PGA Picks: Tour Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
For a while back in March and April, it did not seem like we would see golf again this year, let alone the Tour Championship. Once we got going in June, despite no fans, it was a fun season and we could do golf betting.
This week, we have only 30 players for the Tour Championship, those with the most FedEx Cup points. Dustin Johnson is the leader in points, ahead of last week’s winner Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.
The Tour Championship added a different element to the last event of the year – Starting Strokes – which essentially matches the FedEx Cup points. How this works is whatever the player’s tournament score is over four days, plus their assigned Starting Strokes, the person with the lowest complete score is the winner. Here is how every golfer will start.
-10 Dustin Johnson
-8 Jon Rahm
-7 Justin Thomas
-6 Webb Simpson
-5 Collin Morikawa
-4 Daniel Berger, Harris English, Bryson DeChambeau, Sungjae Im and Hideki Matsuyama
-3 Brendon Todd, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele and Sebastian Muno
-2 Lanto Griffin, Scottie Scheffler, Joaquin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton and Tony Finau
-1 Kevin Kisner, Abraham Ancer, Ryan Palmer, Kevin Na and Marc Leishman
Even - Cameron Smith, Viktor Hovland, Mac Hughes, Cameron Champ and Billy Horschel
Besides being Tour champion for a particular season, there are extremely good financial reasons for making the Top 30. The winner receives a cool $15 million, second-place $5 million, third-place $4 million and even the 8th-place finisher picks up $1.1 million. This all can keep your game sharp for the U.S. Open in two weeks.
The East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta has been the permanent location of the Tour Championship since 2004.
The course will play to 7,319 yards with a par of 70. The fairways are cut narrow, placing a premium on hitting the ball straight off the tee. This is important every week on the PGA Tour, but especially so at East Lake. Because the fairways are zoysiagrass, the ball sits up higher and is reminiscent of hitting an iron out of the tee box. That is why 80 percent of the field annually hits the ball on the green if it’s hitting out of the fairway.
However, that number is for those that hit in the fairway with drives, and the actual number is close to 50% overall, because of the rough, trees and water, that all come into play. One could make comparisons to Olympia Fields, yet East Lake is not that hard, and since 2012, the winning score has been between -9 to -13. (Note: McIlroy’s winning score of -18 included starting at -5 with his Starting Strokes)
A Look at the Field
Here are the Top 10 golf odds to win the Tour Championship.
Dustin Johnson +200 - Jon Rahm +300 - Justin Thomas +600 - Webb Simpson +1200
Collin Morikawa +2000 - Rory McIlroy +2000 - Bryson DeChambeau +2200
Xander Schauffele +2500 - Daniel Berger +2800 - Hideki Matsuyama +2800
If you like D.J. to hold his position, it is probably best he lost on Rahm’s miracle putt and here is why. It is hard enough to win once on the PGA Tour. Winning two straight is a rare occurrence and three in a row has happened five times this century. (Johnson is the last to do it 2017) Add in three consecutive weeks against the best 125 or fewer golfers on the planet, and that’s an arduous chore.
With Johnson just missing and what's at stake for him, the loss could work to his advantage since he’s the top seed.
Rahm and Thomas are nicely spotted. Rahm winning in dramatic fashion will have those making golf picks pay attention. Thomas seems less sure, because since winning the St. Jude’s, he T-37, T-49 and T25, hardly stellar performances. Still, Thomas has four Top 10 finishes at this track.
Simpson is an intriguing choice at four behind Johnson. Simpson is the only fresh player, having skipped last week and is 6th in greens in regulation and 1st in scoring and birdie average.
McIlroy has won twice at this course in the last four years. However, his wife is due to have a baby any day, and it’s not guaranteed he plays all four days.
Golf Picks: Who to Consider This Week
Given Johnson’s lead, he doesn’t have many betting options other than to win (+200) that don’t come at a steep price. In head-to-head for the tournament, the odds are built-in with the Starting Strokes, and Johnson’s lowest odds are against Rahm at -120. Johnson will offer more value it would seem in daily head-to-head.
Like most, Daniel Berger struggled early at +7 in the Chicago area, but he was -1 on the weekend and he’s 4th in scoring and 5th in birdie average. Berger has odds of +240 for Top 5 and a reasonable -175 of the Top 10.
Speaking of the Top 10, 11 golfers have minus odds in this weighted field. Thus, to find value, you have to dig deeper. That is where Billy Horschel's name pops up for a Top 10, as he’s never finished lower than seventh at East Lake in three attempts, and that includes a first and a second.
Lastly, best to fade Bryson DeChambeau, whose star has faded.
Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports has 21 documented No. 1 titles and finished in the Top Ten 80+ other times in a distinguished career. Doug as a professional handicapper/writer has written for various well-known sports betting websites and several of the football newsletters you have read before.
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