I did have a European taking last week's big-money WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, it certainly wasn't Irishman Shane Lowry, who was the winner. The 28-year-old won his first PGA Tour event by finishing at 11-uner 269, two shots ahead of Bubba Watson. Lowry started Sunday's final round in the penultimate group and two strokes behind Jim Furyk and Justin Rose. Lowry tied Watson for the day's low round of 66, with Lowry's 4-under not including a single bogey. Lowry made it interesting on the 72nd hole when his tee shot went way left, but he hit a great shot through the trees and into within 11 feet of the hole.
It was the second professional win for Lowry as he took the Irish Open six years ago as a 22-year-old amateur. Lowry now has a three-year PGA Tour exemption and can choose to play full time on that Tour or stay in Europe. It looked like Furyk might win as he had a four-shot lead through 36 holes. But he missed 16 fairways over the weekend and finished tied for third at 7-under. It was his 10th Top 10 in 16 starts at Firestone. My guy to win was Spain's Sergio Garcia, but he was T37.
For a Top 10, I hit on Jordan Spieth at -225 and Rickie Fowler at +125 -- they actually tied each other for 10th. Missed on Sergio and Adam Scott (T45). I didn't like Zach Johnson at all last week off his British Open win, and he never broke 70. Head-to-head, I hit on Fowler at -110 over Jason Day (-120) and Spieth (-175) over Dustin Johnson (+135).
Now we move on to Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis., for the PGA Championship, the final major of the season and really the end of the golf betting year for those who aren't die-hard fans. Now football takes over. The PGA last visited this course in 2010. Surely you remember that. Dustin Johnson had a one-stroke lead teeing off on his 72nd hole. Whistling Straits has tons of bunkers, but many don't resemble a typical American bunker. It's like a links course. Johnson lost his tee shot wide right and found himself in one of those bunkers. He wasn't aware it was a sand trap, so he grounded his club, earning a two-stroke penalty that knocked him out of the playoff. Martin Kaymer beat Watson in that three-hole playoff. By the way, that bunker is now covered by a grandstand. But keep in mind that all sand on both sides of the ropes is considered a hazard this week.
The defending champion is Rory McIlroy, who won a thrilling PGA in near-darkness at Valhalla in Louisville last year. It's his first start in about six weeks off tearing a ligament in his ankle. He is paired with Spieth and Zach Johnson in the first two rounds. Of course, Spieth won the first two majors this year and nearly got into the British Open playoff with Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman. Spieth could again steal the No. 1 ranking this week with a win.
This week also will determine whether we might see Tiger Woods on Tour for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is way down at No. 186 in the points. Woods said he will determine whether or not he will play next week's final event before the playoffs on whether he can realistically get into the playoffs. So a good result this week should see Woods on the tee next Thursday at the Wyndham Championship.
The PGA usually has the strongest field of any tournament each year, and that's the case with 98 of the world's Top 100 set to play. If you can't keep the ball in the fairway this week, you aren't going to contend. That doesn't bode well for Tiger, who is hitting only 55 percent of fairways this year.
Golf Odds: PGA Championship Favorites
I get why Spieth is the favorite at Bovada, but +550 seems awfully low. It's not like he really knows this course, although he didn't really know St. Andrews, either. Spieth has finished outside the Top 10 in just one of his past seven tournaments since missing the cut at the Players Championship. He has missed the cut in his two PGA Championships. Spieth looks to join Tiger (2000) and Ben Hogan (1953) as the only players to win three majors in a season.
I totally disagree that McIlroy should be the second-favorite at +900. His ankle simply can't be 100 percent, and this is a hilly course. And his game will be rusty. He did tie for third at the 2010 PGA here.
The rest of the favorites are Dustin Johnson (+1200), Jason Day (+1400) and Watson (+1400). So the normal cast of characters. Watson hasn't played that well in this tournament since his runner-up five years ago. But he has been second in his past two PGA Tour events this year. Day is Mr. Top 10 in majors but can't quite cash in. He was T10 here five years ago. You know about Johnson.
Tiger, by the way, is +4000. Phil Mickelson is too. I have no reason to think they contend.
Golf Odds: PGA Championship Picks
Interesting stat: every major winner in 2015 and last year now holds multiple major titles. Obviously, Spieth only did when he won the first two this year, but maybe it's a trend.
For a Top 10, I'll take Spieth (-150), Day (+130), Watson (+150) and Hideki Matsuyama (+350). Head-to-head, go with Furyk (-150) over Zach Johnson (+115), Matsuyama (-130) over Garcia (even), Fowler (-115) over Scott (-115), Kaymer (-170) over Tiger (+130), but Woods (+120) over Mickelson (-155). I might even take Mickelson at +200 to miss the cut. I'll go with Tiger at -165 to make it.
Like Matsuyama at -110 as top Asian, Day at +110 as the top Aussie, Paul Casey at +2200 as top European and Padraig Harrington at +1100 as top Irishman. The site actually has a top lefty prop: Watson (-200) is easy call over Phil Mickelson (+200) and Brian Harman (+900). I believe a "rest of the world" is the winner at +350. And my pick is Matsuyama at +4000, in a playoff. A playoff finish is +275. Of course, the 2010 version here ended in one and so did the 2004 tournament at Whistling Straits.
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