Sports Events and Previews

2016 PGA Championship: Odds, Picks and Preview

2016 PGA Championship

Post by: Mike Philipps

The third major in just seven weeks takes place this week (July 28-31), as the PGA Championship is held at historic Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course (par 70, 7,428 yards) in Springfield, New Jersey. Once again, golf’s addition to the Summer Olympics has caused an adjustment in the schedule, with the PGA Championship moving up nearly a month from its normal spot in mid-August.

This marks the second time Baltusrol’s Lower Course has hosted the PGA Championship, with Phil Mickelson winning the Wanamaker Trophy back in 2005. Baltusrol has two courses – the Upper and the Lower – that have hosted major championships. In all, this will be the club’s 11th major, as it has also hosted seven U.S. Opens and two U.S. Women’s Opens. The Lower Course offers a unique par 70 layout, as there are no par 5s until the last two holes. Included is the 649-yard 17th – a true three-shot hole even for today’s bombers.

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Last year’s PGA Championship saw Jason Day set a major tournament scoring record of 20-under-par at Whistling Straits, as he held off Jordan Spieth to win his first major. Day fired four rounds in the 60s, never ending a day of competition lower than third place. It was a truly dominant performance.

155 of the world’s best professionals will take their last chance at winning a major in 2016. Because the field is comprised of only professionals, it is deemed to be the toughest field in all of golf. All of the world’s top-50 ranked players are in the field, making the list of players to consider taking a punt on a long one.

As for betting on the 2016 PGA Championship, three players are currently priced as the runaway favourites. Golf bookmakers have priced Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy as the most dominant players – all with odds of either 8/1 or 9/1.

Today, we’ll be talking about the top favourites, a few longer-shot players who might be worth a look and mention a few players who should probably best be avoided. Finally, we will close up this golf preview with a look at the current betting odds for every player to win the PGA Championship outright.

Favourites to Win the PGA Championship

Jason Day (8/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 1

What to like: Not only is Day the defending champion, but he’s finished in the top 10 in five of the last six majors. Day has also added three wins – the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC Accenture Match Play and THE PLAYERS Championship – to his resume in 2016.

What not to like: Since his win at THE PLAYERS made it seven victories in 17 events, Day has not won in his last five starts. Included was a bit of a meltdown where he lost a two-shot lead on the back nine on Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone and a bit of a struggle at the RBC Canadian.

At the PGA Championship: Day finally got his major championship at last year’s PGA Championship, becoming the first player to post a final score of 20-under in a major in the process. Before the breakthrough win, Day tallied three top-15s in the previous five starts at the PGA.

Last event: Day battled back from a second-round 76 to earn a T-14 at the RBC Canadian Open. Rounds of 69 and 67 on the weekend brought him back to 7-under-par.

Dustin Johnson (8/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 2

What to like: Well, pretty much everything. DJ is playing the best golf of his career and is as hot a player as there is. He just notched his sixth straight top-10, and he’s finished within the top five in eight of his last 11 starts.

What not to like: It’s a little bit nitpicky considering he ranks 2nd in strokes gained off the tee, but Johnson ranks just 151st in driving accuracy. Finding flaws are tough at this point.

At the PGA Championship: Johnson has been so close to adding the Wanamaker Trophy to his collection, finishing in the top eight in three of his last five starts. The most memorable close call being at the 2010 event at Whistling Straits when he incurred a stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole, which kept him out of a playoff.

Last event: Johnson just missed getting into a playoff at the RBC Canadian Open last week. His eagle chip on the 72nd hole came up about 18 inches short, so he had to settle for a T-2.

Rory McIlroy (8/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 4

What to like: The four-time major winner has as much talent as anyone on tour, and he almost seems due for a big performance. After all, he’s been putting himself in contention regularly, earning top-10s in eight of his last 11 starts.

What not to like: McIlory hasn’t been winning like we have grown accustomed to – he has just one in 2016. And while he has some good finishes in majors, he hasn’t been a serious contender since he won the PGA Championship in 2014.

At the PGA Championship: In seven starts, McIlroy has four top-three finishes, which includes a dominating eight-shot victory at Kiawah Island in 2012 and another win at Valhalla in 2014. Last year, the PGA was his first event after suffering a serious ankle injury, and he still managed to finish 17th.

Last event: McIlroy used a final-round 67 to jump up into a tie for fifth at the British Open. It was the best round of the day outside of the final pairing. The week was not without its issues, though, as McIlroy broke his 3-wood on an errant shot in the third round. It seems that he is frustrated with his lack of winning lately, too.

Jordan Spieth (10/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 3

What to like: Spieth’s resume in the majors is about as good as it gets. Six of the 14 majors he’s played have wound up with Spieth in the top five – two of those in victories.

What not to like: The last two entries on that major resume aren’t the best. Spieth was not really in contention in either the U.S. Open (T-37) or the British Open (T-30). Overall, Spieth has just two top-10s in his last seven starts on tour – that seems inconceivable after the year he put together in 2015.

At the PGA Championship: Before Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson dueled at Royal Troon for the Claret Jug redefined what a two-man show really is, Spieth and eventual winner Jason Day had the most memorable recent duel in a major at last year’s PGA. Playing alongside Day on Sunday, Spieth battled as long as he could before succumbing to the Aussie’s record-setting performance. Still, Spieth finished in 2nd place at 17-under.

Last event: Spieth ended a string of 10 straight rounds in a major in which he failed to break par by firing a final-round 68 at the British Open, but it simply made a pedestrian week look better than it actually was. The 22-year-old Texan finished T-30, but was never in contention, as he was never within the top 50 at the end of play the previous three rounds.

The Next Best Picks

Henrik Stenson (15/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 5

What to like: A final-round 63 at the British Open to win his first major comes to mind. Stenson displayed to the world his absolute best, showcasing his normal stellar ball striking with some putting that was unusually good. By winning the Claret Jug in an epic duel with Phil Mickelson, Stenson has now won two of his last three starts.

What not to like: This may seem like a stretch after watching his torch Troon, but before his win at the BMW PGA International Open, Stenson had missed two of his previous four cuts and also had to withdraw from the U.S. Open due to injury. Also keep in mind how difficult it is to win back-to-back majors, let alone the one following your first.

At the PGA Championship: In his last six starts, Stenson has finished in the top six four times. He finished in the top three in 2013 and 2014.

Last event: Stenson tied the major record by finishing 20-under-par en route to his first major victory at the British Open. The 40-year-old Swede fired the low round of the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. STATS from BRITISH

Phil Mickelson (25/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 13

What to like: Mickelson showed how good his best still is, as his performance at the British Open would have normally resulted in a two-day coronation over the weekend, as he lapped every player in the field but one. Mickelson tied the record for lowest round in a major with his first-round 63 and showed great resilience with a final-round 65. It marked Lefty’s third runner-up finish this year (and 11th in his career in majors) and his sixth top-five.

What not to like: While he would have won almost every other year, the fact is that Mickelson didn’t win, and his winless streak is now over three years long. At 46-years-old, you can only wonder how long he can continue to play like he did at Royal Troon.

At the PGA Championship: Mickelson earned his Wanamaker Trophy back in 2005, the last time the event was held at Baltusrol. In all, Mickelson has played in 23 PGA Championships, finishing in the top ten nine times, with four of those being in the top three. His most recent top-10 came in 1994 when he finished 2nd to Rory McIlroy at Valhalla.

Last event: Mickelson put on a great show at Royal Troon, but his amazing performance was only good enough for 2nd place to Henrik Stenson. His score of 17-under-par was good enough to win every other British Open but four.

Sergio Garcia (30/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 10

What to like: Garcia is on quite a tear of late, finishing in the top five in five of his last six starts, including a victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. Two of the other top-fives were in majors.

What not to like: Sergio’s own belief in his ability to win a major is an issue. Everyone knows he has the game to contend – he’s finished in the top six in three of the last five majors he’s played. But does he have the mental toughness to finally get the monkey off his back?

At the PGA Championship: The most vivid imagery of Garcia came at the 1999 PGA when he was a 19-year-old rookie and he ran after a shot he hit from a tree root. He eventually finished 2nd to Tiger Woods, but he hasn’t seen much success there, of late. In his last seven starts at the PGA, Garcia has missed three cuts and finished better than 35th just once.

Last event: Garcia finished T-5 at the British Open at Royal Troon, his third straight top 10 at golf’s oldest major. He was in contention going into the weekend before Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson ran away from the field.

Branden Grace (40/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 12

What to like: Grace’s recent results both in the majors and on the regular tours are very impressive. In the majors, he’s finished in the top five in three of the last six events. On the PGA and European Tours, Grace has a win and three other top-10s in his last seven starts.

What not to like: Grace’s performance in Scotland was surprisingly poor, finishing T-29 at the Scottish Open and T-72 at the British Open.

At the PGA Championship: Last year’s third-place finish built on an already impressive major season for Grace in 2015. He shot a third-round 64 – the second-lowest round of the tournament – to try and keep pace with Jason Day and Jordan Spieth before settling for 3rd. Before that, Grace had made just one cut in three tries at the PGA, finishing T-46 in 2014.

Last event: Grace just couldn’t figure out Royal Troon, as he carded a worse score each day. A final-round 77 ballooned his final score to 13-over-par and a near last place finish.

Matt Kuchar (40/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 17

What to like: Kuchar has been a top-10 machine in 2016. Since late-March, he has eight top-10s in 12 starts, and he hasn’t gone consecutive weeks without such a finish in that span.

What not to like: Despite all his high finishes, Kuchar hasn’t won since April 2014. Kuchar also hasn’t seen the same type of success recently in majors. He has just one top-10 in his last nine major starts.

At the PGA Championship: In his eight career starts, Kuchar has managed two top-10s, with his best finish being last year when he tied for 7th.

Last event: Kuchar found himself in contention again at the RBC Canadian Open last week. The former Georgia Tech star hung around the top 10 all week before notching another top-10, finish in a tie for 9th at 9-under-par.

PGA Championship Long Shots

Jim Furyk (50/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 22

What to like: Furyk played his best of what has been an injury-shortened season in a major, when he finished T-2 at the U.S. Open at Oakmont. When he is going, he showed he is still a force.

What not to like: Furyk has still only played nine competitive events this season, and his T-2 at the U.S. Open is his only top-10 finish thus far.

At the PGA Championship: Furyk has played in 20 PGA Championship in his career, tallying six top-10s since 1995. In 2013 and 2014, Furyk put together consecutive top-five finishes.

Last event: Furyk finished in 13th place at the RBC Canadian Open last week, thanks to a final-round 68. That actually marked his worst performance in the event since 2012.

JB Holmes (80/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 16

What to like: 2016 has easily been Holmes’ best year in the majors, tallying a pair of top-five finishes (T-4 at the Masters, 3rd at the British Open). Over the last year, Holmes has also claimed five other top-10s and had a string of 17 straight cuts made.

What not to like: Mixed in with his 3rd place finish at the British Open and his T-4 at the Memorial, Holmes has missed three of his last six cuts. Also, before this year, he doesn’t have any real success in the majors. In his 22 major starts prior to 2016, Holmes missed the cut of withdrew a total of 10 times while not finishing higher than 14th once.

At the PGA Championship: The PGA has been Holmes’ most likely chance to play the weekend, as he has done so in five of seven tries in his career. A pair of 24th place finishes (2015, 2010) are his best results, though.

Last event: Holmes used a pair of weekend 69s to claim 3rd place by himself at Royal Troon. Holmes was under par in all four rounds there.

From Way Off the Green

Steve Stricker (100/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 87

What to like: Despite playing a limited schedule, Stricker’s game seems to be rounding into form. Stricker has placed in the top four in two of the last three events he’s played, including a 4th place finish at the British Open two weeks ago. Now fully healthy, Stricker can use a deadly putter and steady all-around game to hang with the big hitters.

What not to like: Stricker is heading towards his 50th birthday, and he simply does not play much anymore. When he has played and been in contention, he has a tendency to fade down the stretch.

At the PGA Championship: The Wisconsin native has made nine of his last 10 cuts at the PGA. Within that span, he has six top-20s, including three seventh place finishes (2014, 2012 and 2006).

Last event: Stricker fired three rounds in the 60s at the British Open to claim 4th place by himself. His third-round 68 tied for the best round of the day.

Keegan Bradley (100/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 109

What to like: Bradley has two of his best results in a while at two loaded fields, finishing T-8 at the Memorial in June and T-18 at the British Open two weeks ago. What’s most to like is Bradley’s record at the PGA Championship though. In five attempts to win the Wanamaker, Bradley had three top 20s.

What not to like: The fact Bradley has missed more than half the cuts in the last 19 events he’s played is not good. In 2015-16, Bradley has just four top-20s and two top-10s in 22 events played.

At the PGA Championship: Bradley won the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club as a rookie back in 2011. The next two years he finished T-3 and T-19. The past two years have been rough, though, missing the cut in 2014 and finishing T-61 last year.

Last event: Bradley was in the thick of things at the British Open, heading into the weekend in third position at 7-under-par. A disappointing 76 on Saturday led to him finishing T-18 – his best finish since a T-4 at the 2014 U.S. Open.

Jhonattan Vegas (150/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 86

What to like: Vegas has shown the ability go low. Very low. In his last two events, Vegas has put together three rounds of 65 or better, including a round of 60 in the second round at the Barbasol Championship two weeks ago. While the 60 grabbed headlines, it was Vegas that grabbed the trophy with his final-round 64 at the RBC Canadian Open last week. Vegas has moved up 151 spots in the World Golf Rnakings in the last two weeks.

What not to like: Before his recent outburst, Vegas hadn’t finished in the top 40 in any of his last seven events. This will also be just his third major championship, and his first since 2011. Jitters could play a factor.

At the PGA Championship: Vegas’s one made cut in a major came at the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Vegas’s score of 6-over earned him a T-51.

Last event: Vegas sat in the clubhouse and watched as player after player tried to catch his posted 12-under score. They all – including World No. 2 Dustin Johnson – tried and failed. Vegas birdied the last three holes on his way to a 64 and his second career PGA Tour win.

Tyrell Hatton (200/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 53

What to like: Hatton has finished in the top 20 in seven of his last nine events. Three of those results were top five-finishes, including his last two starts at the Scottish Open (2nd) and the British Open (T-5).

What not to like: The 24-year-old Englishman has only played in six majors in his career, missing the cut four times.

At the PGA Championship: Hatton has played just once in the PGA Championship, but he made the cut last year and finished tied for 25th.

Last event: Hatton carded four rounds of par or better at the British Open to finish tied for 5th. The highlight of his week came in the way of a final-round 68.

Players to Avoid

Rickie Fowler (25/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 7

What to like: Fowler has managed to earn eight top-10 finishes in 2016, including a win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January.

What not to like: Only one of those top-10s have come in the past two months. Fowler has really struggled since mid-May, missing the cut in three of the six events he’s played.

At the PGA Championship: Fowler has made the cut in five of the six PGA Championships he has played. His best result was a T-3, which came during his amazing 2014 run in the majors. That year, Fowler finished in the top five of all four.

Last event: Fowler posted a 2-under opening round at the British Open two weeks ago, but failed to break par in the final three rounds on his way to a T-46 finish. Fowler carded a quadruple bogey on the par-4 11th on Saturday when he hit two approach shots out of bounds.

Bubba Watson (30/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 6

What to like: Bubba is still one of the longest hitters in the game, ranking fourth in driver distance – that should help him conquer the 649-yard 17th hole at Baltusrol All that power helped lead Watson to three top-10s (including a win and a runner-up) this year before spring even started. He’s currently enjoying a streak of 22 straight events in which he’s made the cut.

What not to like: While he’s been playing weekends, Watson hasn’t been finishing near the top of leaderboards. He has just one top-10 in his last eight starts, and his best finish in a major this year is the T-39 he took at the British Open two weeks ago.

At the PGA Championship: Watson finished 2nd to Martin Kaymer at the 2010 PGA, losing in a playoff. Since then, Watson has just one top-20 in the event, a T-11 in 2012 at Kiawah Island.

Last event: Watson failed to break par in a single round during his T-39 performance at the British Open. It marked the 10th straight time Watson has finished outside the top 20 in a major.

Brooks Koepka (40/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 18

What to like: Koepka was playing very good golf before suffering an ankle injury. He had back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Byron Nelson and St Jude, followed up by a solid T-13 at the U.S. Open. Koepka has also shown he is able to handle the big stage, finishing inside the top 20 in six of his last nine majors, with two of those being top-fives.

What not to like: Koepka’s bum ankle. The 26-year-old had to withdraw from the WGC-Bridgestone and the British Open due to a torn ligament in his right ankle. Baltusrol will be his first competitive rounds in almost four weeks. The injury seems to be the biggest factor in deciding whether to choose Koepka this week.

At the PGA Championship: Koepka has made the cut in all three of the PGA Championships he has played, improving his standing each time as well. He earned a T-15 at Kiawah Island in 2014 and a T-5 at Whistling Straits last year.

Last event: Koepka’s had to withdraw during the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone because of his ankle. His last full event was at the U.S. Open, where his finished T-13.

Brandt Snedeker (60/1)

World Golf Ranking: No. 21

What to like: Snedeker put together his best performance in almost six months with his T-5 at the RBC Canadian Open.

What not to like: Before last week’s T-5 at the RBC Canadian Open, Snedeker was scuffling. His previous eight starts produced just one top-20 (T-17 at the Dean & Deluca Invitational) and four missed cuts.

At the PGA Championship: Snedeker has seen his best two results at the PGA in his last two years, earning a T-13 at Valhalla and a T-12 at Whistling Straits. In his seven prior starts, he finished in the top 20 just once while missing three cuts.

Last event: Snedeker entered the final round of the RBC Canadian Open with a one-shot lead and had a chance to get into a playoff had he been able to eagle the par-5 18th. Unfortunately for him, his second shot plugged into a greenside bunker, dashing any chances he had. Instead, Snedeker had to settle for a T-5 finish.

Previous PGA Championship winners in the field

Day, McIlroy (2), Jason Dufner, Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Y.E. Yang, Padraig Harrington, Mickelson, Vijay Singh (2), Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, David Toms, John Daly

Other Markets

While we have focused on picking the outright champion, remember that the best bookmakers for golf will also host a wide range of alternative markets. For example, golf betting sites will offer:

  • Top European
  • Top American
  • Top Asian
  • Top Englishman
  • Top golfer for many more countries
  • Whether or not there will be a play off
  • Hole in one
  • Top 5 finish
  • 1st round leader
  • Winning margin

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