PGA Championship: Top 25 players with best chance to win at Valhalla, ranked


The PGA Championship has produced an impressive list of winners over the past decade.

Brooks Koepka has won three Wanamaker Trophies, while Justin Thomas has claimed two. Phil Mickelson became the oldest major champion three years ago at Kiawah Island, and Collin Morikawa cemented himself as a generational talent at TPC Harding Park the year before.

Golf’s top players seem to hover near the top of this leaderboard each year, regardless of the course. That trend will likely continue this year, as Valhalla has a knack for producing thrilling drama down the stretch.

Here are the top 25 players for the second major championship of the 2024 season:

Top 25 PGA Championship Players, Ranked

25. Russell Henley

Russell Henley has had a solid 2024 season, ranking 12th on the PGA Tour in total strokes gained. His short game has been solid, but his distance off the tee has held him back somewhat. Yet, he makes up for his lack of power with his accuracy. Another top-10 finish from the former Georgia Bulldog would surprise nobody.

24. Sepp Straka

Sepp Straka, another University of Georgia product, has played wonderfully since tying for 16th at The Masters. He tied for fifth at the RBC Heritage and most recently contended at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he tied for eighth. That result would have been better if not for a final round of 3-over 74.

Sepp Straka, PGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship

Sepp Straka during the final round of the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

23. Hideki Matsuyama

The 2021 Masters Champion would rank higher on this list if not for his recent withdrawal from the Wells Fargo Championship. Matsuyama, who ranks third on tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, has the talent to win this week. But his ailing back—and his poor putting—could hold him back.

22. Tyrrell Hatton

Tyrrell Hatton, who joined Jon Rahm’s LIV Golf team in January, tied for 9th at Augusta National and has played well at the last two PGA Championships, tying for 15th and 13th, respectively. The Englishman is a terrific ball-striker and putter, a recipe for success on any layout.

21. Justin Thomas

Can the Louisville native win his third Wanamaker Trophy in his hometown? It is definitely not out of the question. Thomas is trending in the right direction, as he is 11th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green this season. He also has three top 10s, but if he can get the putter to cooperate, another solid finish will follow this week.

20. Cameron Young

Valhalla could be tailor-made for Cameron Young, who hits the ball long and straight. He ranks seventh on tour in total driving and has four top-10 finishes this season. The Westchester, New York native has yet to miss a cut this year, too, and it would shock many if his first one came this week.

19. Jason Day

The talk surrounding Jason Day this season has more so revolved around his attire, not his incredible play. Day recently tied for fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship, his fourth top-10 of the season. But somewhat surprisingly, this season, his weakness has been his iron play. Yet, Day has an excellent short game, which always seems to save him.

18. Matthew Fitzpatrick

The 2022 U.S. Open winner has felt close for months but has been unable to get over the hump. One week, it’s the driver. The next, his approach play lets him down. Regardless, Fitzpatrick ranks eighth on tour in total driving and has an otherworldly short game. That alone could help him become the first Englishman to win the PGA since Jim Barnes in 1919.

17. Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland is currently the seventh-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings but has fallen to 17 here because his short game has completely abandoned him in 2024. These are high opening numbers: Hovland ranks 113th on tour in total strokes gained and 186th in strokes gained around the greens.

Viktor Hovland, PGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship

Viktor Hovland during the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

16. Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith has made the cut in each of his last six PGA Championship appearances, with his best finish coming a year ago, when he tied for 9th. The Aussie is one of the best putters in the world and has a game that can translate to any golf course.

15. Sahith Theegala

Sahith Theegala has five top 10s this season, including a solo second at the RBC Heritage. He has had a solid year, but his short game has prevented him from entering the winner’s circle. Perhaps that changes this week.

14. Brian Harman

Brian Harman proved he has the guts to win a major last summer at Royal Liverpool. He can hit any shot when needed, has a tremendous short game, and possesses the mental fortitude to overcome any obstacle. But his lack of distance off the tee could prove detrimental this week.

13. Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood fended off Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Invitational in January and has finished 13th or better in three of his last four starts, which includes a tie for third at Augusta. He rarely gets out of position, an attribute that should translate to a solid performance at Valhalla.

12. Patrick Cantlay

Perhaps Patrick Cantlay’s position on the PGA Tour Policy Board has held him back this season. He has two top 10s, his most recent being a tie for third at the RBC Heritage. But he did not have his best stuff at Quail Hollow, proving that Cantlay’s 2024 has been a mixed bag. Even then, Cantlay has the game to contend anywhere at any time.

11. Bryson DeChambeau

Hopefully, Bryson DeChambeau will produce more thrilling content at the PGA Championship this week. His antics at Augusta were incredible, but so was his play—except for his debacle on 15 late Saturday. Nevertheless, DeChambeau will bomb it all over Valhalla and will more than likely contend again.

Bryson DeChambeau, The Masters

Bryson DeChambeau moves a sign during the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

10. Wyndham Clark

A popular pick last week, Clark surprisingly struggled to defend his Wells Fargo title. Despite that, the reigning U.S. Open winner has no notable flaws in his game. It would be surprising if he does not bounce back and contend at Valhalla.

9. Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa has not had a great season with his putter yet has contended in some of the biggest events. He tied for third at The Masters and, if not for a poor weekend at Quail Hollow, would have fared better than a 16th-place finish.

8. Joaquin Niemann

Going into The Masters, one could make the case that Niemann was the hottest player on the planet. He has cooled down since then, but his ability to shape any shot required gives him a good chance as any to contend this week.

7. Max Homa

Max Homa arrives in the Bluegrass State full of confidence after contending at The Masters. Before this year, many knocked Homa for failing to compete in majors. But that narrative has since changed. Homa has the game to win a major and could certainly do so this week. It always helps to have a tremendous short game, too.

6. Ludvig Åberg

Last week, Ludvig Åberg withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship due to a knee injury, which was mostly a precautionary measure. That turned some heads, but Åberg has said he will be fine. If that is the case, the young Swede will contend, as he did at The Masters, where he finished solo second in his major championship debut.

5. Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm has not yet won in 2024, but it would surprise nobody if the powerful Spaniard triumphed this week at Valhalla. He is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the world, and has zero flaws in his game.

Jon Rahm, LIV Golf

Jon Rahm during LIV Golf Singapore.
Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images

4. Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele has to rank high on the list of, ‘Best Players to Never Win a Major.’ Perhaps he will remove himself from that unfortunate group this week, fresh off a solo second at Quail Hollow. Regardless, Schauffele’s game is as good as anyone’s. The question is, “Can he seal the deal?”

3. Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka arrives in Kentucky two weeks after winning LIV Golf Singapore, which should raise the eyebrows of anyone not named Brooks Koepka. He is a cold-blooded killer in major championships, and a win this week would give him six for his career, tying Phil Mickelson. Koepka also said his ball-striking is rounding into form, which he called the most crucial part of his game. He will be there on Sunday, especially since he admitted to feeling frustrated over his poor showing at Augusta.

2. Rory McIlroy

Back-to-back wins for Rory McIlroy has him trending towards major championship glory, something he has not tasted since the last time the PGA of America visited Valhalla in 2014. McIlroy has won on this course before and obviously has the game to previal again. He ranks third on tour in total strokes gained and first in total driving, but it all comes down to his putting. If McIlroy’s flat stick cooperates like it did this past weekend at Quail Hollow, watch out.

1. Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler is in a league of his own. He has won four of his last five starts, with the outlier being a Stephan Jaeger victory in Houston. Even then, Scheffler finished second. But here is a troubling stat that goes against Scheffler’s chances of winning back-to-back majors, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau: four of the last eight Masters winners have missed the cut at the following PGA Championship, and nobody has finished within the top 20.

Yet, Scheffler is on a historic tear. He ranks first in total strokes gained, greens in regulation, proximity to the hole, bogey avoidance, par-5 scoring, and numerous other stats. Plus, he has carded 40 straight rounds at even-par or better, closing in on the record set by Tiger Woods (52) in 2000 and 2001.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.





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