PGA Championship betting: The long and short (game) of Southern Hills

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Golf's best were sweating profusely through their apparel in the August heat the last time Southern Hills hosted the PGA Championship. With the tournament's move to May, the first two rounds will be played in the typical windy conditions of Tulsa, Oklahoma, followed by a flip to breezier temperatures for the weekend.

With ample fairways but smaller targets on heavily sloped greens, only the purest approach shots will be rewarded, and any misses will require a deft short game to save par.

Three draws

Collin Morikawa (+2200)

Many of golf's premier players have been out of sight, out of mind lately, with few overly attractive events between Augusta and the season's second major. Still, Morikawa low-key hasn't played much this season.

Since getting caught up in the conditions at TPC Sawgrass and having a rough weekend at the Valspar in March, the two-time major winner played in just two traditional stroke-play events, one of which was a quiet top-five at the Masters.

Southern Hills will require accurate driving to set up pinpoint accuracy with irons, as the sloping greens play smaller than they actually are. Morikawa has the fourth-smallest proximity to the hole with his approach shots and was T7 in that category last year. He's better than even money for a top-20 this week.

Hideki Matsuyama (+2800)

Matsuyama's been off the radar thanks to a lingering neck injury that hampered his title defense, even though he finished a respectable T14 a week after withdrawing from the Texas Open. The 2021 Masters champion took a month off, and if you were wondering if he was feeling better, a 62 on Sunday at the Byron Nelson should address that.

When he's right, no one is better on long approaches than Matsuyama. He's second on TOUR in proximity to the hole on shots over 200 yards, and the 7,500-yard Southern Hills will provide more than a few of those approach shots.

With tough-to-hit green complexes, scrambling will be a big deal this week on a course where anything under par will be a good score each day. Matsuyama is 22nd in scrambling this season - despite not being known for his short game. At +125, a bet for a top 20 is a good one.

Daniel Berger (+5500)

If this were a fantasy baseball preview, we'd be calling Berger a "post-hype sleeper." For two years, pundits have tripped over each other to tout his major chances only to be left disappointed. However, this might be the week he comes through - when no one's looking.

Berger is +225 for a top 20 and suits Southern Hills well, as he's eighth on TOUR in strokes gained: approach and sixth in scrambling (68.75%).

He's been out of mind since getting blown off of Augusta National with a weekend 77-80 combo, but a decent showing at the Heritage the week after makes me feel better before his long pre-PGA break.

Three slices

Bryson DeChambeau

Call it low-hanging fruit, but it sure seems like DeChambeau's decision to give it a go this week is misguided. Sportsbooks are slow to offer a missed cut prop on him, but if they do, don't hesitate to fade him on a course that requires the touch he doesn't possess.

Dustin Johnson

Johnson could roll out of bed and compete on talent alone - and after getting married two weeks ago, he might have to - but when he's ready to win a major, you can see it coming. That's not the case right now.

At 153rd (barely ahead of Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka) in strokes gained: around the green, he'll struggle to get up-and-down as often as he'll need to. A missed cut (+275) might seem aggressive, but he could be a candidate considering how frequently top stars miss cuts in majors.

Viktor Hovland

Two things might attract you to the Oklahoma State Cowboy: his time in nearby Stillwater and his second-ranked strokes gained: approach statistics. However, if his iron play is even remotely off in the wind gusts, the bigger issue will be his scrambling. Hovland is 210th in strokes gained: around the green. Also at +275 to miss the cut, a few extra bogeys in tough conditions on Thursday or Friday could leave Hovland some time to visit his alma mater on the weekend.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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PGA Championship betting: The long and short (game) of Southern Hills
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