It’s time for the second expanded edition of WOWgr for 2023. If you’re new here, this is usually much shorter. Nonetheless, we have a lot to talk about at Oak Hill. Strap in.
WOWgr Vol. 2023.20 – PGA Championship Edition
No. 1a – Rose Zhang – Status quo.
No. 1b – Jon Rahm – Looking through this field, there are maybe 15 players I actually believe can win this week. They’ll need to drive the ball well, hit plenty of greens, and scramble when necessary. It’s easy to put the No. 1 player in the world at the top this week, but it’s even easier when the golf course fits him as well as Oak Hill does.
No. 2 – Cameron Young – Very few people drive the golf ball like Young. He’s second in driving distance on the PGA Tour this year and yet he’s still 18th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. I’ll take a flyer and say he has a better-than-average week in terms of driving accuracy, giving him an incredible high floor at Oak Hill.
No. 3 – Scottie Scheffler – It feels sacrilegious to have Scheffler outside the top two, but that’s how strongly I feel about Young’s chances this week. Still, Scheffler ranks first in SG: Tee-to-Green and in SG: Off-the-Tee. He’s a lock for a top 10 in my book.
No. 4 – Brooks Koepka – This is somewhat of a prove-it week for Brooks after a fantastic Masters. I wholeheartedly believe that he can routinely contend at majors while not putting his all into LIV weeks, but you know there are doubters out there.
No. 5 – Rory McIlroy – Rory’s in a funk. No two ways about it. He didn’t seem energized at Quail Hollow and he has a bit of an Eeyore attitude going so far at Oak Hill. Still, this is a golf course that will quickly weed out the lesser players, and McIlroy is not one of them. He can probably sleep walk to a top 25 so we’ll see if he can dial it up and get into contention.
No. 6 – Tony Finau – Are you sensing a trend here? Oak Hill basically requires you to bomb it in order to contend and Big Tone has all the firepower.
No. 7 – Patrick Cantlay – The guy continues to be underwhelming in major championships having just one top-10 finish since 2020. Still, he’s top 10 in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Off-the-Tee and he finished T-3 at the 2019 PGA at Bethpage, an event that could be similar to what we see this week.
No. 8 – Sam Burns – If this week turns into a big #YOLOFest and you only have to bomb it and hit wedges, Burns has a real chance. His iron play continues to be sketchy this season but he has the distance and the short game to contend.
No. 9 – Dustin Johnson – Similar to Brooks leading into the Masters, I am buying DJ after a LIV win in Tulsa. I still don’t quite know what to make out of his recent play, but he claims to be playing his best of late so I’ll take him at his word.
No. 10 – Xander Schauffele – As I said before the Masters, Xander will finish between fifth and 12th. He finished T-10 at Augusta National.
No. 11 – Jason Day – This is more ceremonial than anything because I don’t think Day will finish top 10 this week. I do think he can have a strong showing and continue his good play though.
No. 12 – Matthew Fitzpatrick – This tweet is enough for me to be curious about Fitzy this week.
Totally meaningless, but fun. The last time there were majors at The Country Club and Oak Hill in back-to-back years, the same man won both (Curtis Strange, 1988 and '89 U.S. Opens).
Matt Fitzpatrick won last year's U.S. Open at The Country Club.
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) May 16, 2023
No. 13 – Collin Morikawa – Not the longest guy out there, but I have a sneaky feeling about Collin this weekend. He’s pretty accurate off the tee and should be able to use his strong iron game to his advantage.
No. 14 – Max Homa – Homa makes a bit of a jump for me despite another meh finish at the Masters. Oak Hill fits his game and would be the perfect place for him to finally get in major championship contention.
No. 15 – Tommy Fleetwood – Two top-5 finishes in his last five starts and he apparently shot 62 at Sleepy Hollow recently. We like that.
No. 16 – Rickie Fowler – This is more of a reference point for the next player if we’re being honest.
No. 17 – Justin Thomas – The defending champion has not played well this year. Frankly, he wasn’t playing very well when he snuck up and won at Southern Hills. He’s got the driving ability to get it around Oak Hill, but I’m staying away from JT until I see positive trends.
No. 18 – Smith, Cameron – I just don’t see how he can be in contention with his wayward driver. He may very well contend at LACC and Hoylake but I’m not feeling it this week.
No. 19 – Sungjae Im – The only thing I’m worried about with Sungjae is his sleep schedule. Our man just won an event in a time zone 13 hours ahead of Oak Hill!
No. 20 – Viktor Hovland – As Joseph LaMagna wrote this week, Hovland will go as far as his short game takes him.
No. 21 – Talor Gooch – There has been a lot of Gooch talk lately as he, and Phil Mickelson on his behalf, fought with the USGA. Time to put his play where is mouth is.
No. 22 – Sahith Theegala – Another hard pick because Sahith could very well MC in short order, but I love the kid’s game and he could separate himself with his aggressive play at Oak Hill. Or he’ll shoot 77 and take the weekend off.
No. 23 – Jordan Spieth – The most important ability is availability, and Jordan Spieth is at Oak Hill. We’ll see how serious his injury is this week.
No. 24 – Adam Scott – Oak Hill CC is a stately, proper country club. Seems like that lines up well with Mr. Scott.
No. 25 – Davis Riley – Probably too high for him but I love his game. He’d be a longshot I’d bet on if I gambled.
No. 26 – Keegan Bradley – Imagine a world where Keegan Bradley has as many major championships as Jon Rahm.
No. 27 – Corey Conners – Oak Hill’s greens aren’t overly tricky and that’s always been Conners’s setback. He could ballstrike his way to a top 15.
No. 28 – Keith Mitchell – Sweater weather means Cashmere Keith will be in his element this week.
No. 29 – Denny McCarthy – Denny played at the University of Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Do you know where Rochester is? On the coast of Lake Ontario. Coincidence?
No. 30 – Taylor Montgomery – Has been sneaky terrible after a hot start to the 2022-2023 season. Would love to see him get back on track this week.
No. 31 – Hideki Matsuyama – We’re due for a week where Hideki has a clinical display with the driver. If he’s in the fairway all the time, we could see him knock down a lot of flag sticks.
No. 32 – Davis Thompson – Complete flier here.
No. 33 – Wyndham Clark – It seemed like a lot of people learned that Wyndham has all the clubhead speed in the world at Quail Hollow. That could come in handy out of the rough this week.
No. 34 – Si Woo Kim – He’d be higher but this Players Championship shirt was unacceptable.
No. 35 – Shane Lowry – Kind of odd that an Irishman does so well at courses like PGA National and Firestone, but it seems like Oak Hill could line up well with his history of victories.
No. 36 – Ryan Fox – I will virtually guarantee that Fox finishes between T-18 and T-34.
No. 37 – Brandon Wu – Another heart pick as his game doesn’t really add up here but hey, I like the guy.
No. 38 – Aaron Wise – Has made the cut in his last seven major championship starts.
No. 39 – J.T. Poston – He once beat me by 27 shots in a three-round event so I think very highly of him.
No. 40 – Sepp Straka – There is a new version of Sqairz shoes. Have to think that helps him this weekend.
No. 41 – Justin Suh – The USC grad had a hot run earlier this spring but has fallen off since. Hoping for one more week of all-around play.
No. 42 – Thomas Detry – Hammer him for low Belgian of the week.
No. 43 – Harris English – Davis Love III says that Harris is flushing it. Could mean big things.
No. 44 – Cam Davis – Never trust a man with two first names.
No. 45 – Abraham Ancer – Remember him? Of all the LIV guys, it feels like Honest Abe has fallen the furthest off the radar.
No. 46 – Adam Svensson – Rochester is basically in Canada. He’ll feel right at home.
No. 47 – Hayden Buckley – Here’s a take: Hayden Buckley will be in the top 10 after 36 holes. He’s going to get a hot putter in one of the first two days and make a lot of birdies, maybe even have the low round of the day once.
No. 48 – Bryson DeChambeau – I’m cautiously optimistic on Diet Bryson this week. The guy has completely fallen off the radar but this seems like the place where he could be relevent again.
No. 49 – Tyrrell Hatton – As long as he flicks off a hole at some point, I don’t really care where he finishes.
No. 50 – Kurt Kitayama – His best career major championship finish is T-51. Let’s get him a top 50.
No. 51 – Min Woo Lee – One thing is for sure, Min Woo will find the best ice cream in Rochester this week.
No. 52 – Gary Woodland – I have a few more years before I stop believing in Gary. For whatever reason, I have a soft spot for the guy. Would love to see him get back to peak form.
No. 53 – Nico Echavarria – PGA Tour winner this season. Bet you didn’t know that.
No. 54 – Adri Arnaus – One of his interests is electronic music. That’s usually the kind of guy I stay away from but man would I like to see what he’s all about.
No. 56 – Højgaard, Nicolai – Thomas Detry was on here twice, that’s why there is no No. 55. This will become a pattern. Anyway, I put Nicolai and Rasmus next to each other because I still can’t tell them apart.
No. 57 – Rasmus Højgaard – See above.
No. 59 – Russell Henley – Another double. Harris English has been removed from No. 58. I don’t have anything to add on Russell.
No. 60 – Adrian Meronk – Skip Bayless would love this guy.
No. 61 – Billy Horschel – Billy boy is going to freak out on a bunker lip this week. Mark my words.
No. 63 – Maverick McNealy – Two Ryan Foxes (No. 62 removed). Anyway, a guy named Maverick just got his pilot’s license. How about them apples.
No. 64 – Mito Pereira – He hasn’t done anything since jumping to LIV, but the guy had the Wanamaker in his grasp last year. That’s enough guilt to make me think he will at least make the cut.
No. 66 – Callum Tarren – (Echavarria removed from No. 65. I don’t know how this happened so many times.) – What do you do when you want to talk to your friend? You Call-um.
No. 67 – Adam Hadwin – Lots of guys will make the cut at Oak Hill that you won’t ever see on TV.
No. 68 – Ben Griffin – These guys are two of them.
No. 69 – Matt Wallace – Nice.
No. 70 – Taylor Pendrith – Pendy will either show out for a top 25 or shoot himself out of it by the 15th hole on Thursday.
No. 71 – Chez Reavie – No Chez Fest this week.
No. 72 – Beau Hossler – He got mentioned in a deleted Phil Mickelson tweet last week but I don’t think we’ll hear from Beau again this week.
No. 73 – Thorbjørn Olesen – Remember him? He’s playing decent golf again! Seems like he’s done committing crimes as well. So that’s good.
No. 74 – K.H. Lee – What’s huskier, K.H. Lee or the rough at Oak Hill?
No. 75 – Seamus Power – I got nothing. Sorry, Seamus.
No. 76 – Matt Kuchar – No offense to Kuch, but I’ll be happy when he’s on the PGA Tour Champions.
No. 77 – Robert MacIntyre – Needs to get on his horse so he can make the Ryder Cup team and help Europe lose by 10 points in Italy.
No. 78 – Joaquín Niemann – I wish he was still playing relevant golf. Loved using his name as a pun for the newsletter. This week maybe?
No. 79 – Chris Kirk – Dude has cleaned up in non-designated events this year but hasn’t done much of anything in the big tournaments. I don’t expect anything different this week.
No. 80 – Patrick Rodgers – This is just his second PGA Championship appearance. That’s shocking! The guy has been around forever.
No. 81 – Alex Noren – I was going to make a Swedish joke, but I didn’t want to be callous.
No. 82 – Justin Rose – He may be a great fit for Oak Hill…I’ll fade myself just in case.
No. 83 – Thomas Pieters – I put him about forty spots behind fellow Illini and Belgian Thomas Detry, but that’s more so for motivation. I know you’re reading this Thomas. Play better.
No. 84 – Brendan Steele – Completely forgot he went to LIV. Dude smashes the ball though so maybe he comes out of nowhere?
No. 85 – Victor Perez – Low Frenchman this week? Oui, oui.
No. 86 – Mackenzie Hughes – No way he goes 66-66 this weekend.
No. 87 – Alex Smalley – Another guy who has cleaned up in lesser events this year. Maybe he’ll perform well enough this week to earn a Wikipedia page.
No. 88 – J.J. Spaun – Hasn’t finished in the top 20 of a stroke play event since January. Seems bad.
No. 89 – Padraig Harrington – Dude mashes the ball now. Guess that could help.
No. 90 – Scott Stallings – He went to Tennessee Tech. Bet you didn’t know that.
No. 91 – Trey Mullinax – As Andy mentioned on SGS, we need a photo of Mullinax and Higa together this week.
No. 92 – Matthew NeSmith – “What do you want your last name to be?” “Matthew…Nay…Smith.”
No. 93 – Stephan Jaeger – Will be his fifth event in six weeks. That’s too much golf.
No. 94 – Taylor Moore – Two and a half rounds played this week. Moore or less?
No. 95 – Lee Hodges – Could be a sneaky pick for top ‘Bama grad if JT doesn’t do well.
No. 96 – Andrew Putnam – See J.J. Spaun’s note.
No. 97 – Sam Ryder – It’s too chilly at Oak Hill for joggers this week. Hopefully he brought some more substantial pants to Rochester.
No. 98 – Callum Shinkwin – Seems like a guy who would actually eat the garbage plate.
No. 99 – Kazuki Higa – All hail our short king.
No. 100 – Phil Mickelson – I would have put him higher (that’s a lie) but he showed up to the PGA Championship dinner looking like Lurch from Addams Family.
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) May 16, 2023
No. 101 – Tom Kim – Poor TK. We need to get him back to some shorter golf courses.
No. 102 – Anirban Lahiri – In LIV transcripts, every time someone says “Ban” it shows up as “Vaughn.” That’s all I got.
No. 103 – Webb Simpson – The guy is going to hate the tree removal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he withdraws out of protest.
No. 104 – Nick Taylor – More like PG-eh, amirite?
No. 105 – Tom Hoge – Sorry, Andy. Tom might be bad now.
No. 106 – Paul Casey – WD (Too lazy to remove him)
No. 107 – Ben Taylor – There are five total Taylors (three first name, two last name) in the field this week. Unfortunately for Ben, he’s the last of them.
No. 108 – Patrick Reed – After a confidence building week at Augusta National, I am very much looking forward to a complete flameout from P this week.
No. 109 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout – The nicest thing I can say about Christiaan is that I have successfully memorized how to spell his name and I’m really proud about that.
No. 110 – David Micheluzzi – He’s the only player in the field with consecutive Zs in his name.
No. 111 – Harold Varner III – Only III in the field after DL3 withdrew.
No. 112 – Mark Hubbard – Hopefully the snail comes out this week.
No. 113 – Brian Harman – No.
No. 114 – Danny Willett – He’s due to pop off at a major but I don’t think it’s this week. But mark my words, he’ll be back.
No. 115 – Eric Cole – This isn’t the Minor League Golf Tour anymore.
No. 116 – Pablo Larrazábal – Nice to see some additional Spanish representation with him and Arnaus since Sergio has decided to not play major championships anymore.
No. 117 – David Lingmerth – Not sure how he’s in the field but I’m happy for him.
No. 118 – Nick Hardy – Just won a PGA Tour event with Davis Riley and yet I have them so far apart. Why would I do that?
No. 119 – Joel Dahmen – I may not like his chances this week, but I would kill to hear all of Joel and Geno’s conversations around Oak Hill. There are going to be so many odd lies and stances that they are going to have a ball.
No. 120 – Jordan Smith – This isn’t a good reason, but I couldn’t pick Jordan Smith out of a lineup. Hopefully I learn more about him this week.
No. 121 – Lucas Herbert – Fun fact: he won in his most recent start. Less fun fact, at No. 59 in the OWGR at the time, he was the highest ranked player in the field.
No. 122 – Adam Schenk – Although I do like the idea of a Boilermaker in a blue collar town like Rochester, I’m not feeling it.
No. 123 – Kevin Kisner – If driving distance isn’t as big a premium as I think it will be, then I am very afraid of this pick.
No. 124 – Adrián Otaegui – Headline: The Vowel Man can’t crack Oak Hill.
No. 125 – Yannik Paul – Did you guys know that Yannik Paul is currently an automatic qualifier for the European Ryder Cup team? You’re supposed to tell me things like this.
No. 126 – Ockie Strydom – Ockie Strydom is a great name to say, not a great name to win major championships.
No. 127 – Emiliano Grillo – Grillo seems like a nice enough guy but I think I’d be truly shocked if he was inside the top 30.
No. 128 – Thriston Lawrence – Nope.
No. 129 – Sadom Kaewkanjana – He missed the cut at something called the GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship so I doubt he makes the cut at the PGA Championship.
No. 130 – Luke Donald – He’s the highest ranked Ryder Cup captain. That counts for something.
No. 131 – Y.E. Yang – I still don’t forgive Y.E. for what he did in 2009. Maybe next year.
No. 132 – Jimmy Walker – We’re not in Texas anymore.
No. 133 – Steven Alker – I’m not so sure we should keep giving the Senior PGA champion an exemption to the big time.
No. 134 – Brendon Todd – Could not be more out on Todd Watch this week. Sorry BP.
No. 135 – Francesco Molinari – Nah.
No. 136 – Zach Johnson – Don’t think this is going to go well for Zatch.
No. 137 – Dean Burmester – Still devastated that he went to LIV.
No. 138 – Rikuya Hoshino – Don’t expect much out of him but it’s damn impressive that he keeps dominating in Japan and earning exemptions into majors. The guy has played in six of the last eight!
No. 139 – Sihwan Kim – Our friend Sihwan is beating an average of 1.5 players per LIV event. Let’s just say I’m not high on his chances.
No. 140 – Shaun Micheel – Enjoy the week, Mr. Micheel.
No. 141 – Braden Shattuck – I am the son of a PGA professional,
No. 142 – Kenny Pigman – and my brother recently got his teaching license.
No. 143 – Chris French – So when I say that having 20 PGA professionals
No. 144 – Wyatt Worthington II – in this field is overkill,
No. 145 – Matt Cahill – know that I say that with the utmost respect for the job.
No. 146 – Chris Sanger – There are so many thankless hours,
No. 147 – John Somers – nonstop annoyances,
No. 148 – Jesse Droemer – and plenty of moments when they want to pull their hair out.
No. 149 – Jeremy Wells – Many of them don’t even get to play much golf.
No. 150 – Josh Speight – When they do, it’s often a playing lesson
No. 151 – Alex Beach – or casual rounds with friends or family.
No. 152 – Gabe Reynolds – I’d venture to say that most of them aren’t as good as they once were,
No. 153 – Michael Block – which makes all that more impressive that they qualified for this week.
No. 154 – JJ Killeen – Although it helps if you’re a Tour player turned club pro for a course set to open this summer.
No. 155 – Greg Koch – All that said,
No. 156 – Steve Holmes – I do have to rank all of the PGA professionals at the bottom this week.
No. 157 – Russell Grove – It’s great that they’re here,
No. 158 – Ben Kern – and I’ll be happy to read about their stories,
No. 159 – Colin Inglis – but we do not need 20 of them in the field. Five, maybe 10 would do.
No. 160 – Anthony Cordes – End of rant. Enjoy the PGA!