The site of the 2024 Ryder Cup is also the site of the 2019 PGA Championship as golf’s best descend on Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, New York. We’ve got a decent amount of course form data for this tournament because Bethpage has hosted The Northern Trust/The Barclays twice and various other majors. It won’t be new for a lot of the players, but it is certainly thought to be one of the toughest tests in golf.
This is the second major of four set for this season and the PGA Championship is much earlier than usual. Typically the PGA Championship is held in mid-August, but schedule changes moved the event up to mid-May. It has caused a lot of changes in players’ schedules, as they’ve played more events between the Masters and the PGA than they previously have between majors.
We’ll take a look at the course, this tournament, the favorites, and the hopefuls in this PGA Championship breakdown.
Big Cat on the Prowl
Remember when we wondered if Tiger Woods would ever play professional golf again? Remember when he did come back and we wondered if he could ever play at the same level? The 2019 Masters champion is the favorite here at +960. Woods won the 2002 US Open here at Bethpage. He’s won the PGA Championship four times, though never here, as this is the first time Bethpage has hosted the PGA.
Reigning PGA Champ Brooks Koepka is the second favorite on the board at +975. Dustin Johnson is also priced there as well. Rory McIlroy checks in a touch lower than that in the +1065 range. This really is a loaded field, as all majors are, but with Woods now back in the mix as one of the Big Four, it has elevated prices for guys like Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, and Justin Rose.
Francesco Molinari has been outstanding over the last 18 months and he’s +2300 to take this thing down. Bryson DeChambeau is a terrific player at +3500. There are some great values out there on great players.
More Than a Major Win
Surely all of these players are vying for a landmark victory, but the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking would get an automatic berth into the US Open, so this week matters a lot for them as well. Guys like Sungjae Im, Emiliano Grillo, and Chez Reavie have some extra incentive this week.
There are only three multiple winners in this year’s PGA Championship field as far as this event goes. They are Woods, McIlroy, and Vijay Singh. The PGA Championship rotates annually, so it has been tough to find a lot of consistency within the field because certain players just fit certain courses better. The fact that this event bounces around means that, while we do have some course form data from 2012 and 2016, we have to look a lot more at recent form this week.
The course form data we do have may not be all that relevant because these major events are tailored in a way that really does make things more difficult. We’ve had several single-digit winning scores at the PGA Championship in the past and Woods was the only player under par in the 2002 US Open, so we know how tough this course can play if PGA officials want to up the difficulty level.
As far as course form goes, we can mention that. Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brian Harman, Dustin Johnson, Ryan Moore, Louis Oosthuizen, Ryan Palmer, and Bubba Watson had top-25 finishes in both 2012 and 2016 for The Barclays. Patrick Reed won the 2016 version. Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Jason Kokrak, Moore, Grillo, Fowler, and Day had top-10 finishes here in 2016.
While we’ve seen very tough course setups for the US Open, both here and at other venues, this is the PGA Tour’s signature event. I think we may be surprised at how this course plays, especially in light of so much bellyaching about recent US Opens. The players should stand out in this event and that’s what we’ll hopefully see.
Well, let’s handicap this field a little bit. Bethpage is a par 70 north of 7400 yards. That means that you really need to hit the ball a long way to shorten this course and attempt to play it under par. That means that we have to be looking at favorite prices like Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. McIlroy is first in strokes gained off the tee and second in driving distance. Rahm is second in strokes gained off the tee and 20th in driving distance.
Other considerations among the bombers include Bubba Watson, who has played really well here before, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, and Gary Woodland. I think this is the type of event where you don’t want to go price hunting. There haven’t been a lot of big surprises in this event in recent years.
The problem for most of those guys up at the top is that they haven’t putted well. They’re putting the ball out there and then failing with the short game. That’s what sets Day apart, as he’s 11th in strokes gained putting. Assuming he doesn’t pick his daughter up before the tournament, he’s my favorite bet of the short prices at +2230.
The strength of this field really does push some excellent players down the board a bit. One is Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay can be had at +5000 this week. He’s first in par 4 scoring, which can’t hurt at a tournament like this. He’s also one of the most balanced players statistically, ranking 15th in driving distance, 10th in strokes gained tee to green, 21st in strokes gained off the tee, and he’s just outside the top 50 in putting. As far as mid-range guys go, he’s my favorite player on the list. Watson and Woodland at +5500 and +6000, respectively, are good bets as well.
As far as price hunting goes, it has been an outstanding year for Keith Mitchell. He’s +12500 this week. You can do far worse than gambling on a 125/1 shot with top 30 rankings in both strokes gained tee to green and off the tee and also a top-50 mark in driving distance. He’s had some putter problems, but that’s also part of the reason why he’s 125/1.
Coverage of the PGA Championship will be on all weekend on TNT and CBS, so take note of that change, as we don’t see golf on TNT all that often.