Brooks Koepka will look to become the first player since Walter Hagen (1924-27) to win the PGA Championship in three consecutive years. He erased some recent struggles with a second-place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational last weekend.
2020 PGA Championship Odds (via Caesars Palace)
Brooks Koepka +1000 (bet $100 to win $1,000)
Justin Thomas +1200
Rory McIlroy +1400
Jon Rahm +1600
Bryson DeChambeau +1700
Xander Schauffele +1700
Patrick Cantlay +2200
Dustin Johnson +2200
Tiger Woods +3000
Webb Simpson +3000
Collin Morikawa +3300
Jason Day +3500
Tony Finau +3500
Daniel Berger +4000
Tyrrell Hatton +4000
Hideki Matsuyama +4000
Gary Woodland +4000
Per CBS Sports, one projection model has Koepka finishing outside the top 10 this weekend. The 30-year-old has finished in the top five four times in the past five years. His worst finish during that streak was tied for 13th in 2017.
There are many practical reasons given by the model for why Koepka is expected to struggle:
"Koepka only has one other top-10 finish all season and had a forgettable July, missing the cut at the 3M Open and Workday Charity Open and finishing 62nd at the Memorial. He's a top-20 driver on the PGA Tour in terms of average distance (308.1 yards), but his aim has been sporadic at best, as he ranks 185th with a 54.62 percent driving accuracy percentage."
Driving accuracy figures to be a significant factor in who wins this weekend. TPC Harding Park features several holes that dogleg either left or right, so being aggressive could end up putting a player in the rough or a bunker frequently.
One player who stands out for his accuracy and steady play throughout the season is Webb Simpson. The North Carolina native has missed two cuts since play resumed in June, but he's finished in the top 10 six times in 10 events this year.
Simpson leads the PGA Tour in birdies per round (4.83), fourth in scoring average (69.08), 14th in greens in regulation percentage (70.68) and 19th in driving accuracy percentage (67.86).
The PGA Championship hasn't historically been one of Simpson's better events. His best finish was a tie for 19th in 2018.
The battle for the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings has seesawed recently between Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.
Rahm held the title for two weeks after his win at the Memorial, but Thomas passed him with a three-shot win at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational last weekend.
The 2017 PGA Championship is the only major title Thomas has won in his career to date. The 27-year-old came from two shots back heading into the final round by shooting a 68 to finish two shots ahead of anyone else in the field.
Thomas' strength in 2020 has been his ability to get on the green. He ranks first on the Tour in the strokes-gained categories of approach to the green (1.072), tee to green (1.928) and total (2.085).
Even though Thomas' driving accuracy (59.34, 131st on the PGA Tour) is concerning on this course, he's proved it doesn't inhibit his ability to get the ball on the green and in a position that allows him to routinely break par.
Rahm has four top-10 finishes in major tournaments, but he's yet to win one in his career. The Spanish star doesn't have a stellar track record at the PGA Championship. His fourth-place finish in 2019 is sandwiched between a 59th-place showing in 2018 and missing the cut last year.
Outside of that Memorial Tournament win, Rahm has finished outside the top 25 in five of six events since the season resumed in June.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are wild cards this weekend. Neither player has been consistent this season.
McIlroy looked like he was in line for a big season with six consecutive top-five finishes, but the layoff has knocked his game off track. The two-time PGA Championship winner hasn't finished higher than 32nd in four of his past six events.
The PGA Championship will be Woods' second tournament in five months. He was inconsistent at the Memorial Tournament, finished 40th with a score of plus-six and said his back was giving him problems.
This weekend will be a test of endurance as much as talent. Players like Koepka, Simpson, Thomas and Rahm are among the safest bets to leave San Francisco with the Wanamaker Trophy.