The PGA Championship will make its first-ever appearance at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, NY as 2019’s second Major. The Wanamaker Trophy is waiting for the field of 156 which will be cut down to the top 70 and ties after Round 2.
The field is the only of the four Majors to be composed solely of professionals. The top 100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking – with the exception of No. 5 Justin Thomas, who had to withdraw Monday due to a wrist injury – are scheduled to be in attendance, including reigning champion Brooks Koepka. Sixteen other former champions will be present, as will the 34 winners of a combined 67 Majors. Sixty-nine International players represent 27 countries in the field.
The course: Bethpage Black
The event will be played on a US Open-style course in what’s likely to be Open Championship weather but will remain under PGA Championship conditions. Bethpage Black – a public course – has been rarely used by the PGA circuit; it’s hosted only the 2002 and 2009 US Opens, and The Barclays in 2012 and 2016. It will next host the 2024 Ryder Cup.
Rees Jones led redesigns to Bethpage in 1998 and 2008. A.W. Tillinghast was the original designer in 1936. The course played as a 7,426-yard par-70 in the 2009 US Open. Three of the four par 3s measure in excess of 200 yards. The par 4s range from 389 yards to 524 with three topping 500. The longest hole on the course is the 608-yard par-5 13th.
Cool, wet New York spring weather will be making the course seem significantly longer and tougher than it’s sheer length permits. The only water hazard is in front of the green on the par-3 eighth hole. Bunkers and trees require golfers to always be considering the placement of their tee shots.
The bentgrass greens are not nearly as challenging as the topographical nightmares at Augusta National and won’t be as dried out and fast as they play under US Open conditions. The main challenge lies in setting up the approach shot into the well-guarded and often-elevated surfaces.
The weather has the potential to be as big of a factor as anything this week. The early forecast calls for temperatures varying between the mid-50s and high-60s. The highest chance of rain is for Thursday but still only 20 percent. The chances of precipitation dip to 10 percent for Friday through the weekend.
Be cautious betting players with an early Friday morning tee time who may play their way out of contention with cooler temperatures and a 50 percent chance of rain.
Key stats to consider for the 2019 PGA Championship
With Bethpage having hosted two very different events under different conditions, and the PGA Championship likely featuring an entirely new setup, it’s tough to get a read on the most important statistics.
We’ll focus on the four key stats of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Strokes Gained: Approach, Greens in Regulation Gained, and Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards. All references to the statistical model will look at the last 24 rounds played by each golfer in the field on courses over 7,400 yards, as drawn from Fantasy National.
While the course itself is much different than previous PGA Championship host sites, many factors are tailored to be similar; such as green speeds, length of the rough, and overall difficulty. Expect the winning score to fall somewhere between Lucas Glover‘s minus-4 at the 2009 US Open and Patrick Reed‘s minus-9 at The Barclays in 2016.
Recent form and Major experience remain important factors.
2019 PGA Championship: Sleepers and value bets
Woodland has appeared in just one event since he finished 32nd at the Masters. He’s coming off a withdrawal at the Wells Fargo Championship due to an illness.
The 34-year-old finished fourth at the 2016 Barclays and 47th at the 2009 US Open. He made the cut in three of four Majors in 2018 with a top finish of sixth at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.
Ranked 25th in the world, Woodland’s ninth on Tour in Driving Distance this season. He won’t be as penalized for his poor putting and occasional inaccuracy with the driver. Woodland ranks fifth in the field in SG: Off-the-Tee.
Fleetwood is one of the best pure ball strikers and shot shapers on Tour. He’s 21st in the model over his last 24 rounds but ranks 16th in Scoring Average and first in Sand Save Percentage this season. He finished inside the top 5 at each of the last two US Opens to show his Major pedigree and potential fit to the hybrid Bethpage.
His final preparation for the PGA Championship came at last week’s British Masters on the European Tour where he finished T8 with a disappointing Sunday 73. The Englishman is still looking for his first win on the PGA circuit, but he’s collected top 35s in each Major in 2018 and was 36th at this year’s Masters.
An is looking to become the second player from South Korea to win the PGA Championship and first since Y.E. Yang’s incredible victory over Tiger Woods in 2009. The 27-year-old has two top 10 finishes this season. He was T10 in a loaded field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He missed qualifying for the Masters with a world rank of 52nd at the time and is now 57th following a missed cut at the RBC Heritage and a withdrawal from the Wells Fargo. An made the cut but finished outside the top 50 at the final three Majors in 2018.
He is 13th in Driving Distance this season at 309.3 yards. He’s fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green and can make up for inaccurate drives.
2019 PGA Championship: Golfers to avoid
Reed will be a popular play both at the sportsbooks and in DFS as the most recent winner at Bethpage. The 2018 Masters champion ranks 72nd in the field in SG: Off-the-Tee, 71st in Driving Distance, and a woeful 175th in Driving Accuracy.
As mentioned above, the course is likely to play much more difficult than it did in late August of 2016 for his win at The Barclays.
Phil Mickelson +8000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
It’s been nearly six years since Mickelson’s last Major win at the 2013 Open Championship. He last won the PGA Championship in 2005, and we all know he’s never won a US Open.
Mickelson finished as the runner-up at Bethpage in both 2002 and 2009 but he’s 73rd in the 2019 field in SG: Off-the-Tee with seven of 11 made cuts coming in. He has a win and a runner-up finish in 2019 but missed the cut at the Wells Fargo and in three of his last four events.
Francesco Molinari +2800 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Molinari finished sixth at last year’s PGA Championship and was the runner-up in 2017. While he’s shown an obvious Major pedigree in his career renaissance, Bethpage’s similarity to a US Open course is cause for concern. The Italian Stallion has never finished higher than T23 at what was formerly the second Major on the schedule.
While he’s a strong irons player, Molinari ranks just 134th on Tour in Driving Distance and will have difficulty carrying the ball as far as he needs to off the tee at the Black Course.
2019 PGA Championship: The winner
The 25-year-old Schauffele was a runner-up at April’s Masters Tournament. He now has top 5s at three of the four Majors since 2017.
Schauffele has never played Bethpage as a professional, but his victory at the 2017 Tour Championship was at the Rees Jones-designed East Lake Golf Club. The 2017 Rookie of the Year is 18th in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds.
The No. 9 player in the OWGR has just the 13th-best odds to win the PGA Championship.
2019 PGA Championship: Leader After Round 1
Rory McIlroy +2200 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Rory has shown many times before he is capable of going wire-to-wire as the tournament winner, including his 2014 Open Championship. His +2200 odds to lead the 2019 PGA Championship after Round 1 are a much better value than his +1200 to win a fifth career Major.
He’s in the 10th-to-last group to hit the course Thursday with a 1:38 p.m. Eastern tee time alongside Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. While the three combine to form a wildly popular grouping, they’ll begin their first round only 22 minutes behind Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth, who are likely to face larger crowds and even more attention from the gallery.