Betting on Golf: PGA Championship

Betting on Golf: PGA Championship

This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.

PGA Championship Betting Strategy

Charleston, South Carolina: Are your ready? 

It's major championship week for the second time this year, and the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is next on the docket. The track last hosted this event in 2012, when Rory McIlroy coasted to an impressive eight-shot victory. McIlroy is betting favorite this week after winning at Quail Hollow – the host of the 2017 PGA Championship – two weeks ago. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will be an interesting player to watch, as DJ's last top-10 came in February. Last year, Collin Morikawa (28-1 odds) made a back-nine charge in San Francisco to win his first major by two strokes over Johnson and Paul Casey.

Of the four majors, the PGA Championship is typically the most favorable for driving distance, and that's certainly the case this year, with the Ocean Course being stretched out 200 yards farther than it played in 2012. It's the longest course in major championship history at 7,876 yards, and length is not the course's only defense, as the winds off the Atlantic Ocean can also wreak havoc on the players. Players will need all facets of their game to excel this week, as lengthy par-3s and six par-4s over 480 yards will test each player's long-iron skills, and scrambling will also be paramount around the greens.

All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 2:30 ET Tuesday.

Prolific at the PGA

The following five golfers have the lowest score to par at the PGA Championship since 2016:

Two-time PGA Championship winner Koepka, who also contended at TPC Harding Park last August before faltering in the final round, tops the list. Koepka's driving prowess – he sits top-25 in distance and Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee – and all-around game – he is top-40 in all four Strokes Gained categories – make him a great fit for the venue, but he has missed the cut in both events he has played since recovering from a procedure on his knee that cost him five weeks. The oddsmakers have taken note, as he checks in with only 50-1 odds. Another golfer who has found success at this event is Thomas, who comes in at 29-2 odds and justifiably so. His lone major title came at Quail Hollow in 2017, and the PGA Championship is the only major in which he has recorded multiple top-10s. With five consecutive top-30 finishes – including a win at THE PLAYERS – you can certainly make the case that Thomas deserves to be the betting favorite this week.

Trusty From Tee-to-Green

These players, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes from tee to green over their last five tournaments:

With the winner of this event having ranked top-4 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green three of the last five years, that stat will be key this week. The defending champion, Morikawa, has been better in that department recently than anyone else. Although his putting often leaves much to be desired, we saw both last year and at The Concession that he can dominate if the flat stick is in form. Surprisingly, he enters the week with 30-1 odds, which is slightly higher than they were before his first major victory. A dark horse to keep an eye on is Wallace, an Englishman who likely won't be bothered by the windy conditions. After playing part-time on the PGA Tour the last couple years, he's playing primarily stateside this season and has recorded four top-20 results in six stroke-play events since the start of March.

Outright Picks

Jon Rahm (29-2)

Rahm was my offseason pick at 12-1 odds, but I didn't get an advantage there, as he is a little more affordable now without a win this season and without playing particularly well in his two starts since the Masters. Nonetheless, I still believe Rahm has a great chance to take home the Wanamaker Trophy, as the PGA Championship sets up best for him among the four majors. Although he can get hot under the collar at times, Rahm lacks a weakness in his game, and his elite driving play – he is third in SG: Off-the-Tee and 18th in driving distance – will be a huge advantage at Kiawah Island.

Paul Casey (55-1)

It's not often you see Casey with odds this high, and although the veteran has yet to attain a major, he has fared well in this event, ranking second in SG: Tee-to-Green at last year's PGA and recording three top-15 results at the PGA Championship since 2016. Casey still has plenty of length despite his age, and he is certainly a golfer who can get the job done both approaching the green and around it.

Keegan Bradley (70-1)

The PGA Championship winner in 2011, Bradley has re-emerged, and he has looked more like the former version of himself, one that peaked at No. 10 in the OWGR. Since the start of the Florida Swing he's finished top-30 in all six of his starts, including a runner-up at the Valspar Championship three weeks ago. Not many players have looked better from tee-to-green during that stretch, so a lot will be riding on his putter this week. Bradley finished tied for third last time this tournament was last held at Kiawah Island.

Top-10 Picks

Alex Noren (6-1)

Looking to keep the momentum going with top-10 picks after hitting 2-of-3 last week, I'll turn to the Swede, who is coming off three straight top-25 results. Noren recorded six top-25s over his last 12 majors, including a T22 finish at last year's PGA. With one of the better short games on Tour, he should be in the mix for a top-10 finish come Sunday.

Ryan Palmer (7-1)

Palmer's only career top-5 in a major was at the 2014 PGA Championship, and his driving numbers this season – he is 38th in distance and 27th in SG: Off-the-Tee –  fit the mold for the course. His recent results have him a bit under the radar, but his two runner-up finishes over the last year came at comparable tournaments in the Memorial and Farmers Insurance Open, which were both contested on longer courses and featured strong fields and high scores.

Robert MacIntyre (11-1)

MacInytre isn't well known in the States, as the Scottish golfer plays primarily on the European Tour, where the 24-year-old lefty picked up his first victory last fall. He's a longer hitter that notched a share of 12th in his debut at the Masters this year, and windy conditions should be to his advantage. He is certainly a nice low-price option in DFS lineups as well.

Head-to-Head Matchups

Tony Finau (-120) over Cameron Smith

Finau has excelled in majors, with top-10s in 9-of-19 starts and only three missed cuts. As such, he is a reliable option in a head-to-head wager. He has a significant length advantage over Smith, who has recorded a top-20 in every major except for the PGA Championship. I'm fading Smith and looking for Finau to return to the form we saw from him earlier this year. 

Joaquin Niemann (-110) over Hideki Matsuyama

Niemann is a preferred target in a H2H matchup – especially as an underdog – due to his consistency. His last missed cut came 19 starts ago and he has amassed 12 top-25 results since. Matsuyama is a fade for me, as the Masters champion was isolated in a hotel room for two weeks after traveling to Japan to celebrate his victory and looked rusty in his first start since at the AT&T Byron Nelson.   

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Ryan Pohle
Ryan Pohle breaks down golf bets and covers college basketball for RotoWire.
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