Best bets for the PGA Championship ⛳

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Mar 6, 2018
[h=1]Best bets for the PGA Championship[/h]

The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina this week for the second major of the year.

The PGA Championship will take place Thursday through Sunday on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Collin Morikawa is the defending champion.

Which players are the favorites this time around, who offers good odds and what props are worthwhile?

Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Chris "The Bear" Fallica, Joe Fortenbaugh, sports betting deputy editor David Bearman and fantasy analyst Anita Marks offer their best bets.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill unless otherwise noted.
[h=2]Bets to win[/h] [h=3]Justin Thomas +16-1; Top-10 finish (+150)[/h]
Fallica: Thomas' lone major win came in the Carolinas, and after a weekend collapse at the Masters he'll be focused on making amends for taking himself out of consideration there. He has been in the top 12 five of the last seven majors and it seems like he's overdue to win his second career major. He has also just won on a Dye course, capturing The Players this year.

[h=3]Dustin Johnson 18-1; Top-10 finish (+200)[/h]
Fallica: Who knows if his knee is OK? But if it is, one could be hating themselves for letting this price get away come Sunday, as this course has similarities to Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits, where DJ should have won. Oh, by the way, he has been the runner-up in this event the last two years. [h=3]Xander Schauffele 22-1; Top-10 finish (+200)[/h]
Bearman: We've been down this road before with Schauffele, but one of these majors he is going to win -- and this course sets up nicely for his ball-striking. This course requires hitting fairways and greens, or you are in for a long week. And if you do miss, you better be good at scrambling around the dunes. Schauffele is second in shots gained overall and 14th tee to green. He's 44th off the tee, which combines distance and accuracy from the tee box. Just as important, he is eighth in putting, 19th on tour in greens in regulation and 17th in scrambling.

He comes in with a T-11 and a T-14 following his third-place finish at Augusta, which was his seventh top-6 finish in 15 career major appearances. Four of the last six PGA Championship winners were first-time major winners (only Brooks Koepka was not), so why not Xander? I am not in love with any of the favorites due to recent inconsistent play and injuries. We are getting a nice 22-1 price here. At some point, he's due.
[h=3]Viktor Hovland 22-1; Hovland (-120) over DJ[/h]
Marks: Hovland enters with five top-5 finishes this season and two top 3s (at the Wells Fargo and Valspar). Needless to say, he is dialed in. He skipped the Byron Nelson to give himself a week to fine tune his game. Hovland excels on paved with paspalum grass fairways; he won on similar surfaces at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the El Camaleon and the Puerto Rico Open. Hovland ranks fourth in strokes gained off the tee, is sixth in tee to green and 23rd in shots gained on approach approach this season. I also have Hovland over Collin Morikawa (50- at DraftKings) and over Rory McIlroy (22-1 at DK). [h=3]Daniel Berger 30-1; Top-10 finish (+333)[/h]
Bearman: As noted above with the Schauffele pick, I am not in love with the favorites this week. I like a lot of golfers in the 30-50-to-1 range, but maybe none more than Berger. He's in the top 25 in all major shots gained metrics, including 10th overall, 18th on approach, 19th putting, 24th off the tee and 25th tee to green. He's also 10th in greens in regulation, which will come into play this week.

Berger came on to the main stage last year with five consecutive top 10s and seven of 10 in a stretch from February to August. His encore performance has been five more top 10s in 14 events this season, including a win at Pebble and a T-3 last week at the Byron Nelson. He mastered the wind and cliffs off the Pacific Coast at Pebble, and while this is a different, harder course, some of the same elements will apply this week. [h=3]Tony Finau 35-1; Top-10 finish (+350); Top-20 finish (+138)[/h]
Fallica: We're gonna put a little on him to win, as he has really been flying under the radar this week and maybe the tempered expectations will help. But, as usual, we will be focusing on the top 10 and 20 markets with Finau, who has eight top 10s in majors since the 2015 PGA. [h=3]Patrick Reed 33-1; Top-10 finish (+350)[/h]
Fallica: Many expect a big hitter to win this week, and while Reed doesn't fit that mold of the longest of the long, he has won on other courses like Augusta, Bethpage and Torrey, each of which supposedly cater to the longer hitter. He has been no worse than 13th in any of the last four majors and will likely be in this come Sunday. Like DJ, he was also in the mix at Chambers Bay. [h=3]Scottie Scheffler 40-1; Top-10 finish (+400)[/h]
Fallica: It seems like the PGA has provided many a debut major winner. Scheffler could be that guy this year. His results don't match the statistics -- 15th off the tee, 40th around the green and 38th tee to green. He was in the mix last year at the PGA (fourth) and posted a top 20 at Augusta. [h=3]Corey Conners 60-1; Top-10 finish (+500)[/h]

Bearman: Despite two "off" weeks, I am not giving up on my guy here. Yes, he faded to a T-43 last week in Texas and ended his top-20 run with a T-21 the week before at Wells Fargo. But I am looking at the entire body of work, which included top 20s in nine of the previous 11 stroke-play events before Wells Fargo.

The course is a perfect fit for Conners' ball striking, as he is ninth tee to green, 12th off the tee, sixth on approach and 14th overall. He comes in ninth in greens in regulation, 11th in driving accuracy and 12th in scoring average to round out some impressive stats this year this year.

After spending a couple of weeks near the top of the betting board, he's now back to 60-1, which is just fine for me. I'll happily jump on that and throw some on a top 10 at 5-to-1, which is exactly where he finished at the first major of the year down in Georgia. [h=3]Keegan Bradley 70-1; Top-20 finish (+275)[/h]
Bearman: The 2011 PGA champion quietly is having a resurgence with a T-4, second and T-18 in his last three events, along with a top 10 at the API in March. He didn't qualify for the Masters due to a couple of down years, but in the last six weeks he has gone from 150th in the world to 69th, his best ranking since before the COVID-19 break. He's fifth in the all-important tee-to-green metric and 35th off the tee and overall and 25th in hitting greens. Where Bradley has struggled is on the greens. Make no mistake about it, he has been bad there (190th on tour). However, this is a course where if you hit fairways and greens and are at least average with the flat stick on the slower Paspalum greens, you can win. Oh, and he finished T-3 here in 2012 behind the Rory McIlroy runaway in his title defense. At 70-1, he's my flier for the week.



Mar 6, 2018
[h=2]Props[/h] [h=3]Jordan Spieth top-5 finish (+300)[/h]
Bearman: Part of the reason I am not on the big favorites this week is that each one comes with something chasing me from the short price. With Spieth, he has been too inconsistent off the tee (143rd in strokes gained off the tee, 185th in driving accuracy) to make me want to take him to win at 16-1 at a course where you must hit the fairways. However, it's a testament to his talent and skill level that he has been able to record top 10s in four straight events and in seven of the last nine despite spraying it all over the place off the tee. Being 16th on approach, 14th around the green and 15th in one-putt percentage will keep you around. I'm counting on that this week to cash another top 10 at 3-to-1, but the inconsistent driver is going to cost him a few holes, likely a crooked number or two and ultimately cost him the career grand slam this week. [h=3]Morikawa top-5 finish (+550)[/h]
Marks: Morikawa is the best iron player this year, and second shot accuracy will be crucial this week, considering 25 mph winds are expected over the weekend. The defending champion is first in strokes gained on approachand second in strokes gained tee to green this season. I'm also taking Hovand or Morikawa to win at 14-1. [h=3]McIlroy top-10 finish (+130)[/h]
Fallica: It might be a lot to ask of him to repeat here, but a happy, healthy Rory -- with fans back -- should put his mind in a good spot, and the game should follow. I'll just play the top 10 prop and see if a live bet presents itself.

Marks: Based on Rory's Wells Fargo performance and the success we are seeing with his new swing coach, I feel comfortable with him finishing in the top 10 at plus money. My concern is will his putter be as hot as it was at the Wells Fargo a few weeks back? His putting was so dialed in two weeks ago, I believe it's unrealistic to expect that again. McIlroy is fifth in strokes gained off the tee and 13th in strokes gained tee to green this season. I'm also taking either Rory or Hovland as the winner at +750 and McIlory as the top British/Irish finisher at +180. [h=3]Spieth top-10 finish (+163); Spieth (-110) over DJ[/h]
Marks: Spieth is one of the best success stories this year on tour and has been one of the best golfers over the last three months; ranking in the top 25 in approach, ball-striking and putting. My concern is the pressure and expectation of completing a career grand slam may be a bit much. Spieth's game gets him into the top 10, but I don't envision a win for him this week. [h=3]Schauffele top-10 finish (+200), top-20 finish (-110)[/h]
Fallica: He has had just as many chances as Finau to win one of these but never gets the harsh treatment Finau does. That tee shot on the 16th Sunday at Augusta was, well, something. Still, he has played 14 majors and been the top 20 in 10 and the top 10 in seven. You'd be foolish not to try and double your money. [h=3]Webb Simpson top-10 finish (+350), top-20 finish (+163)[/h]
Bearman: You won't find many golfers more consistent than the 2009 U.S. Open champion. Simpson has made the cut in 44 of his last 48 events, with 34 top-25 finishes, 19 of which were top 10s. He leads the tour in scoring average at 68.96 and is first in par-4 scoring, which should come into play this week with seven par-4s stretching over 450 yards. He isn't very long off the tee (135th on tour), which could hurt his chances this week, but he is accurate (fifth in driving accuracy) and ranks 11th in shots gained overall.

Simpson is the only player with top 12s in the last three majors, so expect him to be in the mix. If he can overcome giving up 20-30 yards and continue to hit greens (15th on tour), he has a good shot at his second major win. [h=3]Marc Leishman top-10 finish (+550), top-20 finish (+260)[/h]
Bearman: Leishman has established himself as one of the more solid players on tour, and his game goes up a notch when wind comes into play. His metrics aren't great and he is in the bottom half of the tour in driving distance, so that is why there is some pause here and why I am not picking him to win. But he has played well recently, with a T-5 at the Masters followed by win at Zurich with fellow Aussie Cam Smith, and he just missed cashing for us last week following a below-average final round.

He also was T-13 at the 2020 Masters in November, so he has been in contention at a few majors in a row. If the wind starts blowing off the Atlantic Ocean, I like Leishman to move up the board while others fall back. [h=3]Gary Woodland top-10 finish (+900)[/h]
Fallica: Injuries have made Woodland a non-factor in majors since his 2019 U.S. Open win, but his form has been much better lately; he finished fifth at Quail Hollow and sixth at Valero. He hits it long and hits greens. Sounds like a recipe for a top 10 at a nice number. [h=3]Will Zalatoris top-20 finish (+175)[/h]
Marks: My guy is back to his old ways, finishing in the top 20 last week at Byron Nelson (T-17). His great iron play (he gained 2.5 strokes on the field at the Byron Nelson) will keep him at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday in those high winds. He is third in strokes gained on approach and seventh in strokes gained tee to green this season. [h=3]Abraham Ancer top-20 finish (+188)[/h]
Marks: Scrambling is going to be needed this weekend, and Ancer scrambles better than most (T-12 on tour this season). He also ranks 30th in driving accuracy, 29th in strokes gained off the tee and 31st in strokes gained tee to green this season. That will be more than enough for himto finish in the top 20. [h=3]Bradley top-40 finish (+100 at DK)[/h]
Marks: The Ocean Course is a big boy's golf course at 7,800 yards. Bradley is one of the best drivers on tour and excels on Pete Dye golf courses. He was the bridesmaid at Valspar and is playing well right now. [h=3]Jason Kokrak top-40 finish (+150 at DK); Kokrak (-110 at DK) over Harris English[/h]
Marks: Kokrak checks all the boxes coming into the this week. He is accurate and long off the tee and is hitting all the greens in regulation. [h=3]Leishman top-40 finish (+100 at DK); Wins group (6-1)[/h]
Marks: DJ (knee), Webb Simpson (neck), and Koepka (knee) are all dealing with injuries. This group will come down to Leishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Louis Oosthuizen to have the best score at the end of the day on Sunday -- and to get Leishman at 6-1, yes please! Leishman's ability to keep the ball flight low will be a huge advantage. [h=3]Garrick Higgo top-40 finish (+150 at DK)[/h]
Marks: The South African has been crushing it on the European Tour, sporting two wins and two top 10s in his last four starts. He can hit the ball a mile and plays well in the weather conditions we are expecting on the Ocean Course. This is my favorite bet. [h=3]Schauffle or Morikawa to win (12-1)[/h]
Bearman: I think someone in the 20-35-to-1 range is going to win this event, and here are two that have a great shot due to their great ball-striking. Having them both as options is juicy to me, and 12-to-1 is a good price for that. [h=3]Spieth (-110) over DJ[/h]
Fortenbaugh: I'm absolutely floored that these two golfers are priced evenly, given their recent trajectories. For Spieth, the 27-year-old Texan has been running pure since February, with seven top-10s in his last nine events, including a win at the Valero Texas Open in April. Meanwhile, Johnson has notched only one top-40 finish in his last five stroke play events and just withdrew from last week's AT&T Bryon Nelson due to knee discomfort. For those scoring at home, that's the second time DJ has withdrawn from an event since April (Valero Texas Open) and the third time this calendar year. Again, I'm stunned that these two are both -110, given the circumstances. [h=3]Koepka to miss the cut (+163)[/h]
Fortenbaugh: Koepka underwent right knee surgery on March 16 to address issues with both a kneecap dislocation and ligament damage. Since then, the 31-year-old missed the cut at both the Masters in April and last weekend's AT&T Byron Nelson. How do you pass on this bet at this price, given Koepka's recent form coupled with the daunting challenge that awaits at Kiawah?



Mar 6, 2018
[h=3]Tyrrell Hatton to miss the cut (+175)[/h]
Fallica: The next time Hatton truly contends in a major, it will be the first, He has missed the cut in three straight majors -- and 11 of his 22 career majors. Yes, it's a links/seaside course, but it's long and I'll be playing Hatton to miss the cut. [h=3]Sungjae Im to miss the cut (+175)[/h]
Fallica: Im has missed the cut in five of nine majors, and the only one he's played well in was the fall Masters in 2020. He's always a trendy pick, but I'll fade him here, as he comes in off that second-round 82 at Wells Fargo in addition to the missed cut at Augusta in April. [h=3]Patrick Cantlay to miss the cut (+200)[/h]
Fallica: It has kind of been a lost season for Cantlay since the West Coast swing ended, as he has missed the cut in all four individual stroke-play events: The Players, the Masters, RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo. Not good. Now, a long, seaside course where the wind could kick up? No thank you. [h=3]Berger to miss the cut (+275)[/h]
Fallica: Berger had a great Sunday last week and is another guy people keep expecting to compete in and win a major. He got the good side of the draw at Shinnecock in 2018, but that's been the extent of his major success. He missed the cut at Augusta, which, in theory, should be the easiest place for him to play the weekend. [h=3]DJ to miss the cut (+333)[/h]
Fortenbaugh: DJ has posted just one top-40 finish over his last five stroke play events and just withdrew from last week's AT&T Byron Nelson due to knee discomfort. The last time Johnson withdrew from an event was at April's Valero Texas Open, and the very next week DJ missed the cut at the Masters. At +333 -- and given his recent form -- I'm more than willing to gamble on a shaky performance that ends before the weekend begins. [h=3]Bryson DeChambeau to miss the cut (+350)[/h]
Fallica: He flirted with missing the cut in each of the last two Masters, and who knows how his style will play here? Not a big play, but worth some pocket change.