The question you have to ask yourself this week when considering any bets, pools or fantasy contests: do you think Scheffler will win again? That answer will lead you one of two ways. Scottie now has the shortest odds to win a major of any player since Tiger. I know Scheffler has been good, but being +400 in a major right after taking time off for the birth of your first child? That just screams like a great position to fade Scheffler and look elsewhere for some value on players to win.

What is it going to take to succeed this week? Well, Valhalla is gonna play a little different than your typical PGA Championship. Yes, I think the final winning score will still be around the -10 number that we are used to seeing. But I think you will see some big scores out there this week. Players who can’t control their driver are going to be penalized heavily due to the thick rough and fast, smallish greens. Stretching out to beyond 7,600 yards, this course can be a brute. You can’t really fake it off the tee here and succeed. You are either going to have to bomb it off the tee, be insanely accurate, or both. Look at the top 10 from the 2014 edition here. We have bombers in Rory and Phil, but also accurate tacticians such as Furyk, Stenson, Mahan, and Stricker. Even going back to 2000, how about Bob May vs Tiger? Power vs accuracy.

For those curious, here are my top-10 overall drivers of the ball from my data models in this field:

  • Scheffler
  • Åberg
  • McIlroy
  • Dechambeau
  • Niemann
  • Schauffele
  • Mitchell
  • Si Woo Kim
  • Burmester
  • Hovland

There are two players I’m targeting to win this week:

Ludvig Åberg 19/1

I realize Ludvig withdrew prior to the Wells Fargo with a knee injury but that seems to have been out of an abundance of precaution. As shown above, Åberg is one of the best drivers in the world, up there with Scottie and Rory. He got his first taste of a major at Augusta, finishing runner-up. This week’s high emphasis on driving seems to make Valhalla a perfect fit for Åberg. In his last 18 events, he has finished top 25 in 16 of them. The only two exceptions: both of the Hawaii stops to start 2024, held on unique courses after a long layoff. This 19/1 price will likely fall as the event gets closer.

Brooks Koepka 16/1

Now you are wondering why I would suggest Koepka at 16/1 when he isn’t on my top-10 list of drivers? Well, Koepka is always hard to deal with metrically because of the difference in performance and focus between major and non-major events for him. In majors, Koepka has shown to be one of the better drivers of the ball. Over his last 10 PGA Championships, Brooks has averaged 3.3 strokes gained off the tee. That’s pretty much spot on with Scheffler’s long-term average, which is first in this field.

Koepka has finished 15th or better in eight of the last 10 PGA Championships, including three wins! There are always questions about Brooks’s form, but when he’s healthy he shows up on the front page of leaderboards in majors. We have seen some good form from him recently, as he won the LIV event in Singapore. In terms of the betting markets, I still think we are seeing some LIV stigma leading to this 16/1 price that, like Ludvig’s, is likely to fall as the week goes on.