Post by: Mike Philipps
The 2016-17 PGA Tour season is in the books, and so much happened over these past 48 events. With the 2017-18 season starting on Thursday at the Safeway Open, we’ve put together a review of last year along with a look ahead to some of the best bets for the upcoming season.
Basically, what we’re aiming for with today’s post is a guide to all players worth keeping an eye on ahead of the next golf betting season. We took two approaches in putting together this season review / next season preview. First, we have put together summaries of players worth noting and our general sense of where they stand moving to the next season. Second, we have included a downloadable Excel file full of statistics for each of the world’s current top-50 players.
We will begin with a quick look at the best golf bookmakers for the next year and a list of outright odds on who will win the most money over the next year and then follow that up with our statistical breakdown and player analyses.
Best Golf Betting Sites for the 2017 – 2018 Season
2017/2018 PGA Tour Money List Outrights
We will also be comparing the odds for the 2017/18 PGA Tour money list as the new season approaches. Online bookmakers have started taking odds on who will win the most money over the coming PGA Tour season.
The following table compares the odds as offered by each bookmaker on who will have the most earnings over the next PGA season, not including bonuses. Online betting sites that accept customers from the USA are not currently taking outrights on who will earn the most over the next season.
Statistical Breakdown of the World’s Top 50 Ranked Players
Download this excel file to see the how the players currently ranked in the top 50 in the world fared during the 2016-17 season. We attempted to include these stats within the post itself so you wouldn’t have to download a separate file, but doing so made the post basically unreadable with so many statistics.
The statistical breakdown covers a range of stats you may find useful as we head into the next PGA Tour season. These stats include the current rankings of the top-50, how much their rankings changed over the course of the season, number of events they played in, cuts made, wins, date and name of last event won, how many times they finished in the top 5/10/25, best result last year, FedEx Cup finish, Race to Dubai finish, FedEx Cup playoff results and Majors results.
Players on the Rise
These are some of the players that made the biggest jumps into the top 100 of the World Golf Rankings. Based on their play in 2016-17, they are good bets to do big things this coming season.
Patrick Cantlay (+1803 spots in the World Golf Rankings since last year)
Cantlay, 25, qualified for the TOUR Championship in just 12 events this season, coming back from a 27-month layoff. He placed second in just his second event back, helping him move from basically unranked into the top-100. He is a star on the rise.
Xander Schauffele (+333)
Schauffele gave us a glimpse of his talent with a T-5 at the U.S. Open, but he’s since added wins at the Greenbrier Classic and the TOUR Championship. All of a sudden, he’s viewed as one of the game’s best young players.
Jon Rahm (+126)
Rahm was as consistent as he was excellent last season, finding his way into the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings. He notched two wins and eight more top-fives in his last 21 starts, including three in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. At just 22-years-old, he has a chance to be a dominant player for a long time.
Tommy Fleetwood (+141)
Fleetwood hadn’t followed through on a promising amateur career – he was ranked as high as No. 3 in the World Amateur Rankings in 2010 – but, he had a big season. He won twice on the European Tour and added two more runner-up finishes. He earned six top-fives, including his first in a major (4th, U.S. Open), on his way to earning more than double his previous career-high with over $4.3 million. Fleetwood currently holds a comfortable lead in the Race to Dubai Standings.
Justin Thomas (+29)
Nobody exploded more in 2016-17 than Thomas. Even though he didn’t come from way down in the standings, five wins, his first major and a FedEx Cup championship exceeded everyone’s expectations for the latest young gun on the PGA Tour.
Marc Leishman (+36)
Leishman has regularly been ranked inside the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings since 2012, but this was a breakthrough season for the Aussie. He jumped into the top 20 for the first time in his career on the strength of two wins – the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the BMW Championship – and a total of 17 top-25s.
Kyle Stanley (+249)
Stanley was a player on the rise in 2012, when after a win and runner-up in consecutive weeks, he jumped into the top 50 in the World Golf Rankings. But since then, it’s been a struggle. Until last year, that is. Stanley won the Quicken Loans National and earned four more top-fives on the season, playing his way into the TOUR Championship for the first time.
Adam Hadwin (+141)
Hadwin did the bulk of his work in the first three months of 2017. Through mid-March, he earned his first career PGA Tour victory at the Valspar Championship and three other top-12 finishes. He added a T-5 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, helping him make his first Presidents Cup team.
Pat Perez (+277)
It’s not often that a player has a career year after his 40th birthday, but that’s exactly what Perez did in 2016-17. After never even earning $2 million in a season, the 41-year-old Perez earned over $4 million last year. He won for the first time since 2009, and he collected five more top-10s and 13 top-25s. He was consistently in contention.
Brian Harman (+95)
Harman stared down World No. 1 Dustin Johnson to earn the win at the Wells Fargo Championship last season, and he showed mental toughness and an excellent all-around game at the U.S. Open, where he finished second.
Wesley Bryan (+59)
Bryan was the 2015-16 Web.com Player of the Year, and he quickly got his first PGA Tour victory with a win at the RBC Heritage in April. In February and March, Bryan finished in the top seven three times. The end of the season didn’t go as well for the former trick-shot artist, but he did manage a T-3 at the John Deere Classic in July.
Russell Henley (+58)
Henley had two wins on his resume since joining the PGA Tour in 2013, but he hadn’t won since 2014. That changed this season, winning the Shell Houston Open. He set or matched career-highs in Cuts Made (22), top-10s (5), top-25s (11) and Earnings ($3.4 million).
Lucas Glover (+142)
Glover is another player that had a renaissance season. The 37-year-old former U.S. Open champion earned more in 2016-17 than he did in the previous three seasons combined, setting a personal-best in scoring along the way.
Hudson Swafford (+120)
In his third year on the PGA Tour, Swafford got his first win at the CareerBuilder Challenge. The victory alone moved him well up the World Golf Rankings, but he backed it up with three more top-10s in 2016-17.
Hao Tong Li (+101)
The highlight of Li’s season was undoubtedly his T-3 at the British Open – just his second appearance in a major – but he had a solid all-around season. He earned four top-fives, playing primarily on the European Tour.
Players on the Decline
These players are still ranked in the top 100, but they’ve seen a big decline over the last year. They are still capable of turning things around, but they don’t enter 2017-18 with much momentum.
Bubba Watson (-50 spots in the World Golf Rankings since last year)
Watson spent the better part of two full years in the top five of the World Golf Rankings, but since winning the Northern Trust and finishing second at the WGC-Cadillac in early 2016, he has just six top-10s – none in the top five – in 38 starts.
Danny Willett (-54)
Willett had a solid career going even before he won the Masters in 2016, but by adding a Green Jacket to his resume, he looked like he might be a star. Things haven’t worked out that way. He had just one top-10 in 2017, and in his last 15 starts, he’s missed six cuts and has an average finish of 64th place.
Jimmy Walker (-32)
Walker had just one top-10 in 2016-17, with his health being a big reason why. He revealed early in the season he was battling Lyme disease. He missed the cut in his last two events of the year.
J.B. Holmes (-37)
Holmes was a roller coaster ride for much of the 2016-17 season, regularly following up a solid performance with a poor one. He managed just two top-10s for the year.
Russell Knox (-42)
Knox easily had the best season of his career in 2015-16, winning multiple times for the first time. 2016-17 was not the follow-up campaign he was hoping for. Since February, he missed 13 cuts in 23 starts and had just one top-10.
Shane Lowry (-46)
Lowry was in position to win his first major at last year’s U.S. Open, taking a four-shot lead into the final round. Ever since, Lowry’s results have fallen off. He missed the cut in four of his next five starts, and he has just two top-10s since.
William McGirt (-29)
McGirt had a breakthrough victory, winning the Memorial Tournament in 2016 as the 102nd-ranked player in the world. The win looks to be an outlier, as he had just two top-10s in 2016-17, and since late-April, he didn’t finish in the top 20 once and missed six cuts.
Branden Grace (-28)
Grace’s career is hardly falling of the deep end, but he hasn’t been able to consistently contend. He had just one top-five in 2016-17.
Chris Wood (-32)
Wood had just three top-10s in 2016-17, and he missed the cut in three of his last seven starts. He currently sits in 35th position on the Race to Dubai Standings after finishing 11th last year.
Scott Piercy (-51)
Piercy moved into the top 25 of the World Golf Rankings for the first time after consecutive second-place finishes at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone in 2016. His health was an issue in 2017, battling multiple injuries, and he finished better than 20th just one time in his last 17 starts. He missed the cut in seven on his last 11 starts.
Best Performances in the 2016-17 Majors
- Brooks Koepka: Win (U.S.), T-6 (British), T-11 (Masters), T-13 (PGA)
- Matt Kuchar: 2nd (British), T-4 (Masters), T-9 (PGA), T-16 (U.S.)
- Hideki Matsuyama: T-2 (U.S.), T-5 (PGA), T-11 (Masters), T-14 (British)
- Justin Thomas: Win (PGA), T-9 (U.S.), T-22 (Masters)
- Jordan Spieth: Win (British), T-11 (Masters), T-28 (PGA), T-35 (U.S.)
- Rickie Fowler: T-5 (U.S. & PGA), T-11 (Masters), T-22 (British)
- Rory McIlroy: T-4 (British), T-7 (Masters), T-22 (PGA)
- Paul Casey: 6th (Masters), T-11 (British), T-13 (PGA), 26th (U.S.)
Players Seeking Their First PGA Tour Win
There were 10 first-time winners in 48 PGA Tour events during the 2016-17 season. Here are some of the players with an excellent chance to earn their first PGA Tour victory in 2017-18.
Byeong Hun An
An became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur when he won in 2009, and that talent really shown through last season. He was in position to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open, eventually finishing sixth, and added two more top-eight finishes before the season was over.
Cantlay earned two top-three finishes in his first four starts in 2016-17, and he made the cut in every event he played (11 of his starts had cuts). He might be the safest bet to get his first win this year.
DeLaet had a bounce-back season in 2016-17 after two poor ones. He’s one of the better ball strikers on the PGA Tour, with only his putting really holding him back. He’s got 10 top-five finishes in his career, including three T-2 results. He earned a T-7 at the 2017 PGA Championship, his best finish in a major.
The former Georgia Tech All-American was once ranked as the top amateur player in the world, so the talent is there. He won once on the Web.com Tour two years ago and placed in the top-three twice last year on the PGA Tour, including a runner-up at the Wyndham Championship.
Spaun looked pretty comfortable in his first full year on the PGA Tour, especially once the calendar turned to 2017. He had back-to-back top-10s in January, including a T-4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and added a T-6 at the RBC Heritage in April.
The grandson of the late Arnold Palmer is in position to win the Web.com Tour Championship (the final round of the event was postponed due to weather) after an opening-round 59. Two of the last three Web.com Tour Championship winners have won a PGA Tour event the next year (Grillo, Hadley), and Saunders has enough experience to be comfortable.
Best Players Without a Major Title
Eight of the last nine major winners have been first-time major champions. Even so, the list of players that could win a major is long. Here are some of the best.
Matsuyama is the highest ranked player in the world without a major championship, but at just 25 years old, time is definitely on his side. Since turning pro in 2013, he has seven top-10s in 19 starts. He’s collected at least one top-six in each of the four majors over his career.
Fowler has done everything BUT win in the majors. He’s got seven top-five finishes, including two last year at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He’s got the ball striking skills and the touch on the greens to win.
Rahm has the necessary talent to win multiple majors, back he needs a little more seasoning. In a season when he contended seemingly every week, he wasn’t much of a factor in the majors. His best result in six starts in the majors is a T-23 at the 2016 U.S. Open, when he was still an amateur.
Since 2010, Kuchar has made the cut in 28 of 31 majors he’s played. Last year was his best performance, placing in the top 16 in all four, including his first runner-up finish at the British Open. His T-9 at the PGA Championship was the 10th top-10 of his career.
Casey has been a regular on the first page of leaderboards in the toughest fields of professional golf. In the last two years, he’s placed in the top 13 five times. Augusta seems to be the most likely place for him to get his first major victory – he’s finished in the top six each of the last three years.
Reed’s game had never really translated to the majors, but 2016-17 saw him earn a T-2 at the PGA Championship and a T-13 at the U.S. Open.
Leishman has a number of high finishes in the majors, and he’s coming off a career year in 2016-17. Three of the last four years he’s finished in the top six at the British Open, including in 2015 when he lost in a playoff.
Despite being just 24 years old, Berger already has a pair of PGA Tour wins and is ranked in the top 25 of the World Golf Rankings. He has just one top-10 in a major, though, finishing T-10 at the 2016 Masters.
Kisner has really come on the past few seasons on the PGA Tour, but he’s hasn’t had much success in the majors. He finally broke through at the 2017 PGA Championship, when he held the lead after the first three rounds. Unfortunately, he struggled on Sunday and had to settle for a T-7, his first-ever top-10 in a major.
Fitzpatrick has yet to turn 23, but he’s already won four times as a professional. Hs best result in a major came at the 2016 Masters when he finished T-7.
The 2012 NCAA Individual champion is one of the best young players in Europe. At 25 years old, he’s already played his way onto a Ryder Cup team, where he more than held his own. He had an up-and-down 2016-17, but did earn four top-five finishes, including a T-4 at the Masters and two top-fives in WGC events.
Snedeker is one of the best putters in the game – a necessary skill to win a major. It’s helped him collect nine top-10 finishes in the majors, with five of them coming at the U.S. Open. He also has three top-10s at the Masters, including a T-3 in 2008.
Westwood, now 44 years old, likely has seen his window close to finally get a major title. But his record shows that he cannot be taken lightly. He holds the record for most top-three finishes without a victory, earning his ninth with a T-2 at the 2016 Masters.