Professional golf's final major of the season gets underway this Thursday with the opening round of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI. One of the big storylines this week is the return of this tournament's defending champion, Rory McIlroy, who missed last month's Open Championship with an ankle injury.
Sportsbook.ag has opened McIlroy as a +1200 third-favorite to successfully defend his title, but picking an outright winner in a major can be a tall task. The real value can most times be found in the betting odds for a Top05 finish. While I am backing off McIlroy this week at +260 odds for a Top-5 finish, the following are a few of my best bets for this prop.
Jordan Spieth +120
When you have a 22-year-old phenom that has already won this year's Masters and US Open and is coming off a near-miss in the Open Championship by finishing fourth, it's a no-brainer to put him at the top of the list for a Top-5 finish in this week's event. Despite the disappointment of missing out on a playoff by one stroke in that fourth-place finish, Spieth's motivation to complete three quarters of a career Grand Slam in just one season has to be running high.
Current form is also solid with a 10th-place finish in last week's Bridgestone Invitational. Going back over his last six tournaments, he has now finished in the Top 10 in five of those events. Overall through 21 events this season, he has finished 10th or better 14 times.
Jason Day +217
Day is also having a season to remember with over $4 million in earnings so far that have him ranked fifth on the 2015 PGA Money List. Ever since he grinded out a 28th-place finish in this year's Masters, the 27-year old Australian has remained competitive in almost every tournament he has entered.
Day faded to ninth in the US Open with a final-round 74 while battling Vertigo throughout the week, but he bounced right back to tie Spieth for fourth in the Open Championship. He stayed hot by winning the Canadian Open at the end of July, and just this past week he placed 12th in the Bridgestone Invitational. Over the course of his career, he has posted nine Top-10 finishes in a major, and he is in excellent position for a much higher finish this week.
Rickie Fowler +475
Fowler has the reputation of being one of most overrated players on the PGA Tour, but much of that has to do with overexposure as opposed to actual talent. Through 17 events this season he has earned over $3.6 million while placing in the Top 10 six times. One of his best performances came in this year's Scottish Open where he posted four straight rounds of 68 or better to win by one stroke over Matt Kuchar and Raphael Jacquelin.
He started his run through this year's majors with a solid 12th-place finish in April's Masters. A first-round 81 led to a missed cut in the US Open, and his final-round 73 sunk him to 30th in the Open Championship. The reason I am high on Rickie this week is his current form, which led to a second-place finish in the Quicken Loans National and a 10th-place finish last week at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Louis Oosthuizen +850
I always like to stretch the odds a bit with one or two of my picks, and Oosthuizen fits the bill this week given his performance in the last two majors. The 32-year-old South African finished 19th in the Masters, but he brought his A Game to the US Open and finished second. Just this past month he put himself in position to win the Open Championship but he faltered in a four-hole playoff against Zach Johnson.
He has been hit or miss over the course of his 16 events this season. More recently he missed the cut in the Travelers Championship and finished 73 rd in the Greenbrier Classic in two events following the US Open. Last week, in his first effort since the near-miss at St. Andrews, he placed 42nd in the Bridgestone Invitational. Given this up-and-down ride, this pattern could point to another strong effort this week.
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