2019 PGA Championship Preview and Picks

tiger-woods-bunker-pga-2018-getty.jpgPhoto Credit: CBS Sports

Preview:

The 2019 PGA Championship is here, and this time it will be played in the month of May. The scheduling change of moving the PGA from August to May and the Players from May to March has been a big story this year, and viewers will probably hear about it all week. The tournament will be played at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Long Island, New York. Bethpage Black is one of the best public courses in America, and will give the best players in the world a tough challenge. This is the third major ever at Bethpage (2002 US Open and 2009 US Open), so many of these players have played major championship golf at this venue. There are a ton of huge stories this week from Tiger’s chase for Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major record to Brooks Koepka looking to win back to back PGA Championships to Jordan Spieth looking to complete the career grand slam.

Betting Picks:

The betting odds to win the tournament are a little all over the place this week in large part due to how institutions are dealing with Tiger Woods. Tiger crushed bookmakers across the country with his win at the Masters, and now oddsmakers are having to decide how to balance setting Tiger’s odds to reflect his actual chances to win the tournament while also protecting themselves against being demolished by bettors again. In general, most sites have Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson as their top three in some order (+800 to +1000) with Rory Mcilroy not far behind (+1100 to +1200).

Below are my picks, and for anyone who isn’t familiar with my system here is how it works. The first column shows the top 10 players that I think have the best chance to win (in order) with the player in the top spot being my official pick to win. In the second column, I have my dark horses (players with +6000 odds to win or worse) and they are also in order. The third column shows my bust picks (players I think will have a very bad week, often times elite level guys who many people are betting on). The fourth column shows a few more guys that I think should have a solid week, but guys that I don’t think have a great chance to win (typically expect these guys to finish somewhere in the 10th-30th range). The final column shows my prediction for the winning score. Anyone who is not seen on this list I am neutral on meaning I wouldn’t bet on them but I also am not seeking them out to bet against.

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Breakdown:

Darkhorses

  • Webb Simpson: Webb Simpson might be the best value pick in the entire field this week at +7000. He is ranked 19th in the world yet is typically set around 30th in odds to win. His last three starts have been 5th at the Masters, 16th at the RBC Heritage, and 18th at the Wells Fargo. He is top 20 on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy and strokes gained tee to green and is sixth in strokes gained around the green. In addition, Simpson is no stranger to the moment with huge wins coming at the 2012 US Open and the 2018 Players Championship. Betting on Simpson to win is a great value, and if you can find him in a matchup bet then take him.
  • Scott Piercy: Piercy is a longshot to win this week at +20000, but the 64th ranked player in the world could be a great pick for betting on him to make the cut, matchup bets, or even a top 10 finish. Piercy is in great form right now with his last two finishes being a T3 at the RBC Heritage and a T2 at the Byron Nelson. Piercy is one of the most consistent ball strikers on the tour which will be very important this week to navigate the difficult track at Bethpage. Take Scott Piercy this week.

Busts

  • Cameron Smith: Cameron Smith is the 29th ranked player in the world right now, but he has been playing very poor golf lately. His last four starts have been a T56 at the Players, T51 at the master’s, MC at the RBC Heritage, and MC at the Zurich. I would be shocked if he finished anywhere in the top 30 this week, and I will definitely be seeking out Smith to bet against in matchup bets this week.
  • Marc Leishman: Sorry Aussies, I’m picking another one of your countrymen to have a bad week. Leishman’s last three starts have been an MC at the Players, 49th at the Masters, and 58th at the RBC Heritage. The 23rd ranked player in the world has been extremely arrant off the tee, and if he continues to do that this week then he will have a long week trying to hit out of the thick rough at Bethpage.
  • Patrick Reed: The 2018 Masters Champion still cannot seem to find his game. His last six starts have been a T47 at the Players, MC at the Valspar, 36th at the Masters, MC at the Zurich, 28th at the Wells Fargo, and 63rd at the Byron Nelson. None of those finishes is anything to write home about. In addition, what has me worried most for Reed this week is that he is now playing in a tournament for the fourth week in a row in four different regions of the country. Traveling from New Orleans to Charlotte to Dallas to New York four consecutive weeks has to have taken a toll on his body and his head. The only thing that has me scared about betting against Reed is the fact that the last time a Tour event was held at Bethpage Black was the 2016 Barclays where Reed was the champion. Nonetheless, there are a lot of red flags for Reed this week and I will definitely be betting against him.

Winning Score – 11 under

  • The winning scores at the last four events at Bethpage Black have been -9, -10, -4, and -3. However, the field this week is stronger than any of those tournaments, and the weather forecast looks pretty easy with temperatures in the high 60’s and winds staying below eight MPH. I expect the Black to be challenging, but the guys who can keep the ball in the fairway will have a chance to go low.

Picks to Win

  • 4th-10th: To quickly summarize this group, I think all six of these guys have a good shot at winning this week. DJ is the #1 ranked player in the world and his length and precision off the tee will give him a huge advantage over the field, Tiger is coming off a win at the Masters and knows this course as well as anyone in the field (including a win at the 2002 US Open), Rory has been arguably the best player in the world in 2019, Sergio has been playing solid golf and had top 10 finishes at Bethpage Black in the 2012 Barclays and 2009 US Open, Justin Rose is the #2 ranked player in the world and looked very good at the Wells Fargo with a 3rd place finish, Matt Kuchar has finished top 12 in his last four starts and his driving accuracy will be huge this week, and Tommy Fleetwood seems to contend in every major and has been playing good golf lately with all three of his last finishes being in the top 25.
  • 3rd- Rickie Fowler: Talking about Rickie Fowler at major championships is a broken record. Every time one comes around I always say it’s a matter of when not if Fowler can win a major. It’s time for him to step up and do it, and I like his chances this week. He’s been playing good golf with his last two starts being a 4th place finish at the Wells Fargo and a 9th place finish at the Masters. He’s had success at Bethpage before with a T7 finish at the 2016 Barclays. The two keys for Rickie this week are keeping the ball in the fairway and knocking in putts under 20 feet, with the latter being the one that seems more likely. If he can do these two things then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him holding the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.
  • 2nd- Brooks Koepka: Other than maybe Tiger Woods, Koepka is the most popular pick to win this week, and for good reason. He has won three of the last seven majors he has played in, and gave Tiger a run for his money this year at the Masters with a runner-up finish. He also finished 4th last week at the Byron Nelson. Bethpage is a long course, and Koepka’s length will be a huge weapon for him this week. In addition, Koepka is one of the best players in the world at hitting out of the rough. His incredible upper-body strength allows him to cut through the rough better than other players, and that will be huge this week in the long, thick, and healthy New York rough. Koepka being back-to-back winners of both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship at the same time would be an incredible story, but it isn’t that unlikely. Watch out for Brooks this week.
  • WInner- Jon Rahm: Rahm, like Fowler, is another case of when not if. The 24-year-old can be more patient than the 30-year-old Fowler, but I’m sure Rahm has no interest in being patient when it comes to winning, and this could be his week. Rahm’s last start was a win at the Zurich where he was partnered with Ryan Palmer, and before that he had gone T12 at the Players, T6 at the Valspar, and 9th at the Masters. Rahm is one of the hottest players in the world right now. As I said before, two of the biggest keys to winning this week are getting the ball in play off the tee and knocking in makable putts. Rahm’s combination of distance and accuracy has put him at 2nd on the Tour in strokes gained off the tee, and Rahm is 14th on tour in putts inside 10 feet. Like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, Rahm will have a huge advantage with his distance, and pairing this with the fact that Rahm is one of the best putters in the world makes him very dangerous. I am picking him to be the 2019 PGA Champion.

Additional:

  • One of the coolest parts about the PGA Championship is that the tournament allows a few spots for PGA Instructors to participate. This week one of the instructors that are in the field is Rob Labritz. He has won the New York State Open three different times, all of which were held at Bethpage Black. He might have the most experience at this course out of anyone in the field. In addition, this is the 5th time he has qualified for the PGA Championship. Get to know the name, because we will likely be hearing it a lot this week.
  • 2017 PGA Champion and world ranked #5 player Justin Thomas withdrew on Monday with a wrist injury

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