Five Reasons Rory McIlroy Won’t Win the PGA Championship

by Chris Scheeren
on August 8, 2017

The PGA Championship tees off on Thursday from Quail Hollow and Rory McIlroy is the Vegas favorite to win the PGA (according to CBS Sports) for the third time and to capture his fifth Major Championship overall. Quail Hollow is an ideal home for Rory, who has already won two tournaments there as well as taking Jason Day to a playoff and some other Top Ten finish. He is coming off a nice weekend of golf at the Bridgestone and looks to be a worthy favorite.

The final tune up for the fourth and final Major of the season wrapped up yesterday in thrilling fashion, with Japanese sensation Hideki Matsuyama carding an insane course-record NINE UNDER to win the Bridgestone Open going away. He finished -16 for the tournament while the next closest players (our two underdog sleepers, by the way, and some awesome fantasy golf additions) Zach Johnson and Charlie Hoffman were next closest at -11 and -10 respectively.

Of the low-odds – top of the Tour guys, only Rorie McIlroy finished in the Top Ten with a tied for a fifth-place finish at -7 for the tournament. It was a disappointing week for guys like Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, but both will look to rebound – and still have the full confidence of Vegas – in this week’s PGA Championship.

Rory might be tabbed as the guy to beat (even Jordan Spieth said as much when interviewed after the Bridgestone Invitational), but it’s far from a given that McIlroy will even be in the final few pairings on Sunday. It’s a crowded odds board with some other really worthy considerations and some fantastic VALUES.

Here’s a look at the current PGA Championship odds, courtesy of Bovada.lv

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP OUTRIGHT ODDS:

  • Rory McIlroy +700
  • Jordan Spieth +850
  • Dustin Johnson +1100
  • Hideki Matsuyama +1200
  • Ricky Fowler +1600
  • John Rahm +2200
  • Brooks Koepka +2500
  • Jason Day +2800
  • Justin Rose +3300
  • Justin Thomas +4000
  • Adam Scott +4000
  • Henrik Stenson  +4000
  • Sergio Garcia +4500
  • Charlie Hoffman +5000
  • Matt Kuchar +5500
  • Phil Mickelson  +5500
  • Zack Johnson +6600
  • Bubba Watson +7500

As you can see, it’s a crowded field full of past Major winners and loaded with some potential value. But as always, when picking a value play for an outright winner, or loading up a Fantasy Golf card, we want to consider the track and playing styles as much as just the golfer himself. The easy pick this week is Rory. He has fared well on this course (to say the least), he is the most effortless and aesthetically-pleasing golfer when he is on his game, and he is coming off a better tournament than most of his prime contenders. The reason to go elsewhere isn’t anything Rory ISN’T doing well, but simply math. At six or seven to one, in a field as crowded as this one, there is value to be had elsewhere. This isn’t a “Tiger vs. The Field” situation by a long shot. And for those of you who are Fantasy Golf folks, there is some value in grabbing a few other guys near the top of the board while half your competition plays it close to the vest and nabs McIlroy.

Rory might be the favorite, but here are five people who could be the reason why he WON’T win his third PGA Championship.

#1. Ricky Fowler +1600

Is this the week Ricky Fowler finally captures his long-awaited first Major Championship? He battled back hard at the Bridgestone this weekend to card a 67-66 after a tough first two days. He is tied for the Tour lead in Top Ten finished this season with 8 (also tied are Spieth and Justin Thomas) and has been solid all around. His Major resume is a little checkered, but I don’t know if that is reason to run and hide. People said the same thing of Jason Day until he won in 2015 at Whistling Straights with a spectacular -20. Perhaps this could be Ricky Fowler’s week as well… He has won at Quail Hollow in the past and has been right there on Sunday of a Major already this season.

#2. Dustin Johnson +1100

dustin-johnsonBombing off the tee is valued greatly at Quail Hollow, so why not put a few bucks on the Tour Leader in driving distance, as well as the guy ranked #1 in the World? Dustin Johnson, in addition to leading the Tour in distance off the tee, also ranks first in Tee-to-Green (PGA Tour.com – stats) at 1.862 and leading the Tour in SG: Total (basically a measure of how much better a player is than the field in the same event) at a whopping 2.191 strokes.

If I can get the #1 ranked player at almost double the payout of the favorite, there is some definite value to be had, especially given the length of Quail Hollow and Johnson’s raw power and distance off the tee.

#3. Hideki Matsuyama +1600

Hideki-MatsuyamaHideki is getting pretty hard to ignore, especially after yesterday’s scintillating 61 in the final round at the Bridgestone to storm to a runaway five-stroke victory. He now leads the Fed Ex Cup Standings and is third in the PGA Tour in scoring average. He has won four times this season on tour and was the runner up at Erin Hills in the 2017 US Open. He has been right on the cusp of a breakthrough, and his confidence should be soaring sky-high heading into the final Major of the season.

#4. Jordan Spieth +850

jordan-spiethRemember when Rory was the young up-and-coming next Big Thing?? That lasted right up to the moment the 20-year old Spieth captured the World’s fancy with his break through at the Masters. The hottest player on Earth hasn’t slowed down since. He may not be as long as Rory off the tee, but he can bomb and he is accurate. His final five holes at The Open was one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen in golf; Tiger prime included, and there’s no reason he couldn’t grab his fourth Major this weekend. He finished runner-up back in 2015 – back when he still seemed to get a little rattled in the moment. Can we all just agree that is now in the rear-view mirror after The Open?

#5. This Field is LOADED

Remember, if you are betting Rory, you are only getting 7/1 against 143 other talented golfers. We haven’t even talked about lesser-known players who have been dialed in, like Zach Johnson and Charlie Hoffman. Or bombers like John Rahm and US Open Champion, Brooks Koepka. What about Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia or hot players like Jason Dufner and Paul Casey? This field is so deep, so talented, and so good, it is hard to find value in any slim number. Could Rory do it? Sure, he has the history on the course and the game to prevail. But there are a lot of reasons to stay away.

Here are a few guys I like for a Fantasy Golf Card:

  • Jordan Spieth
  • Charlie Hoffman – dude just finished in Top Ten after Top Ten
  • Zach Johnson – GREAT value
  • Brooks Koepka – Game well suited for Quail Hollow
  • John Rahm – The bomber could come up big

Sleepers:

  • Daniel Berger
  • Louis Oosthuizen
The PGA Championship will be covered in near entirety on TNT (great for us fans who don’t have The Golf Channel!!) with the final round airing on CBS on Sunday from 2pm-7pm EST.
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