Golf picks: PGA Championship modeling strategy at Southern Hills – New York Post

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The wait is over and the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club is upon us.
This marks the first major at the course since the 2007 PGA and comes on the heels of a historical restoration in 2018 and 2019. The par-70 that stretches more than 7,500 yards features wide fairways alongside heavy bunkering and green runoffs.
Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm (+1200) arrive as event co-favorites while Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy (+1400) follow closely behind. Rounding out the top-five on the odds board is Jordan Spieth (+1800), who is looking to complete the career grand slam.
But, before we dive into our best bets for the week, we’ll begin as always without a statistical modeling strategy for the event. In addition to the following six stats, I used two sorting factors — “easy” fairways to hit and courses over 7,400 yards — to help refine the model.
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Given how wide the fairways are at Southern Hills, I don’t expect driving distance or accuracy to play much of a role here.
However, approach play will be key. As mentioned, the 2018 Gil Hanse restoration of Southern Hills eliminated the rough around the greens and replaced it with steep run-off areas that will punish players who lack precision with their irons. Additionally, the greens aren’t particularly big which will provide players a further challenge.
As a result, I rate this category as the most important for the week and believe you’ll see a strong correlation between gains in this stat and finishing position.
Here are the 36-round leaders in SG: approach as well as their betting odds for the week:
Odds provided by BetMGM
The Hanse restoration eliminated a lot of penal rough that forced accurate drives in 2007, meaning accuracy isn’t as important this week.
The fairways were also widened from about 28 yards to nearly 40 yards, so expect players to utilize the big stick more often. To me, that means driving distance on a course that features two par 5’s greater than 625 yards and seven par 4’s greater than 440 yards will be prominent.
Additionally, three of the five remaining par 4’s come in under 375 yards, so distance could give players short approaches that lead to some birdie opportunities.
Here are the driving distance leaders across the last 36 rounds with their betting odds for the week:
Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Given 12 of the 18 holes at Southern Hills are Par 4’s, it should be fairly obvious this will be key in a player’s performance this week.
Additionally, the aforementioned length of the par 5’s — number 5 is 656 yards while number 13 is 632 yards on the scorecards — and the length of the four par 3’s — only one is less than 220 yards — means players should see a majority of scoring opportunities on these 12 holes.
As a result, this stat receives a lot of emphasis for me. Plus, although it’s somewhat expected, the last three winners at PGA Championships on Par 70’s ranked no worse than fourth in this stat for the week.
Here are the SG: Par 4 leaders over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds this week:
As Southern Hills director of golf Cary Cozby describes it, the 2022 PGA Champion will possess an “elite” short game.
Cozby adds that wayward pitches could roll as much as 50 yards, especially after the Hanse restoration placed steep slopes on the green edges. For those reasons, players will need to be creative around the green, making strokes-gained: around the green a key betting stat at Southern Hills.
Additionally, Southern Hills feature-heavy bunkering around the greens — 75 in total across the 18 holes — so creativity in the sand will be needed as well.
Here are the SG: around the green leaders over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds for the week:
Bettors could see some low scores at Southern Hills — especially if the weather forecast holds and rain comes Friday night — meaning gaining birdies could prove influential.
This also tends to prove a key stat at most PGA Championships. Three of the last four PGA champions finished third or better in this category while four straight have finished inside the top-10 in this stat for the week.
Although there aren’t many “birdie holes” at Southern Hills, expect those players who create opportunities to be leading the pack this week. Here are the 36-round leaders in this category with their betting odds for the week:

Southern Hills Country Club features only four par 3’s, but they’re four challenging holes.
As mentioned earlier, three of the four holes are 220 yards or longer while the lone exception — the par-three 11th — features a big water hazard and four greenside bunkers as a defense.
While I don’t expect these four holes to surrender a lot of birdies, these could prove decisive in terms of keeping low rounds going. So, although it’s not a high-emphasis statistic, I believe it will play a role.
Here are the leaders in this category over the last 36 rounds with their betting odds for the week:
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