the 11-1 favorite in the latest 2022 PGA Championship odds, with Rahm right behind at 12-1. McIlroy and Justin Thomas are priced at 14-1, while Spieth (16-1), Collin Morikawa (18-1) and Johnson (22-1) are right in the mix of top 2022 PGA Championship contenders. Koepka (35-1) and Woods (60-1) are much longer shots. Before you make any 2022 PGA Championship picks, you need to see what proven golf insider Sal Johnson has to say.

The esteemed golf insider has been around the game for many years and knows what it takes to win on the PGA Tour, and he is tuned in to the major championships. 

In his last set of predictions for SportsLine, he nailed the Masters for the third time in four years. Johnson backed Scheffler, who has just been playing too well to be ignored. "Scheffler is on a run where he has been hard to beat, and I see it rolling on at Augusta National," he said before the 25-year-old got his fourth victory of the season. He also called Woods' unlikely victory at Augusta in 2019 and Dustin Johnson's 2020 win, when he shot a tournament-record 20-under 268.

At the PGA Championship, the past two winners were surprises, with 50-year-old Mickelson winning last year and Collin Morikawa taking the 2020 title in his second major start. But Johnson backed the winner the previous two years, as Koepka won in 2018 then joined Woods as the only back-to-back PGA winners the following year. "This is a course he can attack and play well on," Johnson said of Koepka before the 2019 event. Koepka took a seven-shot lead into the final round and held on in the raging wind at Bethpage for his fourth major title.

Now, Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour" and longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, has released his highly confident 2022 PGA Championship picks. The picks from the founder of GOLFstats, the world's top golf statistics database, will surprise you. You can see them here.

Top 2022 PGA Championship expert picks

One shocking choice from Johnson: The expert is fading Cameron Smith, even though he has two victories this season and was in contention at the Masters. The 28-year-old hasn't been quite the same since his triple-bogey on the 12th hole at Augusta that took him out of contention. He missed the cut in his last stroke play event, the RBC Heritage, and tied for 21st at the Zurich Classic along with Marc Leishman. Southern Hills is a ball-striker's course, and Smith hasn't fared well at venues like it. "I just don't think Southern Hills will suit his eye," Johnson told SportsLine.

him to keep rolling. The 25-year-old has won four times since getting his first PGA Tour title in February. That includes the Masters, and his game fits Southern Hills like a glove. Of course, with his all-around talent, most courses are right in his wheelhouse. But he hits plenty of greens (third in regulation) and makes most of his putts (25th in strokes gained). His tie for 15th last at 19-under was an easy stroll, and he should be primed and focused for another major run.

The expert also knows Rahm hasn't had the same level of success this season, but he might be an even better ball-striker. He leads the tour in greens in regulation and can hit the ball a long way (third in driving distance). The Spaniard hits the fairway almost 65 percent of the time, putting him first on tour in total driving. He has five top-10 finishes this season and just won the Mexico Open in his last start. His talent should put him in contention in Tulsa, but he has had some putting issues. If Rahm can stay hot with the putter, Johnson believes he can win.

How to make 2022 PGA Championship picks, bets

Johnson also is high on a massive long shot at Southern Hills who comes in around 100-1. His excellent tee-to-green game should fit Southern Hills like a glove. You can only see who it is at SportsLine.

Who wins the PGA Championship 2022 at Southern Hills? And which epic long shot is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2022 PGA Championship, all from the insider who is tuned in to what it takes to win a major championship.