2022 Chevron Championship Odds & Picks: Find Value Outside of Jin Young Ko With Danielle Kang, More
Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Danielle Kang.
Life on the LPGA Tour grabs a little bit of the golfing spotlight this week when the first major event of the season — The Chevron Championship — takes place for the final time at Mission Hills Country Club in southern California.
The best in the game, led by world No. 1 and 2019 tournament champion Jin Young Ko, will compete on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in the 51st edition of the event, which moves to the Houston area next year. The South Korean is the consensus favorite, with her best odds of +500 found at BetMGM as of this writing.
However, the field will be missing one of the world’s biggest stars. Nelly Korda, the No. 2-ranked player in the latest Rolex rankings with seven career wins, is sidelined after being diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm. Korda didn’t compete in last week’s JTBC Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., due to the issue.
Nelly Korda will not play in year's first major, Chevron Championship, after blood clot diagnosishttps://t.co/ue6mCQYZoW
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) March 22, 2022
Reigning champion Patty Tavatanakit is back with hopes of defending her title, along with former champions like Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson to name a few of the big names in the competition.
So, let’s take a deep dive into this top-notch field below, see where we can find some betting value and take our shot at bringing down the dominant favorite.
Lydia Ko (+2000 at PointsBet)
To say it’s been a long road back to the top for Ko is an understatement. From a coaching carousel to equipment changes to swing alterations and somewhat of a revolving door of caddies, everything went off the rails for the player many fans and pundits thought might be the greatest woman to ever play the game.
Yet, through all the trials, tribulations and a pretty forgettable two-year stretch for the former world’s No. 1 player, Ko is back and inching closer to her return to the top of the rankings. She’s sitting at No. 3, thanks to a solid 2022 start that includes a win at the Bainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio back in January.
That victory marked the 17th of her illustrious career, with her first two titles coming as an amateur in back-to-back triumphs at the 2012 and 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open.
— LPGA (@LPGA) March 29, 2022
Statistically speaking, Ko is as consistent in all aspects of her game as anyone else. Aside from her numbers listed below, she’s also 19th in Putts per GIR (1.74), 21st in Putting Average (28.88) and No. 1 in Sand Saves at 84.21 percent.
Another edge she brings to The Chevron is the fact she’s a past winner and played this event well throughout her career. Ko, who earned one of her two major championships at the 2016 edition of this tournament, finished a solo second in 2021, thanks to a blistering 10-under 62 on Sunday to wind up 16 under par.
Ko was sixth here in 2020, giving her an impeccable three-year résumé at Mission Hills and easily puts her among the top contenders. Getting Ko at these kinds of odds makes playing her even more appealing.
|STATISTICS (RANK)||Lydia Ko||Danielle Kang|
|Scoring Average||69.875 (20th)||68.800 (5th)|
|Strokes Gained Total/Round||2.010 (10th)||2.860 (3rd)|
|SG — Tee to Green/Round||0.780 (23rd)||1.720 (7th)|
|SG — Approach to Green/Round||0.780 (15th)||1.680 (5th)|
|SG — Putting/Round||1.230 (8th)||1.140 (T9)|
Danielle Kang (+2000 at BetMGM)
When it comes to torch bearers for American women’s golf, the first player that comes to mind would be Korda. The second? That’s Danielle Kang.
The world’s No. 7 player, according to the latest Rolex rankings, has steadily improved her game over the past five years to put herself among the sport’s elite. Kang has six career victories, including one major title via her win at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and 51 career top-10 finishes.
Kang has come out of the gate hot in 2022, winning her season debut at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. She backed that effort up with a solo runner-up effort at the Bainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, where she finished behind close friend Lydia Ko.
.@ROLEX WWGR Top 🔟
— LPGA Media (@LPGAMedia) March 28, 2022
Kang’s track record at Mission Hills isn’t too shabby, either. She has finished no worse than 13th in her last three appearances, highlighted by a T6 effort in the 2019 edition of the tournament.
After that 1-2 showing to start her season, Kang backed those performances up with top-10 finishes at the HSBC Women’s Championship (T9) and Honda LPGA Thailand (T8) before a lackluster T42 result at the JTBC Classic.
However, if you look at the 20 rounds she’s played so far this year, you will notice she can and loves to go low at any time. In five events, Kang has fired 14 rounds in the 60s, which includes 11 rounds at 4-under-par 68 or better.
Kang is a prime contender this week and I’m not missing a chance at backing her at these ripe odds.
Nanna Koerstz Madsen (+2500 at PointsBet)
Earlier this week, I was talking to Matthew Trebby, our Action Network Golf editor, about how common it is to find bad numbers when it comes to betting on the LPGA Tour. And the player I first mentioned was Madsen.
Bottom line, she should be one of the top seven or eight betting choices in my opinion instead of being part of a trio sitting at +2500. The Danish standout has a playoff win and playoff loss in her last two starts of the year, which actually puts her in better form than Jin Young Ko at the moment.
Prior to her defeat at the hands of Atthaya Thitikul at last week’s JTBC Classic, Madsen finished 26 under par two weeks prior at the Honda LPGA Thailand event, where she beat Xiyu Lin in a playoff. The sizzling start has her parked at No. 2 in the Race to CME Globe ranking, plus she’s vaulted inside the Rolex Top 20 with her 19th ranking.
Madsen has been a model of consistency, highlighted by her length off the tee. She’s second in Average Driving Distance at 279.41 yards. That power has left her with a lot of short irons into the greens, leading to her being fifth in Greens In Regulation at 78.76 percent. Add in the fact she’s 14th in Putts per GIR (1.71) and you have a dangerous player in the best form of her career.
|STATISTICS (RANK)||Nanna Koerstz Madsen||Minjee Lee|
|Scoring Average||68.588 (4th)||68.583 (3rd)|
|Strokes Gained Total/Round||1.620 (18th)||2.080 (7th)|
|SG — Tee to Green/Round||0.640 (28th)||3.280 (1st)|
|SG — Off the Tee/Round||-0.220 (89th)||3.110 (1st)|
|SG — Putting/Round||0.980 (17th)||-1.200 (122nd)|
Minjee Lee (+2500 at BetMGM)
This is another big number on maybe the most well-rounded player on tour not named Jin Young Ko.
If you’re a statistics and advanced metrics lover, the six-time winner has to leave you drooling after looking at her numbers. Her Strokes Gained data is off the charts, which should be no surprise due to how consistent she has been throughout her career.
The Australian and No. 4-ranked player in the world opened the season tying for second at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. She didn’t fare quite as well in her next two starts, finishing T12 at the Honda LPGA Thailand before last week’s T23 showing.
— LPGA (@LPGA) March 23, 2022
Lee has posted 12 consecutive rounds under par to kick off her campaign, playing those three events in a combined 41 under par.
However, despite her solid all-around game, the 25-year-old has struggled with the flat stick out of the gate. Lee ranks a shocking 122nd overall on the tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (-1.200), which has obviously kept her from recording even better scores and, potentially, denied her a visit to the winner’s circle.
Suffice it to say, if Lee can get her putter working and maintain the numbers above (she’s also fourth in Avg. Driving Distance at 274.83 yards and third in GIR at 79.17%), this could be the week she lands her second major title.
Best Bets for Top-10 Finish
|Jin Young Ko||-145||PointsBet|
Analysis: Despite not backing Ko to win outright, she’s a must play here at -145 odds. The South Korean star has finished inside the top 10 all but once in her last 11 starts, dating back to her July 2021 win at the Volunteers of American Classic. That’s all that needs to be said about this wager.
When it comes to Lexi Thompson, I was close to putting her among my top picks, but her odds (+1600) combined with the fact she hasn’t won an event since the 2019 Shoprite LPGA Classic kept her off my main card. However, she won this major back in 2014 when it was the Kraft Nabisco Championship and has top-10 efforts in six of her last eight starts at this event.
As for Kang and Lee, it should be pretty obvious. If they’re among my top picks, they better be part of these bets. We’re getting +190 on Kang (I have her projected odds closer to +165) and +235 on Lee, which are more than long enough for me to back both contenders.
The Live Longshots at 90-1 Odds or More
|A Lim Kim||+9000||PointsBet|
|Hee Jeong Lim||+10000||BetMGM|
Analysis: Depending on the book, you can find some vastly different numbers for the longer shots on the board. And I’m not talking about a player being +9000 at one shop and +9500 at another. We’re talking about massive differences.
Case in point? South Korean standout A Lim Kim, who sits at +9000 via PointsBet, but has much shorter +6600 odds at another book. Obviously, I’m happy to take the longer number on the LPGA of Korea Tour veteran.
Lim missed the cut last year, but has some serious back class. She won the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Club in Houston in her American debut, which is good enough of a reason to back her at triple-digits odds.
Her compatriot, Hee Jeong Lim (+10000), is another dark horse flying under the radar. The world’s 36th-ranked finished T32 at the JTBC Classic, which was the first start of her 2022 campaign. Obviously, that result wasn’t great, but the way she ended last year is notable. Lim finished in the top 3 in four of her last seven events, plus was no worse than T8 during that span.
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 22, 2021
And if you’re looking for some more longshots, take a look at this quartet:
- Anna Nordqvist (+10000): The Swede, who sits 15th in the latest Rolex rankings, won her first major title seven months ago at the AIG Women’s Open. The nine-time tour winner, who boasts 75 top-10 finishes, has finished eight of her last 11 rounds under par leading up to this event.
- Lizette Salas (+10000): The 23rd-ranked player only has one career win, but caught my eye last Sunday when she fired a 7-under 65 in the final round of the JTBC Classic that landed her a T16 finish. Salas missed the cut here last year, but she’s 10th in Driving Accuracy (82.74%) and 21st in Putts per GIR (1.75) this season. If she improves just a touch on both, she could be in the mix.
- Hinako Shibuno (+10000): The Japanese tour rookie was playing well at the JTBC Classic until a shocking, final round 8-over 80 led to a T72 finish. However, I’m calling that 18-hole debacle an anomaly, considering the fact she was a stunning 29 under par combined in the 11 rounds prior to that effort.
- Yealimi Noh (+15000): The 20-year-old American wound up T32 last week, but her consistency is what has drawn my attention. Noh has finished 1 under or better in 11 consecutive rounds leading up to this event.
The Pick: Obviously, I’m playing with fire fading the short-priced No. 1 player in the world, but I can’t back someone hovering between +425 and +500 odds when they’re others at longer numbers not far off her game.
Jin Young Ko is one of my larger bets on the entire card for a Top-10 finish, so at least I will have some nice monetary consolation if she crushes the field and wins her third career major crown.
If she doesn’t triumph, one of my heavier investments — Kang or the other Ko (Lydia) — will likely be jumping into Poppie’s Pond as champion for the final time in the 50-plus years of this event at Mission Hills.