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2022 Majors Preview and Picks

2022 Majors Preview and Picks

While the majors are months away, it’s never too early to look at the odds board and make a few bets. Here’s a preview of all 2022 majors and picks to win (odds courtesy of WynnBet).

2022 Majors Preview – The Masters

Quick Golf Course Preview

Every serious golf bettor and fan knows exactly what they’re in for with Augusta National. Many of us can close our eyes and picture every hole tee-to-green in our minds. If you need a refresher, click here.

Most years, however, the golf course undergoes some sort of tinkering. And this year is no exception. Per Geoff Shackelford, there appears to be significant work done on Holes 11 and 15. Two new tee boxes are being built to lengthen the holes. And per overhead imagery, a large swath of trees are being removed down the right side of Hole No. 11.

Other than that, the only thing that’ll dictate how the course plays is the weather. In warm, muggy, and soft conditions, Augusta National is very gettable. In cool and firm conditions, however, it shows its teeth. Much of the handicapping for Augusta National won’t come until we have a clear weather forecast.

Pick To Win – Brooks Koepka 20/1

A common saying about The Masters is that experience matters at Augusta National. Last year, DataGolf did an analysis of average strokes gained at the Masters after a certain number of appearances. Per the results of the study, there’s a jump in performance in a player’s 4th, 7th, and 9th Masters.

2022 will be Brooks Koepka’s 7th Masters. Not only is there the inherent level jump in performance based on history, but he’s also been awesome there. He finished T2 to Tiger Woods in 2019 and T7 in 2020. If it weren’t for a knee injury he battled in the Spring of 2021, maybe he shows much better than his missed cut.

Heading into 2022, it appears as though Koepka is healthy. He waxed Bryson DeChambeau in their match and was in the final group at the Hero World Challenge. If his body is cooperating, 20/1 on Brooks Koepka at the Masters is a great bet.

Longshot Winner – Marc Leishman 50/1

Maybe betting on Leishman today isn’t the way to go. It’s possible his odds will slip between now and April. But he’s someone to certainly keep an eye on for April.

As referenced above, a player’s “prime” at Augusta National is between their 7th and 13th appearance. 2022 will be Marc Leishman’s 10th Masters. And the last two Masters champions were making their 10th start.

He has a pretty good track record at the golf course and has shown tremendous improvement in his form towards the tail end of 2021. After about a solid year of poor golf, Leishman notched a pair of Top 5’s in the fall. He added another Top 20 finish at the Houston Open. If he’s truly back and gets a favorable weather forecast, Leishman could slip on his first Green Jacket.

2022 Majors Preview – PGA Championship

Quick Golf Course Preview

The 2022 PGA Championship was originally to be played at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey. But after the Capitol Riots of 2021, the PGA of America distanced themselves from Trump and moved the tournament elsewhere. In its place, the PGA Championship returns to Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK.

Southern Hills was established in 1936 and was designed by Perry Maxwell. Maxwell is most known for his work of the greens at Augusta National, as well as the redesign of Colonial Country Club. The club last hosted a PGA Championship in 2007, which was won by Tiger Woods. The 2022 PGA Championship will be the 5th PGA Championship at Southern Hills. It also has hosted numerous USGA events, including three U.S. Opens. It also served as the site for the Tour Championship from 1995-1996.

In 2018, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner completed a “Resto-Vation” of Southern Hills. Other restorations and renovations performed by the duo include Pinehurst No. 4, The Olympic Club, Los Angeles Country Club, the Country Club at Brookline, and Winged Foot. Hanse has become the new “doctor” of restoring great golf courses back to major conditions.

Below is a video from The Fried Egg summarizing Southern Hills and the job done by Hanse and Wagner:

From the championship tees, the golf course can play as long as 7,481 yards. It consists of bermudagrass tee-to-green, and bentgrass greens. Depending on the weather in Tulsa, Oklahoma in mid-May, the fairways and rough may be overseeded with ryegrass. Given the climate in Mid-May, that seems to be very unlikely.

Pick To Win – Xander Schauffele 23/1

A few weeks ago, we did a case study on when to bet on Xander Schauffele. The main takeaway was to bet on Xander anytime he stepped onto a long golf course that featured a northern strain of grass. And that’s exactly what Southern Hills has. In addition, the rolling terrain and tight greenside surrounds have serious Augusta National vibes to it. Xander has a tremendous track record at the Masters. And the PGA Championship is a great jumping off point for a younger player to get their first major. PGA Championships have the reputation of separating the wheat from the chafe tee-to-green. Xander performs very well in more demanding tee-to-green conditions.

Longshot Winner – Jason Kokrak 100/1

100/1 for Jason Kokrak seems like a value today, and one I would consider betting right now. Kokrak has won three times over the last 14 months. He owns a win at Colonial Country Club, which is also a Perry Maxwell design. He owns a win at Shadow Creek, which was designed by Tom Fazio. Fazio is the Chief Architectural Consultant for Augusta National. And he won at Memorial Park, a golf course featuring undulating greens and tight chipping areas.

Southern Hills presents similar challenges to all of these places. Kokrak has a lot of win equity for someone 100/1, and there’s a lot of favorable cross-course comparisons going for him. He could be a surprise major winner at the 2022 PGA Championship.

2022 Majors Preview – U.S. Open

Quick Golf Course Preview

The U.S. Open returns to The Country Club at Brookline in 2022. The golf course last hosted the U.S. Open in 1988, which was won by Curtis Strange. It also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1999, as well as the U.S. Amateur in 2013. It has undergone a restoration by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner to bring the course back to its early roots.

The USGA put out a video previewing the course for U.S. Open play:

For those with more time on their hands, here are the semi-final and finals from the 2013 U.S. Amateur, won by Matthew Fitzpatrick:

The USGA will set the course up at a maximum of 7,263 yards. 15 of the holes will be comprised from the main course (the Clyde and the Squirrel), while three holes will be used from the Primrose (the executive course on the property). It features small bentgrass greens with thick penal rough surrounding each putting surface. Post renovation, this classic golf course will offer a stern test for the U.S. Open field.

Pick To Win – Collin Morikawa 15/1

Over the past few years, the U.S. Open has generally favored the bombers. Long setups with deep penal rough made it virtually impossible for shorter hitters to keep up. Those who possessed tremendous length off the tee had a serious leg up on the competition.

But it doesn’t appear that Brookline will set up that way. For one, it’s under 7,300 yards on the scorecard. Second, the routing tee-to-green doesn’t present a ton of opportunities for a bomber to reach areas of the course inaccessible to shorter hitters. It’s a very quirky setup, whereas Winged Foot was right out in front of the player. There also weren’t many good layup zones at Winged Foot, and the fairways were difficult to hold. At Brookline, the course is littered with good layup zones if one wants to play conservative.

It also appears to be a course where one can’t be wildly out of position off the tee because they’ll have no shot landing on the green. Positional golf tee-to-green seems like it’ll be more important than power this time around. And a premium on iron play will be a must given the small greens at the golf course. There are also very tight mouths into the greens. Hacking out of the rough bouncing the ball up to the green through the wide corridors is what helped Bryson DeChambeau dominated at Winged Foot. That’s not the case at Brookline. This U.S. Open will have more the feel of the U.S. Opens at Olympic Club and Merion. Power players didn’t dominate either tournament.

That description sounds like it’s right up Collin Morikawa’s alley. He’ll keep the ball in play off the tee and pepper greens at a higher rate than the field. It’s hard to imagine the winner of this year’s U.S. Open eclipsing a score better than -8. Morikawa is an easy bet for these tournament conditions.

Longshot Winner – Corey Conners – 75/1

The obvious link between Corey Conners and Brookline is his semi-final appearance at the 2013 U.S. Amateur. But even without that, his game should set up for U.S. Open success at the golf course. Like Morikawa, Conners possesses a really good accuracy off the tee and an all world iron game. And given this won’t turn into a putting contest, he’ll be near the top of the leaderboard if he’s striking the ball beautifully. I love this price on Corey Conners at the 2022 U.S. Open.

2022 Majors Preview – Open Championship

Quick Golf Course Preview

The 150th Open Championship returns to the Home of Golf. The Old Course at St. Andrews will host its 30th Open Championship and the first since 2022.

The last time the Open Championship headed to St. Andrews was 2015. It produced a very exciting result. Weather scrapped nearly all of Friday and Saturday’s action, with the third round beginning on Sunday. That led to a thrilling Monday finish that saw a very tight leaderboard. Jordan Spieth nearly holed out from off the green on 18 to force his way into a playoff, but in the end, his bid for a third straight major championship fell short. Jason Day also needed to hit a long birdie putt on 18 to put him into the playoff, but it missed its mark as well. An exasperated and emotional Jason Day, in search of his first major title, would go on to capture the elusive victory a month later at the PGA Championship.

But as for the 2015 Open Championship, it was a three way playoff between Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, and Marc Leishman. Leishman had one hand on the trophy as he headed to the 16th, but an ill timed bogey sent him down into a tie for the lead. Meanwhile, Zach Johnson nailed a long birdie putt on the 18th hole to force his way into a playoff. And Louis Oosthuizen, the last Open Champion at St. Andrews, also pushed his way into a playoff with a birdie on the 18th.

In the playoff, Leishman immediately ejected with a bogey on the 1st, while Johnson and Oosthuizen birdied the first. Johnson pulled ahead with a birdie on the second, before all three bogeyed the Road Hole. Then on 18, Oosthuizen failed to convert on his birdie putt, giving 80/1 Zach Johnson an improbable victory at the Open Championship.

While the golf course is flat from an elevation standpoint, there are very few even lies to be found around St. Andrews. The land is full of subtle undulation and swales that make the ball go in many directions once it hits the ground. But St. Andrews is also a fairly wide open golf course with wider fairways and plenty of room to operate. One can hit driver a ton at St. Andrews. There’s also plenty of opportunities for one to take creative routes tee-to-green by playing the ball down a different fairway.

And even if one finds themselves in a bad spot off the tee, there are opportunities to bound the ball to the green. The greens at St. Andrews are huge. Most are double greens where groups will putt on opposite ends. Almost all of them present the opportunity to run the ball up to the hole. Players should find themselves with plenty of birdie putts all week long. Someone with a hot flat stick can keep up with the pace.

Ultimately, this championship will come down to the weather. If the players get proper Scottish weather, players will struggle to put up many birdies. But if conditions are calm and benign, the winner could easily eclipse -20.

Pick To Win – Patrick Cantlay 30/1

It’s really difficult to try and pick a winner of the Open Championship in December. Without knowing the weather conditions or the draw, betting this early is definitely not advisable. For now, I’ll try and look for value with an early pick and take Patrick Cantlay at 30/1.

Cantlay just had his best year on the PGA Tour and has the patience and demeanor for links Championship golf. He also is a very versatile player in different weather conditions. Cantlay has the consistent ball striking to handle a grinding style of scoring. He also wields a hot putter to pile on birdies in a hurry. He has a tremendous career on cooler climate grass types. And it also helps that he lists St. Andrews as one of his Top 10 favorite golf courses in the world.

It’s also possible that with a great start to his season, 30/1 on Cantlay is buying at the low point. At this early in the game, maybe locking in that price is worth it.

Longshot Winner – Billy Horschel 150/1

St. Andrews is a golf course where a multitude of styles can win. The Top 10 in 2015 featured a mishmash of golfers from all walks of life. So why not dig deep into the odds boards to try and find a diamond in the rough.

Enter Billy Horschel, who seems to have an affinity for European golf. After his win at the BMW PGA Championship in September, Horschel talked about how much he respected and appreciated European Tour golf and the golf courses they play in the Old World. And while he doesn’t have much major championship success to his resume, he’s certainly capable of piling up a ton of birdies to put himself in the mix in the final round. And not for nothing – his best finish at the Open was a T30 at St. Andrews in 2015. Billy Horschel has demonstrated a high ceiling in 2021. At 150/1 and at a venue that promotes parody, it’s not a bad bet to make in December.

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Golf analyst for SportsGamblingPodcast.com. Co-Host of the Golf Gambling Podcast on the Sports Gambling Podcast Network. Hit him up on the SGP Slack Channel at SportsGamblingPodcast.com/Slack

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