During the 2023 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week. Here are his thoughts on this week’s PGA Championship.
Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
About the Tournament
The PGA Championship might be the least prestigious of the four major championships in golf, but the tournament has recently delivered from an entertainment standpoint. In 2018, Brooks Koepka staved off Tiger Woods in front of a raucous crowd in St. Louis before defending his title in 2019 when the tournament moved from August to May.
The 2020 event temporarily moved back to August due to COVID-19, and Collin Morikawa emerged from a loaded group of contenders on Sunday with a memorable eagle on the 16th hole. The 2021 edition returned to its May calendar date, and we witnessed one of the biggest surprises in the sport’s history when 50-year-old Phil Mickelson won. Last year, Justin Thomas rallied late to defeat Will Zalatoris in a playoff after Mito Pereira double bogeyed the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead.
Winning the Wanamaker Trophy might not have the same significance as the Green Jacket or Claret Jug, but the PGA Championship has been must-see TV, and I fully expect this week to be another classic.
This year’s PGA Championship is at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. The course was the host for the 2013 PGA Championship, although it was renovated and lengthened to 7,394 yards. Driving distance and accuracy are important attributes to have at this course along with being able to scramble and putt effectively (like at most majors). A strong all-around game is required and that might keep me from betting elite ball strikers who struggle with their short game.
The “Big Three”
For the first time since the Masters, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy will all be in the same field. These headliners have established their own tier in the odds with strong play in the first three months of 2023. For this week, Rahm (+750) and Scheffler (+750) are next to each other in the odds, while McIlroy has drifted to 12/1 due to his missed cut at the Masters and an uninspiring showing at the Wells Fargo Championship. This trio just doesn’t interest me for outright betting this week, although McIlroy is a somewhat intriguing option when you factor in price.
As you’re likely aware, LIV Golf has caused a lot of controversy in the sport over the last 12 months. The surprising Masters success of several players from the Saudi Arabian-funded golf league was one the tournament’s top storylines, which is why it’s necessary to keep an eye on those golfers this week.
Brooks Koepka’s second-place Masters performance last month is largely why he is now 20/1 to win his third career PGA Championship this weekend. Two other LIV names to target this week are Dustin Johnson (25/1) and Cameron Smith (28/1), as both are former major winners who also took part in a playoff at LIV Tulsa this past weekend — with Johnson winning the event. There’s also Talor Gooch (66/1), who won LIV events in Australia and Singapore between the Orlando and Tulsa tournaments.
Players I Have Already Bet
The first bet came on Sungjae Im on April 30. Im is a player I bet on at the Masters, and he struggled through the tough weather draw in the first two rounds before turning up on the weekend to finish tied for 16th. I backed him again the next week at RBC Heritage, and he finished tied for seventh. He also finished sixth in a pairing with Keith Mitchell at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and eighth at the Wells Fargo in his most recent appearances in the US.
This past week, Im traveled home to South Korea and won an event on the Korean PGA Tour. It is something I didn’t expect him to do with a major coming up, and while it isn’t ideal that he took two long flights in the last week, winning in his home country could allow him to stay locked in and rejuvenated at the PGA Championship.
Xander Schauffele was my second bet for this event last week. I don’t find myself betting on Schauffele often because he’s usually overvalued in the outright market. He’s a player who has great statistics, but he lacks wins on his resume. While Schauffele did win back-to-back starts at the Travelers Championship and Scottish Open last summer, he just doesn’t win enough for a player that gets a lot of respect.
However, Schauffele appears to be on the verge of changing his perception, thanks to fourth- and second-place finishes at the RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo Championship. Overall, he has recorded a top-10 finish at every major and is one of the more talented players without a major championship to his name. His recent form and all-around game make him stand out in a talented pack of players in his price range.
Players I’m Considering
Viktor Hovland (30/1), Cameron Young (30/1) and Collin Morikawa (33/1) are three names I’ve taken a long look at during my research. All three are young and exciting players who are either long off the tee and/or precise with their irons. However, short game questions for the three will likely keep me off before the tournament begins.
Instead, I have more interest in a few experienced players at longer odds. Tommy Fleetwood (55/1) has had two strong showings in the last month at the RBC Heritage (15th place) and Wells Fargo (fifth place). The Englishman had a runner-up finish at a major in New York when he finished behind Koepka at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Fleetwood has played well in all areas, and he could chip and putt his way out of trouble if needed.
Adam Scott (66/1) is another player entering this tournament in good form with back-to-back top-eight finishes at Wells Fargo and the Byron Nelson over the last two weeks. The 42-year-old was around in 2013 to play the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where he finished tied for fifth. Scott’s putting has really improved over the years and that has allowed him to contend at challenging courses.
Out of principle, I’m going to bet Gary Woodland (100/1) after making multiple wagers on him in his recent starts. Woodland continued his masterful ball-striking at Wells Fargo — it’s just that putting continues to be an issue. But at this price, he’s worth a shot in hopes he can putt well for one week. Woodland won the U.S. Open in 2019, so it isn’t far-fetched that he could contend at Oak Hill.