On the global leaderboard, he’s 0.7 strokes per round clear of second place in current FRACAS and 0.5 strokes per round clear of second in long-term FRACAS.

He is playing sustained, dominant golf. So it should come as no surprise that Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 golfer, is (once again) our FRACAS-powered supercomputer’s pick to win a major.

That being said, his modeled win percentage of 7.4% for the PGA Championship seems low, relative to what you would expect given his current form. 

Valhalla Golf Club is kind of a wonky course in that there isn’t really a stretch where you have the opportunity to separate yourself from the field. There is no “back nine at Augusta” at Valhalla.

The course has played fairly average in scoring variance the last two times it hosted the PGA Championship, but it’s a very spread out kind of variance. On a variance per expected stroke (essentially variance divided by par), the only hole on the course that would be deemed “high importance” is the 14th, a massive 254-yard par 3.

The good news is this type of course lends itself to crowded leaderboards and great storylines, and we’re unlikely to see a runaway winner in Louisville as we have during the last few Masters at Augusta National.

Who Will Win the 2024 PGA Championship?

pga championship

Xander Schauffele is perhaps a surprising second in our FRACAS-modeled win percentage, given that just last week he was pummeled by Rory McIlroy on the back nine at Quail Hollow. Schauffele has gained a ton of length off the tee this year, without sacrificing the accuracy that made him a consistent, though uninspiring, top-20 finisher in majors over the last six years. At a course where it’s hard to make up bogeys, the skill set of avoiding them altogether is something our model likes. He’s second to only Scheffler in projected par or better rate this week at 84.8%.

Rory McIlroy is the defending champion at Valhalla, having lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in 2014. He’s also coming off a dominating win at Quail Hollow last week. He’s third on this list primarily because he’s still being bitten by the ugly number bug. Among the top 50 players in the field, he’s third in projected double or worse rate at 3.13%. Valhalla’s requirement of consistency is going to be a recurring theme this week, and McIlroy will have to avoid those big numbers to stay in the hunt.

Jon Rahm closes out what could be considered the best bets to win it. Rahm’s form is still just “fine” on the LIV tour and we’ve yet to see evidence that he’s on an upswing. If his group is on the broadcast, he remains one of the best viewing experiences in the sport, somehow appearing in the top five in the field in both our steadiest golfers metric and most exciting golfers metric.

Patrick Cantlay should succeed this week for the same reason Schauffele should – world-class consistency. He’s dead last in the field projected double or worse rate at 1.63% and fourth in the field in par or better rate at 83.3%. His scorecard should feature a ton of pars this week. Not the most exciting golfer to watch, but he should be in one of the final five groups on Sunday.

Joaquin Niemann, Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland are all in the next tier of projected winners. Niemann had a disappointing week at the Masters given his lead-up of form, but he’s still among the best golfers in the world and should factor into the excitement. Hovland and DeChambeau have remarkably similar profiles these days, and are of particular note because they have two of the three best course fits among the top 30 players in the field. Both have gotten increasingly more consistent in the last two years, while maintaining the scoring ability that turned heads in the first two years after the COVID break. DeChambeau is eighth in the field in projected par or better rate at 82.4%, while Hovland is 20th, but gains a bit back in birdie or better rate and avoiding double bogey or worse.

Brooks Koepka has won three (2018, 2019, 2023) of the last six PGA Championships and has a chance to join Tiger Woods (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007) as the only players to win back-to-back PGAs twice in the stroke-play era. He can also match Woods with four PGA Championships and move within one of the all-time record for wins held by Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen. But the supercomputer doesn’t see it happening, ranking him 30th in projected win percentage.

PGA Championship Sleepers

Consistency will again be the name of the game. Russell Henley finished a disappointing T38 at the Masters, but he turned it around with a T12 and a T10 in his next two events – both “signature events’’ on the PGA Tour. This week, he’s 21st in projected par or better, 17th in projected birdie or better, and 10th in projected double or worse. There isn’t really an area or even a particular hole type in which he’ll shine this week, but he’s a very consistent golfer in decent form playing a course where consistency is key. Our model gives him a 60-1 chance to win, which is still a longshot, but it’s a good bit better than the 90-1 PGA Championship odds in the market.

Among the top 50 golfers in our global leaderboard, only Alex Noren and Andrew Putnam have a lower hole scoring variance than Christiaan Bezuidenhout. This week, only Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed have a lower projected double or worse rate than Bezuidenhout’s 1.92%. Finding the birdies will be his test, but his putter can run hot and sinking a few long ones could put him among the leaders on Sunday (on CBS). The FRACAS model gives him a 87-1 chance at winning this week, a strong difference from the expert picks at 135-1.

LIV’s Patrick Reed is, you guessed it, a model of consistency and should do well in Kentucky. His form is just about at his long-term average on the LIV tour and we’ve hardly heard anything from him in the past few years, with only three top-10 finishes in majors since the start of 2020. Valhalla is probably the best course fit for him among all of those tournaments, so he could be one to watch. He’s 93-1 in our model, while the sportsbooks have him as high as 180-1. We prefer him as a top-five or top-10 finisher.

So Many Golfers, Who Should I Watch?

Using our golf simulator and projected hole scoring, we can bucket groups of players into several types of viewing experiences.

The Roller Coasters

To find “roller coaster” players, we look at how they rank in the field in projected birdie or better rate and projected non-par rate. Yes, there is some overlap between those two ideas, but it also encourages the ranking system to find better golfers.

Byeong Hun (Ben) An, Cameron Young, David Puig and Jon Rahm lead this category. Ben An is 38th in our projected win percentage, but 11th in projected birdie or better rate. On a course without much excitement, golfers like An could provide a bit more from a viewing experience.

Puig is someone we almost never get to watch. He went straight to LIV Golf from college and has only one major appearance under his belt. The young Spaniard has one OWGR-sanctioned win in Singapore, where he led wire-to-wire.

  • 8:26 a.m.: Hovland, Matsuyama, Smith
  • 8:21 a.m.: Conners, Dunlap, Schenk
  • 2:02 p.m.: Fowler, Rahm, Young
  • 8:10 a.m.: An, Bjork, E. Cole

The Tortoises

Borrowing from The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoises are great golfers who just hit smart golf shots. These players lead the field in projected par rate.

This group is Si Woo Kim, Talor Gooch, Schauffele, Cantlay, Sungjae Im and Tommy Fleetwood. At a course like Valhalla, we’re going to see a TON of pars out of this crew.

  • 7:53 a.m.: Aberg, Schauffele, Thomas
  • 8:37 a.m.: Homa, Koepka, Spieth
  • 1:07 p.m. Davis, English, Gooch
  • 7:42 a.m.: Glover, Henley, Jaeger

The Best of the Best

For this category we’re looking at the players who are probably the safest to watch if you want great, solid golf. The top of this category are all golfers we’ve discussed this week: Schauffele, Cantlay, Rahm, Scheffler, Henley and Bezuidenhout

  • 2:13 p.m.: Clark, Harman, Scheffler
  • 8:26 a.m.: Hovland, Matsuyama, Smith
  • 7:53 a.m.: Aberg, Schauffele, Thomas
  • 2:08 p.m.: Bezuidenhout, Hossler, Im

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