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Making tough choices among the trio of Oak Hill leaders

5 Min Read

Draws and Fades

    Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer

    The precipitation came a little earlier than expected at Oak Hill Country Club, but while the rain dropped on Friday afternoon, so did the wind – and that led to some birdies at the 105th PGA Championship.

    The cut line fell at 5 over, and of the players that made it to the weekend, 40 shot rounds of Even par or better on a course that, for two days now, has lived up to some very challenging expectations.

    Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland share the lead at 5 under par. They combined to shoot 7 under on Friday and have, collectively, only made nine bogeys through the first two rounds. Justin Suh, playing in his first ever PGA Championship, sits at 3 under, tied with opening-round leader Bryson DeChambeau.

    Updated odds to win PGA Championship (via BetMGM Sportsbook)

    +160: Scottie Scheffler

    +400: Viktor Hovland

    +650: Corey Conners

    +1100: Brooks Koepka

    +1200: Bryson DeChambeau

    +2000: Rory McIlroy

    +4000: Justin Rose, Justin Suh, Patrick Cantlay

    +5000: Dustin Johnson

    +6000: Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry

    Two-time PGA champion Brooks Koepka's four-under 66 was the low round of the day, and he sits three shots off the pace at 2 under for the championship, tied with Callum Tarren. Taylor Pendrith and Justin Rose round out the top 10, at 1 under. Michael Block, a 46-year-old PGA Professional, sits tied for 11th at Even. Seven other players are right there with Block, five shots back, including Shane Lowry, Keegan Bradley, and Rory McIlroy.

    The rain that we were expecting originally for Saturday is still in the forecast, and it’s supposed to bring with it winds in the neighborhood of 10-20+ MPH. The moisture in the air has appeared to soften up the greens somewhat and make them more receptive, but when you add wind into the equation, Saturday could prove to be the most difficult day of the championship so far.

    Sunday is calling for sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70's, and wind in the 10-15 MPH range. The weekend looks like quite the contrast in weather styles. It ought to make for some very interesting golf - but how do we figure out who to bet on and who to bet against over the course of the next 36 holes?

    Here are my thoughts as I look to make some tough choices among the trio of co-leaders who now sit two shots clear of the rest of the field at the halfway point, with odds via BetMGM:


    Scottie Scheffler (+160)

    Scheffler seems to do his best work against the best competition. He won last year at the Masters, at Bay Hill and the WGC-Dell Match Play. He has won twice this season at elevated events, in Phoenix and at THE PLAYERS. Scheffler has only made two bogeys so far through two rounds and he leads the field in SG: Tee to Green. Everything else I am looking at, as far as the numbers, is solid and well above average. At the same time, I am not seeing anything that looks too far off the spectrum – one way or another – to give cause for concern.

    Just like Scheffler’s game, it is not volatile, it is not necessarily flashy – just steady. And as conditions become more difficult, that is something we want from a player we are backing.

    Viktor Hovland (+400)

    Hovland is leading the field in SG: Approach and is fifth in Greens in Regulation. Let’s also remember that he came into this championship ranked fourth on TOUR in Total Driving – but he is below 50% for Driving Accuracy through two rounds and ranks 80th in this field for SG: Off the Tee. That is out of character for Hovland, who ranked sixth on TOUR for SG: Off the Tee coming in. My feeling is this will correct itself.

    Obviously the iron play has been tremendous. His work around the greens has been very good, but not so far to the positive that you would expect it to regress. I believe the work off the tee will improve, and if all else remains the same, he could very easily win his first major championship. Another note on both Scheffler and Hovland: Scheffler is from Texas and went to the University of Texas. He has plenty of know-how playing in the wind. The same is true for Hovland, who played college golf at Oklahoma State – another part of the country that is no stranger to wind.


    Corey Conners (+650)

    Corey Conners is a very strong player and has had some high finishes in majors in the past, but I don’t feel he is necessarily in quite the same class as Hovland and Scheffler – as far as his complete game. He has always been an elite ball-striker, but his weakness has been on and around the greens. Through two rounds, Conners sits sixth in this field for Strokes Gained: Putting and that concerns me, as I don’t know if it is sustainable. With how difficult this course has been and how tough we expect it will be on the weekend, I don’t foresee the chasers having too much of a chance to catch the three co-leaders – but I believe Conners is the odd man out.

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