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US PGA Championship Tips 2022

 

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The 2022 US PGA Championship returns to Southern Hills Country Club in Oklahoma, as Major Championship golf returns in May.

Freshly renovated by Gil Hanse, Southern Hills will welcome the strongest field in Major Championship golf. Last seen in 2007 when Tiger Woods defeated Woody Austin by 2 strokes, Southern Hills is set to be a great PGA Championship venue and very different to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island which we saw last year.

The 104th edition of The PGA Championship takes place from Thursday 19th May 2022. Now into our 13th season, Golf Betting System will, as ever, be hunting for profit with our US PGA Championship tips from Paul Williams and Steve Bamford. Golf Betting System has full 2022 coverage with PGA Championship tips, long-shot and alternative market selections, a full range of free course and player statistics, plus of course our famous free statistical Predictor Model. You can also listen to our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), which is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on the Steve Bamford Golf Channel.

Now ensconced in May, the PGA Championship has seen both Brooks Koepka (2019) and Phil Mickelson (2021) lift the Wannamaker Trophy in its new spot in the schedule. Traditionally played in August, we used to have a World Golf Championship tournament the week before the PGA, but the revised positioning of the tournament has been a learning curve for both players and punters alike.

2022 sees the world’s best professional golfers with the choice to play the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac in Maryland or the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas in the direct build-up to the PGA Championship. What’s for sure though is that the PGA will be the first US-based Major Championship to be played in Oklahoma since the 2007 PGA.

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US PGA Championship Insight And Tips Research

Golf betting at the Major Championships, and especially the PGA Championship, is a complex subject. Mistakes can be costly, however select the right player or player portfolio and the rewards can be excellent. Golf Betting System’s goal is to provide you with informed PGA Championship tips, free tournament research guides and insight and information that will help you make educated decisions about who to back at the 2022 US PGA Championship.

The PGA Championship in recent history has seen a plethora of long hitters getting the job done, with many capturing their first Major titles in this event. The PGA of America’s choice of Oak Hill in 2013 raised eyebrows as the classical and downright claustrophobic nature of the course was totally alien to its mantra of testing through course length. As it transpired, the neat and tidy Jason Dufner won his first Major that week.

Either side of Oak Hill, Y.E. Yang (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Keegan Bradley (2012), Jason Day (2015), Jimmy Walker (2016) and Justin Thomas (2017) have, like Dufner, all captured first-time Majors. All can hit the ball a long way, as can Rory McIlroy (winner at both Kiawah Island in 2012 and Valhalla in 2014), Brooks Koepka who drove the field into submission at both Bellerive (2018) and Bethpage Black (2019). and Phil Mickelson (2021), who despite being the wrong side of 50 years of age averaged 313 yards off the tee when winning at Kiawah Island last year.

As we expected, 2020 proved slightly different with the tighter 7,200 yard, Par 70 at TPC Harding Park falling to another Major first-timer in the form of Collin Morikawa. Now you can’t classify Morikawa as a ‘bomber’, but averaging 297 yards off the tee and in the top 80 for ‘Driving Distance – All Drives’ across 2020, Collin is certainly no slouch from off the tee.

Course Information

Champions Course, Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Designer: Perry Maxwell, 1936, with Gil Hanse 2019 renovation; Course Type: Classical, Technical; Par: 70; Length: 7,365 yards; Holes with Water In-Play: 15; Fairways: Astro Bermudagrass; Rough Astro Bermudagrass with Tall Fescue 2.25″; Greens: 5,047 sq.ft average featuring Pure Distinction Bentgrass.

The Champions Course at Southern Hills Country Club has hosted 7 Major Championships, including the U.S. Open 3 times (1958, 1977, 2001) and 4 PGA Championships (1970, 1982, 1994, 2007). Indeed it’s the only course to host the PGA Championship 4 times, a lead it will extend with this year’s renewal. Interestingly it also hosted the 2021 Senior PGA Championship won by Alex Cejka, with that tournament also being played here on the Gil Hanse-renovated golf course.

The Champions Course is a Perry Maxwell 1936 original which has been updated by the modern day renovation master Gil Hanse. An old style, parkland golf course which has plenty of water hazards in play, it now stretches over 7,350 yards which makes it very much a typical PGA Championship venue – far more so than Kiawah Island which we saw 12 months ago. Tiger Woods won here in 2007, with Woody Austin (2nd) and Ernie Els (3rd) taking the rostrum spots. A list of Gil Hanse designs / renovations are listed below:

Gil Hanse

  • Aronimink Golf Club – 2019 BMW Championship
  • Plainfield CC – The Barclays – 2011 & 2015
  • Ridgewood CC – The Barclays / Northern Trust 2010, 2014 & 2018.
  • Trump National Doral – 2014 through 2016 WGC Cadillac Championship
  • TPC Boston – Deutsche Bank / Dell Technologies Championship through 2018 plus 2020 Northern Trust.
  • Winged Foot – 2020 U.S. Open

Golf course architect extraordinaire Gil Hanse completed an ambitious renovation of Southern Hills’ Champions Course in 2019. Expertly building a bridge between the Golden Age architecture of Maxwell whilst preparing Southern Hills to host a Major Championship in 2022 is a difficult assignment, but Hanse has done a magnificent job. Hanse’s signature is not to leave a signature; instead he takes a course back to what the original designer had in mind, whilst understanding what the world’s best golfers can do these days with modern technology. His detail changes are with that in mind, making the course more pleasing aesthetically while also making it more difficult.

Bunker styles, the edges around the greens and the green surrounds/chipping areas were totally restored. Greens complexes were all re-built with Pure Distinction Bentgrass – a strain which is new to me. A creek system carrying the course’s water requirements has been built and runs through the golf course. This presents real problems as water hazards now feature on 15 of 18 holes. This is by no means a Florida-style course with water everywhere, but subtle streams and creeks, plus the odd pond adjacent to green complexes, present huge problems for the wayward. The course itself is undulating with uneven fairway lies aplenty. Many green complexes are also on top of mounds, which are then surrounded by run-off areas making accurate approach play critical.

Hanse has also added length to the Champions Course. Where it played as a 7,131 yard, Par 70 in 2007, expect a 7,365 yard, Par 70 in 2022. Holes are typically tree-lined, but sparsely so when compared to say an Augusta National or Wentworth. There are plenty of doglegs, and green complexes are small for the length of course: 5,047 sq.ft on average, they are smaller than the greens we see at TPC Sawgrass which plays as a 7,250 yard, par 72. Many of the green complexes are also surrounded by swales and short grass run-off areas which can feed into bunkers, or even worse creeks.

From a length perspective, the Champions Course carries 2 par-4s – the 2nd and 18th – which are approaching 500 yards. However, for a Major venue the 3rd, 7th, 9th, 10th, 15th and 17th are sub-450 yards, which will be gettable for straight and true hitters. The 2 par-5s are also worthy of note. The 5th and the 13th are in both instances well over 630 yards and in most circumstances 3 shot par-5s, which will play to the strength of the best wedge players.

Particular holes to take note of are as follows: Hanse moved the green back 40-45 yards on the par-4 7th hole, which was the only hole Tiger Woods bogeyed during a course record 63 on Friday at the 2007 PGA en route to victory. The fairway slopes left to right, which is the dogleg shape, with the creek coming into play more now on the right side all the way up to the green. It plays as one of the two toughest holes on the course.

The closing hole has been extremely difficult in previous Majors held here and that won’t change in 2022; indeed it’s considered one of the strongest finishing holes in Major Championship golf. The dogleg-right Par-4 measures almost 500 yards with fairway bunkers looming, The second shot is played uphill toward the Southern Hills clubhouse that sits at the highest point of the property. The elevated green is guarded by 3 bunkers and is one of the most penal on the course. Approaches not struck crisply can feed 40-50 yards back down the slope to the fairway below, or find an uncomfortable home in one of the greenside bunkers.

In summary, with freshly opened holes via tree removal, wider fairways, new bunkers and exposed green edges, Southern Hills won’t look or function much like the restricted layout that Tiger Woods dissected in 2007. At the 2007 PGA Championship, the fairways at Southern Hills played to widths of 27 or 28 yards, surrounded by gnarly Bermuda rough which was in its prime in August. Most fairways are now in the 40 yard-wide range, and with the PGA being played in May when it’s much cooler the rough won’t have nearly the same impact on play.

The real challenge will be approach shots to small and compartmentalised greens. Hitting and holding greens has never been more challenging at Southern Hills, with most perimeter hole locations being recaptured by Hanse’s work. I’ll leave Gil to explain the Champions Course real challenge in his own words: “At Southern Hills the green contours really occur on the periphery of the greens. A lot of them roll off to the edges. The players are going to learn to respect the edges of those greens because if you get anywhere near them, your approach is going off.

Below are some revealing comments from the Senior PGA Championship held here last year on this revised Gil Hanse-renovated Champions Course:

Alex Cejka:This week, this course is tricky. You can hit drivers, but you take a lot of trouble into play. So yesterday we, when I played a practice round, I was thinking about it and we’ll see how it is today in the pro-am. I want to hit a lot of drives, but you can get in a lot of trouble and the question is, is it worth to be 20, 30 yards further and then taking so much trouble on. So it’s going to be challenging. It’s a really tough track, you got to really shape your ball well. It’s a good ball-striking golf course and around the greens it’s tricky too. They’re undulated, they’re all a little bit raised up, the bunkers have deep lips, so you really don’t want to short side yourself. It’s a really good test.

Yes, as I said, it was tricky with the wind. This course is already tricky with out the wind. You put 10 miles an hour cross winds, down winds, into the wind, it’s tough to pull the clubs.”

Steve Stricker: “Yeah, first time I’ve seen it since the redo. I’ve got to believe the membership is loving it. I mean, it’s a little bit more generous off the tees, but a little bit more demanding into the greens. The greens are in great shape. There’s a ton of run-off areas now where you really have to be cautious and not short-side yourself and let the ball run sometimes 20, 30 yards away.

Yeah, it was hard. It was hard like I said, with the moisture on the fairways this morning made it even harder and even chipping around the edges of the green was difficult with all that moisture. And then this afternoon when things dried out, the wind is still there and it just makes for tough club selections because it’s kind of gusty, it would lay down at times and then kind of pick up and you just never knew what you were going to kind of get. So, yeah, it makes it for a challenging shots into the greens for sure.

You start driving it in the rough here and it’s a big challenge just to hold some of the greens because you’re usually catching a flier out of the rough and the pins are in these corners. I actually feel like these pins are tougher this week than they were in Kiawah Island. There’s some real tough pins on the edges, in, up above the tiers. Yeah, so it’s a great test and you got to be playing from the fairway.

Yeah on 16 I was stealing one there for sure. You’re just trying to make four there. It’s a tough driving hole. I’ve been just sending it down the right free line every day, I just don’t want to go in that bunker. Weirsy hit it in that bunker and it’s just basically a chip out. So I’m just doing everything not to hit it in that bunker and I’ll take my chances over there in the right trees. It came out a little left on me out of the rough, but in that bunker was fine, there was a lot of sand and I was shooting right up the hill at it. I was just trying to get it close, you’re not thinking that you’re going to make it or anything. But just trying to get a 4 and move on. It happened to go in. So it is, like you said, it’s stealing one there for sure.

Any hole it can jump up and get you. So you have to just manage your emotions, your game, all the way around this place. I’ve gone for the green two times on 17 the last two days when they moved it up and I played the thing 1-over. So even when you think that Kerry is giving you an opportunity to make a birdie, it’s still difficult. So yeah, you just have to know where to hit it, know where to miss it and like I said manage your game all the way around.”

Retief Goosen: “Yeah, the golf course was very inconsistent this week. We had so much rain in the beginning of the week and it was very slow, the course. And then it got a little quicker on Thursday. And then got slow again. Finally today the course has started to speed up a little bit. So it’s a pity it didn’t play like this all week, I would have loved that. But I just had too much inconsistencies on the greens, pause one day they were quick, next day they were slow, so it was a struggle to get a consistent roll going throughout the week. But it got better as the week goes on.

The fairways are about double the width than they were back in 2001. The fairways definitely I remember number 10, it was one of the hardest fairways to hit on the golf course, and now it’s probably the easiest fairway to hit. I think they’re still going to have to work on a couple of greens that’s too severe they can’t even use that part of the greens. They improved on 18. At least the ball’s staying on the green this time. But the course is made for the bombers. They made the fairways really wide and even if they played it at 76, the long hitters are going to love it.”

us pga championship tips

Champions Course, Southern Hills Country Club: A  long, undulating, parkland classic with small greens

Key Skill Sets for Southern Hills

Naturally no Strokes Gained data can be viewed for the Champions Course at Southern Hills Country Club, so we must rely on what many will think are old fashioned traditional statistics. They still paint a picture though.

Below you’ll find the last 3 winners around Southern Hills, namely 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, 2007 PGA Championship victor Tiger Woods, and 2021 Senior PGA Championship victor Alex Cejka:

  • 2021, Alex Cejka (-8). 282 yards (28th), 69.6% fairways (34th), 68.1% greens in regulation (4th), 60.9% scrambling (14th), 1.71 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2007, Tiger Woods (-8). 314 yards (14th), 66.1% fairways (9th), 69.4% greens in regulation (4th), 54.5% scrambling (14th), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2001, Retief Goosen (-4). 298 yards (17th), 67.9% fairways (15th), 66.7% greens in regulation (4th), 62.5 % scrambling (5th), 1.73 putts per GIR (24th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 19th, Driving Accuracy: 19th, Greens in Regulation: 4th, Scrambling: 11th, Putting Average 11th.

It’s rare to see skill set statistics so evenly spread as we see at Southern Hills. The importance of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy are equal. That itself suggests that Bryson DeChambeau types and his ilk may struggle a little in Tulsa. Elite-level Greens in Regulation play is 100% essential, meaning that those with the best approach play will thrive, and it’s rare to see the importance of both Scrambling and Putting Average level – but it is here.

Total Accuracy (the sum of driving accuracy and greens in regulation ranks) as you would expect correlates closely to Goosen, Woods and Cejka the week they won here, and it’s fairly obvious that top-level Ball Striking was also a prerequisite. Goosen ranked 3rd, Woods 2nd and Cejka 8th.

U.S. PGA Championship Tips - Key Points

Correlating Course Form

The last 2 Major winners here at Southern Hills Country Club were Retief Goosen (2001 U.S. Open) and Tiger Woods (2007 PGA Championship). That prompted me to look into the PGA Tour courses that we’ve seen both Retief and Tiger play well on:

  • Pebble Beach – Goosen 3rd, 9th; Woods 1st, 1st, 2nd, 4th.
  • Scottsdale – Goosen 3rd, 9th; Woods 3rd, 5th.
  • Bay Hill – Goosen 4th, 4th; Woods 1st x8.
  • Copperhead (Innisbrook) – Goosen 1st, 1st, 5th; Woods 2nd.
  • TPC Sawgrass – Goosen 2nd; Woods 1st, 1st 2nd.
  • Firestone South – Goosen 1st (Senior Players Championship) 3rd, 4th; Woods 1st x8.
  • Glen Abbey – Goosen 1st; Woods 1st.
  • St Andrews (The Open)- Goosen 5th, 6th; Woods 1st, 1st.
  • East Lake – Goosen 1st, 3rd, 4th, 4th; Woods 1st, 1st 2nd x4.

Week Before Finish

This trend was established back in 2006 when the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was added to the schedule a week before the PGA Championship. Naturally the annual visit to Firestone South is no more, but the idea that a player will need to be playing well in their immediate start should be one to consider.

2019 saw the PGA Championship take place in May, and in 2020 the USPGA made an unscheduled return to an August date, the week after the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational played at TPC Southwind. There are no doubts though that form players win the PGA Championship. 2019 saw Brooks Koepka finish 4th at Trinity Forest GC in Texas the week before lifting the Wannamaker Trophy in 2019, and 2020 saw Collin Morikawa finish a hard-charging 20th, powered by a 67/66 across the weekend the week before at St Jude. Phil Mickelson, as ever, destroys this trend, but even so he was the first round leader at Quall Hollow in his outing before winning the PGA at Kiawah Island, and was still 10th after 36 holes.

The WGC-status Bridgestone Invitational the week before at Firestone South was always a real indicator of who went on to win the PGA Championship. The Firestone-based tournament became the PGA ‘warm up’ in 2006, and from that point onwards, the winner of the PGA Championship was firstly always in the Bridgestone field and secondly was always in the top 28 of the tournament.

Previous Week Performance

YearUS PGA ChampionWeek Before Finish
2021Phil Mickelson69th (First Round Leader & 10th after 36 holes)
2020Collin Morikawa20th
2019Brooks Koepka4th
2018Brooks Koepka5th
2017Justin Thomas28th
2016Jimmy Walker11th
2015Jason Day12th
2014Rory McIlroy1st
2013Jason Dufner4th
2012Rory McIlroy5th
2011Keegan Bradley15th
2010Martin Kaymer22nd
2009Y.E. Yang18th
2008Padraig Harrington20th
2007Tiger Woods1st
2006Tiger Woods1st

 

We also have other precedents here. 2016 saw the Olympic Golf Competition creating massive changes with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational moving to July. Instead the RBC Canadian Open directly preceded the PGA Championship, where Jimmy Walker finished fast on Sunday to grab 11th spot at Glen Abbey.

Excellent immediate tournament form was also key to both Mickelson and Singh’s triumphs in 2005 and 2004 respectively. Mickelson finished 10th in Colorado before jumping on his private jet to New Jersey and winning the following weekend at Baltusrol.  Singh won his prior tournament 2 weeks before the PGA at Warwick Hills, before travelling across to neighbouring Wisconsin to capture his 3rd Major at Whistling Straits. Even Rich Beem in 2002 won at Castle Pines (The International) and then won a fortnight later at Hazeltine.

For me, I will be keeping a very close eye on the preceding Wells Fargo Championship and AT&T Byron Nelson tournament leaderboards, to ascertain who is playing great golf prior to arriving in Oklahoma.

Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green

We all love a statistic and in the era of the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained analysis we have plenty to wade through.

Looking at PGA champions’ last tournament performance since 2010, it’s fascinating to see that there are real similarities across the Strokes Gained Tee to Green numbers. Koepka, Thomas, McIlroy (x2), Dufner and Kaymer all ranked within the top 10 of that category at Firestone the week before. 2019 saw Brooks Koepka rank 6th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 8th for Greens in Regulation at the Byron Nelson played at Trinity Forest the week before triumphing at Bethpage Black. And in outliers Jimmy Walker – who played the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey – Jason Day (at Firestone), and 2020 champion Collin Morikawa, they still ranked in the top 27 for the SG Tee to Green category and finished 14th, 12th and 20th respectively in their warm-up event, with Jason Day and Collin Morikawa ranking in the top 5 and top 10 respectively for Greens in Regulation.

Naturally 50 year-old (at the time) Phil Mickelson. who won the PGA last year at a coastal and windswept Kiawah Island, destroys this trend completely, but in general it’s clear to deduce that those struggling to keep the ball in front of them immediately prior to playing the PGA Championship ultimately don’t win.

Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green

YearPGA WinnerPrevious EventGIRSG Tee-To-Green
2021Phil Mickelson69th66th72nd
2020Collin Morikawa20th3rd21st
2019Brooks Koepka4th8th6th
2018Brooks Koepka5th1st1st
2017Justin Thomas28th6th3rd
2016Jimmy Walker14th30th25th
2015Jason Day12th9th27th
2014Rory McIlroy1st25th1st
2013Jason Dufner4th18th2nd
2012Rory McIlroy5th2nd2nd
2011Keegan Bradley15th14th12th
2010Martin Kaymer22nd15th8th

 

Driving Distance is the Key

So what’s the key player attribute that a PGA Championship winner needs in his arsenal to get the job done?

Well with the PGA Championship being played on a stretching 7,365 yard, Par 70, a premium advantage will inevitably return to longer drivers of the golf ball. In recent times that’s always been the case. Taking 2013’s exceptionally tight Oak Hill setup out of the overall picture, every winner of the PGA Championship since 2010 has been a minimum 295 yard hitter from off the tee:

Driving Distance Analysis

YearPGA WinnerSeason Driving Distance (Yards)
2021Phil Mickelson302
2020Collin Morikawa297
2019Brooks Koepka309
2018Brooks Koepka313
2017Justin Thomas310
2016Jimmy Walker301
2015Jason Day314
2014Rory McIlroy306
2012Rory McIlroy312
2011Keegan Bradley301
2010Martin Kaymer294
2009Y.E. Yang291
2008Padraig Harrington296
2007Tiger Woods302
2006Tiger Woods306
2005Phil Mickelson301
2004Vijay Singh301

 

This is Steve Bamford’s pre-event trends and pointers article. Steve’s final US PGA Championship tips for 2022 will be published here on the Monday of the event.

Thoughts or comments? You can tweet Steve @Bamfordgolf