Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Round 1 of the PGA Championship

Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Round 1 of the PGA Championship article feature image

Ray Carlin, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jordan Spieth

  • The 2019 PGA Championship starts on Thursday, May 16 at Bethpage Black.
  • Our golf experts pick their three favorite Round 1 bets for Thursday's action.

The 2019 PGA Championship gets underway on Thursday morning (6:45 a.m. ET) at Bethpage Black.

All eyes will be on tournament-favorite Tiger Woods after his heroic win at the Masters, but our golf experts aren’t keying in on Woods for Thursday.

Here are our golf experts’ three favorite bets for the first round at Bethpage Black.


Jason Sobel

The bet: J.J. Spaun over Beau Hossler (-115)

Spaun and Hossler are in the first group off the box at 6:45 a.m. and there’s a metric which points to a favorite here. Spaun ranks 20th this season with an early opening-round scoring average of 68.86, while Hossler ranks 105th at 70.58.

Maybe it doesn’t mean much – or maybe Spaun is a morning person and loves chasing the dew at zero-dark thirty while Hossler is a snooze-button guy and has trouble getting going. There’s definitely a trend here – and even better, it’ll give you something to gamble on before the sun even comes up. What’s better than that?

Bryan Mears

The bet: Rafa Cabrera Bello (-105) over Marc Leishman

I like this bet for the full tournament as well, and I think it’s especially intriguing in Round 1. Leishman has been disappointing relative to expectations of late, missing the cut at the Players and then finishing 49th and 58th at the Masters and Heritage.

Then last week he withdrew before the start of the Byron Nelson, citing back discomfort as the reason. It looks like he’ll give it a go for the PGA Championship, but it’s unclear how well he’ll perform with that back and when he’ll round into form.

The first round back on a tough Bethpage course that will require a bunch of distance could be rough for him, and I think Rafa, a very steady player in all facets of the game, is worth a bet at these low odds.

Justin Bailey

The bet: Matt Kuchar (-140) over Jordan Spieth

I’m mostly just looking for more ways to short Spieth in a tournament that’ll require him to be solid off the tee, an area where he’s struggled all of 2019. The rough is looking rather thick this week and Spieth ranks 134th in fairways gained and Kuchar ranks fourth.

Overall, Kuchar has been superior to Spieth in almost every facet of the game this season — most importantly, he ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, compared to an abysmal 122nd for Spieth. Even though this course isn’t a perfect fit for Kuchar either, he’s at least hitting fairways with the driver and Spieth isn’t.