Sobel’s Thursday PGA Championship Matchup Bets: Follow Phil’s Trends in Round 1

Sobel’s Thursday PGA Championship Matchup Bets: Follow Phil’s Trends in Round 1 article feature image
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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Phil Mickelson during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Bethpage State Park.

  • Jason Sobel highlights his three favorite matchup bets for Round 1 of the 2019 PGA Championship on Thursday.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — I’ve already written about my 10 favorite tournament matchups for this week’s PGA Championship, but for those of you instant gratification fans out there — hey, I’m one of ‘em, too — here are some first-round matchup bets to get that bankroll flowing into the weekend.

Phil Mickelson over Rory McIlroy (+175)

You want an obscure stat? I’ve got an obscure stat — but one that is extremely relevant in this matchup. In first-round scoring average this season, Mickelson ranks fifth at 68.90 and McIlroy isn’t too far behind in 14th at 69.44. Pretty even, right?

Sure, but that changes when we look at late first-round scoring average. Yes, it’s a real stat and it could mean something, considering their 1:38 p.m. tee time together.

In five Thursday afternoon rounds so far, Mickelson’s scoring average is exactly 68.

McIlroy’s is exactly two strokes higher in the same number of opportunities. Clearly, sleeping in has a nice impact on Lefty’s game. At this price, it’s worth taking a shot on the trend continuing this week.

Xander Schauffele over Hideki Matsuyama (-115)

At the AT&T Byron Nelson last week, Matsuyama opened with a 4-under 67 on Thursday, which was noteworthy because it was his first sub-70 opening-round score in his past seven tournaments.

In fact, the first round is the only one in which his scoring average is above 70 this season, as he ranks 92nd, 45 spots higher than his average in any other round. I like Schauffele to get off to a nice start, as he usually does in major championships, but this one is more about a Hideki fade.

J.J. Spaun over Beau Hossler (-115)

OK, I get it: You want to take that whole instant gratification thing to the next level. No problem. Spaun and Hossler are in the first group off the box at 6:45 a.m. and just like the Mickelson/McIlroy matchup, there’s a metric which points to a favorite here, too. 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?