PGA Championship Final Round Preview

It has been 385 days since the top golfers have teed it up in the final round of a major, the longest streak since the 40s when WWII interrupted play for 27 months. And finally, that long wait ends today as the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship takes place from TPC Harding Park in San Francisco with Dustin Johnson entering with a one-shot lead.

Johnson has a US Open under his belt, so he’s one on this type of stage before but as the man who’s chasing him down pointed out, that one US Open (and everyone else who’s in contention) doesn’t compare to Brooks Koepka’s resume as he tries to become the first player to three-peat at a major since 1956!!!

Leaderboard, Tee Times, And Odds
PositionName, ScoreTee time (ET)odds
1Dustin Johnson, -94:50+500
T2Scottie Scheffler, -84:50+1800
Cameron Champ, -84:40+2000
T4Collin Morikawa, -74:40+800
Paul Casey, -74:30+3200
Brooks Koepka,74:30+650
T7Bryson Dechambeu, -64:20+2800
Tony Finau, -64:20+3300
Jason Day, -64:10+2800
Justin Rose, -64:10+4300
Daniel Berger, -64:00+2700
Tommy Fleetwood, -64:00+2850
T13Joel Dahmen, -53:50+17250
Si Woo Kim, -53:50+16700
Matthew Wolff, -53:40+8200
Xander Schauffele, -53:40+2200
Haotong Li, -53:20+16700
T18Hideki Matsuyama, -43:20+5100
Bernd Wiesberger, -43:10+25000
Michael Lorenzo-Vera, -43:10+44500
T21Patrick Cantlay, -33:00+4300
Ian Poulter, -33:00+22250
Webb Simpson, -32:50+4800
Jon Rahm, -32:50+2700
Patrick Reed, -32:40+9950
Harold Varner III, -32:40+26000
Dylan Frittelli, -32:30+25000
Lanto Griffin, -32:30+35000
Brendon Todd, -32:20+16750
T30Keith Mitchell, -22:20+48000
Kevin Kisner, -22:10+14250
Victor Perez, -22:10+54500
Adam Scott, -22:00+11400
T34Charl Schwartzel, -12:00+25000
Justin Thomas, -11:50+2230
Harris English, -11:50+13750
Shane Lowry, -11:40+7000
Nate Lashley, -11:40+60000
Denny McCarthy, -11:30+41000
Adam Hadwin, -11:30+24000
Brendan Steele, -11:20+20500
Alex Noren, -11:20+17250
T43Rory McIlroy, E12:50+2800
Brandt Snedeker, E12:30+25000
T55Louis Oosthuizen, +112:20+12750
Phil Mickelson, +112:00+15000
Abraham Ancer, +111:50+7500
T60Tiger Woods, +211:30+5000
Gary Woodland, +211:20+7250
Viktor Hovland, +211:10+8000
T75Bubba Watson, +410:50+19000
T78Jordan Spieth, +710:10+10000
All players listed at E or above Par are notables only
Breakdown

Regardless of whether you’re a golf fan or not, it’s pretty easy to tell that this is a stacked leaderboard, and a tight one for a major. There’s 19 players within 4 shots of Johnson at the top. Of those 19, 17 are in the OWGR Top 100, 12 in the Top 50, 11 in the Top 30, 5 in the Top 15, and 2 in the Top 10, and those players hold 6 total major championships.

The course has been playing relatively tough, with the 3 round scoring average sitting at 71.35 (+1.35) on a par 70 course. TPC Harding is relatively straight, but very narrow. This means the bombers will have to choose between going long and risking the thick rough, or lay back and play from the fairway. And you may be thinking, “wait why does that matter? I’ve seen Bryson Dechambeau. Why can’t he just hit the drive 400 yards and hit a short approach on?”

Well because this is a major, and these pins are TIGHT. So tight that the flag closest to the middle of the green today is a mere ten paces away from the side of the green. There’s not a lot of room for error, so being in the fairway to hit the ball pure and with spin on your approach is insanely important.

As fun as watching these guys crush their drive is, this round is gonna be won with finesse, putting, and as always in a major; nerves of f***ing steel.

Picks

There’s not much point to writing a massive golf tournament preview without picking a winner, so let’s do it. But before we get into that, I’d like it on the record that my pre round pick is looking pretty pretty good.

Brooks Koepka (-7) +635

Contrary to popular belief, I am not an utter fool. That’s what you would have to be to not throw at least a little bit of money on Brooks here. He’s won two of these things back to back. It’s hard to win two PGA Championships period, he’s done it two years in a row! When Brooks turns it on, he’s the best in the world, and while he usually only turns it all the way on for majors, thats what this is. Last year at the PGA it was Brooks fending off DJ to seal the deal and win, this year he’s gonna have to chase him down.

Risk 1u to Win 6.35

Collin Morikawa (-7) +800

If you’re a casual golf fan you’ve probably never heard of the #12 ranked golfer in the world, and there’s a reason for that. He’s only 23 years old, and only joined the Tour 14 months ago. But that hasn’t stopped him from making a meteoric rise that includes multiple wins and a mind boggling 22 straight made cuts to start his career. That’s the second longest all time, second only to this guy named Tiger Woods you may have heard of. As I said before, finesse while playing from tee to green will be the key here, and the 23 year old Morikawa is already arguably the best baller striker in the world.

In 2020, Morikawa ranks 4th in SG Tee To Green (which measures how efficient you are on your drive and approach relative to the average of the PGA Tour) behind only Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, and Sergio Garcia, that’s decent company. He’s 2nd in Strokes Gained on the Approach to the green, and was first until Thomas put on a masterful performance in his win last week. Still pretty damn good. In 66 rounds prior to this week his hitting 70% of his greens in regulation, and while putting is seemingly his only weakness, his performance on the greens through the first three rounds was the best of his career. The set up today suits Morikawa better than any other player, and today may be the day he becomes a household name, and the next big thing.

Risk 2u to Win 16

Xander Scahuffele -115 vs Jon Rahm

Both of these guys come into the final round on the fringe of contention with Xander at -5 and Rahm at -3, meaning they’ll both come in aggressive trying to make a run. Rahm is #2 in the world and most likely more talented, but I feel this course fits Schaufele much better, and he’s better at managing his emotions and staying in control than Rahm. I think that’s the separator.

Dustin Johnson

It’s almost mind boggling how good Dustin Johnson is, with only 1 major championship to show for it. Winning once and having 17 top 10s seems nearly impossible, especially when you win non-majors as often as DJ does, statistically he should have won multiple easily, but hasn’t. And most of the time it comes from dumb luck. He’s out for 10 years of redemption today, as in the 2010 PGA Championship, where he entered the final hole with a one stroke lead, made a bogey, and grounded his club in a bunker that cost him a 2 stroke penalty, and a spot in the eventual playoff. Similar dumb luck events nearly cost DJ his US Open victory, and took his 2017 Masters as he was the odds on favorite and most dominant player in the world but had to withdraw after falling down the stairs before the tournament began.

Johnson has always been the bridesmaid, never the bride. Even now, the person he’s closest with on Tour, Koepka, has 4 majors to his one in half the time as a pro. DJ has been scoring all week, with 17 birdies and 7 bogeys or worse, but today he needs to play a defensive style, just making pars and the occasional birdie, rather than trying to go out and shoot a 65. I don’t think that style fits him particularly well, which is why he’s struggled closing majors, and for that reason I can’t see him getting it done today.

God it feels great to be back on a major Sunday. And even though the roar for the final putt won’t be nearly as loud, the pent up excitement I have right now preparing to slump on the couch for 6 hours to watch high level golf just feels right. Enjoy it.

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