Golf’s second major kicks off on Thursday with the PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will be humid, the course will be difficult, and the action is sure to be great.
For a full tournament head-to-head matchup this week at Southern Hills, I’m looking for players who can scramble around the green and fading inconsistency. Here are three worth a look.
Billy Horschel (-110) vs Adam Scott
Southern Hills has a lot of slopes. Players could very well hit their mark, but with the undulation and the short grass around the greens, they could find themselves chipping and pitching more often than not. Horschel is good around the green. Scott is not. In 2022, Billy Ho has gained strokes around the green in eight of 10 events tracked. His short game is his strong suit and that could definitely come into play this week. Horschel has even improved on his ball striking over the last few events, gaining strokes in six of his last seven. That's important because he was previously relying heavily on his short game, but now has a solid mix of both.
Scott is the inconsistent player I’m fading. In his last seven events played this year, Scott has lost strokes ball striking in four, lost strokes around the green in five and lost strokes putting in three. Scott is ranked outside the top 100 for both scrambling and sand saves, possibly making it a tough week to contend.
Scheffler couldn’t possibly win another event, could he? That’s what we’re all asking ourselves this week. With four wins this year, backing the World No. 1 on this track isn’t a bad idea. The layout at Southern Hills looks to set up well for a solid ball striker and short game player, which happens to be the exact strengths of the Longhorn (Hook ‘em). Scheffler ranks top 10 in the field for strokes gained on approach. More importantly, he's second in the field for strokes gained around the green.
Rahm leads the field in ball striking and just won the Mexico Open, so why fade him? Because he was varsity playing JV at Vidante, gaining strokes in every category — on a flat, wide, no elevation, paspalum course. This week at Southern Hills is not that and I’m not quite convinced that the six-week stretch Rahm had losing strokes around the green is gone from his game.
Keegan Bradley (-120) vs Abraham Ancer
Is Ancer OK? In his last three outings, Ancer missed the CUT at the Masters, then followed that up with a T42 and T56 in Mexico and at the Wells Fargo Championship. That's after he withdrew prior to the RBC Heritage after another WD at the Valero. Regardless of whether it is injury related or not, Southern Hills is not a good fit for Ancer’s game. He’s an inconsistent ball striker, and loses strokes around the green in nearly every event he plays.
Unlike Ancer, Bradley is on a bit of a roll with five top-11 finishes in his last seven starts, including a T2 in the Wells Fargo Championship. He’s great off the tee, has only lost strokes on approach in three of his last 11 events and has a much more consistent short game around the green. Bradley did gain nearly six strokes around the green at the Valero Texas Open but that’s atypical. For the most part he’s fairly neutral and I’ll take that. Part of team “no putt,” bentgrass is Bradley’s best surface. Fade Ancer until further notice.