The PGA Championship is far different from the other major championships in that surprise winners have come through with some regularity.
We need only to look back to the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island where Phil Mickelson became the oldest major champion in the history of golf, so it is not out of the realm of possibility to suggest a similar shocker unfolding.
It will be difficult for a dark horse to emerge as the game of golf has never been so deep when it comes to the talent level, but it is hardly impossible. Mickelson joined the likes of Jimmy Walker and Y.E. Yang as a long-shot winner and Southern Hills Country Club may be conducive to more of the same.
The playing field is essentially leveled at a course on which not one player has extensive experience. That should be music to the ears of our selections below, with odds coming courtesy of Bodog.
2022 PGA Championship Sleeper Picks
The 2011 PGA Champion is beginning to look like his former self in that he is contending on a regular basis. Beginning with a top-five finish at the Players Championship, Bradley has since added to his stellar 2022 season.
He arrives at the PGA Championship off three straight top-10 finishes, with the American last finishing as the runner-up to Max Homa at the Wells Fargo Championship. He entered the final round with a two-stroke lead but was unable to convert it into a victory.
Still, there is plenty to be optimistic about Bradley’s game. Fantastic from tee to green, he is beginning to find his touch on the greens.
He posted +2.40 Strokes Gained: Putting per round at TPC Potomac and if he is able to capture just a fraction of that performance, he should be in the mix at Southern Hills.
I doubt casual golf fans even know that Billy Horschel is a top-20 player in the official world golf rankings. Currently No. 14, he is ahead of the likes of Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson but has not garnered the respect he truly deserves.
The former Florida Gator last finished runner-up at the Zurich Classic alongside Sam Burns at TPC Louisiana. A funky team event, not much can be taken from this performance, but it added to a strong defense effort at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and a runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He is a tremendous short-game player and that very well may propel him into contention at Southern Hills. If his irons cooperate, which they did during the Florida swing, Horschel has the potential to capture his first major championship.
It has been a lot of so-so golf for Jason Kokrak in 2022 but Southern Hills may allow his skill set to shine. A tremendous driver of the golf ball, Kokrak’s iron play is beginning to catch up. He has displayed his ability to win not only on difficult golf courses but also in difficult fields.
A winner at the CJ Cup, Charles Schwab Challenge and the Houston Open, Kokrak has played some of his best golf just south in the state of Texas. With a clear comfort in this part of the United States, the 36-year-old arrives coming off a top-20 finish at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.
He can struggle around the green but he also possesses the upside to actually win this event. Kokrak captured a top-15 finish at the Masters earlier this season and remaining on bent grass will allow his putter to show some life.
Remember this guy? The 2018 Masters champion is going through a major valley in his career but still he remains a capable sleeper down the oddsboard. If Southern Hills is going to play as difficult as many project it will, that should only play into Reed’s hands.
Still the best short-game player in the world, he falls short with his driver and iron play. Often sloppy, he will hope for firm and fast conditions that cause players to miss greens in regulation on a consistent basis.
He has made three of his last four cuts, including a T-35 finish at the Masters, so he may not be as far off as it appears.
Reed often thrives on these longer, difficult courses when you look back at his past victories so if there was a spot for him to bounce back, it is this week at the 2022 PGA Championship.
Harman is a volatile option as he could easily miss the cut but when he does play well, the Georgia product tends to play himself into contention.
For those who have concerns regarding the length of Southern Hills, it should be noted Harman finished second to Brooks Koepka at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, the longest layout in championship history.
There are no flaws in the current state of Harman’s game and he has proven to get up for these big events so I expect the 2022 PGA Championship to be no different.
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