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Betting the PGA Championship Favorites: 25-1 Range Ripe With Big-Name Value

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Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jordan Spieth

  • Dustin Johnson (+725), Justin Thomas (+1215) and Rory McIlroy (+1215) are the top three betting favorites at the 2018 PGA Championship, which will be held at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis from Aug. 9-12.
  • That trio doesn't have betting value at those numbers, but a few golfers in the 25-1 range are worth a look in golf's final major championship of the season.

I have to thank Justin Thomas for padding the bankroll a week before a major by taking down the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at a completely undervalued 30-1 price. That marks the 11th outright winner picked in my Action Network articles this season.

Thomas is back to No. 2 in the world and is getting much more respect from the oddsmakers heading into the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, where he’s the defending champion. He opened at +1215, matching Rory McIlroy as the second favorite behind Dustin Johnson at +725.

With those numbers, we’ll bid adieu to Thomas this week and try to find the next mispriced favorite.

 


The Course

Bellerive Country Club will host its first major this week, playing as a 7,329-yard par 70. The fourth and 10th holes were converted from par 5s for the members to long par 4s this week.


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The course is a bit of a mystery in terms of setup and what type of player will benefit the most. It hasn’t hosted a PGA tournament since the BMW Championship in 2008, when Camilo Villegas held off Dudley Hart for a two-stroke win. That year, Bellerive played shorter (6,959 yards) and was a par 71. So we’ll probably see something less than the 15-under number Villegas won with.

Jim Furyk and Brian Gay are the only players who finished inside the top 15 in the 2008 FedEx Cup playoff event who will tee it up this week.


Where’s the Betting Value?

Getting back to the top of the board, I won’t be backing any of the top three favorites because I just don’t play those numbers. But with Thomas, Johnson and McIlroy finishing first, third and sixth, respectively, this past week, I get why anyone would jump back in.

That trio’s form is definitely going to keep me from getting too heavily invested elsewhere.

Rickie Fowler and Jason Day are in that next group at +1622 and +1822. Fowler is always a no-go in this range. The price doesn’t fit his real odds. Day is interesting, but better numbers may come up later in the week. He’s a past PGA Champion and his short game has been amazing this season, but Day’s ball-striking has been so off that I’d need mid-20s on him before I’d even think about it.

Justin Rose is right there with Fowler at +1622 as well. After withdrawing from the Bridgestone with a back problem, that number is far too low. Like Day, he’d have to drift to the mid-20s, and I’d need to see a report with some positive sign about his health before he’d be under any consideration.

Four other guys check in with odds in that 20-1 to 25-1 range, and this is where I start to get interested.

First up is Jordan Spieth at +2489. Spieth doesn’t have much form outside of a few good rounds at The Open Championship, but his odds are starting to get a little out of hand given his talent. It’s like Thomas last week. There wasn’t much of a sign that Thomas was ready to pop up and win, but the odds got out of whack with his win rate, and sometimes you just have to back the talent. If the number drifts at all from this spot, it will be worth a hard look.


John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jon Rahm

The only play I’m locking in right now in this range is Jon Rahm. There are a lot of books that have him around 25-1, so that allows me to be patient and wait to see where the line moves.

Rahm will probably be off the radar a bit after missing the cut in the past two majors. But the PGA Championship’s setup is a little easier than the U.S. Open and Open Championship. Rahm finished second at the Bridgestone in strokes gained: tee to green, so the ball-striking is there. His putter was abysmal, losing almost six strokes to the field. A field-average putting week would’ve landed Rahm in a tie for second.

Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods are the last guys in this range. Koepka is a blind top-20 bet anytime we’re getting plus-money, and with his odds around 25-1 to win, we should see just that. Even though this bet didn’t come through at The Open, few things in golf have been more consistent than Koepka finding his way into the top 20 of a major.

As far as Tiger is concerned, I don’t see any sort of value at this number. He’s getting a tax because it’s a major and people will bet him regardless, but his true odds are probably much closer to 40-1.

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