PGA Championship: 4 best dark horse picks with shot at Valhalla glory

The PGA Championship has produced many strong winners over the years.

Shawn Michael at Oak Hill in 2003, Y.E. Young at Hazeltine in 2009, and most recently Phil Mickelson at Kiawah Island in 2021 come to mind immediately.

But there are also plenty of potential winners and headliners. Look at Brooks Koepka from a year ago.

In any case, anyone can win this tournament, which boasts the strongest competition in golf every year. It is made up of 135 of the world’s best experts. Twenty-one education experts, including Michael Block, round out this year’s field of 156.

Nevertheless, let’s explore four golfers who have a chance to win this week and who appear to be great longshot candidates.

Sepp Straka

Sepp Straka during Tuesday’s practice round for the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

DraftKings odds of winning: +9000

Sepp Straka, one of the most accurate golf drivers on the PGA Tour this season, comes to Valhalla fresh off a strong showing at the Wells Fargo Championship.

He tied for eighth at Quail Hollow and likely would have finished in the top five if not for a final-round 3-over 74. In any case, the Austrian has since tied for 16th at the Masters, tied for fifth at the RBC Heritage and tied for 11th at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans before last week’s strong performance.

Clearly, the Ryder Cup star has his game trending in the right direction. His Straka at +9000 makes him a strong contender for this week’s PGA Championship.

Straka’s only knock is his length. His average distance is just 291 yards, which ranks him 149th on the PGA Tour this season. Still, he ranks 31st in strokes gained off the tee, proving his accuracy. Finding the fairway is a must on this golf course, and Straka will rely on it to compete or even become Austria’s first major champion.

Jason Day

Jason Day, PGA Championship

Jason Day during a practice round for the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Andrew Reddington/Getty Images

DraftKings odds of winning: +6500

Jason Day, who won this event at Whistling Straits in 2015, shouldn’t have better odds at the PGA Championship. At +6500, the Australian is an incredible dark horse.

Although he didn’t finish in the top 10 at the 2014 Valhalla tournament, he entered the final round in a tie for fourth place, just three strokes behind the leader. Although he struggled with a 1-over 72 on Sunday, this course suited his game well.

Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship, he will now arrive in the Bluegrass State full of confidence. His ball-hitting ability, which had been somewhat sluggish this season, showed improvement at Quail Hollow. But his short game got him through most of the weekend. This included his play on the green, where he continued to putt the ball well.

Valhalla sets up well for Day, who still has plenty of length from the tee.

Im Sung Jae

Im Sung Jae, Wells Fargo Championship

Im Sung Jae during the final round of the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship.
Photo credit: Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour (Getty Images)

DraftKings odds of winning: +8000

Im Sung Jae was chosen as a great dark horse again this week.

Although he missed out on Augusta National, the Cheongju, South Korean native has improved since then. He tied for 12th at the RBC Heritage, finishing at even par or better in all four rounds. He then returned to Korea and won the KPGA Woori Financial Group Championship in Korea by one stroke.

Im then returned to the United States and competed in the Wells Fargo Championship, where he tied for fourth, his best finish on the PGA Tour this season. Im would have finished atop the leaderboard if not for four bogeys on the opening nine in Sunday’s final round.

However, at Quail Hollow, he relied heavily on his strong putter and was able to hit more than 6 strokes on the green. If he continues to putt well at Valhalla, watch out.

Ahn Byung-hoon

Byung-hoon Ahn, PGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship

Byung-hoon Ahn during the third round of the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

DraftKings odds of winning: +5500

Byung Hung Ahn, 31, arrives at Valhalla with odds of 55-1 to win the PGA Championship. A victory would also mark the first PGA Tour victory of his career.

Despite this, Anne has competed many times and has recorded 15 top-five finishes in her career so far. Two of them have been in the past two weeks. He tied for fourth at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson and was solo third at Quail Hollow.

Anne is on the right track, mainly because of the power she has off the tee. He ranks 4th on tour in average mileage and 16th in total mileage. The Seoul, South Korean native also ranks 25th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy this season.

His short game is his weakness and a problem on any golf course. But Ann changed that story last week regarding Quail Hollow’s new greens. He was 91st in the tour rankings this season, but ranked first in the world in strokes gained putting.

Perhaps he discovered something with a flat stick, and if he continues to successfully roll rocks in Valhalla, Anne will be in contention. DraftKings currently has him in the top five at +1100. The top 10 results will give you a +500 payout. All of them are worth trying out for players who have been gaining attention recently.

He also tied for 16th at Augusta National this year.

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Jack Mirko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through.Be sure to check it out @_PlayingThrough Cover more golf. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko In the same way.