You can smell the major in the air. There’s so many different storylines coming into this year’s PGA Championship that it’s almost hard to keep track… You’ve got Jordan Spieth trying to capture his career grand slam this week, Scottie Scheffler potentially winning his first two major championships back to back at his favorite course in the world, Tiger teeing it up in one of the strongest pairings we’ve seen in a long time (Tiger/Spieth/Rory) and quite a few players coming in hot after the PGA’s strong stance on LIV Golf.
This year’s PGA Championship differs from its predecessor major (the Masters) in the sense that it feels much more up in the air for the entire field. Vegas appears to agree given the massive amount of value they’re providing us in the Top 20-40 range across a significant number of different players. This is great news for us since the goal is base hits, not home runs.
The weather should start out scolding hot with slight winds before cooling down rolling into the weekend with small chances of rain. The heat shouldn’t play too much of a factor for most of these players but the potential 15-25 mph winds could prove menacing approaching these difficult greens. Remember, it’s paramount that players hit their spots on the greens this week and avoid the rough at all costs off the tee so any wind is a lot of wind in that respect.
One of the perks of betting on majors is the simple fact that they consist of four different rounds. This means that we’re able to lay down our foundation on players we feel confident in with our futures bets while still being able to sit back and monitor certain players who we think could excel but we still have some doubts about for whatever reason. Check out our “Players To Watch & 2nd Round Facts To Consider” section to learn who we’re talking about as well as some tidbits to keep in mind rolling into Friday.
Without further ado, enjoy our favorite futures/1st round bets for the PGA Championship. Keep in mind, we want to be your one stop value shop when it comes to the bets we provide so feel free to pick and choose which bets catch your eye or take a ride on the lightning train with us and “select all” (anyone who did for the Masters finished +20.931 units on the week…). Don’t bet emotionally, track your bets and always remember to bet smarter, not harder.
Outright winner bets play a large role in why I love betting on golf so much. You can spread 1 unit across 4-5 of your favorite players to win it all and every player has massive odds regardless of how favored they are to win. To simplify, you get to risk a small amount for a large pay day.
Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa top out our projections for Southern Hills due to their elite ball striking/approach game as well as their consistency in majors. Neither should be playing under as much pressure this week as they were at the Masters since they both already have a PGA Championship under their belt and they both feel due to win another major (especially JT). Scottie Scheffler is still riding high after his first career major victory at the Masters last month and ascending to world #1. It also doesn’t hurt that Southern Hills is his favorite course and he won a Big 12 Championship there in college. Jon Rahm plays great in majors (he’s honestly too good to only have one at this point), leads the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee/leads the tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and he won the last tournament he played in coming into this major (Mexico Open a couple weeks ago). Patrick Cantlay is probably the best player on tour not to win a major yet and Southern Hills suits his consistent type game nicely. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s been playing lights out for the past month coming into Tulsa (2nd place finish at the RBC Heritage and a victory at the Zurich Classic).
Top 10 bets are simply a way to hedge some of the players you placed some coin on to win it all since the juice doesn’t seem worth the squeeze for Top 5 bets. Not much more to add here from the Outright Winner bet breakdowns.
So here is the first spot where we’re really starting to see some value/indecision on Vegas’ part (our gain). Not only are they still providing us decent odds on the front runners (Rahm/Scheffler/Thomas/Morikawa/Cantlay) allowing us to further hedge our outright winner bets, but they’re also providing us straight up value for serious contenders in the form of Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Xander Schauffele.
McIlroy plays great in the month of May, he’s great off the tee/around the green, his birthday was 2 weeks ago and he’s coming off of a 2nd place finish at the Masters and 5th place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship (his last tournament coming into the PGA Championship). Shane Lowry is flying WAY under the radar coming into this tournament, ranking inside the top 5 of our projections due to his solid approach game, his ability to avoid trouble and his consistency in majors (he hasn’t finished worse than 13th since February in any tournament and is coming off 3rd place finishes at the Masters and RBC Heritage). It’s just a matter of time for Xander Schauffele to finally put it all together in a major but even when he doesn’t he tends to at least stay in contention. He’s also playing well coming into this major (victory at the Zurich Classic alongside Patrick Cantlay and a 5th place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week with a final round of 61), he plays Par 4s well and virtually none of his metrics throw up huge red flags for Southern Hills this week. If he can keep his mental game in check, he should excel.
Similar value/hedging story for the Top 30. We’re getting favorable enough odds to further hedge Morikawa, Cantlay, Thomas, Scheffler, Schauffele and Lowry while also gaining the opportunity to take advantage of some value Vegas is providing us for Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick and Hideki Matsuyama.
Cameron Smith is one of the players I’d like to monitor in the 1st round before investing too much into him for the extent of the tournament. Smith was one of my favorites going into the Masters and, while he didn’t disappoint, he did seem to choke in the final round and he hasn’t appeared to be the same since. That said, he ranks highly in our projections due to his approach game and putting abilities so it feels like there’s a great chance he falls within the top 30 (if not a lot better) even if his mental game isn’t 100% there. Vegas seems to agree given the -155 odds for this major vs the Masters (where his top 30 odds were well over -200).
Will Zalatoris is another elite ball striker who separates himself from the field off the tee and approaching the green (1st on tour in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green/2nd on tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green). His problem is his putter… He’s one of the worst at putting in the field and he’s clearly still in the workshopping phase of figuring it out. If he could just putt inside the top 50 of the field then he would find himself well within the top 5 of our projections and he’s another breakout player due for a major any day now so top 30 seems easily attainable considering how well he’s played in majors.
Hovland is another player who would rank well within our top 5 if it wasn’t for one Achilles heel, his game around the green. Despite ranking towards the very top of almost every single major category for this tournament, Hovland ranks third from the bottom of the entire field in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. What that means is that he has a solid enough game off the tee and approaching the green to excel at Southern Hills, but, as soon as he strays from the path he’s going to be in trouble. I’m expecting some blow up holes on this difficult course for Hovland which is why we’re conservatively not taking him any higher than the top 30 as of now (even though he has the talent to contend for his first major title without a doubt).
The tale of the tape for Fitzpatrick and Matsuyama is pretty simple, neither has any large holes in their game. Fitzpatrick is fantastic off the tee and around the green (he’s also #1 on tour in overall Strokes Gained) while Matsuyama avoids trouble and has a solid approach game. Both of these guys play smart and both have balanced games that should pan out well at Southern Hills. Matsuyama almost always shows up at majors and it feels like this could be a breakthrough major for Fitzpatrick (14th place finish at the Masters and 2nd place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship). Also, has anyone else ever noticed that Matt Fitzpatrick is Rory McIlroy’s doppelgänger?? The resemblance is truly astounding…
We round out our value/hedging theme for the PGA Championship with the Top 40. We get enough value to be able to hedge Matsuyama, Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick while also gaining a value advantage with Joaquin Niemann and Daniel Berger.
Niemann has enjoyed a breakout year this season winning the Genesis Invitational and posting top 40 finishes in his last two majors. He’s absolutely fearless with his driver off the tee and he’s masterful at cleaning up suspect situations around the green. Don’t be surprised to see him sneak into the top 20 and expect at least a top 40 finish.
Daniel Berger actually ranks towards the very top of our projections coming into this week due to his solid approach game and his ability to attack Par 4s. If it wasn’t for his injury issues (he’s been dealing with back problems this year which caused him to pull out of the Mexico Open, the last tournament he played in leading up to the PGA Championship) then we’d definitely have him well within the top 20. We can’t ignore a back issue however, so he’s on our list of players to monitor in the 1st round and we’ll reevaluate if needed. For now, we’ll take limited action on him at -135 odds for the top 40.
Ok I simply couldn’t resist taking Tiger to make the cut this go around. He looked surprisingly solid at the Masters, he’s technically the reigning PGA Championship champ at Southern Hills (despite the course looking significantly different now) and if anything I think the limitations of his injury will force him to play conservatively which players should probably be doing anyways at a course with this much danger everywhere. The top 70 plus ties make the cut at the PGA Championship vs the top 50 plus ties at the Masters so if he could make the cut there I don’t see why he couldn’t follow suit in Tulsa. He also says he feels quite a bit healthier now than he did a month ago and he’s playing in an electric group with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy so his competitive juices should be flowing.
Joaquin Niemann (+150) (0.5 units) vs Sam Burns (+160) (0.5 units) vs Seamus Power
I think Niemann and Burns both finish higher than Seamus Power overall but by splitting a unit between the two we’re virtually guaranteeing a payout (remember, base hits > home runs). I’ve already mentioned how highly I think of Niemann right now and Burns is no different. Burns is having the best year of his career with two different victories (Valspar Championship and Sanderson Farms Championship), a 2nd place finish at the Zurich Classic and he ranks 2nd overall in the FedEx Cup standings coming into this week. Both players rank within the top 20 of our projections and lack any looming holes in their games. Meanwhile, Power ranks towards the lower tier of our projections for the PGA Championship due to his consistently mediocre numbers for most of our statistical categories and poor historical performance in majors. This one feels like easy money.
1st Round Bets
Our favorite 1st round bets are centered around players who we don’t just expect to play well at Southern Hills but who also tend to jump out to a fast start regardless of the venue. Keep in mind that you’re offered very favorable odds for “1st Round Top 10/20” bets so there’s no reason to break the bank on any one player here.
1st Round Top 10
Patrick Cantlay is the best player in our projections who also ranks 2nd overall in the field in 1st Round Averages. Cantlay tends to get off to a fast start and at a course like Southern Hills where we don’t expect scores to be crazy low, it shouldn’t be unrealistic for him to position himself within the top 10 after day 1. Our favorite bets for Round 1 lie within the Top 20 and matchup bets but given our confidence in Cantlay this week and the hot streak he’s been on… we’ll throw 0.25 units on him here and see what he can do.
1st Round Top 20
Here’s where we hope to see some early separation from the guys we expect to excel and excel early. You’ll notice our guy Cantlay at the top here along with Scottie Scheffler who jumped up the leaderboard at Augusta early and stayed there. As we mentioned previously, Scheffler loves this course and comfort tends to result in early success at major tournaments. Hideki Matsuyama is another player who tends to perform at a consistent pace from day 1 and who we’re projecting to sit right around the top 10 after Thursday. While Cameron Smith is a player we’d like to monitor on Thursday, that’s more to see if he’s someone who could actually make a go at the trophy or not… His ability to jump out to early leads is unquestioned and his specific skill set should allow him to do just that at Southern Hills. Smith’s main issue is maintaining leads throughout the weekend. Putting himself in good position during the opening rounds hasn’t been a large concern.
1st Round Matchups
I love these 3 Ball matchups… For those of you who are unfamiliar, these are bets that allow you to wager on the different groups for Thursday/Friday. Some matchups provide huge mismatches where you can bet on one player who is clearly superior to the other two in his group while still maintaining valuable odds. Other matchups allow you to isolate one player who is clearly inferior to the other two, allowing you to split your odds between the other two players and reduce your risk and/or guarantee a small payout (base hits > home runs). Best part is? These specific 3 Ball bets are round by round so you’re not stuck with one player all tournament who decides not to show up (which is why we only have one tournament long 3 Ball bet listed above).
Billy Horschel (+160) (0.64 units) vs Tommy Fleetwood (+190) (0.36 units) vs Kevin Kisner
Not only do I expect Billy Horschel to possibly finish inside the top 20, I also expect him to win this group. He ranks within the top two tiers of almost every single statistical category for this tournament and he’s inside the top 10 in the field for 1st Round Average. That said, Tommy Fleetwood tends to play well in majors and his skill on and around the green makes him a risk to challenge Horschel on Thursday. Kisner on the other hand has a sub par approach game and struggles off the tee so I’m expecting a rough PGA Championship for the old bulldog (he’s also a slow starter). Given the disparity between Kisner and the rest of his group, I’m splitting my odds between Horschel and Fleetwood with a significant edge towards Horschel. Assuming the Kisner fade works, this allows me to either net 0.664 units with a Horschel victory on Thursday or 0.044 units if Fleetwood pulls it out (essentially breaking even).
Jordan Spieth (+145) (0.5 units) vs Rory McIlroy (+145) (0.5 units) vs Tiger Woods
Man… As much as I love Tiger, it’s hard to think that he will win this group in the opening round. Spieth and Rory are both in prime form right now and both should contend for the title. Rory is riding his birthday high right now and Spieth hasn’t looked this good since he went on his first tear of majors. Add the nostalgia of having the GOAT in your group to the mix and I suspect both of these players will come out swinging. It’s hard to say which one will come out on top so I’m splitting the odds between the two, meaning we’ll rack up 0.225 units as long as Tiger doesn’t shock the world on day 1. Keep in mind, Tiger is more than likely competing to make the cut… Spieth and Rory will both be disappointed with anything less than the Wanamaker Trophy.
Russell Henley (+145) (0.82 units) vs Cameron Champ (+165) (0.18 units) vs Zach Johnson
Here’s another example of a 2 to 1 fade. Russell Henley should absolutely win this group and we have him inside our top 10 for the 1st round. That said, Cameron Champ has played slightly better than Henley in majors as of late (10th place finish at the Masters and 6th place finish at the Mexico Open). Given Henley’s metrics and his propensity to have solid starts in tournaments (5th in the field for 1st Round Average), I’m both fading Zach Johnson (who has only made 1 cut since March) and mitigating some of the Cameron Champ risk by spreading the majority of a unit on Henley (0.82 units) and sprinkling a small amount on Champ (0.18 units). This basically means I’m risking ~0.5 units to win ~1 unit with a Henley victory as long as Zach Johnson doesn’t win, which I absolutely can live with.
Joaquin Niemann (-110) (1 unit) vs Harry Higgs vs Erik Van Rooyen
This one’s an example of one player being much better than the rest of the pack. I was honestly surprised to find a line on this 3 Ball given the disparity in talent between Niemann and the rest of the pack. Niemann is inside our top 5 projections for Thursday and has the 3rd best 1st Round Average in the field. As mentioned above, he’s having a career year and just seems to keep getting better. This could absolutely be a breakthrough tournament for Niemann in regards to his majors resume so to match him up against two players who fall outside of our projected top 60 and who will be hard pressed to even make the weekend..? Feels like easy money.
|Top South American: Joaquin Niemann||-145||1|
|Top Continental European: Jon Rahm||+150||1|
|Top Continental European: Viktor Hovland||+310||1|
|Top Asian: Hideki Matsuyama||+165||1|
|Top Australian: Cameron Smith||+175||0.5 initial units, 0.5 more potential units after Thursday|
|Top Irish: Shane Lowry||+170||1|
|Top Irish: Rory McIlroy||+100||1|
|Top Scandinavian: Viktor Hovland||-150||1|
Top South American: Joaquin Niemann
I’ve talked about Niemann a lot so far so this prop should come as no surprise. This has been a career season for Niemann thus far and I don’t expect that trajectory to change course this week given his talent off the tee and around the greens. The biggest threat to Niemann for the top South American spot is Sebastian Munoz who, to his credit, is coming off of a 3rd place finish last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson. That said, Munoz has only made 2 cuts out of the 7 majors he’s played in his career… I like my odds with an actual potential contender like Niemann.
Top Continental European: Jon Rahm/Viktor Hovland
Splitting my odds here between Rahm and Hovland since their closest competitor is Alex Noren. No offense to Noren, he’s just not the same caliber of player as Rahm or Hovland at the moment. I think Rahm more than likely earns this title but it makes more sense just to split my odds between Rahm and Hovland (a true threat) since Hovland has the game to win the tournament outright if he can avoid his current issues around the green. This means a Rahm victory would net us 2.1 units while a Hovland victory would net us 0.5 units. Again… base hits > home runs.
Top Asian: Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama opened a lot of doors for Asian golfers everywhere with his Masters victory last year. That said, pretty much all of them are still going through the process of walking through said doors (with the exception of Sungjae Im who had to withdraw due to COVID). The closest competitor to Matsuyama for Top Asian is Si Woo Kim who doesn’t land in the top tier of any of our statistical categories for the PGA Championship and has only made 3 cuts in his last 8 majors. With Sungjae Im out of the picture this week, +165 odds on Matsuyama here feels like a steal.
Top Australian: Cameron Smith
I know what you’re thinking… “I thought we were going to monitor this guy on Thursday”. We are. But at the end of the day, Cameron Smith is one of the best players in the world currently and his skill set is well suited for Southern Hills. Also taking into account that his closest competitors are Adam Scott/Marc Leishman (neither of whom have been factors in majors for a while now), we think it makes sense to place 0.5 units on Smith now while the odds are sitting at +175. If it looks like Smith has brought his A game then we’ll tack on an additional 0.5 units after Thursday depending on how the line moves.
Top Irish: Rory McIlroy/Shane Lowry
The biggest threat to top Irishman outside of McIlroy and Lowry is Seamus Power. Need I say more? We’re spreading 2 units across McIlroy and Lowry to net us either 0.7 units with a Lowry victory or break even if McIlroy comes out on top.
Top Scandinavian: Viktor Hovland
I won’t get too deep into the weeds with this one given how much we’ve covered Hovland already. His closest competitors here are Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren. Again, two players who aren’t in the same league as Hovland and probably won’t challenge him for this title regardless of if he’s in contention for the championship or not.
Players to Watch & 2nd Round Facts To Consider
We’ve already covered all of these players at some point throughout this article so here’s a summary behind their potential, our concerns and what would be the deciding factors behind how we bet on them after Thursday.
Cameron Smith: Cam Smith has been one of the most electric players on tour this season and he’s one of the best players in the world yet to win a major. That said, his hot streak cooled off during the final round of the Masters this year and his game just hasn’t appeared to be the same since. He’s taken some time off to regenerate so it’s entirely possible that he could have his mental game back on track and contend for a championship this weekend but it’s also possible that he’s still not playing at 100%. If Cam comes out firing on Thursday and jumps out to an early lead then it’d be hard for us not to invest more capital in him. If he starts out stale, that’ll be a solid indicator for us that this probably isn’t going to be his major considering how well his skill set aligns with the course and his tendency to start hot and start fast.
Daniel Berger: Berger has metrics that indicate he should annihilate this course (crushes Par 4s, 12th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, accurate off the tee, ranks near the top tier for both Strokes Gained: Around the Green/Putting and historically he’s played decent in majors). Unfortunately, he’s been dealing with a back injury all year that has left his health in question. He was forced to withdraw from the Mexico Open earlier this month (presumably due to said injury) and he exhibited volatile play at the Masters last month. If Berger can post a respectable number on Thursday it would alleviate some of our concerns but he might be a player to watch through Friday and add action for heading into the weekend… just to make sure his back is truly holding up.
Viktor Hovland: Viktor Hovland is another young player whose game is perfectly balanced but with one exception, around the green. And when I say an exception… I mean Achilles heel. He literally ranks inside the top 20 of almost every single major statistical category except for Strokes Gained: Around the Green. He’s currently 210th on tour and 132nd in the field for Strokes Gained: Around the Green and even with that MASSIVE blip on the radar… he still has 1 win and 4 top 10 finishes on the season so far. Imagine how dominant he would be if he figures out how to chip. If he was even inside the top 50 in the field for Strokes Gained: Around the Green then he would be inside our top two favorites to win the tournament outright. That said, his ball striking/approach game is so elite that it could negate his requirement to scramble around the greens in general. What we’ll be looking for out of Hovland on Thursday is either an out of this world GIR or a cleaned up game around the greens which we haven’t seen most of the year.
Rory McIlroy: Rory can be a bit of a head case in majors but when he’s on, he’s ON. We saw an example of that in the final round of this year’s Masters when he absolutely turned it on and posted a 64 to finish 2nd to Scottie Scheffler. His game is simply the full package and his advantage/greatness off the tee is undeniable. He’s played well in the month of May historically which is a good sign for him this week and he placed 5th in his last tournament. That said, if anyone could throw him off of his game it has to be Tiger Woods and a heavy tournament favorite alongside him on Thursday and Friday. Jordan Spieth is a head case as well and it seems like misery typically loves company in that regard so I see quite a few factors that could throw off Rory’s game this week. If Rory can win this group on Thursday and avoid any blow up holes then that would be a decent indicator for us that he’s capable of overcoming adversity this week and ultimately hoisting the trophy on Sunday.
Facts To Consider:
- Every single major champion at Southern Hills has held the lead going into the weekend. Every. Single. One.
- Out of those major champions, only one didn’t hold the lead after the 1st Round. Just. One.
Risky Business Parlays
Miss The Cut Parlay (+575 odds): Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Champ
Make The Cut Parlay (+275 odds): Matt Fitzpatrick, Will Zalatoris, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel
Top 20 Parlay (+585 odds): Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa
Disclaimer: SidehustlebetsMJQ.com is not an online gambling operator or a gambling site of any kind. Our insights about sports/sports betting are purely for entertainment purposes only.