With the 104th PGA Championship fast approaching, the key question everyone’s asking is the same across the golf world: Who are you picking to win at Southern Hills? With a tremendous field featuring most of the best professionals in the world, the second major of 2022 should be an epic ride from Thursday’s first round onward as the PGA returns to this site for the first time in 15 years.
This year’s PGA Championship is as wide-open as any recently, especially since there’s no defending champion in the field. There are no single-digit favorites entering Round 1, and perhaps only Scottie Scheffler enters as the player to beat given his tremendous, career-making start to the season. With Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm recently making waves, both will surely be popular picks as the event gets underway.
And then, of course, there is the Tiger Woods conundrum. What do you do with a 15-time major champion who flashed over 18 holes at Augusta National only to post his two worst rounds at the course over the weekend in the last golf he has played entering the PGA? Woods is set to tee it up in a superstar field alongside Spieth and Rory McIlroy, so you can bet plenty will have action on him.
Add it all up, and it would appear that we’re in for a wild PGa Championship week full of unexpected twists and turns but also a lot of familiar names atop the leaderboard.
So what is going to happen this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Let’s take a look at a full set of predictions and picks from our CBS Sports experts — along with a full slate of— as we attempt to project who will win and what will happen at the second major of the season. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
2022 PGA Championship expert picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, senior golf writer
Winner — Shane Lowry (28-1): I’ve been trying to push away the idea of Lowry stealing a major championship out from underneath Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, but I can’t resist it any longer. Lowry has been a top-five ball-striker so far in 2022 (Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris and Justin Thomas are the other four), and he’s an elite iron player with a tremendous short game who played quite well at the Masters. The only thing not to like is that he’s not often talked about as a star or superstar of the sport. This week might change that.
Sleeper — Max Homa (55-1): Am I concerned about the fact that he hasn’t even sniffed a top 10 throughout his career? I am. Am I encouraged by the fact that he’s never played golf this well in his entire life and comes in off the momentum of a win at the Wells Fargo? I am. The 55-1 number is compelling, especially since Homa has been a top-seven ball-striker since Jan. 1. If the short game complies, he’s going to be in it.
Top 10 lock — Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is playing great from tee to green, but it’s actually his touch around the greens that has caught my attention. He ranks No. 1 of everyone in this field since the start of the year in strokes gained around the greens and is coming into this tournament off a pair of top-five finishes (Masters and Wells Fargo Championship). I don’t know that he’s going to win, but I feel extremely confident that McIlroy is in for a big week.
Star who definitely won’t win — Jon Rahm: Picking Bryson DeChambeau or Tiger Woods would have been cheating here, so I’ll go with Rahm, which might be flying a bit too close to the sun. From tee to green, he’s been tremendous, but the short game has fallen off this year, and that’s concerning going into a major championship that’s going to demand a lot of it.
Surprise prediction — Spieth’s putter costs him: This won’t be surprising to those who have been paying attention for the last few months, but if you haven’t, you might be surprised to find out that Spieth is not a good putter right now. Though he’s going to hit the ball well, it’s the magical Scotty Cameron that’s going to let him down in his bid for the career slam.
Tiger Woods prediction — Finishes slightly better than at Augusta National: Big Cat created the bar at this year’s Masters when he made the cut and finished in the top 50, and now that’s what will (rightly) be expected going forward. I still don’t think he has any chance of winning this championship, but he does look stronger and fitter than he did at the Masters, and I think the result will end up being a bit better as well.
Lowest round: 64 (-6)
Winning score: 270 (-10)
Winner’s Sunday score: 67 (-3)
Patrick McDonald, golf writer
Winner – Hideki Matsuyama (28-1): Firm and fast conditions — where iron play and around-the-green prowess are required — scream Matsuyama to me. The 2021 Masters champion already has two wins on the season and finally looked like his normal self at the AT&T Byron Nelson after suffering from a neck injury. The key will be his putter — as it so often is — but these bent grass greens should be to his liking. He has nine top-26 finishes in his last 10 major championship appearances and possesses one of the higher floors among the game’s elites. Deki grabs major No. 2 this week.
Sleeper — Talor Gooch (100-1): He’s a former Oklahoma State Cowboy, so we have that narrative crossed off the list; but in all seriousness, Gooch’s statistical profile should fit Southern Hills. A top-notch iron player and a capable scrambler, the 30-year-old ranks seventh in this field in total strokes gained over his last 50 rounds. He finished in a tie for 14th at Augusta National in his Masters debut and has played long difficult golf courses like Torrey Pines, Quail Hollow and Memorial Park well.
Top 10 lock — Dustin Johnson: I honestly like him to win, but Johnson will be the name at the top odds board, which will drift as the week progresses. Patience is a virtue as no one will touch him when sandwiched between Collin Morikawa and Spieth. It’s been a quiet year for the two-time major winner however that is not to say it has been an unproductive one. The 37-year-old looked sharp at Torrey Pines, tied the course record at TPC Sawgrass and made a deep run in the match play at Austin Country Club. He is consistently a factor in the U.S. Open and this week should play like one.
Star who definitely won’t win — Viktor Hovland: The term “star” implies a top-10 player in the world, and Hovland is the one I’ll be picking on. Could he ball-strike his way to victory? Absolutely. Yet, when he inevitably does miss a green in regulation, his chipping deficiency will rear its ugly head. The world No. 6 ranks 210th out of 210 players on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained around the green, so if he is able to win with that in his arsenal, I will gladly tip my cap to him.
Surprise prediction — Brooks Koepka contends for major No. 5: The artist formerly known as “big game hunter” has gone missing in 2022. His four missed cuts have come at arguably the four most notable courses the PGA Tour travels to in the spring when looking at Torrey Pines, Riviera, TPC Sawgrass and Augusta. It doesn’t matter where it takes place, though, Koepka is always a factor at the PGA Championship. In nine appearances, he has two wins, three top-fives and two top-15 finishes. Injuries and final round woes are a concern but that hasn’t stopped Koepka from contending in the past.
Tiger Woods prediction — Misses the cut: This ought to go over well. The PGA Championship is far different from the Masters where only 70 players had a realistic chance to make the cut. I’ve read the quotes. I know he’s getting “stronger.” Still, difficult major championship setups have eaten Tiger’s lunch in recent memory. Since 2018, he has missed the cut in four of eight major appearances when removing his play at Augusta. Southern Hills is going to be a stern examination and I’m not sure Woods will convert enough momentum-saving pars to pass the test. *ducks for cover*
Lowest round: 65 (-5)
Winning score: 275 (-5)
Winner’s Sunday Score: 69 (-1)
Who will win the PGA Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected PGA Championship leaderboard, all from the model that’s nailed eight golf majors, including this year’s Masters.
Kyle Boone, writer
Winner — Jon Rahm (12-1): Rahm hasn’t quite played at the level this season that maybe he did the last few seasons, and yet … last we saw of him he was winning on Mexico’s soil. He’s still got it. He ranks first on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained off the tee, which should serve him well at Southern Hills, and he should be in the mix down to the end if the other nuances of his game come together. If I can bet on his putter to break through, I’ll happily do that.
Sleeper — Jason Day (70-1): It’s been a rollercoaster season for 34-year-old Day, but he enters the week having played some really strong golf of late with two top-15 finishes in his last three outings. He’s been a notoriously fast starter in that span, too, and if he can continue that trend, it wouldn’t be totally surprising to see him keep that pace up on a course that may be gettable with favorable conditions leading into the weekend.
Top 10 lock — Scottie Scheffler: The tourney favorite? 11-1 odds? Winner in four of his last eight outings? Yes, please! Sure, it’s probably a cop-out, but Scheffler feels like a lock to be in contention this week. He’s said in the past that Southern Hills is one of his favorite courses, and it sets up well for him this week.
Star who definitely won’t win — Brooks Koepka: He’s something of a wild card entering the week — we’ve not seen him since the Masters — but based upon that appearance, it’s hard to feel confident in his chances this week. He turned in matching 75s and missed the cut at Augusta, and after that showing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him again this week eject before the weekend.
Surprise prediction — Bryson DeChambeau makes the cut: He’s coming off surgery, and who knows in what form he’ll arrive back on the scene? Still, I can’t imagine he’d dive back in — even at a major — unless he felt well enough to really compete. His distance off the tees could be a big edge on a course like Southern Hills, too.
Tiger Woods prediction — Finishes outside the top 20: If we learned anything from his Masters appearance, it’s that physically it gets more challenging for him as the week goes on. I think he’ll start strong and make the cut but again wear down as the weather warms up and as the grind of walking this course catches up to him.
Lowest round: 63 (-7)
Winning score: 267 (-13)
Winner’s Sunday score: 68 (-2)
Jacob Hallex, The First Cut producer
Winner — Cameron Smith (22-1): The knock against Smith has always been his lack of control off the tee. Guess what? This course has wide fairways and short rough that should mitigate disaster. He’s won a big-time event in The Players in challenging conditions. The metrics are off the page, too. After Scheffler, might be able to make the argument Smith is the second-best golfer of the calendar year. He’s a top-10 player in stroke gained approach and putting. The guy is great at scrambling around greens, which will come in handy when winds blow approach shots off-target. He leads the tour in par-5 scoring, which is crucial when it comes to major championships. What’s buoyed that is his fantastic approach game from long distances. The Aussie is 3rd on the PGA Tour in approaches from 150-175 yards and eighth in approaches from 175-200 yards. You’re telling me I can bet this guy and get “2” in front of his odds? Sign me up!
Sleeper — Alex Noren (100-1): You want a Scandinavian Oklahoma State player not named Viktor to contend this week? Let me sell you on Noren. The Swede is an excellent wind player with a super favorable draw. He goes off No. 10 first thing on Thursday morning, and it won’t be shocking to me if he’s able to get out there, post a score and coast into the weekend as conditions get tough for afternoon players. He’s coming off a T12 at the AT&T Byron Nelson and gained shots in all categories. Noren has gained strokes in every single individual event played this year except The American Express.
Top 10 lock — Matt Fitzpatrick: I love me some Fitzpatrick this week. He is a player that always thrives in tough conditions, especially when winds kick up. This course seemingly sets up great for him with an emphasis on great approach play. I love the fact he is coming off a T2 at the Wells Fargo Championship in what was also a grind of an event. A top 10 ticket would have cashed in five of his past eight events played. I.gave out a top-20 pick at +170 on The Early Edge this week; if you want to bet him inside the top 10, you can get a tasty +350 payout.
Star who definitely won’t win — Jordan Spieth: Don’t let Kyle see this … I’m not buying the Spieth hype this week. It’s really tough to make a call on a star that won’t win, because let’s be honest, everyone in the top 20 of the odds board is worth a solid argument. Spieth still scares me with the putter. It feels like we’re always going to get at least nasty three-putt per round. He’s been a negative or neutral putter in the vast majority of rounds this season.
Surprise prediction — Patrick Cantlay will be in contention: It’s time for Cantlay to compete in a major. He is an excellent PGA Tour player … but that doesn’t make him great at major championships. His last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2019 PGA Championship. Since then, he’s racked up three great victories since June of last year including two playoff events and the Memorial — all elevated events.
Tiger Woods prediction — Misses the cut: This is what I call a classic hedge against happiness. I’ll take Big Cat to miss the cut entirely. I think the reports of hot weather look over the wind chill we’ll see this week. Last week on The First Cut podcast. Rick Gehman mentioned eventually we’ll see cyborg pitchers in MLB. Golf already has a cyborg in Woods with how much metal is in his body. Tiger is coming off a made cut at Augusta National, but I don’t put much stock in it as he could play that course blindfolded and break 80.
Lowest round: 66 (-4)
Winning score: 272 (-8)
Winner’s Sunday score: 68 (-2)