US PGA Championship 2021: 10-year trends point to...

The Wanamaker trophy
Who is the best fit to win 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 2021...

"One of the key pointers for this event is that most winners had posted a victory earlier that season and Collin Morikawa added to that trend last year."

After just one year in May, the US PGA Championship switched back to August in 2020 after being part of the COVID-driven calendar revamp.

That meant it was played as the first major of 2020 but, with the American schedule back on track, it has another go at trying to establish itself in a May slot.

Perhaps the toing and froing doesn't help a trends piece which hopes for consistency but 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 Collin Morikawa added to that trend last year.

Morikawa had captured the Workday Charity Open just three starts earlier. He also continued a trend for this being the best major for players aged under 30.

Anyway, enough teasing, let's see where the numbers take us.

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

2020 - Collin Morikawa

Nationality: American
Age at time: 23
World ranking at time: 12th
Best result that season prior to US PGA: Win
Form ahead of winning US PGA: 20-48-1-MC

Collin Morikawa.jpg

2019 - Brooks Koepka

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

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

Brooks Koepka at Augusta.jpg

2017 - Justin Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rory McIlroy 2012 USPGA trophy.jpg

2011 - Keegan Bradley

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

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

Nationality

- 7 of last 10 US PGA winners were American

Age

- 8 of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 20s
- 2 of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 30s
- 0 of last 10 US PGA winners were in their 40s

World ranking at the time

- 8 of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 25
- 9 of last 10 US PGA winners were in the world's top 50

Winning form that season

- 8 of last 10 US PGA winners had won previously that season

Recent form

- 9 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:

- 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 ticks those boxes?

The above stipulations cull the field quite considerably. It leaves us with the following list of 20-somethings in the world's top 25 who have a win this season and a top 20 in one of their last two starts:

Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama and Daniel Berger.

As for those who didn't make it, Patrick Cantlay falls down due to no recent top 20 and he's not playing in Texas this week. Rory McIlroy is 32 while Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele don't have a win this season. Rahm is playing in Texas however.

Let's introduce another trend...

Repeat winners not common

- 9 of the last 10 US PGA winners weren't the defending champion

Brooks Koepka (now 31) managed it but it's very hard to win this event back-to-back. That strikes a line through last year's winner Morikawa.

In fact, it's also fairly unusual to put your name on this oversized trophy more than once. Rory, Koepka and Tiger did but they're the only examples since 2004.

- 8 of the last 10 US PGA winners hadn't won the tournament before

That knocks out 2017 winner Justin Thomas.

Justin Thomas PGA win (720).JPG

And then there were four: DeChambeau, Hovland, Matsuyama and Berger.

The major that's won early

There's the odd exception but generally it takes an awful lot of visits to Augusta National before landing The Masters. Matsuyama was winning the Green Jacket at his 10th attempt.

By contrast, the US PGA is the major you win early. Morikawa and Bradley took that to extreme levels by winning on debut but it forms part of an overall pattern. Here's the stat:

- 9 of the last 10 US PGA winners had played the event between zero and five times previously

Looking at those still standing, Matsuyama has tried eight times and Berger six. History says that's too many. As for those wondering where Jordan Spieth is in all this: he's not in the top 25 in the world (honestly!) and has had eight cracks at the US PGA and failed to win.

And then there were two - DeChambeau and Hovland.

Past tournament record gives Bryson the edge

Morikawa and Bradley proved otherwise but they are still on the unusual end of the scale. That's because of this stat:

- 8 of the last 10 US PGA winners had registered a top 20 in the event previously

DeChambeau was tied fourth in this tournament last year but Hovland had to settle for tied 33rd on his first and only start. Therefore, Bryson wins!

DeChambeau wins at Bay Hill.jpg

The pick: Bryson DeChambeau is 27-years-old and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He's world number four, was tied fourth at Harding Park last year and posted tied ninth at Wells Fargo before teeing it up in the AT&T Byron Nelson so is guaranteed to have a top 20 in one of his last two starts. He's not won the event before and has played in it just four times previously.

This year's venue, Kiawah Island, measures in at a record-breaking 7,876 yards.

The game's longest hitter winning at the longest course in major championship history would certainly make for some pleasing symmetry.

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