Big names favored at PGA Championship

youmans

On a challenging course where only the longest, strongest hitters are expected to survive, Dustin Johnson recently figured to be the favorite at this week’s PGA Championship in his home state of South Carolina. The storyline fits.

Johnson’s current form, including a missed cut at the Masters in April, tells a different story.

“D.J. is just in a funk right now, and he’s not doing anything,” Westgate SuperBook golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said.

Bryson DeChambeau is a driving-range circus act who has failed to set the golf world on fire lately, either, and two-time PGA champ Brooks Koepka has fallen off the map after knee surgery.

So who’s the favorite on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island? A wildly inconsistent player who just stopped an 18-month winless streak and has not won a major since 2014, of course.

Rory McIlroy tops the Circa Sports odds board at 11-1. McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow two weeks ago and is a horse for the course at Kiawah Island, where he blew away the field to win the PGA in 2012.

“That’s why he’s the favorite, coming off a win and going to a course where he won by eight shots,” Sherman said. “That’s the narrative, so it’s natural people are looking to bet Rory. He’s like the flavor of the week.”

The Ocean Course is the longest track in major-championship history at 7,876 yards. Perched alongside the Atlantic Ocean, its 10 seaside holes are the most of any course in North America, so it’s a beauty and a beast, especially in windy conditions.

DeChambeau (18-1) ranks No. 1 on the PGA Tour this season in driving distance, with McIlroy a close second. Johnson (17-1) ranks in the top 10. But Augusta National also favors big hitters, and McIlroy missed the Masters cut while DeChambeau disappeared into a tie for 46th, so the size of the drive is not what matters most.

“The last time the PGA Championship was held at the Ocean Course, seven of the top 10 players on the leaderboard were European,” VSiN golf handicapper Brady Kannon said. “The wind is not expected to be brutal this week, but I do believe it will be steady enough, so along with the links style of the golf course, many Europeans should find success again.”

Collin Morikawa of Las Vegas outplayed Johnson on Sunday to win last year’s PGA in San Francisco. It was his first major win, and that’s a trend. Fifteen of the last 21 majors have been won by first-timers, most recently Hideki Matsuyama at this year’s Masters, so don’t be afraid to bet on less accomplished players.

“There’s a lot of good guys in the middle of the list at pretty high odds,” DraftKings sportsbook director John Avello said. “If you think one of the top guys won’t win, there are some opportunities out there with good prices.”

Sherman said McIlroy had become the favorite “by default.” No elite players are in especially dominant form, and that means more long shots should come into play.

Who will survive four grueling days at the beach? In what feels like a wide-open field, look for these golfers to hit the leaderboard on the weekend (Circa odds):

Justin Thomas (16-1): In the small group of favorites, Thomas appears to be the best bet. He’s more consistent and reliable than McIlroy, DeChambeau, Johnson and Jon Rahm. Thomas’ lone major win was the 2017 PGA at Quail Hollow, and he’s in decent recent form after winning the Players Championship in March. No single statistical category will point you the right way — the eventual winner will need to hit every club in the bag — and Thomas finds the top 10 in most key categories.

Thomas and Morikawa (35-1) have similar all-around games. In the category of strokes gained: approach to the green, Morikawa ranks first and Thomas second this season. Thomas typically ranks well in most other areas — driving distance, strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained tee to green — but his putting has been erratic. If his flat stick gets hot, he’s the most likely champion this week. He’s also due for another major win.

Daniel Berger (30-1): After winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, Berger faded from contention. He resurfaced last week at the Byron Nelson in Texas, where he shot 21 under par to tie for third, so he’s suddenly got his groove back. Berger and Viktor Hovland (25-1) rank highly in strokes gained off the tee, and Hovland is another player trending toward a major breakthrough.

“If Berger were to win this week, it wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Sherman said.

Cameron Smith (48-1): Americans have won five straight PGA Championships, but this could be the time to look more at Australian and European players, who tend to fare well in the wind. Smith is an Aussie to watch along with longer shots Marc Leishman (70-1) and Adam Scott (110-1). Leishman lands a lot of top 10s yet rarely wins, and Scott has not won a major in eight years. Smith flies under the radar despite tying for 10th at the Masters in March and tying for second at Augusta in November.

Tyrrell Hatton (54-1): Kannon fired on some bombs in this tournament, including Irishman Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, at 150-1. Kannon’s search for European players with odds value leads him to Hatton, a 29-year-old Englishman ranked ninth in the world.

“Hatton has won in extreme wind before at Bay Hill in Orlando and has performed very well on paspalum grass surfaces, notching a top-10 finish at the Saudi International in January,” Kannon said. “He can scramble, hit it long and straight, and is one of the best in the world in strokes gained: approach. Since winning in January, Hatton has five top-25 finishes, including an 18th at the Masters. This just might be the course and conditions for him to return to the winner's circle.”

Joaquin Niemann (60-1): In the first tournament of 2021, Niemann deftly handled the wind at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii. He probably should have won the Tournament of Champions but missed a short putt on the 72nd hole and lost to Harris English in a playoff. Thomas was one stroke back in third.

The talented 22-year-old from Chile is grinding for a win, and Niemann’s odds are drifting (70-1 at DraftKings) into an attractive range. I played Niemann and also took a shot with Abraham Ancer at similar odds. Ancer, who finished one stroke behind McIlroy at Quail Hollow, is a sleeper worth a look.

Long shots offer the most pre-tournament betting value, and that should be especially true this week when most of the favorites appear fragile.

 

back to news

FREE Email Sign-Up

Get the latest sports betting news & VSiN programming updates with this free daily email from VSiN, The Sports Betting Network.

Headlines

View All
  • Zach_LaVine

    Tuley's Takes Today: Tuesday recaps, Circa Quarter prizes, Wednesday best bet (12/8)

    “You can’t win ‘em all.” If you were to watch games with me in the Tuley’s Takes home office or in one of the sportsbooks...
  • bama

    Early CFP Semifinals Sharp Report

    Today bettors have a loaded Wednesday slate to choose from including 13 NBA games, 4 NHL games and 50 College Basketball games. For an updated breakdown...
  • USATSI_17214623

    Peterson: Best bet for Wyoming vs. Arizona

    The Wyoming Cowboys have started out the season with eight straight wins, but face their toughest test yet when they go to Tucson on Wednesday to face...
  • makinennfl

    Analyzing NFL QBs for betting success

    I have always been a football handicapper who puts a ton of stock into the quality of quarterback play. In my opinion, there is no more important position...
  • makinencbb

    Ten midmajors to watch

    The college basketball season has been up and running for nearly a month, and it’s a good time to start plotting for the rest of the season based...
  • makinencfb

    Who's hot, not ahead of bowls?

    With college bowl season opening Dec. 17, here’s a look at which bowl-bound teams are hot and which are not, as well as teams that have had big...
  • burkesurvivor

    Tricky week in survivor pools

    There are only five weeks left in the NFL regular season, but for those still alive in survivor pools, the light at the end of the tunnel is merely a...
  • burkecbb

    Why pace matters in college hoops

    A lot of early-season questions have been answered in college basketball. But as conference play kicks into gear, adjustments will be needed. There...
  • tuley

    Tuley's Takes on NFL Week 14

    NFL Week 13 was another roller-coaster ride here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but as has happened many weekends this season, teasers saved...
  • hill

    NFL capsules for Week 14

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) will be looking for their second win in five days when they...
  • appelbaum

    Five NFL games on wise guys' radar

    It was a mixed bag for NFL Week 13 bettors as favorites went 8-6 SU and 8-6 ATS. Dogs remain profitable for the season at 107-85-1 ATS (56 percent). ...
  • macneil

    NHL teams slip-sliding away

    The Canucks and Flyers fired their coaches over the weekend, and the Canucks took it a step further, firing their general manager as well. It’s...

custom-banner-3
VSiN Logo Plus

Free Trial

Make a risk-free bet on VSiN!

VSiN+ FREE TRIAL

  • Afternoon subscriber-only email with highlights and best bets from the day's programs
  • Point Spread Weekly, VSiN's digital magazine on sports betting
  • 24-7 Live video stream of VSiN programs plus replays
  • Any special sport-specified betting guides we do
  • All exclusive subscriber-only stories and data on VSiN.com
Sign Up Now
Google Play
App Store
Close