The second major of the season is upon us as the best golfers in the world get set to tee it up on Thursday for the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. The last time we saw a professional event at this course was when Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship by eight strokes. Nine years later, McIlroy enters this week as the betting favorite off the heels of his first win in 18 months at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago.
McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship at 13-under-par when he barnstormed the field, but it’s unpredictable what the winning score will be this week. Kiawah Island is a very long course, playing at just under 7,900 yards, and it’s on the coast. If the weather conditions are tough and the wind picks up, it’s going to be a very challenging obstacle for the players. But if the winds stay down then players will have opportunities to score.
Due to the weather uncertainty, I will try to wait later in the week to lock in my bets when I know each player’s tee times for the first two rounds. There could be an edge betting on players playing in specific Thursday/Friday waves based on the weather forecasts.
Note: I will tweet out my official bets for the PGA Championship before the event. I discussed my early golf thoughts and other sports betting topics on Stadium’s newest podcast, Sharp Lessons. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes twice a week and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter.
Here are seven players I’m looking to target in the betting markets this week:
Dustin Johnson (18/1)
The player I have my eye on in the favorites range is Dustin Johnson. He was always one of the co-favorites in the futures market for this event and has drifted down after withdrawing from last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson with knee discomfort before the event began. I’m guessing Johnson isn’t injured and just wanted an extra week of rest before a major in his home state. Just days before he withdrew, he was doing backflips off a boat.
If Johnson is healthy, as I expect, 18/1 is a great price for a player who was around 10/1 odds for this tournament a week ago. His off-the-tee game has been fine in recent events. It’s the chipping and putting that he’s struggled with, but those are two areas of his game that could flip in one week. I’m going to wait and see if this number continues to drift and maybe get a 20/1 or better on Johnson before Thursday morning.
Viktor Hovland (22/1)
Hovland is a player I bet at the Masters and had interest in for this event right after he finished tied for third for the second straight week at the Wells Fargo. His odds were at 28/1 then, so you’re not getting the best number anymore because of his strong form. The 23-year-old Norwegian has the length to contend at this course and is putting very well recently.
I might not bet Hovland at his current number outright. If his odds drift after the first round, I might look to make an in-tournament bet on him. I will also look to target him in full tournament head-to-head matchups.
Brooks Koepka (45/1)
It’s hard not to at least mention a four-time major winner when he’s priced in this range. Half of his PGA TOUR wins have been majors, including back-to-back wins at the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championship.
The reason for the drop in his odds is he has two missed cuts since he underwent knee surgery in March. His first event after surgery was at the Masters and he returned this past week at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Koepka was coming off back-to-back missed cuts when he won earlier this year in Arizona, so recent form doesn’t hold me back.
The injury concerns are valid, but I need to at least consider Koepka at this price point when we’ve seen him perform so well with a lot on the line. Monitor his odds throughout the week because this is another number that could drop if no one wants to bet him.
Will Zalatoris (60/1)
Zalatoris became a household name when he finished second place at the Masters in his Augusta debut.
He’s coming off a tied for 17th finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson where he led the field in strokes gained approach and was third in tee to green behind the two players who finished first and second. It was encouraging to see those aspects of his game get back on track after lackluster showings at the RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo in his first two events after the Masters.
If he can figure out how to putt this week, then 60/1 looks like a fine bet on the 24-year-old.
Joaquin Niemann (66/1)
Niemann is coming into this event with a tied for eighth and a tied for 18th finish in the two events he’s played since the Masters. He is usually strong off the tee and on approach, and his putting has been solid recently.
He also finished second place at both events in Hawaii earlier this year, where it’s common that the wind picks up. If the weather gets bad this week, Niemann could have an edge on other players because of his success in those conditions.
Matt Wallace (100/1)
Wallace is in very good form with three top-18 finishes since early April, including a solo third the week before the Masters.
Wallace is an Englishman used to playing in tough conditions, so his game can suit this event depending on the weather. A top 10 or top 20 bet will be considered when wagering on Wallace.
Thomas Pieters (200/1)
Pieters is my preferred longshot at this range. He missed the cut on the number last week despite having a very strong showing with his approach game. Pieters has had a decent track record in majors, including a tied for sixth place finish at the 2018 PGA Championship. I will also look to bet on him to finish in the top 20.