2017 PGA Championship Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
You know, I was probably leaning toward picking Japan's Hideki Matsuyama to take his first career major title this week at the PGA Championship, but I'm off his bandwagon now because it's so incredibly rare to win the week before a major and then take said major.
Matsuyama shot the round of his career Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club, a 9-under course-record-tying 61 to stroll to a five-shot victory over Zach Johnson. Matsuyama, who began the final round two shots behind Johnson and Thomas Pieters, finished at 15-under 265. Matsuyama was well aware what the course record was because he was in the same group when Tiger Woods shot 61 in the second round in 2013. Matsuyama's last birdie broke by one shot the lowest final round by a winner at Firestone. Fulton Allem shot 62 when he won the World Series of Golf there in 1993.
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Matsuyama now leads the FedEx Cup points with three wins and three runners-up this year. He could skip the first three events of the upcoming playoffs and still make the Tour Championship. He's also a lock for the International Team in the Presidents Cup. I liked England's Justin Rose to win last week, but he was a disappointing 63. I also hedged on Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy at +220 vs. the field. McIlroy finished the best of those three at T5.
So now it's on to the final major already of the golf season and, realistically, the last time casual bettors are going to care about this sport until next spring (partly why the PGA Championship is reportedly being moved to May in 2019). The PGA Championship, like the U.S. Open and British Open, moves around every year (and usually has the best field of any event). This time it's being held at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, a par 71 measuring 7,600 yards.
Quail Hollow has hosted the Wells Fargo Championship (or any of its former names) since 2003 but didn't this year because preparations were being made. Needless to say, I'm going to consider how guys fared annually in the Wells Fargo in picking a winner here, but also be aware the course has undergone major renovations since the 2016 event. A type of grass called Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass has been installed on the greens. Thousands of trees were either removed or shifted. And there are four new holes. Nos. 1-2 were merged to make a new No. 1. A new second hole, a par 3, was built. No. 5 was changed to a par 4 and No. 11 was given more bunkers and the green pushed back. I'm sure this will play tougher than the Wells Fargo usually does.
The defending champion of the PGA Championshipis Jimmy Walker. Because of weather delays, Walker played 36 holes on Sunday and shot 68-67 to finish at 14-under 266, one ahead of defending champion Jason Day and shot from David Toms' record score in the 2001 PGA Championship.Walker played the final 28 holes without a bogey. The last guy to repeat at the PGA Championship was Tiger in 2007.
Golf Odds: PGA Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the +700 favorite. He won the PGA Championship in both 2012 & '14 and won the Wells Fargo in 2010 & '15. Overall, he six Top 10s in his seven trips on the PGA Tour to Quail Hollow.
Spieth is +850 to join Tiger, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only guys to win a career Grand Slam. Of course Spieth won that memorable back-nine duel at the British Open in July vs. Matt Kuchar. Spieth only played the Wells Fargo once and didn't contend. He was second in the 2015 PGA and 13th last week.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is +1100, with Matsuyama +1200 and Rickie Fowler +1600. Those latter two are looking for their first majors. Johnson was a machine earlier this season before he fell at his Masters rental house and hasn't been the same since. Fowler was third in the 2014 PGA and has a win at Quail Hollow.
Golf Odds: PGA Championship Picks
For a Top 10, I like McIlroy (-175), Spieth (-150) and Phil Mickelson (+500), who has a good track record at Quail Hollow. McIlroy (-500) as top Irishman, Paul Casey (+450) as top Englishman, Sergio Garcia (+160) as top Spaniard and Spieth as top American (+500). You can also bet a bunch of big names to make or miss the cut.
Go McIlroy (-140) over Johnson (+110), Spieth (-130) over Matsuyama (even), Kevin Chappell (-120) over Charl Schwartzel (-110), Adam Scott (-110) over Rose (-120), and Thomas Pieters (-110) over Justin Thomas.
Of the 14 Wells Fargo Championships contested at Quail Hollow, major champions account for seven of the victories. I do like a playoff this year at +300. That last happened in 2011. McIlroy is my guy. He has a great history in this tournament and at this course. Might as well take him at +350 with Spieth vs. the field (-550). If you are looking at a longer-shot guy, take Zach Johnson at +6600. He also knows Quail Hollow well and is really playing strong golf at the moment.
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