For those who missed it, please check out the 2020 PGA Championship Preview and Betting Strategies column to help you narrow down the field of which golfers to target.
With that in mind, here are some interesting tournament and positional props to take a look at (with odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag).
Dustin Johnson Top 10 – +200: It’s been a pretty bumpy ride for Dustin Johnson lately, from his win at the Travelers to nearly shooting three rounds of 80 in a row across the Memorial and the 3M Open. After withdrawing from the 3M Open with a “back injury”, he had a very stress free T12 finish at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Classic the following week.
The most encouraging sign for DJ is how good his ball striking was last week (especially his irons), and he worked out the kinks on and around the greens. DJ is a great fit for TPC Harding Park and always seems to play well at events in California. While I think his putter will cost him a win I love his chances to finish in the Top 10 at 2/1.
Rickie Fowler Top 10 – +400: Last night we recorded the usual PGA Championship podcast, and on the show we talked briefly about Rickie Fowler. Overall I just don’t see a lot to be inspired about with his game despite showing well until Sunday last week in Memphis, and I dismissed him from consideration.
But I have a long memory, which is a blessing and a curse, and I recall the last time I poo-poo’d Rickie Fowler’s chances before a major, he ended up finishing second at the 2018 Masters.
I try to be refreshingly honest with the readers, so I would be remiss if I didn’t disclaim that I have a track record of being the anti-mush for Rickie’s chances at a major tournament. And to be fair to Rickie, he has gained just under 1 stroke per round tee-to-green over his last four tournaments. And he does putt pretty well on bentgrass. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit.
So despite the hate in my heart for our little mustached Instagram star, consider this a bit of a life hedge to make the crow go down to my stomach a little smoother.
Jason Day Top 20 – +200: This recommendation feels so, so, so dirty.
For 2 years, it didn’t take much for me to fade Jason Day and his never-ending complaints about his back and his awful ball striking. So it’s no surprise that he wasn’t anywhere near my radar during his most recent hot streak where he’s posted three straight Top 10’s. Completely dismissive, I just assumed he rode a ridiculous hot putter and that tough times were surely ahead.
But much to my surprise, it’s actually his ball striking that has been revitalized, and that there’s some upward mobility for positive regression with his putting!
So what’s changed? In what was initially seen as a questionable decision, his split with long term caddie, swing coach and mentor Colin Swatton might have been a much needed fresh start for Day. Now having taken ownership of his swing, he’s posting his best ball-striking numbers in a long time, while still maintaining his stellar play on and around the greens.
I still have reservations about whether his back will hold up in the cold weather or that the bottom is going to fall out with his ball striking. That’s why I’m being cautious by only grabbing him at Top 20 odds. But if it’s legit, then he’s a great fit for TPC Harding Park and possesses a much higher ceiling than this.
Viktor Hovland Top 20 – +225: After a torrid stretch of fantastic ball striking, Hovland has certainly cooled off. Hovland’s lost about 0.1 strokes tee-to-green per round over his last two tournaments, almost 2.5 strokes worse per round than what he showed in the previous five.
He’s too talented a ball striker to be that bad, and I expect a positive regression in that department. His great combination of length and accuracy off the tee along with his pinpoint precision with his irons is a great recipe for success at TPC Harding Park, especially if the golf course plays firm.
What caps his upside is his deficiencies with his scrambling and putting, but given the tournament isn’t expected to be a birdie fest I like his chances of finishing inside the Top 20.
Other Top 20 Props to Consider:
- Tommy Fleetwood – +200
- Abraham Ancer – +225
- Billy Horschel – +275
- Shane Lowry – +300
- Scottie Scheffler – +300
- Sergio Garcia – +325
- Kevin Na – +335
- Harris English – +335
- Kevin Streelman – +400
- Ryan Palmer – +450
- Erik Van Rooyen – +450
- Max Homa – +500
- Russell Henley – +500
- Brendan Steele – +550
- Cameron Tringale – +750
Patrick Reed Missed Cut – +215: The scary part of betting that Reed will miss the weekend is his massive ceiling, especially when the putter runs hot. But there’s just not a whole lot to like about his form right now. The ball striking has been mediocre at best, especially with his irons, and he’s having a lot of trouble finding fairways. He’s not a long hitter, and all those factors are a really bad combination for the setup of the golf course. He’ll probably have to go nuclear with his putting to get in contention, but if that doesn’t show up it’ll be a short appearance in San Francisco.
Phil Mickelson Missed Cut – +165: Phil was very impressive at TPC Southwind last week, but that was on a soft golf course without penal rough. Phil is on record for his dislike of narrow, thick roughed golf courses, and I don’t expect he’ll appreciate the changes that were made to TPC Harding Park for the PGA Championship. Phil also drew an unfavorable tee time on Thursday afternoon, which will put him behind the eight ball from the jump.
Other Missed Cut Props to Consider:
- Matt Kuchar – +160
- Sungjae Im – +150
- Louis Oosthuizen – +150
- Bubba Watson – +145
- Ian Poulter – +120
- Marc Leishman – +120
Cut Line Over 143.5 (+120): In relative to par terms, the target score for the cut is +3.5.
While I do think the golf course will play tougher thanks to the changes made to it, the more important factor to consider is how the wind will impact scoring. While the players going off Thursday morning will have relatively benign conditions, the fans get activated in the afternoon with gusts up to 25 MPH. The players then face winds between 10-15 MPH the following morning, which will ramp up to 15-20 MPH for Friday afternoon.
If the winds are as bad as they expect, that’ll kick out the marine layer over the golf course and dry it out. That’ll firm up the greens enough where it’ll not only toughen up scoring conditions, it’ll increase the dispersion of scores between guys playing well and guys struggling. Sure there will be players who handle it well, but there will also be a large group of players who struggle mightily over the course of two rounds. Firm, windy conditions do a much better job separating the wheat from the chaff than soft conditions do.
Before this prop was released my prediction was the cut line would be around +4, so I’ll stick to that call and take the plus odds at Over 143.5.
Winning Score Under 269.5 (+130): In relative to par terms, the target score for the winner is -10.5.
Recalling what was said in the analysis of the cut line prop, firm conditions create separation on the leaderboard between top players and the rest of the field. And while the golf course does have more teeth in it thanks to the changes, there inevitably be a group of players who break away from the pack and be able to handle the rigors thrown at them.
At the end of the day, the key to success at TPC Harding Park is execution. Everything is right out in front of the players, and besides for narrow fairways and thick rough there aren’t any other tricks to it. There are no water hazards to create car crash scores. There’s no fescue rough to create unplayable lies. There are no deep pot bunkers to prevent someone from getting up and down for par. And with how many talented ball strikers there are in this field, I have a hard time thinking no one will do better than -10 over the course of four rounds.
Firm conditions also prevent bunched up leaderboards, so I find it hard to square how both Under 143.5 Cut Line and Over 269.5 Winning Score are favorite. If anything, taking Over 143.5 cut and Under 269.5 winning score is a little bit of a hedge. If I’m wildly wrong and the golf course plays more like Olympic Club in 2012, then the cut line will be way over 143.5 and cash at plus odds. If the toughness of the golf course is overblown and players run all over it, then the winning score will be closer to -15 and cash at plus odds there.
Regardless, someone should put together four good rounds in a row to post a winning score lower than -10.