The PGA Championship is organised by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America. It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.
PGA Champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors for the next five years and are exempt from qualifying for the PGA Championship for life. They also receive membership on the PGA and European Tours for the following five seasons and invitations to The PLAYERS Championship for five years.
The PGA Championship features the strongest field of any of the majors based on the Official World Golf Ranking, with 156 players competing annually for the Wanamaker Trophy.
This year’s host course for the 102nd PGA Championship is TPC Harding Park, formerly Harding Park Golf Club and commonly known as Harding Park. This will be the fifth occasion that the PGA Championship will make its appearance in California and the first to be staged in San Francisco.
TPC Harding Park is a municipal golf course owned by the city and county of San Francisco. The 2020 PGA Championship will be the first major championship to be held at a TPC property.
Named after U.S. President Warren G. Harding, Harding Park Golf Course was opened in 1925 along the shores of Lake Merced, in San Francisco. The initial 18-hole, 163 acre course was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also designed the nearby Olympic Club Lake Course.
Harding Park established itself as one of the top golf courses on the West Coast. It hosted a number of important tournaments and became a regular stop for PGA Tour events. However, after the San Francisco Open Invitational in 1969, the PGA Tour left Harding Park due to deteriorating conditions and out-dated facilities.
Course conditions got progressively worse due to city budget cuts which caused devastation to overall maintenance. The low point came in 1998, when Harding was used for parking during the US Open at the nearby Lake Course of the Olympic Club.
In 2002 a $16M restoration began featuring a complete redesign of the course. The character and integrity of the original layout was maintained while incorporating changes to challenge the modern golfer. As part of the redesign, the Par 70 layout was lengthened to 7,200 yards.
The new-look Harding Park was officially reopened in August 2003. The redesigned championship course was well received and and with it came the return of the PGA Tour. In November 2010, Harding Park became a part of the PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Club (TPC) network of courses.
Notable tournaments played at Harding Park since it reopened in 2003 include;
- 2005 WGC American Express Championship – Tiger Woods
- 2009 Presidents Cup 2009 – US Team (Captain Fred Couples)
- 2010 Charles Schwab Cup Championship – John Cook
- 2011 Charles Schwab Cup Championship – Jay Don Blake
- 2012 Charles Schwab Cup Championship – Tom Lehman
- 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play – Rory McIlroy
In preparation for this week’s major, the fairways have been considerably reduced and the rough will be challenging. Solid play from the tee will be crucial to keep the ball on the short stuff. Playing from the fairway will present the best chance to set up scoring opportunities. Those players who drive the ball long and well should prosper. This is backed up by the PGA Championship Winning Formula data which shows the strokes gained breakdown for the past three champions.
Course management looks to be key this week with scoring opportunities hard to come by. Taking advantage of the two Par 5’s will also be important. Greens are tiered so putting will be extremely challenging particularly if players fail to hit the proper target on the green. A razor-sharp short game won’t go astray either. Players will need to scramble well and drain their fair share of putts.
It goes without saying that Major Championships are not tournaments to be coming to to-find-your-game. History tells us that excellent Current Form is key this week. In this regard it is worth having a closer look at the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational and the Memorial Tournament for clues as to who might do well.
Like with all the Majors, it is worth holding back some wager money to have a bet in running after 36 or even 54 holes are completed.
In a nutshell, this week is all about distance accuracy, holding the green, three-putt avoidance, keeping big numbers off the card and trying to convert chances when they present
PGA Championship Betting Tips
Webb Simpson 25/1 (E/W) – a regular at the PGA Championship his best result in the recent past is a T13 at Baltusrol GC in 2016. Already a multiple winner on Tour this season at the WM Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage (both ball-strikers tracks), he also has a further 4 x Top 10’s from a total 10 starts. Tops the pile comfortably in this week’s Stats Analysis which demands attention in its own right. The 34 year from North Carolina is also 14th on Tour for GIR and 4th for Scoring Average. Assembling his best year on Tour, the time is now to add another Major to his US Open victory at the Olmpic Club in 2012. The Olympic Club, like TPC Harding Park, was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting and is also located on the shores of Lake Merced in San Francisco. The stars are aligning.
Daniel Berger 40/1 (E/W) – owes nothing after last week’s place finish in the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational so happy to stick with him again this week. Best result at the PGA Championship in the recent past is a T12 at Bellerive CC in 2018, so knows what it takes. Since the Tour’s restart his results read Win-T3-MC-T2 – his victory coming in the Charles Schwab Challenge. Places 2nd in this week’s Stats Analysis which is noteworthy considering it is the strongest field of any of the majors based on the OWGR. The 27 year old is also 14th on Tour for Strokes Gained Putting and 5th for Scoring Average. Statistically he should be a perfect fit for the challenge of TPC Harding Park. Game has elevated to new heights and with it his confidence. Like last week, what’s not to like?
Abraham Ancer 66/1 (E/W) – happy to stick with him again this week after a solid T15 finish in last week’s WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational. This will be his second appearance at the PGA Championship having finished T16 last year at Bethpage Black. Has four Top 15 finishes from five starts since golf’s return, including a solo 2nd at the RBC Heritage. Last week could have been so much better around TPC Southwind only for a second round 75 which spoilt rounds of 67, 65 and 66. Statistically balanced with zero red flags puts him third in this week’s Stats Analysis. Recent form and skill set make a compelling argument for consideration. May not win, but good each way chance.