Without question, 100 times out of 100 if a sportsbook gives me odds for the field against one player to win a golf tournament, I'm taking the field. Won't even think twice. But then once in a blue moon the unthinkable happens, and that was the case last week as Rory McIlroy -- priced at +350 vs. the field at -500 -- dominated at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte for his second career win there (his first Tour win in 2010 was at Quail Hollow).
Interestingly, the event wasn't originally on his planned schedule this year, but he decided to add it last month. The result was never in doubt after McIlroy's third-round and course-record 61. He started Sunday with a four-shot lead and shot a final-round 69 for a seven-stroke win over Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson. McIlroy's 72-hole total of 21-under 267 broke Anthony Kim's tournament scoring record by five shots. McIlroy also set a tournament record by making 27 birdies and led the field in driving distance, averaging 321.1 yards off the tee.
McIlroy has won two of his last three starts on the PGA Tour and finished T11 or better in six straight starts. It was his 11th Tour title at age 26. That's already the most for any player born outside the USA by age 30. He has won five of his past 14 Tour starts overall dating to last July. When he wins it's usually in runaway fashion as he has taken his 10 stroke play titles (he won Match Play last month) on the Tour by an average of 3.7 shots.
Alas, I didn't pick McIlroy to win. I did take him for an "under" finishing position of 7.5 as well as -300 for a Top 10 and -300 head-to-head over Henrik Stenson. My guy to win was Phil Mickelson at a course he always fares well on and Lefty finished T4. That paid off on a highest-placed finisher prop of Mickelson at +250 over Adam Scott, J.B. Holmes, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas. Hit on Mickelson at -130 head-to-head over Scott and for a finishing position of under 19.5. I threw some long shot money at +6600 on Simpson to win on his home course. The main disappointment was Jim Furyk, who missed the cut at an event where he was the all-time earnings leader.
The two-event Texas Swing begins this week at Colonial in Fort Worth, but you won't see McIlroy or many top Europeans as they are playing the flagship event of the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship. No Tiger or Phil, either. Eight of the Top 35 in the world are set to play, led by the top two in the FedEx Cup points race, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker (McIlroy is third).
Last year, Adam Scott, then ranked No. 1 in the world, drained a 7-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to beat Jason Dufner. Both players went par-birdie on the first two holes of sudden death. It was Scott's first tournament as the No. 1, and he completed the Texas Slam, the first player to win all four annual tour stops in the Lone Star State (Fort Worth, Irving, Houston and San Antonio). No world No. 1 had ever won the Colonial. At one point, 10 golfers shared the top spot in the final round. Each of the past six Crowne Plaza Invitational winners have come from behind on the final day. Scott is back to defend and is just outside the Bovada favorites at +2800. He missed the cut last week. Only Ben Hogan has repeated here.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Crowne Plaza Invitational At Colonial Favorites
McIlroy has admitted he has raised his game partly because of Spieth's emergence, so let's see if Spieth can answer the world No. 1 this week. The Masters champion is the 5/1 favorite at Bovada. The Texas native still has yet to win a pro tournament in that state, although he was runner-up in San Antonio and Houston earlier this year. Spieth took last week off following a missed cut at the Players. He has had a Top-15 finish in both trips to Colonial.
Zach Johnson is 12/1 and almost always plays well anywhere in Texas but especially here. He's the all-time earnings leader at Colonial and won twice -- part of five straight Top 10s from 2009-13. He comes off a T13 at the Players.
Jimmy Walker (16/1), Ryan Palmer (20/1), and Chris Kirk and Paul Casey (both 25/1) round out the favorites. Walker won in San Antonio earlier this year and looks to become the first player with three victories this season. He was T10 here last year. Palmer is a member at Colonial and has three straight Top-15 finishes there, including a T5 last year. Kirk has three Top 20s in the past four years at Colonial. Casey is the rare European not overseas this week. He has two Top 15s at Colonial.
PGA Tour Picks: Crowne Plaza Invitational At Colonial Expert Betting Predictions
On finishing positions, go under 7.5 for Spieth and 14.5 for Johnson. "Over" 20.5 for Walker and 21.5 for Scott. I obviously like a Top 10 for Spieth (-225) as well as Johnson (+115) and Palmer (+250). Take John Senden at +350 as the top Aussie as he has three Top 10s at Colonial. Take Casey at +200 as the top European.
Head-to-head, go with Casey at -115 over Scott (-115), Kirk (-105) over Kevin Na (-125), Palmer (-140) over Kisner (+110), Senden (even) over Hunter Mahan (-130), Charley Hoffman (-110) over Ian Poulter (-120), and Johnson (-120) over Walker (-110).
I wish there was a Big 4 of Spieth, Johnson, Walker and Palmer against the field because I would take the Big 4. I'd like to take Palmer here, but he has struggled in his past three events this year. I'm going with Zach. My longer-shot choice is Boo Weekley at 66/1. He won here in 2013 and is playing pretty well this year.
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