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Fantasy Golf Picks — 2023 PGA Championship Picks, Preview, Predictions

Pat Mayo makes his 2023 PGA Championship picks while previewing the course, key stats and trends for this week’s PGA TOUR event.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 PGA Championship Picks. Plus, Tim Anderson stops by to talk LIV players and the most ANDERCURSED players of the week.

PGA Championship Update: Weather, Bets, Ownership, Giveaways

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2023 PGA Championship: Field

156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut
First Tee: Thursday, May 18
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas

2023 PGA Championship: Key Stats

SG: Off The Tee
SG: Approach
Proximity 175+ Yards
SG: Around The Green
Sand Saves Gained

Mayo’s Key Stats powered by

2023 PGA Championship: Course

  • Course: Oak Hill
  • Yardage: 7,394
  • Par: 70
  • Greens: Bentgrass
  • Average Green Size: 4500 sq. Ft.
  • Bunkers: 78
  • Holes with Water in Play: 6

2023 PGA Championship: Past Winners

  • 2022: Justin Thomas (-5)
  • 2021: Phil Mickelson (-6)
  • 2020: Collin Morikawa (-13)
  • 2019: Brooks Koepka (-8)
  • 2018: Brooks Koepka (-16)

2023 PGA Championship: Notes

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Oak Hill Golf Course is a renowned golf course located in Pittsford, New York, just outside of Rochester. The course has a rich history, having hosted numerous major championships, including the US Open, PGA Championship, and Ryder Cup. It was designed by Donald Ross and opened for play in 1926.

Oak Hill has been known for its challenging layout, with narrow fairways and a mix of doglegs, bunkers, and water hazards, but this year’s incarnation isn’t going to resemble the other grand-scale events you may remember from years past. Be it any of the three previous PGA Championships, the 1989 US Open or the 1995 Ryder Cup. You may think the 2013 leaderboard of Jason Dufner triumphing over Jim Furyk points you in the proper skill set direction, but that may not be the case in 2023.

In 2019, the club orchestrated a near-total remodel of the East Course by architect Andrew Green, returning it much to its original design by Donald Ross in 1924:

“Green’s work at Oak Hill changed its complexion entirely. He remodeled every green complex, fairway and landing zone to resurrect the original Ross character and spaciousness of the East Course that had been intentionally and unintentionally eradicated by 70 years of growth and architectural alteration. When Ross constructed the course in 1924 on mostly bare farmland (the property was already called Oak Hill, even though it had few trees), the holes were expansive with segmented, broad-shouldered greens and deep, scruffy bunkers.

Green’s renovation moved Oak Hill back toward this complexion by reclaiming fairway widths, and through the removal of thousands of oaks, elms, maples and other varietals, opening up sightlines across the property unimaginable a decade ago when Jason Dufner held off Jim Furyk during the last PGA Championship played here. Three new holes were also built, and Green found more than 200 yards of additional teeing space, bringing the championship distance to just shy of 7,400 yards.”

Golf Digest

While the fairways have been widened, minimally, they remain quite narrow by weekly PGA TOUR standards, but it’s the removal of those trees which should alter the strategy. In 2013, it was imperative to find the short grass off the tee. This is how Henrik Stenson, Jonas Blixt, David Toms, and Zach Johnson all joined Duf Daddy and Furyk inside the top 8 finishers. Overall, 13 of the Top 18 finishers gained strokes on the field in accuracy.

This isn’t to downplay the importance of accuracy this week. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who will tell you, at any course, missing the fairway makes things easier than finding it. With the removal of over 600 trees, however, there are now spots to actually miss on the grounds. It wasn’t that the rough was so penal if you missed the fairway you had to hack it back out. No. It was the massive amount of wooded areas that affected the path to the green. With so many of those out of the picture, bombers can get away with a few more wayward drives and still recover. More so with the course extended over 200 yards.

Even with the plus distance, approaches from 175 yards and beyond will prove to be the most critical into the elevated putting surfaces. Beyond the rudimentary “be good at driving and irons”, having a fatal flaw in any of the four major SG metrics is almost an automatic disqualification at Oak Hill. The green in regulation percentage in 2013 was 56%, and it may be lower this time around with the redesign. Players’ short games will be tested. A player like Scottie Scheffler can mask his horrid putting since his around-the-green magic is bountiful, but any player who struggles to chip and putt paints a thick red line through their names.

Over the last 24 rounds, notable players who rank in the bottom 25% of the field in SG: ATG + SG: PUTT — Nick Hardy, Viktor Hovland, Davis Riley, Davis Thompson, Kevin Kisner, Corey Conners, Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young, and Taylor Pendrith. Look, talents like Morikawa, Hovland, Young, and Conners can overcome these issues for one week, or come close to leading the field in GIR and ball striking to limit the number of times they’ll actually need a short game. But it’s a tough scene where one bad chip can result in a blow-up number. Two times, and you’re probably done. Feels like they’re drawing to fewer outs and all the other elite-level players.

2023 PGA Championship Picks

Cameron Smith

Priced down since The Masters, the reigning Open Champion may have the perfect game for the 2023 version of Oak Hill. He sprays it off the tee, this we know, of the course seems far more forgiving this time around. And once Smith is off the tee, he’s still of the best players on the planet. Since his poor start to LIV 2023, he’s piled up three Top 6 finishes in the three events since Augusta and has the required touch green side and from the sand to avoid bleeding strokes to the field. If you believe he’s still a Top-5 talent in the world, this is a gift of a price point on DraftKings.

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Rickie Fowler

For all the crap that’s been piled on Rickie the past few years, with me near the front of that bus, he’s slowly climbing his way back into the upper level of talent on the PGA TOUR. Fowler hasn’t missed a cut in 2023, with six Top-20 finishes in his past eight starts. (Six of which were elevated events) While he’s yet to truly be in contention in any event, we don’t need him to be at his price this week. Over the past 36 rounds, he’s gained the 11th most strokes of any player in the field, led mainly by his irons (7th) and putter (19th) in that span while still being above field average off the tee and around the greens.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.

Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.