Ahhh yes, it’s already time for the season’s second major (we could get used to this May thing). It’s PGA Championship week and for the first time the tournament is being held at the legendary Bethpage Black Course (site of the ’02 & ’09 U.S. Opens and 2024 Ryder Cup). Don’t heed the famous warning sign, all skill levels are encouraged to watch.
years hours combing through stats, trends, numbers…you name it, to come up with a few picks just in case you wanted to throw in a friendly wager with a friend or colleague.
Who is in the field?
There are 29 Callaway Staffers competing at Bethpage. The squad: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Daniel Berger, Sam Burns, Dylan Fritelli, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Brandon Grace, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Na, Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele, JJ Spaun, Henrik Stenson, Danny Wilett, Aaron Wise, Erik Van Rooyen, Harold Varner, Brendon Jones, Tom Lewis, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and our Master Staffer Craig Hucknell.
- Only once in the last 7 years has the winner not finished in the top 10 TWO years before they went on to win the tournament. The only exception was Justin Thomas who finished T18 two years before he went on to win. Callaway Top 10 finishers in 2017: Francesco Molinari (T2) and Kevin Kisner (T7).
- No one has won back to back years since Tiger Woods won in 06’ and 07’.
If you are looking to win a friendly bet or just want some advice on who to watch out for, here are a few suggestions…
Francesco Molinari (25-1) – If you trust in data, Francesco is your guy. He finished T2 at the Masters while leading the field in one putt percentage, overall putting percentage, and putts per round. He is first on TOUR this year in Good Drive percentage, 4th in bounce back percentage and 11th in scrambling — three stats that will play a role at Bethpage. Also, if you trust players that perform on the big stage, Francesco was runner up at PGA Championship in 2017 and in 2009 when the U.S Open was played at Bethpage. Additionally, he has finished inside the top 25 in each of the last 6 majors.
Xander Schauffele (25-1) – Xander is HOT this year. He is second in the FedEx Cup standings. He is tied for first in wins this season (2) to go along with 4 top 10 finishes and 9 Top 25s. Also, Xander LOVES majors, his last 4 finishes are as follows: T2, T35, T2, T6. He is also top 10 in overall performance according to the stats. He is top 20 in strokes gained approaching the green, tee-to-green and total. He is long enough off the tee (24th in total driving distance) and great at going for the green (18th in Going for the Green) and makes the putts when they count (12th in Birdie or Better Conversion percentage). WARNING: Watch out for Xander. Don’t be fooled by that smile.
The Trusty Vets
Phil Mickelson (66-1) – At age 48 Phil is still stroking it like he is 28. He is hitting bombs and driving better than he ever has (10th in driving distance with a 299.5 yard average. A win and a runner-up already this year, Phil has also carded the lowest score on tour (60). He has been here and done well before. Phil’s past finishes at Bethpage in a major tournament; runner-up in 2002 and T2 in 2009. He also won the PGA Championship in 2005 and runner-up in 2014.
Sergio Garcia (40-1) – Speaking of been there, done that… Sergio has the most top 10s at Bethpage among active players with three. They have only played there four times. He is also playing sneaky well this year with five Top 10s. Sergio is also stuffing the stat sheet too: he ranks 3rd on tour in strokes gained approaching the green, 14th in tee-to-green and 10th in total strokes gained. Sergio’s also driving it well and led the Wells Fargo Championship in distance from edge of the fairway and is 38th in driving distance on tour this year.
The Dark Horses
Kevin Kisner (100-1) – Kevin does not lack confidence. He has been hot all year with a big win at the Dell Match Play Championship and has 7 top 25s and has only finished outside the top 30 on the PGA Tour once since February. He is accurate off the tee (led THE PLAYERS Championship in driving accuracy and hit fairway percentage) which will be critical this week. He has performed well at this tournament in the past with a top 20 in each of the last 3 PGA Championships. Remember, he finished T7 two years ago.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (250-1)– Kiradech is coming in hot with a top 5 finish last week at the Byron Nelson where he led the tournament in strokes gained-putting. He’s currently 3rd on the Tour in strokes gained putting, 21st in scrambling and 4th in one-putt percentage. He led the WGC-Mexico Championships in Good Drives Percentage as well. Listen, he’s a big fan of Yeezy shoes and with four new pairs releasing in the coming months, extra purse money might come in handy.
Aaron Wise (125-1) – Your reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is showing there will be no sophomore slump. He has 5 top 25s this year already. He hits bombs (4th in driving distance and 16th in strokes gained off-the-tee) and scores a lot (5th in Birdie Average). Watch out if this guy gets hot, he can do some damage.
We’re proud to partner with Birdies for the Brave on Warrior Club Fittings at PGA Tour events throughout the year. At each of these events, we work with two injured U.S. military veterans and get them custom fit for a full set of new Callaway equipment. And we do it all on the range, literally just a few feet away from the best players in the world. It’s an initiative we’re extremely passionate about, and we just held one recently at Colonial.
Our two Warriors in Dallas were Cody Full (below far left, red shirt) and Phil Foster (below middle, red shirt).
Their day started with a visit to our Callaway Tour Truck, where we showed them all the equipment that we use to help get our staffers and other Tour players dialed in at each PGA Tour event. CBS also profiled their Warrior Fitting in a great video they showed during their weekend tournament broadcast.
On the range, Cody pounded the Rogue Driver and Fairway Woods, and by the end of the session he was consistently reaching 315 yards on his drives. Phil, meanwhile, played a nice little fade as he got fit into the Rogue Pro Irons and a Rogue Driver.
They finished out the session over on the putting green, where they both got fit into O-Works Red Mallet Putters.
We had a great time with Cody and Phil, and we’re glad to say that they enjoyed the experience too. It’s our privilege to work with these amazing Warriors.