The Confidence Factor: 100th PGA Championship

Preview and picks included!

(Ed. Added notes on Tiger Woods, 5 pm)

100th PGA Championship

Bellerive Country Club

St. Louis, Missouri


Bellerive Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,316
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: A4 Bentgrass; 7,600 ft on average
Stimpmeter: “Tournament” speed
Rough: Fescue upwards of four inches
Bunkers: 76
Water Hazards: 16
Architects: Robert Trent Jones (1960); Rees Jones (2013)
Purse: $10.5 million/$1.89 winner/600 FEC Points
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas, 276 (Quail Hollow Club)
Fact of the Week: The first time Bellerive hosted a major championship Gary Player completed the career grand slam. Jordan Spieth can become the second at this course this week.



  • 156 players. Top 70 and ties will play the weekend.
  • 98 of the top 100 are playing and all of the top 50 OWGR.
  • Bernd Wiesberger, Graham DeLaet and Lee Westwood all miss out through injury.
  • Three-hole aggregate playoff (Nos. 16-18) will be followed, if necessary, by a sudden-death playoff starting at No. 18.
  • Winner receives a five-year exemption on TOUR and to every major plus a lifetime spot in the PGA Championship.


2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na
John Deere Classic Michael Kim*
The Open Championship Francesco Molinari (2)
RBC Canadian Open Dustin Johnson (3)
Barracuda Championship Andrew Putnam*
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Justin Thomas (3)


The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam.

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

You need a history lesson? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 265; David Toms (2001) Atlanta Athletic Club (Par-70)
Tournament Record (to par): -20, 268; Jason Day (2015) Whistling Straits
Course Record: N/A
Recent Defending Champion(s): Tiger Woods (1999-2000; 2006-2007)
Multiple Winners: Woods (4x), Vijay Singh (2x)
First TOUR Win (last): Shaun Micheel, 2003
First Win in First Appearance (last): Keegan Bradley, 2011
Low Round Last Year: 64; Francesco Molinari, Hideki Matsuyama
Record Score (major): 62; Branden Grace, 2017 Royal Birkdale
Rookies of Note Last Year: Grayson Murray, T22;
Odd Fact: The PGA Championship was match play until 1958.


Quick Thoughts

The last time in August hopefully means the last time for tough course conditions.

Unless there is a freeze/frost in May in some of the northern events.

But I digress.

Bellerive hasn’t had many rave reviews this week but for 600 FedExCup Points and almost $2 million in cold cash, I doubt many care. The pros just want a fair set up for ALL PLAYERS, not different waves daily. Last year Quail Hollow Club was hardly in pristine shape because of August weather but we all survived.

Playing at less than 7,400 yards with receptive fairways and greens suggests a free-for-all this week.

I don’t agree.

Major championship golf is a different animal both mentally and physically. The list of recent winners suggests finding a Shaun Micheel or Ben Curtis probably isn’t going to happen this week regardless of the conditions. If the track is playing receptively the non-superstar player will have to play flawless golf as the conditions won’t hamper the world’s best. Remember, they can make birdies, and plenty of them, as well.



In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Dustin Johnson: I was asked why he’s always my favorite. Well, he’s No. 1 in the world, he leads the TOUR in too many categories to count and he’s finished no worse than third four times in his last five events. I’d start here and ask yourself who is better. It doesn’t mean he’ll win; it means in a vacuum, he should. Fantasy golf isn’t played in a vacuum so it’s game on!

Rory McIlroy: He’s ticking into form as he usually does this time of year (see: 2012, 2014 PGA Championship; 2014 WGC-BI). Without any ailments bothering him it’s hardly a wonder why he’s churning out results. I’d point out that he was in the top 10 of SG: putting last week and his investors will hope that carries over.

Justin Thomas: There’s one player that’s defended his Wannamaker trophy successfully. Uno. That’s some serious history going in the opposite direction. There have been two players recently win the WGC-BI and PGA Championship in back-to-back weeks. He had nothing flowing in his direction entering last week so he just showed up and won. That’s boss. Doing two weeks in a row is ridiculous.

Justin Rose: Saying he had back spasms last week was a very polite way of taking a week off without upsetting the apple cart. The wonderful thing about back injuries is sometimes they heal just as quickly as they appear. I have no reservations about Rose this week in that department. In six starts after the Masters worldwide he’s finished outside the top 10 once (T23).

Brooks Koepka: This cy-Borg has rankled a few feathers with a run of blah after defending his U.S. Open title. Read that last part again and wonder why! He righted the ship in Akron and will factor again this week. Incredible to think what he might have had going on if he didn’t miss four months with a wrist deal.

Tommy Fleetwood: I don’t think he’s a bad putter but I’m more interested in him when the playing field on the greens is level. His worst finish in a major this year is T17 and he was T7 at THE PLAYERS. He’ll shine tee-to-green as usual but should be dominant in target golf.

Tony Finau: I hope I’m not too late to the party! A guy making his most cash at WGC events and majors is surely a clue. Toss in Riviera and Torrey Pines and there’s no turning back for me. Absolutely raking from tee-to-green and is the only player to hit the top 10 in all three majors this year.

Jason Day: He sat three of Thomas’s lead last week with six holes to play before hitting it all over the shop. The huge, receptive greens will give him plenty of chances to work the putter, the best one on TOUR. The two-way miss last week wasn’t inspiring but great players will sort that out.

Rickie Fowler: He’s cashed in his last nine majors with three T5 or better and nothing worse than T28 LTO at Carnoustie. He hasn’t been as sharp across the board this year but showed two big flashes last week with his season-best 63 and Saturday 65. Now, let’s talk about Friday and Sunday…He was my OAD selection last week so I’m positive he’ll be right in the fight this week!

Jordan Spieth: Can’t fade him after his run at Carnoustie. He’s enjoying his time not being the favorite but not as much as he’ll enjoy less-than-stellar putting surfaces. I learned my lesson at The Open Championship.

Kyle Stanley: If the greens aren’t up to normal, there won’t be many happier. Where I don’t think he’s a bad putter, I think he’ll be encouraged by knowing that greasy Bentgrass running at 14′ won’t be the order of the day/week. If hitting fairways (check) and finding the proper tiers of the green complexes are required, he checks both boxes easily. He should be full of confidence after last week.

Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two; order isn’t important.

Xander Schauffele: His record in the majors puts him here, no more, no less. In six majors he’s cashed five times with three T6 or better. You should know that.

Ian Poulter: I’m still trying to figure out his 81 at Carnoustie in Round 2 but I’ll leave that for next year. T25 or better in every event after Masters besides The Open (MC). Opened with 66 in Canada (-6) and 62 (-8) LW so stick a cheeky tenner on him for FRL.

Zach Johnson: When conditions are less-than-optimal, I’ll lean on a Midwesterner who knows how to get it around. If Firestone is a comparison, he’s played quite well there over the years.

Thorbjorn Olesen: Name a hotter player who’s not Italian or Dustin Johnson. Go on, I’ll wait.

Louis Oosthuizen: I give up. He’s made 17 of his last 19 cuts in majors. His worst in that run is T41. Perfect support staff.

Alex Noren: Safe, steady option to pick up a top-25 paycheck.

Jon Rahm: Based on sheer talent, he has to go in here. His mood seems like it will determine his week and that’s hard to judge on Wednesday. I’ll be interested to see if the course conditions bother him.

Patrick Cantlay: I couldn’t hide him better than this. He’s a beast tee-to-green and will be in the group that won’t be upset the greens are perfect. He’s streaking in the right direction as well.

Paul Casey: He’s 13 of his last 15 in majors. His streak of seven straight at 26th or better ended with T51 at Carnoustie. Hardly criminal.

Branden Grace: Hit the top five at a wet Baltusrol and his last big offering in the US was on Zoysia fairways at Trinity Forest.

Kevin Chappell: Sean Foley has figured something out because nobody walks in to Carnoustie crooked and comes out T6. His T39 LW will throw the rookies of the scent.

Luke List: He was second in SG: tee-to-green last week and won’t have as crazy of greens to putt.

Bryson DeChambeau: He’s been spotted playing with Tiger Woods this week in practice rounds. I’d guess he’s feeling pretty good about things and a potential Ryder Cup pairing.

Charley Hoffman: He’s T20 or better in the first three majors. He gets it.

Gary Woodland: Seems like this is just cut-and-paste over the last month. His two best results since his win in Phoenix have been the last two weeks so I’m not bailing now.


Long Shots

Outside the OWGR Top 50

Kevin Streelman: Last man in as of lunch time today. Absolute free roll that makes a great boom/bust DFS pick. He registers in the ball-striking and bogey avoidance numbers.

Keegan Bradley: He’ll be on everyone’s radar this week after his solo fourth at Glen Abbey and a track that matches up nicely with his game.

Joaquin Niemann: Pressure is on after a special exemption but I doubt he’ll care. He’s looked mortal in his last two events (T23, T37) but those are his worst two paydays of the season.

Andrew Putnam: Another solid tee-to-green player in the form of his life, Putnam strolls into town after winning the Barracuda Championship. If you want to see a turnaround, go checks his stuff before T5 at Punta Cana. Ride the heater!

Beau Hossler: His last MC was the second week of March.

Peter Uihlein: He blows so wonderfully hot and cold, I’d hate to miss out. DFS dude. Tough landing spot after The Open, another major, that’s just crazy enough for me to embrace it.

Aaron Wise: MC the entire summer before T6 last week against a proper field on a Robert Trent Jones design. I’m not a detective but…

Jason Kokrak: Sandwiched at trip to Carnoustie (MC) with T3 and T12. Lovely dark horse at a big price for a place.

J.J. Spaun: There’s no mystery in my theory of tee-to-green guys this week. He’s 37th and is in the top 60 in distance, fairways and greens.


The road to success is filled with potholes. You don’t drive your car over them so why put them on your fantasy team? Each player has different merits of FADE-NESS

Francesco Molinari: Remember, at the start of this run he was trying to gain some FedExCup points for down the road. He has and he’s accomplished everything (Ryder Cup) on his to-do list this year. Major championships change lives. Being the first Italian to win on TOUR in forever plus being the first to win a major has checked off some mighty big boxes. I don’t see the motivation.

Bubba Watson: See above minus the major. His best result in the last five of these is T21 as he’s usually done and dusted this time of year.

Henrik Stenson: Is his elbow healing or regressing? If I don’t know, then I’m out. Obviously he’s not following the mantra of “beware the injured golfer” after T35 at Carnoustie and T39 LW. Plenty of others to choose from.

Hideki Matsuyama: If he would have CLOSED LW with 67 I would have had perhaps a different opinion this week. He opened with 67 LW and played the final four rounds in four-over on a course where he was the DC and holds the course record. That’s MC, MC and T39 in his last three. You fix him then.

Phil Mickelson: His “love” for Rees Jones redesigns is well documented. He has his commercial, his match with Tiger and yet will have to try and roll putts in on these greens. #EJECT.

Sergio Garcia: I fell for it entering The Open but not again after MC, MC, and T39. He hasn’t made a cut in a major this year either. Woof.

Kevin Kisner: I know plenty of you look at past results as a gauge but I’ll remind you that’s part of the puzzle, not the determining factor. Kisner was ice before The Open and ice after and returns to the event he couldn’t close last year. He co-led after 18, 36 and was ahead by one on Sunday before 74 saw him collect T7. He did a very similar thing at Carnoustie this year. This is a fantastic contrarian pick that I’m not making.

Tiger Woods: I forget I have new readers each week so they might not be familiar with how I do things. Woods doesn’t register for me unless he’s on a course he’s dominated before and you saw where that got us last week. I know there will be a few who will point out that he played well at Innisbrook and he never played there before. Ok. You do you and I’ll do me. He hasn’t played four complete rounds more than once this year so I  can’t buy he’s going to do it in the deepest field of the season.

Everyone Else: If you didn’t see them on here, let me know. I have “evaluated” all of them and some just don’t fit the categories or I like somebody better. Hit me up on Twitter or email for specific questions and thanks for reading!


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me

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