The second major championship of the season is primed to test the game’s best field of the season at one of the most iconic public golf courses in the United States. The famed Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York, plays host to the PGA Championship for the first time, but it is no stranger to major championship golf. Bethpage Black hosted the US Open in 2002 and 2009, the Barclays Championship in 2012 and 2016, and is the future host of the 2024 Ryder Cup. The PGA makes its first appearance as the second major championship of the season as part of the revamped PGA Tour schedule this season, relinquishing the title of “Glory’s Last Shot” as it has been known for years. Last year, Brooks Koepka made the 100th PGA Championship his 3rd career major victory, beating some guy named Tiger Woods by 2 shots to etch his name on the famed Wanamaker Trophy.
This year’s field of 156 players will be vying for their share of an $11 million purse, $1.98 million of which will be presented to this year’s champion. Among those 156 players in the field are 20 PGA club professionals from across the United States, a tradition that has always been an important part of the history of this event. Of the 20 club professionals in the field, only Ben Kern made the cut, finishing in a tie for 42nd place. As stated above, Bethpage State Park is a unique host for a major championship mainly because it is a complete public golf course. Nearly 200,000 rounds per year are played at the park’s five courses, allowing anyone up to the challenge the chance to test their skills on the same track as the best in the game.
The 101st edition of the PGA Championship will feature a 7,459 yard, par 70 track that will certainly be one of the toughest tests of the season for the players in this field. As host of the 2016 Barclays, Bethpage Black showed its teeth, especially on the back 9 as only two holes played under par during the event. The 10th hole is the hole to watch – a 502 yard par 4 has proven to be the toughest on the course each of the last four times players have teed it up here. With three par 3s measuring over 200 yards, and six par 4s stretching over 475 yards, there is no surprise that length is a huge asset for the players in the field this week. On the flip side, the par 5 4th hole is considered the signature hole at Bethpage Black – a 517 yard double-dogleg with fairway bunkers making this short hole an exercise in accuracy off the tee.
As if this course needed to be any tougher, one of the par 5s (#7) has been converted from a par 5 to a par 4 measuring 524 yards, one of the longest par 4s in major championship history. Abundant spring rains in the area will also make the rough here very dense, despite the fact that the plan is to keep it slightly less penal than it was during the U.S. Open years here. If you are a DFS player that likes to consider putting surface splits when constructing your lineups, you’ll want to use poa greens as your search criteria. The general consensus is that the course this year will play somewhere between its U.S. Open setup and Barclays setup, projecting a winning score of somewhere between -6 and -8 if all holds true to form.
Stat of the Week
I mentioned the above the importance of being able to attack greens using long irons on approach shots this week, and the past two times events have been held here at Bethpage bears that out. Of the just over 14,000 approach shots hit into greens in those two years, 45% of them came from 175 yards out or further.
This course, and this region of the United States for that matter, does not need anymore rain – and it appears as though the weather may actually comply. Cooler temperatures for this time of year will be welcomed if they are not accompanied by rain. The shifting wind directions throughout the week, however, could factor in here this week, making the course play very differently from day to day. We are obviously a few days out and weather is always subject to change, but it is something to consider when building Weekend and Showdown lineups later in the week.
Video of the Week
There may not be a better way to acclimate yourself with the course at Bethpage Black than watching this aerial view of all 18 holes that will be played during this week’s PGA Championship. I have a feeling those grandstands will look a little different come Sunday afternoon!
As always, thank you very much for giving my article a glance this week as you prepare for the PGA Championship. If you have any questions you would like to ask me about your lineup or about my article in general, join us on DPA Premium where you can get exclusive access to myself as well as the rest of our other experts for NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL. I’ll be available to answer questions about your lineups this week from 8PM to 10PM on Wednesday, May 15th.
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Hopefully we will see you back here tomorrow for my edition of “Gaining Strokes” – our DFS breakdown of the PGA Championship field on DraftKings and FanDuel. This premium content will help you build your lineups for success in both cash games and GPPs. Until then, plan that overnight stay in your car in the parking lot at Bethpage for later this summer and take a shot at this course for yourself – and toss in an extra dozen golf balls just in case!