PGA Championship betting: The derivative markets
Even if the defending champion had come out of hiding this week, we were almost guaranteed a new winner at the PGA Championship. However, the pre-tournament buzz on the grounds of Southern Hills comes - just like it did at the Masters - from 2007 champion Tiger Woods.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma, track has undergone significant renovations in the 15 years since it last hosted a TOUR event, meaning that familiarity won't be a key part of the event's handicap. While we could back Woods to make the cut at the Masters on guts and guile, he's better left alone in betting markets this week.
We've already laid out who to back and fade on the oddsboard, so let's take a peek at the specific markets to peruse at the PGA Championship.
Cameron Young (-136) vs. Abraham Ancer
Young's T2 and T3 in his last two events show his game is where it needs to be. Meanwhile, Ancer is 122nd in strokes gained: approach and 206th in strokes gained: around the green. Those shortcomings in stats that should be important this week make him worth a fade.
Tommy Fleetwood (-116) vs. Seamus Power
Fleetwood, 15th on the TOUR in strokes gained: around the green, has the short game to have a good week in Tulsa. The Englishman had a quiet stretch of good results before failing to go super low at Byron Nelson - something that won't be required here.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-123) vs. Bernd Wiesberger
Seventh in scrambling percentage on TOUR this season, Bezuidenhout has a very good chance of making the cut for the seventh straight event. Meanwhile, Wiesberger spent most of the season on the European Tour and struggled in his major forays to the U.S. recently.
Anirban Lahiri (-104) vs. Branden Grace
Grace is getting credit for good major results in his past, but right now Lahiri is the better golfer, with four top-20s in his last five stroke-play events. Grace missed the cut in six of his last 11 events.
Hideki Matsuyama (-132) vs. Dustin Johnson
Jordan Spieth (+115) vs. Patrick Cantlay
Spieth's odds to win have gotten a little out of hand at +1800, which puts him ahead of Cantlay - so why are we getting him at a plus price in this matchup? Spieth's recent ball-striking and all-world short game will put him in contention, so the underdog price against Cantlay - who's largely struggled in majors - is worth a bet.
Collin Morikawa (+107) vs. Patrick Cantlay
It's a double-fade of Cantlay - not because he's not capable, but because of the company he keeps on the matchup oddsboard. Despite similar games, Morikawa's already more proven to come through over four rounds on a tough major championship course.
Talor Gooch (-133) vs. Matt Kuchar
While Kuchar is noted for his short game, Gooch is seventh in strokes gained: around-the-green this season. The only player in the field born and raised in Oklahoma, Gooch has had this event circled on his calendar and could be a suprise contender this week. Luckily they're not grouped together so the post-putt chants of their name won't be confusing.
Rory McIlroy (-127) vs. Viktor Hovland
We're fading Hovland given how much his lack of touch around the greens will be tested. McIlroy has found some form and - while a win is maybe too much to ask for - a decent price in this matchup is good enough.
The odds in the top-20 market are based on the probability in the outright winner market, but those might not correlate for many players. Some are just more likely to play well enough for a good week without rising to the top. Here are my favorite bets - long and short - to quietly have a nice week.
Those atop the Round 1 leaderboard in PGA TOUR and Champions Tour majors at Southern Hills have a long history of finishing with close to a wire-to-wire victory. With the exception of Woods in 2007, the winner often starts well.
Brooks Koepka (+4500)
If Koepka is going to maintain his usual dominance at majors, we tend to know it early on. At +3500 to win, I'd rather bet on Brooks to start strong after withdrawing from the Byron Nelson last week to get ready for Southern Hills.
Daniel Berger (+5500)
I'm high on Berger this week, given the Venn diagram intersection of top-10 rankings in scrambling percentage and strokes gained: approach. He's yet to seal the deal at a major championship but has been in the mix early. I also like that he's in the top 10 of first-round scoring average on TOUR.
Corey Conners (+6600)
Conners' best successes in majors have come at the Masters, but the Canadian was in the mix early last year at the PGA Championship. While Kiawah Island was a different venue, Southern Hills plays more like Augusta, with wide fairways and tough greens. His putting likely won't hold up, but we're looking for lightning in a bottle for a first-round leader bet.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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