This year the PGA Championship is being held at a beautiful course that has seen only two previous major championships, Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri. Gary Player won the U.S. Open here in 1965 with a score of +2 when Bellerive played as a par 70 at close to 7,200 yards. In 1992 the PGA Championship was held here and Nick Price won at -6, the course was slightly shorter and played as a par 71. Camilo Villegas posted -15 in the BMW Championship at Bellerive in 2008 when it was a par 70 but it played significantly shorter at 6,959 yards. This year it will be a par 70 and log just over 7,300 yards so I expect the winning score to be closer to the +2 through -6 range.
There are two par 5’s that are both around 600 yards. Four par 3’s that are equally spaced out, in terms of length, the shortest being 148 yards and the longest being 237 yards. And twelve par 4’s, two are under 400 yards, six are 450 yards or longer and two of those six reach over 500 yards. Length and lack of scoring holes alone will make this a tough course to shoot under par on any given day.
What looks to be the most crucial part of having success here is gaining shots off the tee. The rough is long and incredibly hard to get out of with any distance so if you want a chance to attack the greens you will need to set yourself up nicely in the fairway. There are also a few holes that have bunkers near the landing zones of tee shots so those are more obstacles that need to be avoided with the driver.
Among other things that need to be side-stepped are the water hazards that are in play in just over half of the holes, whether it’s the creek that winds through the course or one of the few ponds that guard the greens. Also most of the holes are lined with trees so errant shots will force golfers to punch out or lay-up to less preferred approach locations.
The greens are among some of the biggest on tour but are quite undulated and in most cases are protected by large bunkers. If you aren’t accurate into the green then you might be forced to fight for a sand save or risk a three putt.
A large percentage of the holes dogleg slightly to the left so if you are a righty with a natural draw or a lefty with a natural fade, odds are you will be able to set yourself up with better approach opportunities.
If you would like to join the Bellerive Country Club you’re in luck, from what I hear the initial fee to become a member is a measly $120,000.
- SG: off the tee
- Good Drive Percentage
- Birdie or Better %
- Bogey Avoidance
- Par 4 Scoring Average
- Proximity to the Hole (on approach shots)
- Sand Save %
- SG: approaching the green
- Par 3 Scoring Average
It’s the final major championship of the year so all of the PGA tour’s best players and qualifiers as well as the European tour’s will be there.
Big Dogs ($8,600 and up on DraftKings)
- I like most everybody for this price so I will only list the guys I see as a riskier play that could pay off or someone who you should avoid all together.
- Jordan Spieth ($10,700 DK, $11,500 FD) – Jordan did finish T9 at The Open Championship so there is some upside for a low owned guy with potential to win but his putting has continued to stink so with big greens and three putts being in play I will likely pass.
- Justin Rose ($9,400 DK, $11,900 FD) – Justin’s form has been amazing but with back spasms keeping him out last week he should be watched very closely up until Thursday before pulling the trigger.
- Patrick Reed ($8,900 DK, $11,200 FD) – Reed has been pretty solid and won the first major of the year but his driving scares me. He’s 111th at SG: off the tee, 195th in good drive percentage and T175 in proximity to the hole on approach shots. If Pat has a tough time staying in the fairway and sticking shots close to the hole he’s going to have a hard time scoring here.
- Alexander Noren ($8,600 DK, $9,900 FD) – the same reason I might be off of Reed this week goes for Noren as well. He’s 184th in good drive percentage and 196th in proximity to the hole. Alex has looked really good lately but at this price I’m guessing his ownership will be too high to pay off.
- Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800 DK, $10,500 FD) – his name is the only reason why he is priced this high. Hideki’s last three events have been cut, cut, T39, and his inconsistency off the tee probably won’t help him this week.
Value ($8,500 – $7,300 on DraftKings)
- Patrick Cantlay ($8,400 DK, $9,700 FD) – He’s 11th at SG: off the tee and T31 at SG: approaching the green and has been on a tear lately with a T6 at the WGC last week and T12 at The Open just before that.
- Tony Finau ($8,100 DK, $10,600 FD) – three of Tony’s last five events he’s been in the top 10 and like Cantlay he’s good tee to green. (T28 SG: off the tee, 22nd SG: approaching the green).
- Paul Casey ($8,000 DK, $10,900 FD) – he’s hasn’t had the greatest last two outings, T51 & T31, but I believe that has him priced favorably on Draftkings. In Casey’s last nine events he has three top fives and a 15th and 16th place finish at the first two majors of the year.
- Bryson DeChambeau ($7,900 DK, $10,000 FD) – some could be overlooking Bryson because his shoulder injury but he has progressively gotten better since then and could be right on track to where he was before he withdrew a few weeks back.
- Matt Kuchar ($7,900 DK, $10,400 FD) – he’s been up and down lately but at The Open he was T9 and last week at the WGC he was T14. Kuch loves to float around at big tournaments like this and his accuracy from tee to green should help him here.
- Louis Oosthuizen ($7,700 DK, $9,800 FD) – Louie continued his good play last week with a T24 at the WGC. I still don’t like him to top 10 here but based of his recent play and ability to save par I think he’s a safe play.
- Zach Johnson ($7,500 DK, $9,800 FD) – in ZJ’s last five events he has quietly managed to place T19 or better. This could lead to him being a high ownership for the price but it still wouldn’t scare me away, especially in cash games.
- Ryan Moore ($7,400 DK, $9,000 FD) – another sneaky good pick could end up being Moore, he’s made nine of his last eleven cuts and fits this course well. He’s an escape artist and that will prove helpful here. Moore is 4th in good drive percentage, 5th in scrambling, and 8th in bogey avoidance.
- Ian Poulter ($7,400 DK, $9,100 FD) – Ian tacked another good performance onto his year with a top 10 at the WGC last week. He’s not a great scrambler (141st), or at avoiding bogey (139th), or at sand saves (108th), so if he gets in trouble we could see a meltdown.
- Phil Mickelson ($8,300 DK, $10,400 FD) – back to back top 25’s for Phil at big events (The Open & WGC) hint at a rebound for his season but Phil is still very dicey off the tee. He slid up to 145th at SG: off the tee but is 193rd at good drive percentage.
- Bubba Watson ($8,000 DK, $10,200 FD) – Bubba finished decent (T31) at the WGC but before that missed two straight cuts. His forte seems to be either missing a cut or placing in the top 10 so he’s an alright risk but I wouldn’t make him a cornerstone of your lineups.
- Webb Simpson ($7,700 DK, $10,700 FD) – his biggest drawback is his driver which could cost him here, Webb is 144th at SG: off the tee and 123rd in good drive percentage, but he does seem to have a high floor with his worst finish in the three majors this year being a 20th place finish.
- Keegan Bradley ($7,500 DK, $9,200 FD) – one of the best at getting from tee to green, especially from approach to green where he ranks 1st on tour, Keegan can use that to carry him into the weekend. But if he wants to make the cut at his first major this year (0/2) he will have to wake his putter up and stay out of the long grass and beaches.
Sleepers ($7,200 and under on DraftKings)
- Emiliano Grillo ($7,200 DK, $8,200 FD) – I’m not sure why he is consistently priced so low week in and week out but Grillo finds himself being one of the best pound for pound pricing options this week. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and The Open this year so maybe he can’t handle the big moment yet?
- Charley Hoffman ($7,200 DK, $9,100 FD) – Hoffman rises to the occasion with three top 20’s in the first three majors this year. He’s been a poor scrambler (T151) and bad at sand saves (T173) but if he can keep it in the first cut he should be just fine.
- Charles Howell III ($7,200 DK, $9,000 FD) – four out of his last five events have been top 30 finishes but he missed the cut at his last event (The Open). Howell is one of the best in the biz at saving par so I’m guessing he turns around and makes the cut here.
- Tyrrell Hatton ($7,200 DK, $8,800 FD) – I don’t know why he is ranked so poorly in a large array of statistically categories, because his performance hasn’t been that bad this year and he at least looks good lately. In his last five starts he has two top 10’s and his worst finish has been a T51.
- Russell Knox ($7,100 DK, $8,700 FD) – he’s only missed one out of his last nine cuts but in his last three he hasn’t finished better than T48. Knox is T21 at proximity, T30 at par 4 scoring, and 28th at avoiding bogeys so I could see him bouncing back at Bellerive.
- Kyle Stanley ($7,100 DK, $8,500 FD) – is one of the best drivers on tour at 19th in SG: off the tee and 21st at good drive percentage. Kyle is even coming of a T39 at The Open and an outright 2nd at the WGC last week.
- Ryan Fox ($7,100 DK, $7,600 FD) – since early June he has had three top ten finishes and finished in 41st place or better in his last two majors.
- Eddie Pepperell ($7,000 DK, $8,000 FD) – maybe I think too highly of him since his hungover finish at The Open but he finished T6 there and just before that at the Scottish Open was 2nd.
- Luke List ($7,100 DK, $8,300 FD) – Luke’s last three starts have been 3rd, 39th, and 24th so he comes into the PGA Championship with some confidence. The deciding factor might be his proximity where he ranks T171 and contributes to his poor putting statistics, and could force him to three putt here.
- Jamie Lovemark ($7,100 DK, $8,200 FD) – I don’t see a top 10 for Lovemark, maybe not even a top 25, but in this price range he is one of the most likely candidates to make the cut. He’s a good enough scrambler (T42), par 4 scorer (T30), and good drive percentage (57th) to potentially survive this course.
- Gary Woodland ($7,000 DK, $8,900 FD) – Gary’s last two events have been a 22nd and 17th place finish in the last two weeks so he comes into the PGA Championship in relatively good form. Also, it might be worth giving any guy a look at $7,000 who is 19/27 in cuts made at major championships.
- Thorbjorn Olesen ($6,700 DK, $8,600 FD) – last week at the WGC he was T3 and before that at The Open Championship he was T12. I don’t know how to pronounce his name but for $6,700 I might be all in on Thor.
- Beau Hossler ($6,900 DK, $8,500 FD) – Beau isn’t great into the green, 172nd in SG: approaching the green and T180 at proximity, but he’s good pretty much everywhere else, especially driving. That should be enough to give him an edge on anyone priced below $7,000.
- Andrew Putnam ($6,900 DK, $7,600 FD) – won the Barracuda Championship last week and before that finished T8 at the Canadian Open. His stats don’t look all that bad either for this year so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him stay hot this week.
- Julian Suri ($6,900 DK, $8,400 FD) – since The Memorial, Suri has had several finishes in the top 30 including a T28 at The Open and a T2 at the Open de France.
- Chris Kirk ($6,800 DK, $8,000 FD) – he’s made nineteen out of his last twenty-three cuts so this is about as consistent a golfer as you can find for this price. He matches up fairly well for this course and should do better than his missed cut at the Canadian Open.
- Kevin Na ($6,800 DK, $8,600 FD) – Na is a really good scrambler (6th) and all around scorer, where he falls apart is when he’s wild off the tee. He’s 177th in SG: off the tee so if he can stay close to the fairway he will have a good chance to compete here.
- Brian Gay ($6,800 DK, $7,300 FD) – he’s been pretty good lately, besides a missed cut at the John Deere Classic, but finished T20 at the U.S. Open. Brian is 12th in scrambling, 25th in birdie or better, and 35th in bogey avoidance so there is definitely a chance he makes it to the weekend.
- Stewart Cink ($6,700 DK, $8,300 FD) – in his last five events he’s finished T37 or better and he’s good at approaching the green, 10th in SG: approaching the green and T19 in proximity.
- Russell Henley ($6,700 DK, $8,800 FD) – before missing the cut at The Open, Henley had four straight events inside the top 30 which included a T25 at the U.S. Open.
- Chris Wood ($6,600 DK, $7,900 FD) – he finished 2nd in the Open de France, 14th in the Irish Open, and 28th in the Open Championship. And he’s the tallest guy in the field, that’s gotta count for something.
- J.J. Spaun ($6,400 DK, $7,300 FD) – he’s a bad scrambler (T171) especially out of the sand (196th) but he is accurate tee to green and that could be crucial for him this week.
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