We just finished the PGA Tour season, but this year that means things are just getting started. Last week we got a new year underway at the Safeway Open, but that was just an appetizer for what we have this week. We are ready to go for the second major of 2020 with the U.S. Open set to take place at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. This will bring a test like no other, and already there is chatter about how high this winning score could be.
Last week we found ourselves with a borderline alt event field given that almost all the big-name players were trying to get some rest after a grueling FedEx Cup Playoff schedule. Add in that Safeway is in California, and that was a cross-country flight that most guys opted to skip. We will have the best of the best available to us here, and that means big odds on a lot of world-class players.
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PGA Betting: Futures/Outright Winners
Justin Thomas 14-1
It’s clear that Dustin Johnson is the favorite and the guy to beat, but I am not running to bet him at a ridiculous 17-2. This is an incredibly deep and difficult field to navigate, and there is absolutely no value in the very top of the betting board. Having said that, I am drawn to Justin Thomas, who sits third in the markets but at a much more reasonable 14-1 number. That is almost double the odds we have from Johnson, and I would much rather back Thomas in this spot.
When we look at Thomas’ performance since the restart, we get a very clear picture of how his game looks. He gained every single week tee to green but was unable to fully capitalize because of a cold putter. Over the last five events Thomas has lost strokes gained putting in four of them, including at the WGC St. Jude, a tournament he won. That shows you how well he is striking it, and any regression with the putter will have him in contention here. Thomas is built to handle any type of course layout, and we are just waiting on the flat stick to cooperate before he finds the winners circle again.
Patrick Reed 34-1
This type of test is so unique that it is hard to really get a sample size of players dealing with these conditions. More often than not we see this at U.S. Opens, but the venues change so there are a lot moving parts when looking at U.S. Open history. Regardless there are certain players who are built to grind out brutal courses, and Patrick Reed certainly is one of them.
Reed comes into this off a quality eighth-place finish in the FedEx Cup and a solid run after the restart. The stats are never going to jump off the page with Reed as he isn’t a world-class ball striker, but he still consistently gains tee to green. Add that to a top-shelf short game, and we have a guy who possesses all the tools to handle any type of course. With the field strength being the best of the best, there are numbers in the mid 30s or possibly even close to 40-1 depending on which books you have available to you. I am willing to take a shot here with Reed, as he is built to add another major to the resume at a course like this.
Rickie Fowler 11-2
I will say Rickie Fowler is sitting at 70-1 in the outright market, so if you want to burn some money, that is a spot to look at. Unfortunately I am going the more conservative route with Fowler, who has had a disappointing 2020. He is undergoing a swing change, which accounts for some of the struggles, but he also seemingly gets himself into trouble regardless of the situation. Over this restart season, we have seen some rounds flirting with 80 and a missed six-inch putt that caused a missed cut at the PGA Championship. These type of situations blur what has been some flashes of top-end golf from Fowler, who I still believe has all the tools to compete on tour.
Despite some struggles tee to green, the other factor we have to consider is Fowler hasn’t putted nearly as well as he can during the restart. His best putting performance was just 1.7 strokes gained at the Northern Trust, and that is not nearly enough for a guy this good with the flat stick. The formula for Fowler is striking it well enough to give him chances on the greens and then make more than most with possibly the strongest club in his bag.
This course will demand accuracy off the tee, but if Fowler can avoid trouble there, I actually like the setup. He is a world-class short game player, and long term I still trust him on these greens over most. With his price in the basement, you are getting over 5-1 on a top-10 finish for a guy who has shown he easily can get in the mix in majors, especially if the putter gets back to normal.
Martin Kaymer (+100) vs. Jordan Spieth
We head to the matchup market here, as there are a bunch of individual matchups to break down if you are looking for less volatility. Another reason to bet a matchup is you are looking to short a specific player, and you can take several head-to-heads with him in there hoping he doesn’t find the weekend.
The matchup I’m going to here has Martin Kaymer, hoping to build off a string of good showing over in Europe, against Jordan Spieth, who is just looking for anything positive to happen. It is not a matchup that is generating big headlines, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in this spot.
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First off, Kaymer is coming off third- and second-place finishes over the last two weeks on the European Tour. This is a former U.S. Open winner who seemingly finds a way to make this cut even when his game isn’t firing on all cylinders. He has made three of his last four U.S. Open cuts, and the difficult course is a huge benefit to his game. If he can lean on the ball striking and avoid difficult situations around the green, he is live to find the weekend once again at a major.
On the other side is Spieth, who is coming off a missed cut at the Safeway Open, which was filled with lesser-known Tour players. It’s a possible new low in a series of lows for a guy who at one time was the favorite in tournaments like this. I still believe Spieth can find that form at some point, but there are absolutely no signs that will be this week.
In fact, the way he is driving the ball makes it seem highly unlikely that he will be able to handle this type of layout. Spieth has lost strokes off the tee in six straight events, and if one does that here, it is hard to avoid the bogeys. This matchup is more a fade of Spieth than a backing of Kaymer, but with the way these guys are playing heading into the event, I will gladly back Kaymer at straight even money.
If you are unfamiliar with PGA betting or are just looking to dive into it for the first time, make sure to try and understand each type of bet and how to properly allocate bankroll for each. When choosing a few outrights at long odds, we are hoping to hit one of those a year as it would pay for the entire season and then some. Think of that as the large-field GPPs where you hope to tread water and then rely on a big hit once every year or so to do major damage.
On the other side, we have head-to-head bets, which, naturally, are more like cash games or head-to-heads in DFS where you aren’t going to win a huge multiplier of your money, but also should be hitting them at a reasonable clip. Getting a clearer picture of what each bet is like is important as this is a long season with a lot of opportunities to take some stabs at these PGA odds.
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