It feels like the golf season has flown by. With the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open now in the rearview mirror, all eyes will now be focused on the season’s fourth and final major, the PGA Championship. The world’s best golfers will descend upon a suburb near St. Louis at Bellerive Country Club from August 9-12 in the 100th edition of the PGA Championship.
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You know the contenders. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler will enter the tournament as betting favorites. Tiger Woods will also garner plenty of betting interest as he always does. While most will tune in to see the best talent, the big names haven’t been all that successful in majors so far this year. Patrick Reed won the Masters, Brooks Koepka claimed the U.S. Open title and Francesco Molinari lifted the Claret Jug in the 3 previous major tournaments this season. So, the PGA Championship figures to be fairly wide open.
Who are some long shots worth watching as the tournament gets set to begin?
Luke List +30000
The 33-year-old Seattle product has been a touring pro since 2007, but he has yet to notch his first win on the PGA Tour. His lone victory as a pro came on the Web.com Tour, and his 22nd-place finish back in 2015 secured him a place on the PGA Tour for the first time ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. List has played in all 4 majors to this point, with his best-ever finish coming as an amateur when he finished tied for 33rd at the Masters back in 2005. He has missed the cut in all 4 U.S. Open appearances, but he did finish 39th at the Open Championship last month. List missed the cut in his lone PGA Championship appearance at Quail Hollow last year.
He has been in decent form this season despite not having picked up a win yet. He has finished in the top-10 on 5 different occasions, and he nearly won the Honda Classic. Unfortunately, List would go on to lose in a playoff at the hands of Justin Thomas. List also has 10 top-25 finishes already this season. A 69 in his final round at Carnoustie was his most impressive round in a major to date.
List is one of the longer hitters off the tee (315.1 yards per drive, fifth on the tour this season), and if he can get his putting game in order he has a game perfectly suited to fare well at Bellerive. There is obviously insane profit potential on List here at +30000, so I do think he’s worth a look with a flier bet. If the putts are falling, he’s a real out-of-nowhere threat.
Adam Scott +8500
Adam Scott was once ranked as one of the best golfers in the world, but the Aussie has fallen on hard times of late. In fact, he hasn’t won a single PGA event since back-to-back wins at the Honda Classic and Bay Hill in the early stages of the 2016 campaign. The 38-year-old finished tied for third at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, which is his best result in this event to date. So far this season, the 2013 Masters champ’s best finish at any event was a tie for ninth place at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas a couple of months ago. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open and finished 32nd at the Masters, but a 17th-place finish at the Open Championship last month was a step in the right direction.
Scott has been largely betrayed by a shoddy performance on the greens, but he has looked a little bit more like himself in that regard since switching back to his long putter. The long game is still there. Scott is another that can still strike it well off the tee and generate plenty of distance. Bellerive is a course that tends to favor those that can make up some ground off the tee, and Scott certainly fits the bill.
As is the case with Luke List, Scott’s chances at making a run this weekend lie with his putting game. Scott is just 195th on the Tour this season in terms of strokes gained on the greens, which is disastrous. To compare, he’s seventh in strokes gained tee-to-green. So, he’s not having much issue getting the ball to the green. The issue is what he does once he’s there. His improved showing at Carnoustie has me believing he should be able to enjoy a decent run to close out the season. You won’t find many former major winners with odds as profitable as +8500, so I like the sleeper potential with Scott here.
Danny Willett +75000
You may remember Danny Willett from the time he randomly won the Masters in 2016. That remains the England native’s lone PGA Tour victory, which is fairly amazing. I guess if you’re only going to win one PGA event, you may as well make it the Masters.
With his form in the dirt, Willett opted to seek counsel from renowned coach Sean Foley. So far, it seems to have helped Willett get back on track a bit. He still hasn’t yet added another win to his ledger, but he finished 24th or better in 4 of 6 tournaments heading into the British Open. A tie for eighth at the Italian Open and a tie for sixth at the Irish Open were encouraging signs. Willett then finished tied for 24th at Carnoustie, so things are trending in the right direction for him.
This is a guy that was ranked in the top-10 in the world not all that long ago, so we know he isn’t some flash in the pan. The talent is evident, it has just been a struggle for him to put everything together on a consistent basis. He’s an incredible long shot here, but Willett is still worth a mention, especially at +75000.
Webb Simpson +6000
Another former major winner, Webb Simpson, checks in at +6000 here to win the PGA. The North Carolina native enjoyed his best showing at this tournament a couple of years ago when he finished tied for 16th. The 2012 U.S. Open champ is currently the No. 21 player in the world, so it’s not like he’ll be sneaking up on anybody. Still, when a guy is listed way down at +6000 to win it’s also fair to say he’s not exactly a frontrunner here.
Simpson struggled mightily following his 2016 major win, falling all the way to 90th in the world at the end of that season. He has rebounded strongly since then, culminating with a victory at the Players Championship a few months back. Simpson finished tied for 20th at the Masters and followed that up with 10th- and 12th-place efforts at the U.S. and British Opens, respectively.
Unlike a few of the other sleepers on this list, Simpson’s putting has actually been one of his strengths on the campaign. He will enter the PGA ranking seventh on the tour in strokes gained on the putting green. For Simpson, it’s just a matter of hitting fairways and avoiding bunkers and rough on his way toward the hole. If he can stay consistent with the driver, there’s a pretty clear path to success for Webb at Bellerive. At +6000, you could certainly do worse than Webb Simpson as a punt bet.
Jason Day +2100
Okay, so Jason Day is a pretty household name and he has pretty decent odds to win this thing. Calling him a sleeper is pretty clearly a stretch, but I’m going to roll with it. The Australia native’s lone major title came at the PGA Championship in 2015 when he won at Whistling Straits. Day has also finished in the top-10 5 times in his 8 starts in this event, so his history here is pretty solid.
Day was a disaster at the U.S. Open, but he has otherwise enjoyed a strong season that includes a pair of wins (Wells Fargo Championship, Farmers Insurance Open). He also fared well at AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, where he finished tied for second. Day rebounded from missing the cut at the U.S. Open by finishing 12th at the Travelers Championship and 17th at the British Open.
Day is in the top-10 on the tour in birdies and scoring average so far this year, so he has been steadily among the contenders on a weekly basis. Given his strong track record at the PGA and the fact that he is one of the steadier players on the tour with this driver, it’s once again looking like a tournament in which he should fare pretty well. He’s not a sleeper, but the profit potential at +2100 is still fair enough to where I think he’s a worthwhile betting option.
My favorite value bets at the 2018 PGA Championship are as follows:
- Jason Day +2100
- Adam Scott +8500
- Danny Willett +75000
- Webb Simpson +6000
- Luke List +30000