Since you’re reading this, it’s fair to assume that you don’t mind knowing how the sausage is made. You’re captivated by the circuitry that goes into how fields are built, how status is affected and all of the other secondary narratives that aren’t covered in the mainstream. Therein all of it is where relative value exists both in the short- and long-term.
What even many avid fans don’t know is that the PGA TOUR doesn’t operate any of the majors even though all are official tournaments. By extension, I can distribute only so much information as it concerns how some qualifiers are determined.
Next week’s PGA Championship is run by the PGA of America. (Incidentally, for those of us who work in the industry, anytime we hear or see only “PGA” referenced, almost all of the time it’s inferred that the person is speaking of the PGA TOUR, which has been a separate entity since 1968. Its method of filling the field of 156 includes a blend of the Official World Golf Ranking and a special money list (i.e. “PGA Championship Points”) through the conclusion of the Wells Fargo Championship.
The exemptions for both subsets are distributed in order of their respective rankings, but only the top 70 in PGA Championship Points are automatic qualifiers. Traditionally, the PGA of America will lasso the top 100 of the OWGR, but it’s not an official criterion for entry. In other words, to use an extreme example, the PGA of America could invite any professional golfers even if they didn’t have a value in the OWGR. So, until the exemptions are announced, I can’t confirm that any golfer who isn’t yet eligible has qualified. I compromise at projecting qualification in individual communication with you but that won’t match what you see in Qualifiers until any is official.
A similar experience will occur for the U.S. Open in June. The USGA runs that major. Except for special exemptions, its qualifiers are straightforward, but the list of alternates is fluid because it depends on who withdraws. Each of the sectional qualifying sites has alternates for their qualifiers specifically, but those same alternates slot on a master list (dedicated to non-sectional qualifiers) that is not publicized. However, before you rush to criticize, the USGA isn’t hiding anything; rather, it would get confusing to the average fan and uneducated media if there are multiple lists of alternates. Of course, you and I wouldn’t mind the thoroughness of the process, but we also understand why the USGA draws the line where it does. If we were running the show, we’d subscribe to the same approach to limit the headaches.
The Masters and The Open Championship are the lightest lifts of the four in terms of understanding the construct of the fields. Only special invitations extended by Augusta National Golf Club and not-so-recent past champions are question marks in advance of the Masters where there are no alternates. The R&A controls the only major outside the U.S. Qualifying for it is as airtight as it gets, but like the Masters, older past champions who are eligible still are prone not to commit.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, May 11 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the AT&T Byron Nelson (in alphabetical order):
Daniel Berger (+1600)
Bryson DeChambeau (+800)
Marc Leishman (+3300)
Jon Rahm (+750)
Scottie Scheffler (+1800)
Jordan Spieth (+1100)
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Sam Burns; Matt Fitzpatrick; Doug Ghim; Si Woo Kim; Luke List; Hideki Matsuyama; Ryan Palmer; Brandt Snedeker; Sepp Straka; Camilo Villegas
Driving: Sam Burns; Matt Fitzpatrick; Sergio Garcia; Doug Ghim; Talor Gooch; Hideki Matsuyama; Ryan Palmer; Sepp Straka; Will Zalatoris
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Brooks Koepka (+2000) … I’ve learned enough not to bet against him, but given his latest malady (surgery for a dislocated right kneecap with ligament damage) and missed cut at the Masters, he’s worth observation only at TPC Craig Ranch where the promise of at least two rounds is better than none in advance of the PGA Championship.
Thomas Pieters (+6600) … If the unknown of TPC Craig Ranch scares you in a One & Done, he’s your pick no matter where you currently rank. In his last five starts worldwide, he’s finished no worse than T15 in Puerto Rico. He’s also cashed in 10 consecutive starts since October. What’s more, he’s fresh as he digs in these next two weeks.
Keith Mitchell (+6600) … His recent surge has lifted him to 91st in the FedExCup. He’s fully exempt through 2021-22 but he has yet to qualify for next week’s PGA Championship for which only a victory at TPC Craig Ranch would yield, so this is all about striking with the irons are hot and his objective is singular.
Camilo Villegas (+15000) … Flashing a focus since securing conditional status with a T8 at The Honda Classic in what was the final start via a Major Medical Extension. In his last three starts, he’s gone T17-T25-T11 and sits a healthy 96th in the FedExCup. You’re already familiar with his story, so you understand the intangible of his inspiration.
Peter Uihlein (+10000) … Didn’t capitalize on the top-10 exemption at the Valspar Championship (T57), but he continued his otherwise torrid pace on the Korn Ferry Tour last week for a T7.
Pat Perez (+15000) … It’s not much but he’s recorded three straight top 30s for the first time since mid-summer of 2020. At 122nd in the FedExCup and not yet fully exempt for 2021-22, you know that the 45-year-old will find the next gear to avoid the sweat.
Luke List (+6600) … Worth the plunge coming off a T6 at Quail Hollow and having finished T13 in the 2012 KFT Championship at TPC Craig Ranch.
Sung Kang (+20000) … How’s that for a reward for breaking through on the PGA TOUR? TPC Craig Ranch is the home course for the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson champion. That alone is worth a flier in DFS, but he might be under-owned, anyway, given that he’s scuffled all season and sits 184th in the FedExCup. In 2021 alone, he’s 4-for-13 and without a top-55 finish.
Charles Howell III
Si Woo Kim
Rickie Fowler (+8000) … It’d surprise most who pay attention weekly that he has three top 25s in 10 starts in 2021 because that seems like more than you’d guess. Meanwhile, for those who aren’t watching as often, that probably feels like a terribly low total for one of the most recognizable talents on TOUR. Because of his cachet, fractional DFSers are advised to work him into a moderately aggressive lineup every time he commits for the what-if, but that’s it.
Lee Westwood (+8000) … It’s been two months now since he connected runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. In three stroke-play starts since, he’s gone MC-MC-63rd. Consider this as a tune-up for the PGA Championship. The 48-year-old should be playing in the majors for at least another year on Official World Golf Ranking alone, but the clock ticks louder to break through for every one. Within that thinking could be foreshadowing for The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s where old pal, Darren Clarke, prevailed as a 42-year-old in the course’s last turn in the rota in 2011.
Carlos Ortiz (+6600) … This would seem to be a no-brainer for the Dallas resident and University of North Texas product, but he’s been misfiring for three months. In the grand scheme of things, that five-start stretch from the breakthrough win in Houston through the T4 at TPC Scottsdale can be classified as a spike. Continue to allow him to find his footing amid higher expectations.
James Hahn (+12500) … The 2012 KFT Championship runner-up hasn’t been the same since withdrawing during The Honda Classic in March with an injured rib. He took a month off and has since gone 0-for-3.
Patrick Rodgers (+20000) … Cruised to the co-lead at the midpoint of the Wells Fargo Championship but shot 79 in the third round and drifted into a T37. It extended his drought without a top 25 to nine consecutive starts. He’s too talented to slump for this long, so he’s not been positively influenced by the Nappy Factor. His first child, a boy, was born on Dec. 31.
Austin Cook (+40000) … He’s 108th in the FedExCup on the strength of the co-runner-up at the Shriners in October, but he rolls into TPC Craig Ranch having missed 11 consecutive cuts.
Kramer Hickok (+40000) … I was holding my breath that the 29-year-old Dallas resident would connect with some form in advance of the hometown stop, but he’s gone nine starts without a top 50, six of which resulting in a missed cut. It’s a departure of his early-season bonanza of four top 25s that bridged the holiday break.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Kevin Chappell … Stepped away early from the Valspar Championship due to a sore back. He’s balancing his position in the FedExCup (174th) with chasing the terms of his Major Medical Extension that grants 11 more starts. Given that position, he’s unownable in long-term formats this season, but he’s poised to be a bargain for salary gamers in 2021-22, all depending on how he fares with his medical if he doesn’t qualify for the 2021 Playoffs.
Danny Lee … The local resident withdrew during his opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship with an injured back. It was his fourth mid-tournament WD of the last 10 months.
Dustin Johnson … Opting to rest a sore knee. Read his entire statement here.
Robert Streb … Since winning The RSM Classic, he’s just 4-for-12 with one top-50 finish in a full-field event. As strange as it could be, and despite the challenge that awaits at Kiawah Island, perhaps the PGA Championship is what he needs to reverse the trend. In three appearances in the major, he has a T10 (2015), a T7 (2016) and a T22 (2017).
Brandon Hagy … Once his T26 at Quail Hollow was plugged in and the PGA of America distributed the special exemptions into the PGA Championship, he landed at third alternate and has since risen to second. So, his chance of making his debut in the major is good. He’s 78th in the FedExCup, so he can afford to take the week off.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – Wells Fargo Championship
1 Jon Rahm MC
2 Justin Thomas T26
3 Bryson DeChambeau T9
4 Webb Simpson DNP
5 Will Zalatoris MC
6 Viktor Hovland T3
7 Rory McIlroy Win
8 Xander Schauffele T14
9 Max Homa MC
10 Tony Finau MC
11 Corey Conners T43
12 Keegan Bradley T18
13 Cameron Tringale MC
14 Abraham Ancer 2nd
15 Shane Lowry T65
Wild Card Stewart Cink T37
SLEEPERS RECAP – Wells Fargo Championship
Matthew NeSmith T58
Seamus Power T54
Justin Suh MC
Matt Wallace T6
Vincent Whaley T26
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
May 11 … Briny Baird (49)
May 12 … Jim Furyk (51)
May 13 … none
May 14 … none
May 15 … Roger Sloan (34)
May 16 … Bo Van Pelt (46); Derek Ernst (31)
May 17 … Hunter Mahan (39)
Visit BetMGM.com for Terms and Conditions. 21+ years of age or older to wager. CO, IA, IN,MI, NJ, NV,PA, TN, VA or WV only. Excludes Michigan Disassociated Persons. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700 (CO, NV, VA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA & WV), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), Call or Text the Tennessee REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN), or call 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN).