It’s a major championship week in golf, so that means it’s a two-story preview week for the 94th PGA Championship, held for the first time at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina. Let’s take a look at some of the hundreds of prop options at Bovada for the final major of the 2012 season.
First off, there is a “yes-only” prop on whether there will be a wire-to-wire winner. That’s incredibly hard to do in any tournament – although Jim Furyk nearly did so last week at the Bridgestone – but nearly impossible in a major championship. There have been only four wire-to-wire winners in PGA Championship history: Bobby Nichols in 1964, Raymond Floyd in 1969, Floyd again in 1982, Hal Sutton in 1983 and Tiger Woods in 2000. Thus even though this prop pays out nicely at +1600, I can’t recommend it.
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How about the winning margin this week? The first three majors of 2012 have gone right down to the wire, with Bubba Watson winning the Masters in a playoff, Webb Simpson winning the U.S. Open by a shot and Ernie Els winning the British Open by the same amount. The last two PGA Championships, won by Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer, respectively, have gone to a playoff. A playoff at this tournament is a three-hole aggregate-score playoff on holes No. 16, 17 and 18. If a tie still remains, there will be a hole-by-hole playoff beginning on hole No. 18, and, if necessary, on to holes No. 10, 17, and 18 repeated until a winner is determined.
Surprisingly, a playoff is the +250 favorite to be the winning margin followed by one shot at +275. The longest shot at +450 is a winning margin of three strokes, which is what Y.E. Yang beat Tiger Woods by in 2009. I love one stroke. That there is no playoff pays out at -350, by the way.
I always tackle the hole-in-one prop at a major and I always recommend it – this week is no different. “Yes” there will be one is at +150 with “no” at -200. The favored hole for the first hole-in-one is No. 5 at +550, no doubt because that’s the shortest hole on the course. But it also has a vicious hourglass-shaped green that will send balls running away from the hole diagonally from the right. I like the 198-yard eighth hole at +800. There are no bunkers or water surrounding the hole, just an elevated green. Players should be able to attack when it’s a front pin location.
An American – Bradley – has won just one of the past four PGA Championships. Prior to that, a U.S. player had won 10 of the previous 12, including four by Tiger. An American is a -150 favorite, but I love a European here at +188 because the seaside course will play a lot like a British Open layout, at least in terms of wind.
There are some interesting head-to-head props. You can get Tiger on three of them: -150 vs. Luke Donald (+115), -165 vs. Rory McIlroy (+125) and -175 vs. Lee Westwood (+135). Needless to say, past PGA Championships won’t be much of a barometer to go on because they haven’t been played at this course. But after a runner-up in ’09, Tiger was T28 a year later and missed the cut in 2011. Both Donald, who is trying to hold off Tiger and keep the No. 1 ranking, and Westwood were T8 last year. McIlroy had back-to-back T3s at this tournament before a T64 last year in Atlanta. I would take Donald and Westwood vs. Tiger but Woods vs. McIlroy, whose game has been off despite a strong outing last week at the WGC-Bridgestone. Also, take Donald at -120 vs. McIlroy (-110) and Westwood at +110 vs. McIlroy (-140).
Another player who has been struggling is Phil Mickelson, the new minority owner of the San Diego Padres (once officially approved by MLB). Do you realize that since the Masters Lefty has just one finish better than T25 on the PGA Tour? And he has missed two cuts. Mickelson has just one Top-10 finish at the PGA in his past six tries. Thus, I would take Mickelson at no, even at a price of -500, to finish in the Top 10 this week. And on the Mickelson vs. Steve Stricker head-to-head, with both at -115, I would go Stricker. He was runner-up last week and hasn’t finished outside the Top 25 in his past five tournaments. I would also take Stricker at +350 to finish inside the Top 10, although he has only done so twice in 14 PGA Championships. Stricker is also good value at 18/1 to finish as the top American.
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