5 Dark Horses who could win the PGA Championship in 2024

Tyrrell Hatton - 2023 PGA Championship
Tyrrell Hatton - 2023 PGA Championship / Ross Kinnaird/GettyImages

Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, is prepped and ready to welcome the best players in the world for the year's second major. It's time for the 106th edition of the PGA Championship.

As the game's best reconvene for just the second time in 2024, three players have set themselves apart from the rest as the names to beat in Kentucky. Masters champion and World No.1 Scottie Scheffler returns for the first time since becoming a new father. The now two-time major winner enters the year's second major off of back-to-back wins and an astonishing run of four wins in his last five starts. Scheffler hasn't finished worse than T-17 in any event in 2024.

Defending PGA Champion, Brooks Koepka, returns following his triumph at Oak Hill last year where he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy for an incredible third time.

The five-time major champion will attempt to successfully defend at the PGA Championship for a second time, a feat he accomplished once already back in 2019 at Bethpage where he won the major for a second consecutive year. Incredibly, Koepka can pull level with Tiger Woods this week by claiming his fourth PGA Championship, an outcome that would see the 34-year-old pull to within one of joining the great Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagan for the most all-time.

Fresh off his win at last week's Wells Fargo Championship, Rory McIlroy returns to the site of his last major triumph. The Northern Irishman won his fourth major at Valhalla back in 2014 when the famous locale last hosted the historic championship. A decade later, Rory returns to the iconic venue with great momentum following wins in his last two tournament starts.

The PGA Championship has a rich history of producing Dark Horse winners, most recently with Phil Mickelson at Kiawah Island during the 2021 PGA Championship. Mickelson became the second player in the last decade, joining Jimmy Walker in 2016, to defy all odds on the way to lifting the Wanamaker Trophy.

Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, and Rory McIlroy are deserved favorites entering the 106th PGA Championship and while someone defying the odds to lift the trophy come Sunday evening as Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker both did may seem improbable, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Here is a look at 5 Dark Horses who could potentially surprise at this year's PGA Championship and lift the Wanamaker Trophy.

5. Patrick Reed could follow in Koepka's footsteps and win the PGA Championship for LIV

While Talor Gooch has been garnering all of the headlines of late, it could be Patrick Reed who surprises and takes down the 2024 PGA Championship.

Patrick Reed made the cut in all four of his major championship appearances last year, a run that included finishes of T4 at the Masters and T18 at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Additionally, Reed has made the cut in every PGA Championship since 2019 and has finished T-18 or better on three of those occasions.

Reed finished T12 at last month's Masters and has finished 15th or better in two of his last three starts on the LIV Tour. He might not be the longest off the tee, ranking 28th this season on LIV, but the 2018 Masters champion has a history of winning on long and difficult tracks including wins at both Torrey Pines (2021) and Doral's Blue Monster (2014), two locales that Data Golf rates as comparable fits to this year's PGA Championship venue.

4. Akshay Bhatia could win on familiar ground at the PGA Championship

Bhatia might be making his PGA Championship debut, but it won't be his Valhalla debut. The talented 22-year-old won the 2018 Junior PGA Championship at Valhalla for his second-consecutive Junior PGA win. This season, Bhatia picked up his second PGA Tour win after a thrilling victory over Denny McCarthy at the Valero Texas Open in April. The two-time PGA Tour winner has had mixed results this season, but like the aforementioned Reed, Akshay is another who found some success at Torrey Pines collecting a T13 result at this year's Farmers Insurance Open in January.

Bhatia may lack in the distance department, but he makes up for it in other areas including ranking 14th on the the PGA Tour this season in approach shots from 250-275 yards. He also ranks 22nd or better in SG: Tee to Green, SG: Approach, SG: Around the Green, and SG: Putting in the PGA Championship field over the last 20 rounds.

Akshay is still looking for his breakthrough performance in a major championship, don't be surprised if this potential Dark Horse finds success at a major this week and finds himself in contention at a familiar venue come Sunday.

3. Sahith Theegala's time to shine at the PGA Championship?

Sahith Theegala will be making his second PGA Championship appearance this week having debuted at Oak Hill last year where he made the cut. Since the 2023 PGA, Theegala stepped into the winner's circle last September at the Fortinet Championship where the talented 26-year-old triumphed after multiple close calls on previous occasions.

Theegala has finished Top 2 in two of this season's Signature Events on the PGA Tour already, including at the RBC Heritage last month. He has flashed in the majors previously also, taking T9 at last year's Masters and demonstrating when he is at his best he is more than capable of contending on the big stage. That's all only further enhanced when looking at Theegala's last six starts which read three Top 10s and three finishes of T28 or worse.

Sahith is one of the best drivers of the golf ball in this week's field ranking inside of the Top 25 in both driving distance and SG: Off the Tee over his last 20 rounds. In addition, Theegala hasn't lost strokes off the tee or on approach since the Genesis Invitational in February. Another spike performance this week could very well lead to Theegala finding himself in contention at a major on a Sunday.

2. Tyrrell Hatton can fly the flag for England

It's hard to fathom that no Englishman has won the PGA Championship since the tournament transitioned to the modern stroke play format in 1958. Englishman, Jim Barnes, won the event twice under the PGA Championship's original match play format but the nation is still looking for its first winner in the modern era. Tyrrell Hatton has an opportunity to change that this week.

Hatton has a solid history in the PGA Championship already which includes two Top 10s (2016, 2018) and two finishes of T15 or better in his last two appearances in the major. Since joining LIV earlier in the year, Hatton has strung together some nice results including a T9 finish at last month's Masters, and two Top 6 finishes or better in two of his past three LIV starts, including a T6 at Doral in April.

The Englishman may not be the longest driver of the ball, but he has shown a propensity to excel at some big venues like Doral, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he won in 2020 and finished inside of the Top 5 on two occasions since. Tyrrell also finished T3 at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2023 at another venue that rates as one of Data Golf's top course fits for Valhalla. The 32-year-old has won big events throughout his career so it wouldn't be a complete shock to finally see him get over the line in a major. His recent form, exceptional short game, and previous success on big layouts make Hatton an attractive Dark Horse pick this week.

1. Yes Cam Can! Young can win the PGA Championship

Arguably the most controversial Dark Horse pick of the five, Cameron Young has frustrated many due to the fact that he hasn't won already. Yet, he has put himself in a good position repeatedly, so surely the win is coming right? I believe it will and he certainly has another excellent chance this week.

Cameron Young added another Top 10 finish to an increasingly impressive major resume at last month's Masters where the 27-year-old accumulated a T9 result this time around. He has now finished T9 or better in four of his last six major starts, including his T3 finish at the 2022 PGA Championship. His form in 2024 isn't too shabby either, with five finishes of T16 or better in his last ten starts.

Cam Young ranks 7th on tour in total driving this season and ranks 31st or better in Driving Distance, SG: Tee to Green, SG: Off the Tee, and SG: Approach, over the past twenty rounds in this year's PGA Championship field.

2024 PGA Championship Power Ranks. 2024 PGA Championship power rankings. light. Next

Valhalla seems like another locale that should suit Young's game perfectly. The talented 27-year-old would arguably be the least surprising Dark Horse winner on this list, only further illustrating the excellent opportunity that lies before him this week at the 106th PGA Championship.