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2021 PGA Championship Picks and Predictions


May 14, 2021

Golf Expert

2021 PGA Championship
Picks & Predictions

The second Major of the year has arrived, as we are on another streak where first time Major winners continue to break through. The Masters win by Hideki Matsuyama at Augusta last month made it five of the past six Major winners on Tour being first timers, including the defending PGA Champion Collin Morikawa (+2500).

It won't be the first time that the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort will be hosting a PGA Championship though, as Rory McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship at this course for his second career Major. McIlroy's went on to win a couple more Majors after that – including the 2014 PGA Championship – and thanks to that course/event history being piled on top of his win at the Wells Fargo two weeks ago, it's McIlroy who enters the week as the favorite at a +1000 price tag.

Most Popular PGA Championship Betting Resources

There is never any lack of depth in a Major field though, and there are plenty of potential first time Major winners lurking, all with prices better than +4000. Sets up for what should be another exciting Major setting on Tour this year, and hopefully we can add to the bankroll when all is said and done..

Golf Major Betting Resources
2021 PGA Championship

  • Tour: PGA
  • Date: Thursday, May 20 2021 to Sunday, May 23, 2021
  • Venue: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
  • Location:Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  • Par-Yardage: 72, 7,849 yards
  • Vegas Expert Picks
  • Betting Odds

McIlroy absolutely dominated this course for that week back in 2012, as his eight-shot margin of victory came on the back of finishing the week with a 5.99 Strokes Gained: Total number for the week. McIlroy played some great golf that entire season and he did it by dominating the SG: Off-the-tee and Approach categories all year long. He was still a younger golfer then honing his short game skills, but his dominance off-the-tee and into greens would eventually have him running into some wins when his short game/putter co-operated, and it all came together for him the last time the Tour was at Kiawah Island.

Given the length of the course and looking back at McIlroy's performance here, it's going to be another week on Tour where Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee is going to go a long way in deciding the winner. McIlroy finished second in that SG category for the entire 2012 season, and of the 26 players to ultimately finish at Even par or better in that 2012 PGA Championship, 19 of them finished that year in the Top 100 in SG: Off-the-tee.

That includes each of the Top 3 guys in that category at season's end (Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Robert Garrigus), and eight of those 19 names total finished 21 st or better for that Tour season in SG: Off-the-tee. Going through the Top 25 guys in SG: Off-the-tee coming into the week is a group that's loaded with top contenders, and that's probably where some handicapping time should be spent.

Yet, being a course that sits beside the Ocean, you know that windy conditions could always be a problem here, and if you tend to think of Europeans when wind comes up in the discussion, I should point out that of those 26 players at Even par or better in the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah, seven of the 10 names that all shared T7 finishes or better were European – including five of the six names that shared T3 or better finishes.

In total there were 15 foreign born players of those 26 names sharing T21's or better at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, and with only a handful of foreigners sprinkled out at the top of the betting menu, it will be interesting to see if that's a trend that holds up at this course again./p>

Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina will host this week's major championship and the conditions could be an issue for golfers. (AP)

PGA Championship
Betting Odds

Rory McIlroy (+1000) coming in and as the favorite was already mentioned, but there are no shortage of great names right behind McIlory. Guys such as Dustin Johnson (+1100), Jon Rahm (+1200), Justin Thomas (+1200), Bryson DeChambeau (+1400), and Jordan Spieth (+1400) all below that +2000 threshold.

On a course where distance and the off-the-tee game it's hard to dispute grabbing any of those names at the top. Even a guy like Jordan Spieth who's not known for his distance or driving has been playing so well lately that there aren't many reasons to dispute backing him.

Beyond that group of names we've got Brooks Koepka (+2000), Xander Schauffele (+2000), Hideki Matsuyama (+2500), Collin Morikawa (+2500), Patrick Cantlay (+2800) and Victor Hovland (+2800) all checking in before the 30-1 mark. That's a total of 12 names combined in both groups and eight of those 12 players already have a Major on their career resumes (Rahm, Schauffele, Cantlay, Hovland are the four who don't), so again, tough to dispute selections on any of those names.

You can't back everyone in golf betting, so let's see if we can narrow down the list to find some guys who will be in that pressure packed fire of having a chance to win a Major on Sunday. Seven of the past eight PGA Champions closed at +5000 odds or better, so the card will be a little more top heavy than typical weeks.

  • Rory McIlroy: +1000
  • Jon Rahm: +1200
  • Jordan Spieth: +1200
  • Bryson DeChambeau: +1400
  • Dustin Johnson: +1400
  • Justin Thomas: +1400
  • Xander Schauffele: +1800
  • Viktor Hovland: +2200
  • Brooks Koepka: +2700
  • Collin Morikawa: +2700
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Contender to Back
PGA Championship

Dustin Johnson +1400 / Collin Morikawa +2700

The positive aspects in the skill sets that Johnson and Morikawa bring to every golf tournament are well-known so I won't spend too much time outlining them. Both guys rank in the Top 40 in SG: Off-the-tee which could be better in this field given the price. However, one statistic is never the be all, end all in a golf tournament, and both guys are coming off some rougher finishes relative to their usual output - 48th for DJ and MC for Morikawa, in the team event in New Orleans – there isn't really a big quarrel on my end with the price.

No concern about DJ withdrawing from the Byron Nelson last week, as he's all about the big tournaments (for the most part) right now in his career. Nor am I concerned about Morikawa being the defending champion, because as much as I hate to back defending champs, it's a theory that I'm willing to ignore/overlook when it's a Major that's not Augusta.

Defending champs of the the other three Majors are always defending at a completely different venue, so they never get that market “pop” of support. There is no talk about said player dominating that track 12 months before, and a lot of the time, the course rotation doesn't always set up well for a guy in consecutive years.

But Morikawa and Kiawah Island should be a strong match, as he's a guy that typically dominates the field in Strokes Gained all the way up until the green. We've all seen just how good Morikawa can be when his putter is rolling, and at +2500, I'll hope that ends up being the case at the PGA Championship again for Morikawa.

Mid-Range Value
PGA Championship

Daniel Berger +3300 / Tony Finau +3300

Two more names in the Top 40 of SG: Off-the-tee here as Berger and Finau rank in the 30's in that category on Tour this year. Finau's a name that always hits the brain when the length of a course is going to be an issue, and Finau's game in the Majors is really built to win the PGA Championship or US Open in my opinion.

Both tournaments emphasize length and strength and those two things aren't always the same. Length is self-explanatory, but it's the strength these longer hitters that can prove as the more valuable asset overall, as the rough is always thick at those two Major tournaments, and it will be power that helps guys navigate through those tougher lies.

The question with Finau is always win equity as he's become the Charles Howell III of this younger generation of golf's superstars. Howell has three wins as a part of 96 career Top 10 finishes, while Finau sits with one career win and 45 Top 10 finishes. Both are phenomenal careers for collecting lucrative paychecks, but collecting trophies has been a different challenge for those two. I'm still hopeful Finau finds a way to break through – either at a big/Major tournament like this, or putting together multiple wins in a short span.

His all-around game is too good not for that to be the case. In Berger's case, he's another guy who's got a great all-around game in general, his biggest weakness being around the greens (Ranks 162nd in SG: Around the green). Anybody spends too much time doing that this week though and a win is likely out of the question, so if Berger can rely on all his other statistical positives – he ranks no worse than 35th in any other Strokes Gained category this year.

Three Top 20's in Berger's last four starts leaves no issues with current form (Finau has two Top 20's in his last four starts too), as he's another guy that many expected to break through with a win at a big event by now. Maybe it comes this week.

Long Shot Pick
PGA Championship

Matthew Fitzpatrick +5000 / Joaquin Niemann +5000

These last two selections are two more players in the Top 40 of SG: Off-the-tee, and they are actually the best of any of the selections in that category. Fitzpatrick ranks in the Top 20 on Tour in that category, while Niemann sits in the Top 10. Both are young guys that would love to have a breakthrough victory like this, and both have some stellar recent form to lean on to try and accomplish that goal.

Fitzpatrick-s working off a run of finishes of 4, 34 , 18, 9, 10, 11, and 5 , prior to the Byron Nelson, while Niemann's had finished of 18, 8, 40, 18, 25, 29, and 28 in his last seven starts as well. It also doesn't hurt to have two foreigners who are plenty comfortable playing in windy conditions if that becomes a thing.

In Niemann's situation, he's another guy like Berger in that he dominates the Strokes Gained categories outside of being around-the-green (108th ranking). Every other category is ranked 36th or better though, with the numbers Off-the-tee (10th), Tee-to-Green (16th), and Total (ninth) being the highlights. If Niemann plays to those numbers for the majority of the week and doesn't find himself scrambling too much, it might not matter how deep this field is, Niemann will find a way to be involved.

Fitzpatrick has a similarly strong stat line, with his worst category (SG: Approach) ranking around 70th. He teed it up at the Byron Nelson to presumably shake off some rust having not played for five weeks, and as of this writing (after Round 1 of Byron Nelson), it appears as though there was a bit of rust to shake loose.

But when you rank in the Top 20 in SG: Off-the-tee, and 11th in SG: Putting (10th in SG: Total) like Fitzpatrick does, he's going to be a guy that gets my attention here, regardless if his week at the Byron Nelson is a short one.

PGA Championship
Betting History

Archives (2016-2020)

Recent Winners (Odds to win)

  • 2020 - Collin Morikawa (35/1)
  • 2019 - Brooks Koepka (10/1)
  • 2018 - Brooks Koepka (18/1)
  • 2017 - Justin Thomas (35/1)
  • 2016 - Jimmy Walker (125/1)
  • 2015 - Jason Day (12/1)

Last year, Collin Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.

Brooks Koepka captured the 2019 PGA Championship at the infamous "Black Course" at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York on Long Island. Koepka entered the tournament as the defending champion and he posted a wire-to-wire victory with a score of 8-under.

Koepka joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win back-to-back titles in that major. Most sportsbooks had Koepka listed as the 10/1 co-favorite (Bet $100 to win $1,000) to win the 2019 PGA Championship.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2020 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.

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