This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
PGA Championship – Town and Country, MO
Bellerive Country Club (7,317 yards, par 70)
$1,890,000 and 600 FedEx Cup points to the winner
After a 26-year hiatus without a major, Bellerive returns to the major championship scene for the third time in its history this week. The previous two editions were in 1965 and 1992, won by Gary Player and Nick Price, respectively. Though other professional tournaments have been hosted here as recently as 2013, it will be a new course for most entrants in the field this week. The suburban St. Louis course is built around a large creek that meanders into play on half the holes and represents a stiff challenge with its narrow tee shots and large, undulating greens. Robert Trent Jones Sr. was the original architect, but in 2005-06 the course undertook a large renovation thanks to Rees Jones. Trent Jones' idea of a great golf hole was "a difficult par but a comfortable bogey", so expect no shortage of bogeys or worse this week. Jordan Spieth tees it up in hopes of becoming the second-youngest ever to complete the major grand slam, while friend Justin Thomas looks to defend last year's PGA Championship after a four-shot victory at Firestone last week. With an incredibly deep field of the world's best players, drama should abound as the PGA Championship ends its tenure as the PGA Tour's final major, moving to the second slot in May next year.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Justin Thomas
2016 – Jimmy Walker
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Rory McIlroy
2013 – Jason Dufner
2012 – Rory McIlroy
2011 – Keegan Bradley
2010 – Martin Kaymer
2009 – Y.E. Yang
2008 – Padraig Harrington
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Par-4 Scoring Average
• Bogey Avoidance
The setup at Bellerive this week is a par 70 with just two par-5s and an onslaught of difficult par-4 holes. Six of the par-4s are over 450 yards, so the players who can best navigate these holes will be in great position to contend. Scoring well on all holes at Bellerive requires precision ball striking to position away from the hazardous bunkers and water in play. On many holes it is imperative to hit the fairway to even have a chance to hold the green in regulation. Length matters, but only if there's accuracy along with it, making Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green keys to a player's success. Once on the large bent grass greens, the players will face many undulations and tiering that can lead to three-putts if they are out of position. Over the course of four rounds, the player who can plod around the course safely, avoid bogeys, and make a few extra putts will likely find himself champion.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson, $12600 – DJ followed up his third victory of the season with a backdoor top-3 at Firestone, solidifying his elite form. He's still leading the FedEx Cup despite Justin Thomas' win last week, he's the best tee-to-green player on Tour this season, and he leads the Tour in par-4 scoring average. With the right strategy and execution at Bellerive this week, his incredible length and accuracy will be a huge advantage. He's quite pricey, but it's justified given his form and overall talent.
Rory McIlroy, $12300 – Rory's disappointing 73 Sunday alongside 54-hole leader and eventual champion Justin Thomas was enough to discourage some from siding with McIlroy this week. Don't be one of those people. Rory still managed a top-6 last week and tied for second at the Open prior to that, so he's clearly in good enough form to contend again this week. He should hit plenty of greens at Bellerive; the only question remains his putter on Bellerive's large and tricky contours. If he somehow finds comfort with his flat stick, there's a chance he can run away with the title this week. Don't necessarily expect dominance; just know that his potential to play well is high.
Jason Day, $11700 – Day struggled with a 73 last Sunday to barely finish inside the top-10 at Firestone, but his ability to grind with his elite short game make him a threat on any difficult course. Day has finished inside the top 15 in five straight PGA Championships, including a win in 2015, so there is plenty reason to justify choosing him for your lineups this week.
Justin Thomas, $11400 – Last week's four-shot victory at Firestone brought Thomas back into the conversation for POY, as he now stands second in the FedEx Cup standings. Thomas has proven consistent this season, and a Bellerive course that favors his long-and-straight driving sets him up nicely to potentially win back-to-back PGA Championships. It will be a tough feat to pull off, but the pieces are in place for the trending Thomas to make it happen.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Tony Finau, $10600 – Finau could make it a 4-for-4 sweep of top-10s in majors if he can keep his momentum going at Bellerive this week. The long hitter will need to hold back on a few holes to hit the fairway, but he will have shorter clubs into the greens than most players, which will set him up for more legitimate birdie looks. If he can convert those looks and avoid the big numbers like he has most of the year, look for Finau to again contend for his first major come Sunday.
Patrick Cantlay, $9700 – Ranked 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this season, Cantlay represents an underrated value option on FanDuel this week. The youngster is just starting to bud in his career, with a win in late 2017 and his best major finish of 12th at the Open Championship a few weeks ago. Having made three of his last four cuts at majors, Cantlay has a good chance to make it four of five, and brings the upside for a top-10.
Joaquin Niemann, $9200 – Niemann has been nothing but great in limited opportunities, and he's almost assured a PGA Tour card next year because of his four top-10s in just 11 starts this season. The PGA gave him a special exemption to get into the field this week, so expect him to try and take full advantage of the opportunity. At $9200, he's a risk worth taking for the potential he represents.
Thorbjorn Olesen, $8600 – The 28-year-old Dane has already played in 16 major championships, with 10 made cuts and three top-25 finishes. His form is on point ,with a 12th place finish at the Open followed by an impressive top-3 at Firestone last week. Assuming he can play similarly to his trend, he's a steal at $8600.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
The season's final major is among the strongest fields of the year, with 110 of the top 112 in the world rankings making an appearance. Take some favorites, take some risks on long shots, but don't take any of the 20 club professionals in the field this week. Precision ball strikers thrive on this course, but the eventual winner will need enough savvy around the greens to handle the tricky contours at Bellerive.