2021 PGA Championship Picks & Best Bets: Hovland, Ancer & Fitzpatrick Provide Value at Kiawah
Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland
If you’ve been following me for a while it should not be all that surprising that the best week of my season came when the PGA TOUR played on one of the old Korn Ferry Tour stomping grounds. We got our first win since THE PLAYERS thanks to Kyong-hoon Lee, who I added after the opening round. It was also a good week for Charl Schwartzel, who played in the final group, and Satoshi Kodaira, who finished inside the top-20.
It’s nice to be riding some momentum into the year’s second major — The 2021 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
For a course we rarely see, Kiawah Island definitely has a familiar feel to it.
The coastal Pete Dye track can stretch out to 7,850 yards for a par 72, but I imagine that will fluctuate during the week depending on the setup.
Rory McIlroy demolished the field here in 2012, winning by eight strokes in the only other PGA Championship at Kiawah. We could see a similar result to that if one of the field’s elite drivers gets going on a course with this kind of length.
Putting that performance aside, it wasn’t really the bombers that thrived here last time. It was actually the crafty European players who tend to do well in windy conditions. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Jamie Donaldson and Carl Pettersson all made appearances in the top 10. The only Americans the cracked that list were Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley and Blake Adams.
Rain isn’t projected to be much of an issue this week, but we should still get breezy conditions all four days.
A month ago, Rory McIlroy looked lost. Fast forward a few weeks later and he’s coming off a win at one of his favorite courses, Quail Hollow, and heading to a major where he covered a touchdown spread. That’s enough to have Rory perched atop the betting odds at +1100 this week.
Jon Rahm is right behind at +1200 and then there’s a log-jam of elite players at +1400: Bryson Dechambeau, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson has fallen off recently but at +1600, a long, coastal Carolina course might be the spot for him to rediscover his game.
The next group is headlined by the Young Guns. Defending champ Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele are in this range, but Viktor Hovland is who I’m eyeing. Currently at +2500, he was one of my early adds a few weeks back at +3300. He’s strong off the tee and has finished third in each of his past two events. I would play him at the current numbers, but be sure to shop around on Hovland as you may be able to find something closer to 28/1.
This is the range where I’ll do the majority of my shopping. The PGA Championship hasn’t been a spot to dip too far below +5000 in recent years as Jimmy Walker (2016) is the only winner in the last nine years to tee off at longer odds than 50/1.
The first play I made in this range was an early add I made a few months ago that completely backfired. I bet Tyrrell Hatton at +5000 but he’s since drifted as high as +7500 after a few down months. Hatton’s form has been alright, but he hasn’t really contended in the U.S. in 2021. Given the track record of success last time for the European golfers, I could see him still getting some love at these bigger numbers.
My first new play in this range will be Daniel Berger at +4000.
Berger’s form is where we want it heading into a major as he’s finished inside the top-20 in four of his last five starts and is coming off a third-place finish at the Byron Nelson.
I am also going to back Abraham Ancer one more time in this range at +6600. Ancer is coming into Kiawah after a terrific performance at Quail Hollow, where he almost played himself into a playoff against McIlroy. The Mexican’s game should set up well here as he finished 16th at the PGA at Bethpage and has back-to-back top-25 finishes at Sawgrass, which is another Pete Dye design.
My last play in this range is Matt Fitzpatrick at +8000. I’m not too concerned about a missed cut the week before a major, especially after a month layoff. Prior to that, he was top-20 in six of seven starts so if he recaptures that form, Kiawah should be a good fit for him.
I made one early bet in this range on Matt Wallace at +15000. That number hasn’t moved much since I played it and is still available on FanDuel at the time of writing.
Wallace is really strong off the tee and he did play to a third-place finish at Bethpage, another PGA Championship where driving was very important.
The PGA Championship Card
- Viktor Hovland +3300 (1 unit)
- Daniel Berger +4000 (.83 units)
- Tyrrell Hatton +5000 (.66 units)
- Abraham Ancer +6600 (.5 units)
- Matthew Fitzpatrick +8000 (.41 units
- Matt Wallace +15000 (.22 units)
Total Stake: 3.62 units