With the PGA Championship set to begin Thursday at Bellerive Country Club in north St. Louis, we asked some of our golf experts for their favorite bets in the last major of the year.
A few things that became clear pretty quickly: There’s a lot of love for American Tony Finau, while not so much for his compatriot Bubba Watson. You will also find two matchup props, in addition to a prop on where Kevin Kisner will finish. Enjoy, and good luck with your wagers this weekend.
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Jason Sobel: Anybody But Bubba
I know what you might be thinking: A soft golf course gives the long hitters an advantage and Bubba is among the longest around, so he should have a solid week. Sorry, I’m not buying it.
The two-time Masters champion has time and again proven that he can dominate on familiar territory and in comfortable surroundings (Augusta National, Riviera, TPC River Highlands), but struggles in other environments. I wrote a piece this week detailing player performances in majors vs. non-majors, and Watson ranked dead last in negative differential among the top 50 players in the world.
I’ve seen Webb Simpson at -137 and Louis Oosthuizen at -145 in matchups against Bubba. I like those and, frankly, any other similar players you might find matched up against him this week.
Joshua Perry: Tony Finau to Finish Top-20
He’s killed the majors this year, finishing inside the top 10 in the first three. His tee-to-green game gives him the ability to compete regardless of the course setup. If he’s putting well, he could actually win this. Make sure to look at Bovada for this bet since it doesn’t use the dead heat rules for placing. Other books may have it at +190 or +200, but if he ties for 19th with, like, four other guys, the bet will get chopped.
Scott Miller: Tony Finau to Finish Top-20
I’m on board with Josh here. Of all the great nuggets from our golf squad this week, this one from Josh might be my favorite: Finau, who isn’t the best of putters, actually gains strokes when putting on bentgrass greens. Guess what kind of greens will be on display at Bellerive? That’s right: bentgrass. Finau, an elite ball-striker, tends to bring his A-game in the big events. The +175 odds make this a no-brainer.
Bryan Mears: Tony Finau to Win PGA Championship
Finau is one of the best golfers in the world, and yet he’s always undervalued by the betting and DFS markets. His Long-Term Adjusted Round Score — our proprietary catch-all metric — is better than the marks of great golfers like Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari. (For reference, Rory is 12-1 this week.) Finau has the talent to win multiple majors in his career, and Bellerive suits his long-distance game. I’m buying Finau everywhere this week.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tony Finau at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, where he finished fifth.
Justin Bailey: Jon Rahm over Francesco Molinari
Rahm is a perfect fit for this course and should excel with his 308-yard Long-Term Driving Distance. His distance should give him the edge over Molinari, especially on par 4s: Rahm is averaging -1.4 average adjusted strokes on par 4s compared to +0.2 for Molinari over the past 75 weeks. Rahm had a solid 17th-place finish at Bridgestone last week despite battling some putting woes. I like the +100 odds on this bet, and if his putter runs hot this week … watch out.
Peter Jennings: Rory McIlroy over Justin Rose
Rose withdrew from Bridgestone last week with back spasms, while Rory should have a huge advantage this week with slow greens and soft conditions.
Drew “The Sleeze” Stoltz: Kevin Kisner to Finish 58th or Better