US PGA Championship 2020: Ten year trends point to...

The Wanamaker Trophy
Who is best equipped to lift the Wanamaker Trophy?

Dave Tindall takes a close look at the make-up of the last 10 US PGA winners to see which player is most likely to lift the Wanamaker Trophy in 2020...

"One of the key pointers for this event is that most winners had posted a victory earlier that season and Brooks Koepka added to it last year when defending the title and capturing his fourth major."

After being moved to May last year to become the second major of the season, this time the US PGA Championship is the first.

Despite returning to its pre-2019 August slot, the COVID-19 pandemic means 2020 has yet to see any major action, with the US Masters put back to November, the US Open rescheduled to September and the Open Championship postponed until 2021.

So it's the US PGA which leads us out this time and, perhaps in terms of this preview, the August date helps as eight of the previous nine were held at that time.

Then again, this has been the strangest year on record with coronavirus causing the PGA Tour to be halted from March until June.

However, I'm going to keep my trust in previous patterns.

One of the key pointers for this event is that most winners had posted a victory earlier that season and Brooks Koepka added to it last year when defending the title and capturing his fourth major.

So, without further ado, let's see where the numbers take us.

As usual, we begin the search by looking at the last 10 winners of the tournament...

2019 - Brooks Koepka

Best previous US PGA finish: 1st
Nationality: American
Age at time: 29
World ranking at time: 3rd
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 4-2-56-56

2018 - Brooks Koepka

Best previous US PGA finish: 4th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 28
World ranking at time: 4th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 5-MC-39-19

2017 - Justin Thomas

Best previous US PGA finish: 18th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 24
World ranking at time: 14th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 28-MC-MC-MC

2016 - Jimmy Walker

Best previous US PGA finish: 7th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 37
World ranking at time: 48th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: 4th
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 14-MC-16-MC

2015 - Jason Day

Best previous US PGA finish: 8th
Nationality: Australian
Age at time: 27
World ranking at time: 5th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 12-1-4-9

2014 - Rory McIlroy

Best previous US PGA finish: Win
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 1st
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 1-1-14-MC

2013 - Jason Dufner

Best previous US PGA finish: 2nd
Nationality: American
Age at time: 36
World ranking at time: 21st
Best result that season prior to US PGA: 4th
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 4-26-MC-4

2012 - Rory McIlroy

Best previous US PGA finish: 3rd
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 23
World ranking at time: 3rd
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 5-60-10-MC

2011 - Keegan Bradley

Best previous US PGA finish: Debut
Nationality: American
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 108th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 15-43-22-MC

2010 - Martin Kaymer

Best previous US PGA finish: 6th
Nationality: German
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 13th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 22-7-MC-6

Let's collate all that info and see which are the strongest trends....

US PGA form

Eight of last 10 US PGA winners had registered a top 10 in the event previously.
Nine of last 10 US PGA winners had registered a top 20 in the event previously.

Nationality

Six of last 10 US PGA winners were American.

Age

Eight of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 20s.
Two of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 30s.
None of last 10 US winners were in their 40s.

World ranking at the time

Eight of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 25.
Nine of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 50.

Form that season

Eight of last 10 US PGA winners had won previously that season.

Recent form

Nine of last 10 US PGA winners had posted a top 20 in one of their two previous starts.

What we're looking for

Let's whittle it down to these categories which all have a minimum eight out of 10 strike-rate:

- Had a previous top 10 in a US PGA (8 of last 10)
- Aged in their 20s (8 of last 10)
- In world's top 25 (8 of last 10)
- Has won a strokeplay event this season (8 of last 10)
- Has a top 20 in one of last two starts (9 of last 10)

Who fails and why?

Age gets rid of Rory McIlroy (now 31), Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Marc Leishman, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen.

Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer and Hideki Matsuyama are among those not to have won a strokeplay event this season.

Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa have failed to post a top 20 in the US PGA.

Does anyone fit the bill?

Just four players come through all those checks: Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed and Tyrrell Hatton.

And, wherever they finish in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, all four will have had a top 20 in their previous two events.

It may be an idea to back/trade each of that quartet - Rahm, Thomas, Reed and Hatton - but I'll kick on and strip it down to just one name.

So let's introduce another trend...

American dominance

Three of the four majors (all three this year) are played on American soil and there is certainly a home bias.

Firstly, nine of the last 10 majors held in the United States have been won by home players and, if we make this a little more region specific, seven of the last 10 majors played on the West Coast of America were won by United States players.

That gives an edge to Thomas and Reed so out go Rahm and Hatton.

Tie breaker

I had to double check this but there is a way of splitting the two Americans.

Both are in their 20s but, drumroll... Reed actually turns 30 the day before the tournament tees off.

Out you go Patrick, the stats hoist Justin Thomas onto their shoulders this time.

Just because of his price, I'll also put Tyrrell Hatton up at 50/1 (Sportsbook 1/5 6 places).

Justin Thomas iron shot 1280.jpg

The pick: Justin Thomas is 27-years-old, American, and won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions earlier this year. He's world number three, a former winner of this event (2017) and, regardless of how he performs in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, he has a top 20 in one of two latest starts (T18 Memorial).

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