McIlroy vs Scheffler vs Koepka: Who The Stats Say Will Win The PGA Championship

With so much interest surrounding the three favorites, what do the stats say about their chances of winning the PGA Championship?

Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka on the golf course
What do the stats say about the chances of these three golfing giants at this week's PGA Championship?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With Augusta National well and truly in our rear-view mirror, attention shifts to the second Major of the season – The PGA Championship. This year we return to Valhalla Golf Club, ten years on from Rory McIlroy's famous victory and his last Major Championship title.

With McIlroy arriving in Kentucky off the back of consecutive PGA Tour wins, the romantic in you could be forgiven for believing that the stars were aligning once again. Although a strong field awaits him, it's perfectly conceivable that Rory could end his Major drought here, at a course he clearly likes, but I believe there are a couple of principal foes he must vanquish in order to take the crown.

Two juggernauts of the game stand in his way, in the form of World No.1 and current Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler, and defending PGA Champion Brooks Koepka, both of which arrive having tasted success recently. After diving into the stats to look for any indication of who will prevail, I found some interesting trends that could point to this year's PGA Champion...

What Does It Take To Win At Valhalla?

Let's first take a look at the stat profile of those who have been successful at Valhalla. In 2014, six of the top-12 finishes ranked in the top-10 for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, which is no surprise at this ball-strikers paradise.

Length off the tee is also crucial, with McIlroy ranking first for driving distance on his way to victory. In fact, six of the contenders that year ranked in the top-10 for this measure, indicating an ability to crush it with the driver is going to be important.

Rory McIlroy also ranked in the top-5 for Strokes Gained: Around The Green, and 12th for SG: Putting, suggesting that whoever wants to win around this track will need to be near perfect in every area of their game.

Valhalla Golf Club, host venue of the PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Last 3 Editions Of The PGA Championship

Going back three years, to the 2021 PGA Championship, we start to see a trend emerging. Six of the top-7 in the leaderboard that year ranked in the top-10 for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, with a similar picture painted in 2022.

The most recent edition saw the top-3 in the leaderboard rank in the top-3 for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, emphasising the importance of this statistic in indicating the winner of this event.

Last year also saw three of the top-5 in the leaderboard rank in the top-5 for Driving Distance, but it's not just performance stats that can point to the eventual champion...

PGA Championship Record

Brooks Koepka celebrating winning the 2023 PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This particular thread is slightly skewed, as McIlroy and Koepka have made considerably more PGA Championship starts than Scottie Scheffler, but it makes interesting reading nonetheless.

Scheffler has made just four PGA Championship starts, making three cuts and finishing in the top-8 three times. That's a phenomenal record for someone who has arguably improved each year they have played on tour and may now be arriving at their peak.

McIlroy has made the most starts in this event, with his 15 attempts yielding two victories. He also has eight top-10 and four top-5 finishes, which while impressive is still overshadowed by the third contender in this bout.

Koepka is relentless in the PGA Championship, winning it three times in 11 starts and finishing in the top-5 six times. That's more than fifty percent of his appearances, which is why you can never rule him out in his pursuit for the Wanamaker Trophy.

Recent Form

Scottie Scheffler with the Green Jacket and the trophy at The Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In case you have been living under a rock for the past two months, Scottie Scheffler is quite good at golf. The World No.1 has five wins and a runner-up finish in his last six starts, including a second Major Championship victory, in what can only be described as a mesmeric run of unfathomably good form.

McIlroy, as earlier mentioned, also arrives in some of the best form we have seen from the Northern Irishman in some time, with two PGA Tour victories in succession. The most recent came just last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, when he brutally dominated the competition to win by five strokes. An interesting nugget to consider here is that McIlroy actually won twice in consecutive weeks before the PGA Championship in 2014, and that turned out quite well for him!

Koepka's recent form doesn't quite live up to his competition form, although he did win on his most recent start at LIV Singapore. A 9th place finish the week before that victory showed signs of improvement, following a run of three events where didn't break into the top half of the field. We know that Koepka is a different beast in Majors, however, so I would be sceptical about writing him off on that basis.

Who Does The Data Tell Us Will Win The PGA Championship?

Rory McIlroy celebrating winning the Wells Fargo Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With the inconceivable quality these three golfing giants posses, and based on their statistical superiority, I am struggling to see anyone other than McIlroy, Scheffler or Koepka winning the 2024 PGA Championship.

The three are difficult to separate, but after watching McIlroy ruthlessly hunt down Xander at the Wells Fargo Championship, I can't look past him. McIlroy appeared to have that edge back, and I finally saw that untouchable aura of a champion that has eluded him for some time.

With Scheffler returning from a short break to spend time with his family and enjoy the birth of their first child, I am unsure of how sharp he will be. There is no doubt that Scheffler could win this event in third gear, but that small unknown factor has just swayed me towards McIlroy.

While still posing a huge threat to Rory, I believe Koepka is the least appealing option of the three. With his turbulent form on LIV Golf, and a less than encouraging appearance at The Masters recently, I can see him getting into contention but not quite having enough to add a sixth Major title on this occasion.

Barry Plummer
Staff Writer

Barry Plummer is our Staff Writer, joining in January 2024 after seven years as a PE Teacher. He now writes about instruction, working closely with Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches to provide hints and tips about all aspects of the game. As someone who came into golf at a later age, Barry is very passionate about supporting the growth of the game and creating opportunities for everyone to access it. A member at Sand Moor Golf Club in Leeds, he looks forward to getting out on the course at least once a week and making up for lost time in the pursuit of a respectable handicap.

Barry is currently playing:

Driver: Ping G425

Hybrid: TaylorMade Stealth 4 Hybrid

Irons: Mizuno JPX 921 4-PW

Wedges: TaylorMade RAC 60, Callaway Jaws MD5 54

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour