Sobel: The Best Way to Bet Sergio, Plus 9 Other PGA Championship Matchups With Value
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sergio Garcia
- The 2019 PGA Championship gets underway Thursday morning at Bethpage Black Course.
- Jason Sobel gives his 10 favorite matchup bets for the PGA Championship.
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – If this whole professional golf thing doesn’t work out, Dustin Johnson would make for one hell of a prognosticator someday.
The following is an actual exchange from Johnson’s pre-tournament press conference here at the PGA Championship — and it’s awesome.
Q: “Is Tiger the guy to beat this week?”
A: “I mean, whoever plays well is the guy to beat.”
I literally LOL’d at that one. I’m also going to steal some version of it at every opportunity.
Q: “Who do you like to win this event?”
A: “The guy who hits his ball the fewest amount of times.”
I’ll admit it: It’s way funnier when DJ says it.
Anyway, let’s get to my 10 favorite tournament matchup bets, where the guy to beat in each of ‘em is, of course, the one who plays well.
Thomas Pieters (-115) over Alex Noren
Let’s kick things off with my absolute favorite matchup of the week. Pieters, who finished T-6 in this event last year, hits the ball as long as anyone off the tee, which should be a necessity at Bethpage.
Meanwhile, Noren has struggled mightily with his game this year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Pieters pull another top 10 and Noren miss the cut, so I think this one is a green-light special.
Serigo Garcia (-110) over Paul Casey
There’s a sense that putting might be neutralized this week, with more of a focus on ball-striking. If that’s the case — in fact, whenever that’s the case — I like Sergio to play well. He owns a nice track record in admittedly limited opportunities at Bethpage, while Casey hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in his last nine major starts.
Sung Kang (-115) over Jim Furyk
Sure, Furyk owns the edge in experience here. And yes, he’s played well at times over the past few months. But this is a great spot for the most recent PGA Tour champion. Kang is fresh off his first career win at the AT&T Byron Nelson and should be playing with a nothing-to-lose attitude, while his opponent in this matchup might be wishing he could play the white tees instead.
Keegan Bradley (-130) over Charley Hoffman
In a story that’s been chronicled throughout the week, Bradley played here all the time as a member of the St. John’s golf team in college. That familiarity and comfort should help him this week. There should be no comfort level for Hoffman, though, who’s made only two cuts in nine career PGA starts, never finishing better than 40th.
Martin Kaymer (+140) over Charles Howell III
A week ago, I never would’ve imagined making this play, but after Howell withdrew from the Nelson with a hip injury, I’m banking on that being more bothersome for him while hitting out of the thick rough. Howell is one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour and I’m hoping this isn’t a long-term setback, but the price is too good to ignore Kaymer in this one.
Keith Mitchell (-110) over Matt Fitzpatrick
Ten years ago, a little-known player named Y.E. Yang parlayed a Honda Classic victory into a giant-killing PGA title when he beat Tiger Woods at Hazeltine. Mitchell won this year’s version of that event and while he won’t be able to sneak up on the bigger names like Yang, his brand of strong driver play should bode well for a nice result this week.
Henrik Stenson (+100) over Louis Oosthuizen
It took a few months, but Stenson has finally gotten things together, as evidenced by five straight finishes of 36th or better. Oosthuizen has played well, but not often, teeing it up in just two of the last seven weeks. That can lead to rustiness, which might’ve been the factor in his final-round 76 at the Masters last month.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-115) over Corey Conners
With a T-5 last week, Aphibarnrat looked terrific, especially on the greens, where it seemed like he was making everything inside 15 feet. Conners peaked six weeks ago, writing one of the better stories on the PGA Tour this year by Monday qualifying for the Valero Texas Open, winning, and getting into the Masters. But it feels like some of the air has been let out of his balloon, while the price on his odds has yet to drop.
Xander Schauffele (-110) over Tommy Fleetwood
I was looking for a spot to grab Schauffele and similarly looking for one to fade Fleetwood, so this worked on both ends. Schauffele always brings his best stuff to majors, having finished sixth or better in half of his starts. Granted, Fleetwood has posted some strong results as well, but not in this tournament and not in these types of conditions, which shouldn’t play to his strengths.
Craig Hocknull (-130) over Craig Bowden
No joke: I had just finished writing about Bowden’s advantage in this matchup — he played five years on the PGA Tour and won three times on the Nationwide before becoming a club pro — when my man Sleeze hit our TAN email thread with this message: “For anyone who likes money, I just put in the sleeziest, sneakiest pick of the year. Will be least bet matchup of millennium.”
His pick? Hocknull over Bowden. Sleeze explained that he’d played with Bowden before and he’s as short off the tee as any pro he’s ever seen. I did some research and confirmed that: Last year at Bellerive, Hocknull averaged 292 yards off the tee, Bowden a mere 257. Painfully short is no recipe for success this week, so I’m flipping my pick and taking length over experience.
If we get this wrong, I’ll post Sleeze’s personal cell number and let you guys have your say.