Mears: Don’t Sleep on These Under-the-Radar PGA Championship Matchups

May 16, 2019 09:00 PM EDT
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Photo credit: Steven Flynn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Thomas Pieters

  • I created a golf model based on past PGA Championship data to identify head-to-head betting opportunities for this week's tournament.
  • Below are my five favorite under-the-radar matchup bets, including Thomas Pieters vs. Alex Noren and Jhonattan Vegas vs. Billy Horschel.

Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, I backtested historical PGA Championship data to create a model for this week’s tournament. Using that data, I’ve handicapped the 100-plus head-to-head matchup props, with the ones I’m most interested in betting listed below.

I’ve already offered thoughts on five heavyweight matchups here.

Jhonattan Vegas (-140) over Billy Horschel

Vegas is one of the more intriguing longshots in this loaded field given his recent play, which I found based on past data has historically been predictive of PGA Championship success. He has been inside the top 30 in each of his last six events, including an impressive third at the Players in March.

Further, he’s a pretty decent fit for Bethpage Black given his distance off the tee and hot ball-striking currently. In fact, he currently ranks 21st in the world in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green; Horschel, for reference, ranks just 137th.

Horschel is at a sizable disadvantage off the tee, and he hasn’t been particularly great with his second shot irons of late, either. I’ll take the hotter golfer in Vegas, especially since he’s a better fit for the course. I would bet this to -160.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (-130) over Cam Smith

This matchup is less about buying Fitz, who has been good this season but isn’t a perfect fit for Bethpage, and rather fading Smith, who enters this week in terrible form.

He’s missed two of his last four cuts, and the others weren’t inside the top 50. The underlying metrics are even more concerning: He’s hit only about 50% of his greens in regulation over that span, which is one of the worst marks in this huge field.

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