Skip to main content

Under-the-Radar Players to Watch at the 2020 PGA Championship

Plenty of big names take home the major trophies, but there are always exceptions. Here's a look at five dark horses to watch at this week's PGA Championship.

Traditionally, the list of PGA Championship winners has been a who’s who of well-known golfers. Established pros who have not only won on Tour, but were also among the highest ranked players in the world at the time of their title. Take the last three PGA Championships: names like Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas have been engraved on the Wanamaker Trophy, but headliners like Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Jon Rahm have all been right behind them. In fact, over the last two decades, 14 of the 20 winners of the PGA Championship have been established, household names.

Of course, there is the exception. Rich Beem in 2002, Shaun Micheel in 2003, Y.E. Yang in 2009. The PGA has produced a few long-shot winners over the years, and a few that have come within a whisker of winning the whole thing (see Bob May in 2000).

With that in mind, here are five dark horses for this week’s PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.

Abraham-Ancer-pga-dark-horses

Abraham Ancer (55/1)

The only reason Ancer finds himself on this list is his lack of wins. The young Mexican golfer may actually be the best player in the world without a PGA Tour victory. Ranked 23rd, there are only two other golfers ranked higher than Ancer who have never won on Tour, both of whom have won in Europe.

SI Recommends

Ancer grabbed the attention of golf fans at last year’s President’s Cup where he went 3-0-1 and went toe-to-toe with Woods in their singles match. Abe has got some serious game. Since the season restart, he has put together 13 rounds of 69 or better, finishing second at the RBC Heritage, and T-15 at last week’s tournament in Memphis. He was T-16 in his lone PGA Championship appearance last year.

Chez Reavie (100/1)

Reavie has been hovering near the top of leaderboards over the past two seasons. He broke through with a win at the 2019 Travelers Championship, his first since 2008, and now seems to have the experience required to contend at a major. He heads to San Francisco following a T-6 finish in Memphis and has played well in damp, cool Northern California conditions, placing T-3 at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Reavie ranks sixth in driving accuracy and 21st in SG around the green.

Erik van Rooyen (125/1)

The 30-year-old South African who played his college golf at Minnesota recently accepted a temporary PGA Tour membership after playing in close to a dozen events this season. Van Rooyen has a trio of international victories and has been popping up on leaderboards this season with a T-3 at the WGC Mexico Championship, T-22 at the Memorial and T-20 at last week’s WGC event in Memphis. He finished T-8 at the 2019 PGA Championship and is long off the tee ranking 22nd in driving distance, averaging more than 307 yards off the tee. 

Matt Wallace (150/1)

An Englishman well known in Europe, who is close to hitting his stride in the U.S., Wallace heads to the PGA completely under the radar. He finished T-3 at last year’s PGA at Bethpage Black and T-19 the year before at Bellerive. This year, playing a full PGA Tour schedule, Wallace has a T-12 at the Rocket Mortgage and a T-4 at the Memorial, both within the last month. The four-time European Tour winner ranks seventh in SG around the green, which should come in handy this week at TPC Harding Park.

Danny Willett (175/1)

A couple of years ago, the 2016 Masters champ had fallen off the golf planet. Dealing with a back injury, Willett had lost his game and seen his world ranking drop outside the top 400. Since early 2018 it’s been a long road back for the Englishman, but he is indeed back. A win in Dubai in late 2018 was followed by another win at the BMW PGA at Wentworth in late 2019.

He finished T-4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July and was T-12 at last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.