PGA Championship picks 2022: The Viktor Hovland debate
We’re both happy and sad to report that the PGA Championship, now the second major of the golf season, has arrived. Happy because we love the new PGA date and the fact we get so many majors packed into a few months, but sad because it means the golf season is flying by.
That said, the PGA couldn’t have arrived soon enough for your fearless expert panel here. Once again, a few of our handicappers “almost” hit on Justin Thomas at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but Thomas came up just short in the birdie-fest at TPC Craig Ranch. Perhaps we can raise our game just like the best players in the world raise their games on a major week and finally hit our first winner since … *gulp* … Joaquin Niemann at the Genesis Invitational.
Theoretically, the majors are a bit easier to handicap, as there are realistically only 30-40 players who have a serious chance of winning. Do you go single bullet on Scottie Scheffler, who is the best player in the world right now and has called Southern Hills his favorite course in the world? Or, do you hammer away at a few guys in the 20- and 30-1 odds range, plus a few mid-tier longshots, to give yourself a real chance?
Hopefully, we can help you make the right call, although we’re having a bit of an internal debate ourselves when it comes to betting on a certain Norwegian who is searching for his first major title.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 PGA Championship.
PGA Championship picks 2022: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Viktor Hovland (25-1, DraftKings) — Everything’s lining up for Hovland’s first major. His only weakness is his pitching and chipping, which won’t be as much a factor this week … and here’s why: There are options galore around the greens, where anything from 3-wood to lob wedge can be used to recover. The ability to hit bump and runs should nullify other shortcomings around the green.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Viktor Hovland (25-1, DraftKings) — Hovland has somehow become the forgotten man among the elites. The number is drifting, but this setup may really work for his game. Yes, it’s going to be devastating when he chips himself out of contention late noon Sunday afternoon, but his ball striking is so good that he’s not going to be scrambling nearly as much as the field.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Justin Thomas (16-1, FanDuel) — Thomas does everything he needs to do well to contend at Southern Hills. He’s dominant tee-to-green through plus distance, precise irons, and a strong wedge game. I need all three of those for my win picks this week, so I’m honing in on Thomas to get a second major.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Hideki Matsuyama (28-1, DraftKings) — There are plenty of similarities between the undulation at Southern Hills and the undulation around Augusta National. With greens that require you to be precise on approach, Southern Hills should greatly benefit Matsuyama. Already one of the best iron players on the planet, Matsuyama is in the midst of the best putting stretch of his career. Since the start of 2022, Matsuyama has gained 0.19 strokes per round on the putting surfaces. In 2021, he lost 0.45 strokes per round with the flatstick, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. This is a great set-up for someone who has improved the worst part of his game and already possesses the skills needed to find success.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Scottie Scheffler (12-1, FanDuel) — Call me Stevie Square, but what’s the reason not to bet Scottie Scheffler here? Not just because he calls Southern Hills his favorite course … and won here in college … and shot a 64 in a practice round a few weeks ago. Southern Hills’ renovation will demand creativity and boldness with recovery shots in the same way Augusta National does. And that’s exactly what led Scottie to victory at the Masters. This is worthy of a big bullet bet on the favorite.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Jordan Spieth (20-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — To be honest, at first I only made this bet because my good friend Stephen Hennessey tipped me off to a 25-1 number on Spieth this past Sunday morning. But the more I read about Southern Hills, the more I love the bet in retrospect. Short-game magic required? Augusta National comparisons? Hmmm, sounds Spieth-y to me. Oh, yeah, and he’s playing out of his mind, having won and finishing solo second in his last two starts. Yes, the weight of the career grand slam will be there, but it seems silly to miss out on this Spieth heater at a course that, by everything you read, seems to set up very well for him. Then again, what course doesn’t set up well for him when he’s running this pure?
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rory McIlroy (16-1, DraftKings) — McIlroy comes into this event ranked fourth in the field this week for SG/total over the last two months and will be carrying a lot of confidence from his final round at the Masters into this major. Due to his previous success on tough courses and his excellent putting on Bentgrass greens over the last two months he also ranks sixth in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1 and then backing it up with Joaquin Niemann at 60-1 to win at Riviera. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (above) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
PGA Championship picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Brooks Koepka (45-1, DraftKings) — This must be a typo … 45-1? On the greatest major player of his generation? I don’t care about his incoming form … this is an auto bet.
Mayo: Luke List (150-1, DraftKings) — It’s not that List has an advantage at harder courses, but they really do suit his game far better. If an event comes down to who can make the most seven-foot birdie putts, he’s going to lose. But ratchet up the difficulty and his sterling tee-to-green game elevates him above the pack. And when the rest of the field is routinely faced with 13-footers for par, you won’t mind a few seven-foot birdie misses.
Gdula: Sam Burns (42-1, FanDuel) — Burns has a major-ready game and is a big plus in all four strokes-gained categories. He also has driving distance and stellar putting. There’s plenty of value here without being reckless for an outright major winner.
Gehman: Jason Day (80-1, DraftKings) — Over his last 12 rounds, Day has seemingly found something. Now, he’s had one blow-up round in each of his last two starts masking how well he’s been playing but it’s obvious that he’s making tangible gains in his game right now. Even in years when he was playing worse, Day has found a way to show up for the PGA Championship. He has eight top-25 finishes in his last nine starts at this Championship.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Joaquin Niemann (45-1, DraftKings) — Southern Hills will be like Riviera, in my opinion, in that it will demand creative shots into and around the greens. It’s a classic layout that demands excellence off the tee … all of which suits Niemann’s skill set. He needs to prove he can hang in the major pressure, but he’s got the game to do it.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jason Day (80-1, DraftKings) — As Rick already pointed out, Day just shows up at the PGA Championship, with or without his A-game, no matter the course or time of year. It helps, too, that the flashes of brilliance have been there recently, and not just in these last two weeks. People forget, Day and his partner Jason Scrivener tied for 10th in the team event in New Orleans. He should also be highly motivated, having missed the Masters in April for the first time in 12 years.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Young (80-1, DraftKings) — The PGA Tour rookie has been brilliant this year. He comes into this event ranked 16th in this elite field for SG/total over the last two months and first for Opportunities Gained. His performances on similar courses this year means he ranks first in the FanShare Sports course-suitability ranking this week.
PGA Championship picks 2022: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Jon Rahm (11-1, DraftKings) — There will be testy 5- to 10-footers all week … and Rahm has been shaky at best all year there. That part of his game will continue to be exposed. I wouldn’t bet him to miss the cut, but I expect him to finish outside the top 10.
Mayo: Xander Schauffele (28-1, DraftKings) — Playing with fire after watching him torch the course in Dallas over the weekend, but this isn’t Craig Ranch. It’s not even low-calorie ranch. Wasting a Thursday, again, is a better strategy to a missed cut than a win.
Gdula: Viktor Hovland (24-1, FanDuel — While it’s never easy to pick a fade in a major, Hovland’s chipping problems are hard to overlook when reports are that greens will run off and that you’ll need to scramble to save par often.
Gehman: Xander Schauffele (28-1, DraftKings) — The scorching final-round 61 at the AT&T Byron Nelson will have everyone excited about Schauffele’s chances this week, but I’m still worried. That one round doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s been pedestrian with his putter, gaining a total of 1.3 strokes putting over his past five measured starts, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s been slightly better than average with his driver and around-the-green play, but “slightly better than average” won’t cut it at Southern Hills.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (25-1, DraftKings) — Our anonymous caddie is on-site at Southern Hills, so he must know better than me. But from what I see, your short game will be tested this week … and I think it’s still a glaring weakness for Hovland.
Powers, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (25-1, DraftKings) — I’ve read far too many “short-game is key this week” takes to trust Hovland at Southern Hills. That said, he’s still good enough in every other area to contend, so it’s not a full fade. I say have at it if you like him top 10, top 20, etc., but if you have him outright, you’re going to want to crawl into a hole and never come out when he duffs one while in contention on Sunday and it costs him the tournament.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Scottie Scheffler (12-1, DraftKings) — For a favorite, Scheffler comes into this event with a number of question marks. The first is his historic putting on Bentgrass greens where he ranks just 86th in this field for SG/putting over the last two years. The second is that this isn’t the ideal course for his game, ranking just 32nd in the FanShare Sports course-suitability ranking this week. The third is the pressure of expectation that will be on his shoulders this week.
PGA Championship picks 2022: Matchups
Caddie: Viktor Hovland (+105) over Jordan Spieth (DraftKings) — Both players have had their short-game shortcomings lately … Spieth with the short putts and Hovland with the chipping. I think the chipping will be more mitigated, like I said above, with the number of options around the greens. There ain’t no hiding for Spieth and the crucial 6-footers for par he’ll face.
Mayo: Dustin Johnson (-110) over Xander Schauffele (DraftKings) — At his peak, there would be no better course for DJ. Now, he’s certainly not at his peak at the moment, but there’s been enough flashes of the old DJ to think he can recapture the magic this week. It’s going to be tough for Xander to lay an egg in Round 1 and rally at Southern Hills as well.
Gdula: Max Homa (-105) over Tony Finau (FOX Bet) — I know the major history favors Finau, but the recent form, putting, and even ball-striking is much better for Homa. Neither are great wedge players, so the advantage belongs to Homa here.
Gehman: Billy Horschel (-110) over Tyrrell Hatton (DraftKings) — Horschel enters the PGA Championship having made the weekend in 20 of his last 21 starts, one of the best made-cut rates of anyone in this field. That stretch has produced one win and 10 top-25 finishes. Horschel has always been solid with the putter and that hasn’t changed recently, but he’s also improved in both ball-striking categories, making him an appealing option this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (-120) over Collin Morikawa (DraftKings) — JT has a distinct advantage off the tee, and his short game is a lot better than Morikawa’s. Morikawa is becoming more consistent in majors, but Southern Hills really suits JT.
Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (+100) over Rory McIlroy (Bet365) — Can’t ask for a much better H2H in a major than this one. I’ll employ the same strategy I did last week at Byron Nelson: Justin Thomas at plus money against literally any player in the world is a good bet, in my opinion.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Young (-110) over Keegan Bradley (Bet365) — As you can see above I really like Young this week. Bradley, on the other hand, is statistically one of the worst putters in the field this week on bentgrass greens. This means he ranks just 30th in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking this week.
Matchup Results from the AT&T Byron Nelson: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Kizzire (-110) over Kisner); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Niemann (-120) over Scott); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Wise (-130) over Hughes); Powers: 1 for 1 (Thomas (+105) over Scheffler); Fowler: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 20-4-4 (up 15.28 units); Caddie: 17-10-2 (up 6.1 units); Powers: 15-11-3 (up 3.76 units); Alldrick: 16-12-1 (up 1.7 units); Gehman: 12-13-4 (down 1.99 units); Gdula: 13-16-0 (down 3.84 units); Hennessey: 13-15-1 (down 5.56 units)
PGA Championship picks 2022: Top 10s
Caddie: Viktor Hovland (+260, DraftKings) — Let’s run it back with Viktor top 10 for all the reasons why I’d bet him outright.
Mayo: Will Zalatoris (+350, DraftKings) — Not phased by his phone-it-in job at the Byron Nelson whatsoever. When it’s major time, Zalatoris performs. A top-three ball-striker on tour this season, since the beginning of 2020, he’s played in six majors: one injury WD, a missed cut and four top 10s. The harder the course, the better he gets.
Gdula: Talor Gooch (+850, FanDuel) — The Oklahoma State alum was T-14 at the Masters, and there are some reasons to think Southern Hills will play a bit like Augusta. Gooch has no real holes in his game, though he doesn’t particularly stand out at anything either. An all-around game shouldn’t be overlooked this week, though.
Gehman: Will Zalatoris (+350, DraftKings) — Zalatoris shocked the golf community with a missed cut last week in Texas, but I’m not worried about it. Over two rounds, he gained 2.96 strokes on approach which is historically the biggest weapon in his bag. He struggled with the putter and failed to make the weekend at a course that required a bunch of birdies – no big deal! Now he will tee it up in his seventh major championship as a professional and he’s already earned four top 10s in his first six starts.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (+275, DraftKings) — Eight top-10 finishes in 16 major starts … and coming off the hot Sunday in Dallas, you gotta like these odds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tiger Woods (+600, DraftKings) — You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts! I think Tiger Woods plays well this week, which, for him and for us, might mean a T-27. But he’s clearly healthy enough and seemingly prepared enough to improve upon his Masters performance, at another course he knows very well. He still has the hands to get up and down from anywhere, which is a requirement this week, and he’s still one of the best iron players in the world. So long as he doesn’t drive it all over creation, and avoids the three-putts that plagued him at Augusta, I think the Big Cat can make some serious noise in Tulsa.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Tony Finau (+650, DraftKings) — Despite a lot of flack this last year, Finau does come into this event ranked 18th in the field for SG/total over the last two years. His recent form has picked up too, ranking 24th in the field this week for SG/total over the last two months. The course will also suit with Finau ranking 13th in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking this week.
Top-10 results from the AT&T Byron Nelson: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Hideki Matsuyama +300); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 10 for 29 (up 31.05 units); Alldrick: 9 for 29 (up 30.8 units); Mayo: 4 for 28 (down 2.45 units); Gehman: 5 for 29 (down 2.8 units); Caddie: 7 for 29 (down 8.6 units); Hennessey: 5 for 29 (down 9.78 units); Gdula: 2 for 29 (down 21.6 units)
PGA Championship 2022 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Jordan Spieth — How can you not be excited about Spieth right now?! He’s coming off a victory at the RBC Heritage and a “should-have” victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson. An unpleasant three-putt from seven feet on Sunday last week caused Spieth to finish runner-up but his game is strong right now. He’s gained 10-plus strokes from tee-to-green in three of his last four starts and he has still struggled with his putter. Once he cracks the flatstick, it’ll be winning time for Spieth.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch. Farmers Insurance Open: Tony Finau. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Xander Schauffele. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rory McIlroy. Players Championship: Jon Rahm. Valspar Championship: Dustin Johnson. Valero Texas Open: Charley Hoffman. The Masters: Brooks Koepka. RBC Heritage: Patrick Cantlay. Mexico Open: Aaron Wise. Wells Fargo: Matt Fitzpatrick. AT&T Byron Nelson: Justin Thomas.
Hennessey: Scottie Scheffler — If you have him left, don’t overthink it.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im. Farmers Insurance Open: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Lanto Griffin. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Will Zalatoris. Honda Classic: Russell Knox. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Keith Mitchell. Players Championship: Cameron Smith. Valspar Championship: Shane Lowry. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Justin Thomas. RBC Heritage: Russell Henley. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Troy Merritt. AT&T Byron Nelson: Jhonattan Vegas.
Powers: Jordan Spieth — The guy is on a heater. If you’re saving him for St. Andrews, I don’t blame you, but I’m all-in on him for the career slam this week.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power. Farmers Insurance Open: Luke List. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Cameron Tringale. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Bubba Watson. Genesis Invitational: Adam Scott. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Chris Kirk. Players Championship: Xander Schauffele. Valspar Championship: Sam Burns. Valero Texas Open: Charley Hoffman. The Masters: Brooks Koepka. RBC Heritage: Matt Fitzpatrick. Mexico Open: Abraham Ancer. Wells Fargo: Keegan Bradley. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sahith Theegala.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio.) Mayo (@ThePME) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.