The year's second major is here as the 103rd PGA Championship hits the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
Buckle up, folks - this week is going to be fun. At nearly 8,000 yards, Kiawah will play as the longest venue in major championship history. Add in the potential for heavy winds off the Atlantic Ocean, and birdies should be very tough to come by.
When Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah by eight shots, the scoring average for the week was 74.6 - or 2.6 strokes over par. McIlroy somehow got to 13-under for the week, but the next-best performance was 5-under, and only 20 players ended the week in red numbers?
2020: Collin Morikawa (-13) at TPC Harding Park
2019: Brooks Koepka (-8) at Bethpage Black
2018: Brooks Koepka (-16) at Bellerive
2017: Justin Thomas (-8) at Quail Hollow
2016: Jimmy Walker (-14) at Baltusrol
2015: Jason Day (-20) at Whistling Straits
2014: Rory McIlroy (-16) at Valhalla
2013: Jason Dufner (-10) at Oak Hill
2012: Rory McIlroy (-13) at Kiawah Island
1 - Rory McIlroy (-13)
2 - David Lynn (-5)
T3 - Keegan Bradley (-4)
T3 - Carl Pettersson (-4)
T3 - Ian Poulter (-4)
T3 - Justin Rose (-4)
T7 - Blake Adams (-3)
T7 - Jamie Donaldson (-3)
T7 - Peter Hanson (-3)
T7 - Steve Stricker (-3)
Justin Thomas tops the betting board at +1100, but your eyes should be drawn directly to McIlroy - the consensus favorite - at +1400.
The Northern Irishman is coming off an impressive victory at the Wells Fargo Championship and should have an abundance of confidence at a venue he's dismantled in the past.
Rahm and Dustin Johnson are also viable candidates at +1400. Rahm, who's still searching for his first major, does everything well and tends to perform best when birdies are at a premium. The knee issue that forced Johnson to skip last week's AT&T Byron Nelson shouldn't be a concern. He's the No. 1 player in the world and can turn his game around faster than anyone else.
Bryson DeChambeau's length will be a massive advantage once again, especially at the longest venue in major history. If the wind stays down and DeChambeau can rely on power over creativity, there's a real chance he claims major No. 2 come Sunday.
Finally, Jordan Spieth may have his best opportunity to complete the career grand slam this week at Kiawah. Being long helps, but it's not everything; Spieth can rely on his incredible iron play, short game, and putting to get the job done.
We can't pick everyone from the top, though. If forced to pick one with odds as a consideration, Rahm is the choice at +1400.
There aren't many obvious plays in this range.
Brooks Koepka is battling a knee injury and should be priced closer to +5000. It's at that number that you have to consider the four-time major winner, but anything worse than +3500 is a pass.
Tony Finau, who's rarely considered because he tends to be overpriced, is an option at +3500. He loves playing major championship golf, posting nine top-10s in 19 major starts through his career. He's one of the longest hitters on TOUR, and his underrated short game could be a deciding factor.
Zalatoris and Cameron Smith are getting a lot of love this week. Both played very well at the Masters in April and have the tools to contend at Kiawah Island. Smith is the better play at +4000, as it's tough to envision Zalatoris hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for his first PGA TOUR win.
Given that the 2012 PGA Championship leaderboard looked like one found at an Open Championship, it's safe to assume the weather played an important role in that tournament - and will likely do the same this week. That introduces far more luck and variance into the equation and, as a result, a higher probability of a long-shot winner.
Here are a few to consider:
Tyrrell Hatton (+3700)
Tyrrell Hatton gets the nod at +3700, which are the lowest odds you should take him at.
The Englishman is exactly the type of player who should perform well at Kiawah, regardless of the conditions. He's long enough off the tee, and he's one of the best long-iron players in the field; Hatton ranks second in proximity from over 200 yards in his last 100 rounds played.
His short game has struggled of late, but he did gain strokes in his most recent start at the RBC Heritage. And if the wind picks up and the tournament plays more like an Open Championship, Hatton has two top-sixes in his career at the only major contested across the pond.
Paul Casey (+5000)
Much of what is true about Hatton is true of Paul Casey, making Casey a valid pick at +5000.
Casey finished as a runner-up to Collin Morikawa last year and has 10 top-10 results in majors over his career. His form heading into the week is also rather strong. He won early in 2021 in Dubai and followed it up with three top-10 finishes, including a T5 at the Players Championship.
The 43-year-old remains one of the best ball-strikers on TOUR, ranking eighth in strokes gained: long game (off the tee plus approach) over his past 100 rounds. One week of above-average putting should put Casey right in the thick of things on Sunday.
Tommy Fleetwood (+5500)
Tommy Fleetwood is the final selection at +5500 and rounds out a trio of picks from England.
Fleetwood has always been considered an elite ball-striker, and he'll have to depend heavily on that strength to have any chance this week. But his short game is often overlooked. He's 14th in the field in strokes gained: around the green over his past 100 rounds and ranks seventh over his past 12 rounds.
The 30-year-old has two runner-up finishes at majors in his career, and he came fourth at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills - a course that shares some similarities with Kiawah in terms of length.