PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka's chances of winning and who's in the chase

brooks koepka pga Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka's chances of winning and who's in the chase

PGA Championship

PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka's chances of winning and who's in the chase

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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Before the start of the 101st PGA Championship on Thursday, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose were among the favorites to win the Wannamaker trophy, but a course-record 63 from Brooks Koepka on Thursday changed everything.

According to EAGLE, the Economist’s predictive golf model, Koepka, the defending champion, started the week with just a 2.6 percent chance of winning. It arrived at that figure by simulating every player’s score on each hole 10,000 times to determine every credible way the tournament could finish. As more and more real scores are entered into the system, EAGLE re-calculates over 140 million hypothetical results and determines how each score changes the likelihood of each player winning.

Koepka wound up shooting a second-round 65 to take a seven-shot lead into the weekend. EAGLE now gives him a 67 percent chance to win.

Here is a breakdown of the top players on the leaderboard and their win probabilities according to EAGLE with analysis from Golfweek senior writer David Dusek.

Brooks Koepka

Chance of winning: 67.4 percent

Scores: 63-65, 12 under

What to watch for on Saturday: Koepka broke the record for the lowest opening 36 holes in major championship golf history and has a seven-shot lead heading into the weekend. He’s No. 1 in strokes gained tee to green and 12th in strokes gained putting. The trick now is to avoid big numbers. An even-par weekend could be enough for Koepka to retain his title.

Dustin Johnson

Chance of winning: 6.4 percent

Scores: 69-67, 4 under

What to watch for on Saturday: DJ has been a greens-in-regulation machine this week, hitting 30 of 36, and his driving has been solid too, but his putter has let him down. He’s averaging 31 putts per round, which is too high. Johnson needs to start fast and avoid mistakes to have any shot at catching the leader by Sunday evening.

Jordan Spieth

Chance of winning: 3.8. percent

Scores: 69-66, 5 under

What to watch for on Saturday: It was vintage Spieth on Friday, with the Texan making birdie putts all over Bethpage, including a 15-footer on 11, a 20-footer on the first hole and a 39-foot bomb on the eighth. Spieth’s putter has to stay hot, but more importantly, he needs to be straighter off the tee. The three-time major winner has hit just 15 of 28 fairways through two rounds.

Adam Scott

Chance of winning: 3.7 percent

Scores: 71-64,  5 under

What to watch for on Saturday: Scott, known for his ballstriking, was a wizard with his broomstick putter on Friday, rolling in long birdie putts on each of the first three holes. He’ll need to putt like a magician all weekend to pull a Wanamaker trophy out of his hat.

Justin Rose

Chance of winning: 3.1 percent

Scores: 71-67, 3 under

What to watch for on Saturday: It’s not impossible for the No. 2 player in the world to make up nine shots over the final 36 holes at the PGA Championship, but it would be a historic comeback. Rose’s tee-to-green game has been solid, but anything less than a 65 Saturday will probably put Koepka out of reach.

Daniel Berger

Chance of winning: 1.5 percent

Scores: 70-66

What to watch for on Saturday: Berger, 26, has played 11 PGA Tour events this season and missed the cut four times, with his lone top-10 finish coming at the Puerto Rico Open, while the game’s best golfers were at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He needs to find his 2017 form, which earned him $4.2 million in prize money, and hope that several big names stumble on Saturday and Sunday.

 

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