If someone had suggested to you a few weeks ago that Rory McIlroy would be the betting favorite for the 2021 PGA Championship, you would have likely called their betting acumen into question. But golf is a twisted game and now here we are, just days away from Round 1 of the second major of the season, and McIlroy finds himself atop the odds at DraftKings.
It does seem a bit perplexing that McIlroy would vault right back to betting favorite considering that his win at the Wells Fargo was preceded by two straight missed cuts and an 18-month winless streak. Will one win be enough for bettors to be tempted to play the Northern Irishman at such short odds?
Of course there are good reasons for Rory to be the favorite at +1150 ($10 bet wins $110.50). Not only is he coming off a win at Quail Hollow two weeks ago, but he also won this event at this course by eight strokes, albeit back in 2012. Kiawah is a long course that plays favorably for those who can drive the ball well and, well, that sounds like Rory’s music.
Though Rory’s story arc this past year hasn’t been as dramatic, it does remind me a bit of Jordan Spieth‘s. After a few years in the wilderness Spieth found his game at the beginning of 2021 and quickly vaulted his way back up the oddsboard. Spieth, who was around the triple-digits not too long ago, is +1450 and a joint second-favorite for the PGA Championship along with everybody’s favorite pick for “the next guy to win a major,” Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas.
When the TOUR heads to long courses everybody immediately thinks Bryson DeChambeau (+1650). That makes logical sense. Bryson knows how to hit the ball very far. That said, DeChambeau is coming off a disappointing T55 at TPC Craig Ranch — another track that was supposed to suit his game — because the rest of his game let him down. Although his price is still short, I wouldn’t be surprised if bettors who like playing the top of the board land on Bryson because of the mini drift on his number at a bomber’s course.
Speaking of a drift, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson (+1850) has slipped a bit lately and now finds himself as the seventh-favorite in between Xander Schauffele (+1700) and Viktor Hovland (+2000). DJ has come back down to earth after his world-beating run of form to close out 2020, but he’s another player who should be set up well at a long, coastal course.
As for Hovland, he’s already drawing plenty of attention from bettors and has seen his number come down from near 30/1 to 20/1 since the odds posted.
Hovland isn’t the only one who seems to be taking early money, though. Daniel Berger was hanging around +4000 for the PGA last week, but another solid week for the Florida native forced oddsmakers to slash his number towards +3000.
Deep fields always make the mid-tier quite a fun range to shop in. It isn’t every week that you get to bet guys like Tony Finau (+4000), Patrick Cantlay (+4500), Brooks Koepka (+5000), Paul Casey (+5500) and Tyrrell Hatton (+5500) at big numbers.
Even though his health is in question, it is definitely worth a good think about Koepka this week. We know he can win PGA Championships. We know he can hit the ball a mile. And we know he doesn’t need to play his way into form to win (see this year’s Waste Management). I’d imagine if he wins a lot of speculators will be thinking “how did I not bet Brooks Koepka at 50/1?” You can apply similar logic to Finau and Cantlay, who are both at basically double their “normal” price for majors due to poor form.
Mother Nature is expected to play her part this week as there is some wind in the forecast and when that happens bettors love to build their betting cards to look like a Ryder or Presidents Cup team. You can expect Casey, Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick (+6000), Marc Leishman (+7000), Tommy Fleetwood (+7500) and Matt Wallace (+8500) to attract some attention in this range.
Another interesting name in this range is Joaquin Niemann at +8000. A few weeks ago Niemann was a chic sleeper pick to win the Masters at a shorter number. A few pedestrian weeks from the young Chilean and now he’s at 80/1.
There’s plenty of starpower in the triple-digits this week. Shane Lowry (+10000) has won a major and plays well when the trousers are flapping. Gary Woodland (+10000) has begun to round into form. Sergio Garcia (+11000) is on quite the cut-making streak in majors and can get hot at a moment’s notice. Brian Harman (+11000) was red hot not too long ago. So was Billy Horschel (+11000). Charl Schwartzel (+11000) is white hot right now. Adam Scott (+11000) is usually a trendy pick when he’s half these odds, so why not take a flier at 110/1?
What I’m trying to say is that you can make a compelling case for a lot of great players at long odds this week. Self-control, don’t fail us now.
2021 PGA Championship Odds
|Si Woo Kim||+13000|
|Harold Varner III||+25000|
|Erik van Rooyen||+60000|
|Daniel van Tonder||+150000|
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