PGA Championship PreviewEditor's Note: Be sure to follow @_DanDaly on Twitter this golf season for his off-the-cuff remarks and entertaining commentary!
The 100th PGA Championship kicks off this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. Of all the courses the PGA had to choose from for their Centennial anniversary, I can’t say it would have been my first choice, but hey, no one asked me. So what do we know about Bellerive?
Going on past performance is irrelevant due to little to no history behind this course. The last PGA Tour event here was the 2008 BMW Championship, won by Camillo Villegas…just barely edging out Dudley Hart. When you look on the PGA website they give you a very helpful breakdown: “Everything about Bellerive Country Club screams big. Big golf course, big fairways, big bunkers, big greens.” Wow, that’s really helpful. Thanks. Basically in doing hours of research about this course I have come to the conclusion that no one has the first clue what to expect this week…not even the players. Will that change as the week progresses, sure, but for the purposes of handicapping the 100th PGA Championship we are going old school this week, straight feel.
With that said, here goes nothing…
(As always, odds are at the time this was written and will probably change throughout the week)
Phil Mickelson (40/1) – If you can watch the Mizzen+Main “dance” video and then immediately bet on Phil Mickelson to win a Major Championship this week then congratulations you are a better person than me. Look, the guy is 40/1 for a reason. He was on fire to start 2018 but has one top five since his WGC-Mexico win back in March. Add to that two top-10 finishes in the PGA since his win in 2005 and Phil is a hard pass this week.
Rickie Fowler (16/1) – Rickie will implode at some point this week. I’m not sure if it will be a three hole stretch, a nine hole stretch or an entire round…but it will happen, it always does. I’m sure he will recover and back-door a top-something, but winning this week, like every other major before it, won’t happen.
Jon Rahm (22/1) – The guy is capable of anything. He has five worldwide wins since turning pro just over two years ago for a reason, he’s uber talented. He also went MC at the last two majors for a reason, he’s a huge head case. Until he gets the latter under control I still don’t see him winning a major no matter how much talent he has. I could see a decent finish this week, even a top-10, but a win…nope.
Justin Rose (20/1) – If he was healthy I would love his chances this week to post a top-10 at worst and a top-5 at best. I don’t think he would have won either way but I don’t touch guys that WD with back spasms the week before a Major. His odds have dropped from 16/1 to 20/1 with the WD as well. That tells me all I need to know.
Francesco Molinari (25/1) – Heading into the WGC the guy had three wins (including the British Open) and two runner-ups in his past six worldwide starts. He was also last year's runner-up at the PGA at Quail Hollow. But all good things must come to an end and Molinari’s incredible run cooled off last week at the WGC and will continue this week at Bellerive. I’m sure a top-20 is well within reason but I wouldn’t expect much more from him at this point. Most guys tend to cool off after six week runs like he had. It just happens.
Tiger Woods (16/1) – As crazy as this sounds from a 14-time Major winner, after watching the back nine at Carnoustie I think he needs to win again at a regular event before he will close out another major. Tiger is going to win another major before he’s done. That much I’m certain of. I just don’t think it will be this week. I think a top-20 this week is realistic but also about as much as we can expect based on the way he played the weekend at the WGC.
Patrick Reed (30/1) – As much as I want to take Reed in a top-10 play this week due to his scrambling ability I think the driver keeps Reed from contending. That combined with a missed cut, and back to back T-28s in his last PGA Tour starts along with a final-round 76 in Germany that cost him a chance to win the European Porsche Open and I think Reed finishes just outside the Top-10 this week.
Jordan Spieth (14/1) – He’s the single biggest enigma in the tournament this week to me. Do we get the Jordan that shot a final round 64 at Augusta? Do we get the Jordan that was leading the British Open after 54-holes? Or do we get the Jordan that missed back to back cuts at the Memorial and US Open? Your guess is as good as mine, but what I’ve learned is that the guy seems to play his best when the lights are the brightest. Throw in the fact that they are playing on a course where iron play and short game are keys to winning and I certainly want to be on his side in some form or fashion. I don’t think he wins but I certainly think taking him in no worse than a top-10 play this week is a very safe and smart hedge just in case he does manage to close out the career Grand Slam at Bellerive.
Brooks Koepka (20/1) - Speaking of guys that shine in the biggest events. He has two wins and three top-10s in his last five Major starts. He is coming off a top-5 at the WGC and the way he has been putting the last two months I wouldn’t put anything past him at this point. I think a top-10 is a lock and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Brooks contend at yet another Major this week.
Justin Thomas (16/1) – I think his odds go down as the week progresses as he will be a very popular pick this week. But that’s exactly why I don’t think JT wins. You are betting on him to win not only back to back weeks but back to back PGA Championships on top of that. I think that’s a little much to ask of anyone. He’s certainly peaking at the right time but prior to his win at the WGC he had just one top-10 since March (a T-8 at the Memorial). He is obviously playing well heading into Bellerive and I’m sure that will continue with a top-10, but anything more than that at this point is simply asking too much out of him.
Tommy Fleetwood (22/1) – Fleetwood is possibly the best iron player on the planet playing a course that puts an emphasis on approach shots. Throw in his incredible run of late and yeah, I’ll take that guy to finish Top-10 all day long. I would move him higher but he seems to have the Rickie Fowler disease were he has one terrible round a weekend that keeps him from winning. I’m afraid that trend continues again this week and Fleetwood plays well enough to top-10 but not well enough to win.
Hideki Matsuyama (30/1) – He certainly seems to be off the radar this year and his odds reflect that. I like when guys are overlooked. I think he will have a good value for a top-10 finish. He has back-to-back top-5 finishes at the PGA and is statistically one of the better players around the green on the PGA Tour. I’m not sure he putts well enough to win, but a top-10 is well within his reach.
Tony Finau (40/1) – Quick, name the only player on Tour with a Top-10 finish in all three majors so far this year. I think Finua makes it four for four this week at the PGA. In fact, I think he takes it a step further this week and contends until the end on Sunday. Ultimately the putter lets him down for his chances to win but don’t be surprised to see Finau close out a fantastic year at the Majors with a top-5 finish this week.
Dustin Johnson (9/1) – Let’s see, he hits it far, he hits it straight, he putts well, he has two wins and FOUR top-5’s in his last five starts. There is no reason on earth DJ can’t contend this week. He is the favorite for a reason. But winning? I just go back to the fact that he has only one major on his otherwise incredible resume to date. For whatever reason he just doesn’t seem to have the closer gene when it comes to Majors. I love taking DJ in a top-10 and top-5 bet this week but will once again pass on him winning with his history or lack thereof in Majors.
Rory McIlroy (12/1) – Rory has been playing incredible since his missed cut at the US Open and his track record at the PGA Championship is impressive with two wins and four top-5s in nine starts. Throw in eighth top-10s in Majors since the start of 2015 and I think he adds another top-5 this week at Bellerive. In other words, I love Rory this week…but the putter makes me nervous as always and will once again be the reason Rory remains stuck on four career majors since his last win at the 2014 PGA.
Webb Simpson (70/1) – Webb is quietly having a good season, including a win at the PLAYERS. He has gone T-20 or better in all three majors so far this year and has been one of the best putters on tour this year. The one area he has battled lately is off the tee, and if that continues he could struggle this week. However if he can manage his driver around Bellerive I like his chances for a top-10 this week and I think he could sneak in a top-5 or even a surprise win if things all fall right for Webb.
Winner (as much as it pains me)…
Jason Day (25/1) – I don’t like Jason Day, but money is money and this week Jason Day is the man to beat. He clearly loves the PGA of America set-up with a win, a second and T-9 in his last three starts at the PGA. He still leads the tour in both strokes gained putting and strokes gained around-the-green which will be a huge factor this week. While he certainly cooled off since a win at the Wells Fargo followed by a T-5 at the Players, he showed signs of his mid-season form again this week at the WGC just in time for the PGA. As much as I dislike Jason Day the person, I love Jason Day to pick up his second PGA Championship win this week at Bellerive.
Take him any and every way you can, I know I will.
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