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PGA Championship Outright Odds, Bets: Picks for Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, More

PGA Championship Outright Odds, Bets: Picks for Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, More article feature image

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The first day of the 2023 U.S. Open is complete and …

Ohhh, right. This is actually the 2023 PGA Championship.

Apologies for the confusion, as Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course played like a USGA setup on Thursday. If the scores didn’t confirm this notion, then the players’ exasperated expressions certainly did, as one by one they trudged off this track with few sighs of relief and varying degrees of frustration.

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When the dust finally settled, Eric Cole held the in-progress lead at 5-under with four holes left to play — he’s one of 30 competitors who will complete his opening round on Friday morning.

As such, it’s a little more difficult to assess value at this juncture, with Scottie Scheffler (3-under) atop FanDuel’s live odds board at +230, followed by Dustin Johnson (3-under) at +700, Viktor Hovland (2-under) at +1200 and Bryson DeChambeau (4-under) at +1300.

We’ve seen plenty of recent majors — especially those where scoring is closer in relation to par — tend to serve as the “post-a-good-one-and-hang-around-all-weekend” variety, which means the eventual winner could easily come from one of those four favorites listed above.

If we’re diving a little deeper, though, there are some intriguing plays further down the board. Here are three of ‘em.

Rory McIlroy (1-over): +2100 (FanDuel)

I know, I know. We spent a large portion of Thursday morning witnessing the worst of McIlroy, as he opened with three bogeys and no birdies in his first nine holes and looked a bit lost in all aspects of his game.

Coming off missed cuts at both the Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship, this all felt like another step in the wrong direction for a player who hasn’t won a major in nine years. He played his second-nine, however, at 2-under and got back to a respectable place on the leaderboard, suggesting after the round that he’s been dealing with an illness that perhaps hampered his performance.

Now, I’m still not fully convinced McIlroy can turn it around so quickly, but I do know this much: If that was the absolute worst we’re going to see from him, then he at least has a chance. If you liked him pre-tourney at 12/1 and didn’t pull the trigger, here’s an opportunity to get him at 20/1 just five shots off the clubhouse lead.

Tony Finau (2-over): +4600

Much like McIlroy, Finau figured out some things midway through the round.

On the front nine, he posted four bogeys and a double for an ugly 6-over 41 that perhaps had us thinking his chances were done. Instead, Finau has us thinking of Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters, as he backed that up with a back-nine 31 to save face and get himself back into the mix.

Maybe this was his Jon Rahm moment, referring to the Masters champion who opened with a double-bogey. Finau’s often played better as a chaser than a leader, so this could wind up working to his advantage.

Keith Mitchell (1-under): +9000

There was at least one big bet placed on a Mitchell outright prior to the event starting and he didn’t really disappoint in the opening round, posting a steady 1-under 69 that included only two birdies, but just one bogey.

There are hints that Oak Hill could be a first-shot golf course this week, and Mitchell is either the best driver of the golf ball on the PGA Tour this season or one of the best, depending on which metric you prefer.

I’ll readily admit I’m more bullish about Mitchell’s game on a regular basis than most observers, so I’m analyzing with some bias here, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him challenge for a major championship. This is certainly one which suits his type of game.

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