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Handicapping the 2022 PGA Championship

A primer on betting the upcoming Major Championship

 

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The 104th PGA Championship is soon upon us, and the sport’s second major offers some players an opportunity to cement their legacies (Jordan Speith) or to add another chapter to their careers. Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma plays host to this year’s championship and has already seen some interesting news and speculation before this week. Of course, the biggest news was that of Tiger Woods attending the course for a practice round with the head pro, but a little more on that later.

If you like to bet on some sports action and golf in particular, here is a primer for this year’s PGA Championship with some of the players to consider. At the time of writing, according to Caesars Sportsbook, here are the top 10 favourites to win outright:

Coming off his win in Augusta last month, its no surprise that Scottie Scheffler remains the top favourite at 10/1 odds (+1000). Both Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy are close behind with oddsmakers labelling them as 12/1 (+1200) favourites. Collin Morikawa, a previous PGA Champion (2020) and the current Open Champion comes in at 14/1 (+1400) as does Justin Thomas, another winner of the PGA Championship (2017).

The next tier of players represents “positions” 6 thru 10 on the top-10 list. The recently married Dustin Johnson sits in the 6th position with odds of 16/1 (+1600). Viktor Hovland and Cameron Smith are both pegged at 18/1 or (+1800) favourites. Rounding out the top-10 favourites are Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka, both at 20/1 odds (+2000).

Remember that these were the odds at the time of writing (May 11, 2022) and may vary between now and May 19th.

Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelson

Reigning champion, Phil Mickelson has certainly involved himself in some controversy this season, most notably with his comments on Saudi Golf and LIV. He has attempted to lay low since then, not having played in the past month or so. He comes into the week listed at 80/1 (+8000) and is aiming to become the eighth golfer to win the tournament in consecutive years, following Tiger Woods who accomplished the feat twice (1999-2000 and again in 2006-07) and Brooks Koepka who won in 2018 and 2019.

Anytime Tiger tees it up, interest goes up even from non-golf fans. Despite being a 15-time major champion though, the odds of Tiger Woods' winning the 2022 PGA Championship sit at 65/1 (+6500) – better than Mickelson’s odds, but firmly outside of the favourites.

And while Tiger will be the sentimental favourite amongst many, his performance at the Masters last month (finishing 47th), coupled with his lack of competitive golf since, means that he is probably pegged correctly at 65/1. That doesn’t mean that he is not worth considering for a wager as a Tiger win could pay off handsomely, but aside from a gutsy round at Augusta, he really has not been able to demonstrate the high level of play that he has been associated with. And that does not bode well for the average punter.

Sportsline has developed a proprietary model for analyzing sporting contests and probable outcomes. Created by DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) expert Mike McClure, the model has become increasingly influential. For the 2022 PGA Championship, their model produced a significant surprise outcome. A 20-time PGA Tour winner and one of the favourites, Rory McIlroy comes into Southern Hills a little under the radar, despite his ranking as No.7 in the world and a second-place finish at the Masters.

Since joining the PGA Tour, McIlroy has never played Southern Hills as the venue has never hosted a tournament either on the PGA Tour schedule or as a Major Championship. The last time it featured on the calendar was in 2007 with the PGA Championship won by Tiger Woods. While Southern Hills has increased the course length to 7,556 yards, up from the 7,131 yards in the 2007 McIlroy has averaged 319.8 yards in PGA events this season and that distance off the tee should help him with shorter approach shots – and that is a good thing.

While McIlroy has driven the ball well, his approach has been a disaster, with an average of .052 Strokes Gained on approaches this season, placing him 95th among eligible players in the field. The model predicts that Rory won't be lifting the Wanamaker Trophy in 2022. It will be interesting to see how accurate the model is come Sunday May 22nd.

Value Players


Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland, at 18/1 (Caesar’s Sportsbook) or at 20/1 (DraftKings), is a good value prospect and could put together a good run for the win. Anyone searching for a nice payoff should look closely at him. Hovland has swiftly established himself on the PGA Tour, having won three tournaments in his short career. The 24-year-old won the World Wide Technology Championship in Mayakoba earlier this season and was also the overall winner of the Hero World Challenge.

This year, Hovland has also finished in the top 10 in the Players Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, both of which had exceptionally competitive fields. Hovland has achieved these results primarily due to his near flawless iron play. He ranks third in Strokes Gained in approaches (+1.019), fourth in birdie average (4.92), and twentieth in Greens in Regulation percentage (70.03%). Given that his game lends itself well to the challenge of a major, the Sportsline model considers Hovland a top pick for punters at the 2022 PGA Championship,


Cameron Smith

Another value player at 18/1, Cameron Smith poses the possibility of a good run for the win and is worth considering if you are searching for a rewarding payoff. Last month, Smith was in position to win the Masters, but finished 3rd after stumbling in the final round.

He finished April with a 21st-place finish in the Zurich Classic's better-ball division, perhaps still stinging from the missed cut at the RBC Heritage. However, with two wins and the second best Strokes Gained per round this season at +1.892, Smith is still playing some of the finest golf of his career.

Smith will be driven to improve on his 59th-place finish at last season's PGA Championship, and doing so will help him relegate the disappointing Master's finish to the rubbish bin.

PGA Long Shots

Apart from the favored odds for the 2022 PGA Championship, these long-shot players are making a solid case for the title. They are referred to as "long shots" not as a direct comment on their game, but rather on the odds attributed to them.

Will Zalatoris — 33/1 (+3300)

Coming off of some solid play at the Masters last month, finishing with a share of sixth, Zalatoris represents some good value as the oddsmakers have him pegged at 33/1 — odds that truly undervalue his play.

In addition to last month’s finish in Augusta, Will Zalatoris has a good record in majors — a second at the 2021 Masters, a share of 8th at last year’s PGA Championship, and a share of 6th at the 2021 US Open. While he has taken much of the past month off, he is teeing it up in Texas at the AT&T Byron Nelson so there shouldn’t be any “rust” when he arrives at Southern Hills.

Max Homa — 100/1 (+10,000)

Coming off of a victory at the Wells Fargo event, Max Homa is another player whose form does not warrant such an undervaluation. With 4 – PGA tour wins to his name, including 2 – wins this season, Homa is flying under the radar.

Part of it is owing to his poor record in major championships, but there is a lot more to Homa’s game, especially this season. Homa sits 13th on the PGA Tour in Overall Strokes Gained, averaging +1.43 SG over the field. This is supported in part by his birdie average where he is averaging 4.20 birdies per round, good enough for a share of 28th overall on tour. If you can, it is worth considering Homa for a Top-10 or perhaps a Top-20 finish as his undervalued odds will pay out handsomely.

PGA Prop Bets

With a tournament of this magnitude, sportsbooks provide a wide variety of available wagers, including several tournament prop bets.

So, if you're interested in betting on some of the PGA Championship props, here's a rundown of the betting principles and the more popular prop bets.

Alternative wagers to the more typical head-to-head matches or ordinary PGA Championship odds include prop bets. These prop bets can cover both general tournament outcomes and player-specific prop bets.

Finishing Position or 5/10/20 Betting

This is where one would bet on an individual player that they will finish in a certain position – usually within the Top-5, Top-10, or Top-20. If you picked a player at +100 to finish within the Top 5 and the player finishes within the Top 5, then the payout on a $100 wager is $200 ($100 wager plus the $100 payout). This is where undervalued players like those reviewed could make some handsome payouts.

Is there going to be a playoff?

Another Yes/No option is the playoff prop, which allows you to wager if the PGA Championship will be determined in a playoff.

Is there going to be a hole-in-one?

The PGA Championship hole-in-one wager is straightforward. Is there a chance someone will make a hole-in-one during the round or tournament?

Wire-to-Wire Champion

It's another Yes or No bet winner prop, which allows you to wager on whether one player will lead the PGA Championship at Southern Hills from start to finish.

Nationality

The PGA Championship is a worldwide tournament, with the top players worldwide competing at Southern Hills. Nationality props join players from various nations and regions together and enable you to wager on who will finish first in that group, for as the top American or European golfer.

Projected Leaderboard

For reference, here is the Projected Leaderboard from Sportsline

(as of May 11, 2022)

POS

Player

1

Jon Rahm

2

Justin Thomas

3

Scottie Scheffler

4

Rory McIlroy

5

Collin Morikawa

6

Viktor Hovland

7

Dustin Johnson

8

Patrick Cantlay

9

Will Zalatoris

10

Cameron Smith

Caesar's Sportsbook (Top - 10 Favourites — as of May 11, 2022)

Note: We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. It is intended to be explanatory and/or for educational purposes. It is not to be construed as providing the reader with advice. If you intend to gamble or wager on Golf or any other sport please make sure that you do so in accordance with the laws governing your state, province or country.

 

HELP

If you decide to wager or bet on golf, we strongly encourage you to do so responsibly. If you realize that gambling has or may become a problem for you, please call a Gambling Helpline near you.


United States: 1.800.522.4700 – National Problem Gambling Helpline

United Kingdom: 0808 8020 133 – National Gambling Helpline

Canada:

Alberta 1.866.332.2322

B.C. 1.888.795.6111

Ontario 1.888.230.3505

Quebec 1.800.461.0140


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