Si Woo Kim
With the 2023 Golfing season continuing apace it is time for the second Major of the year, the PGA Championship, with the event heading to the East Course at Oak Hill CC, In Rochester, New York.
A par 70 measuring just under 7400 yards, Oak Hill was last seen on our screens in 2013 when Jason Dufner landed the PGA here.
A Donald Ross design, prior to this years event the course has undergone a full redesign, which has seen over 600 trees removed and brand new green complexes added, with the aim of restoring it to play how Ross originally intended.
Undoubtedly there is more room off the tee here than before, however the course now features trademark Ross style run off areas around greens, which are protected by severe bunkers, Add this to reports of thick rough off the fairways and while length of the tee will no doubt be advantageous I still expect accuracy to also be important this week.
Simply put, if you miss the fairways you will struggle to find the right spots on the greens.
So let’s start off by looking at the market leaders which are once again the trio of Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy.
A four time winner on tour already this season, including at Augusta, Rahm understandably edges favouritism here and with him all but topping all tee to green stats, on the season, it will be a brave man who would bet against him adding another Major trophy to his cabinet. Similarly though in Scheffler we have a player who is at the top of his game and if he can get the putter, the club, which is prone to let him down, to cooperate he looks sure to be in the hunt as well come Sunday.
Contrastingly to Rahm and Scheffler, McIlroy has seemingly lost his way after the disappointing missed cut at Augusta and a 47th place at Quail Hollow after he returning from a break. On the flip side however with his wife coming from the Rochester area he is a member at Oak Hill so ‘local knowledge’ could be an advantage to him this week.
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All in all though as we did at Augusta I will swerve the front three and look for the each way value a little further down the board starting with Xander Schauffele.
Where ever I turn this week Schauffele’s name is one that pops up and I have a strong fancy this could be the week that the Californian finally breaks through in the Majors.
Runner up last time out at the Wells Fargo and on a run of five consecutive top tens the Olympic Champion ranks sixth both from tee to green and in approach play on tour giving us the long game skills we are looking for.
Furthermore Schauffele is hugely proven on Donald Ross designs as he has a superb record at East Lake, which hosts the annual Tour Championship, including a win, and was third at the BMW Championship hosted at Ross’ Aronimink in 2018.
At similar odds to Schauffele I can’t resist including a now healthy again Brooks Koepka.
Now plying his trade on the LIV Tour Koepka had gone from being the tour de force of Majors to something of the forgotten man. All that changed however as after posting a win on the LIV Tour he went straight to Augusta and played superbly for three days before coming up just short to Rahm.
Having won the PGA at Bethpage Black in New York in 2019 in similar cool damp conditions to those anticipated this week this test should be right up his alley.
At bigger odds I like the chances of Justin Rose and Si Woo Kim.
Rose has had something of a renaissance this year capped off with a win at Pebble Beach. Another strong performer over the years at East Lake and a winner at Aronimink, Rose is clearly a fan of Ross layouts and I also like the fact he won his US Open in the North East.
Si Woo Kim
Kim meanwhile arrives here on the back of a runner up finish in Texas at the weekend and having enjoyed tremendous success at Ross’ Sedgefield CC over the years in the Wyndham Championship he looks sure to enjoy this challenge.
Finally in an event that Paddy are paying to 10 each-way places I can’t ignore Harris English at what I consider very generous odds.
Third last time out at Quail Hollow English’s career is littered with strong performances in the North East including a fourth place at the US Open at Winged Foot in New York and a win at the Travelers in Connecticut, and with his game firing at the moment it is not beyond him to mount a big challenge this week as he returns to the area once more.
Si Woo Kim
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
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