PGA Championship 2020: Latest Expectations for Golf's Top Favorites and Sleepers

Martin FennContributor IIIAugust 4, 2020

Brooks Koepka hits from the bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The first of golf's four major championships is set to take place this week, with the PGA Championship beginning on Thursday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Golfers had to adjust when COVID-19 forced the suspension of the 2020 season and the cancellation of The Players Championship in March.

But the PGA was among the first to get things back up and running, beginning with the Charles Schwab Challenge in June. Now, major championship season is here.

Who are some of the top players to watch at TPC Harding Park? Here is a closer look at a couple top contenders in the field, as well as a pair of potential sleeper picks.


Tournament Information

Where: TPC Harding Park

Dates: Aug. 6-9

TV Coverage: ESPN, CBS, ESPN+ (streaming) PGAChampionship.com (streaming)


Top Contenders

Brooks Koepka

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

It should come as no surprise Koepka is starting to kick things into high gear ahead of the first major. He lives for the big ones.

The 2019 PGA Championship winner finished in a tie for second at the WGC FedEx-St. Jude Invitational last weekend and can head into this week feeling more confident about his game.

All in all, this has been a poor season for Koepka. He has already missed three cuts and ranks 63rd on tour in terms of strokes gained. At the same time, Koepka always seems to play his best on the biggest of stages.

The 30-year-old tied a PGA Championship record by firing a 63 in the opening round last year, and he followed that with a round of 65 on Friday. Not even a final-round 74 could keep him from capturing his second consecutive Wanamaker Trophy.

Koepka might be having a tough 2020, but there is no reason not to regard him as one of the favorites as the defending champion and a guy who placed fourth or better in each of last year's majors.


Justin Thomas

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

While Koepka used the St. Jude Invitational to get back on track, Thomas stayed hot by hanging on for a three-shot victory.

The win was Thomas' third on the year, and he now ranks No. 1 both in the Official World Golf Ranking as well as the FedEx Cup standings. Like Koepka, Thomas has also missed his share of cuts. But he seems to have it rolling at the right time.

Unlike Koepka, Thomas is scoring in all areas. He ranks first in strokes gained in approach and strokes gained from tee to green. The University of Alabama product also leads the Tour in total strokes gained.

Thomas will be looking for his second Wanamaker after capturing the PGA Championship in 2017, and he heads to TPC Harding Park at the top of his game. In fact, it would not be a surprise to see Thomas and Koepka in the final pairing on Sunday.


Top Sleepers

Max Homa

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Why not have some faith in a California kid?

Homa has quietly had a nice 2020 season thus far. The Burbank native has multiple top-10s and had been on an especially good run prior to the suspension of play in March. Homa has struggled a bit since, as he missed the cut in four of his first five tournaments after the resumption of play.

However, it would not be a surprise to see him string together some good rounds at TPC Harding Park. Homa burst from the gate in the first round of both the 3M Open and St. Jude Invitational, and he is certainly capable of going low.

Homa ranks 45th in strokes gained off the tee and 53rd in strokes gained in approach. If he can clean things up around the greens and roll some putts in, the SoCal kid could be one to watch this weekend.


Abraham Ancer

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Ancer seems due to break through one of these days.

The 29-year-old has been close to notching his first Tour victory on multiple occasions, with a pair of runner-up finishes coming at the American Express tournament as well as at the RBC Heritage. Ancer also cracked the top 15 in two of this last three starts.

What Ancer lacks in length, he makes up for in steadiness. The Mexican ranks 42nd in driving accuracy and 26th in strokes gained in approach. As a result, he ranks 12th in scoring average.

Ancer put on a ball-striking clinic during the RBC Heritage, seemingly taking aim at each and every pin and giving himself a number of good birdie opportunities. 

Like Homa, the difference could be Ancer's ability to roll the rock. He ranks just 156th putting from 15 to 20 feet and will likely have to make putts in that range in order to earn his first win and major championship.


All stats obtained via PGATour.com, unless otherwise noted.