PGA Tour Expert Picks: PGA Championship pre-tournament best bets
“Glory’s Last Shot,” has become “Glory’s First Shot.”
The former slogan had headlined the PGA Championship for decades because it used to be the fourth and final major of every golf season. It is generally the second one these days, scheduled under normal circumstances for mid-May. But these are not normal circumstances, as the coronavirus pandemic has completely restructured the professional golf calendar such that this tournament is now the first major of 2020 (it will be followed by the U.S. Open and the Masters, with the British Open having been canceled).
Who will triumph at TPC Harding Park on the outskirts of San Francisco, Calif. to lift the first major trophy of the year? FedEx St. Jude Invitational winner Justin Thomas and two-time defending PGA Championship champion Brooks Koepka are the favorites at +1000. They are just ahead of Rory McIlroy (+1400), Jon Rahm (+1400), and Bryson DeChambeau (+1600). Tiger Woods is playing just his second event since the PGA Tour returned from a three-month hiatus and he is going off at +3500.
Let’s take a look at the best bets heading into the first-round action on Thursday. And be sure to check out our outright winner pick plus daily best bets on the PGA Tour picks page.
Justin Thomas to beat Brooks Koepka (-110)
Thomas beating Koepka…. Sound familiar? Yes, it just happened last week at the FedEx St. Jude in Memphis, Tenn. Koepka made it close, but he was wet on the 72nd hole to end his hopes for a victory. Thus Thomas could hardly be heading to California with any more confidence than he is right now. After all, he is absolutely on fire at the moment. The 27-year-old American moved up to No. 1 in the world thanks to his victory in Memphis in addition to a runner-up result at the Workday Charity Open and a total of nine top-10 performances already this season. Koepka lives for major championships (he has won four of them), but prior to last week he had gone MC, T62, MC in his last three tournaments. A left knee that is not 100 percent makes the world No. 6 even less trustworthy, so Thomas has to be the pick in this head-to-head showdown.
Tommy Fleetwood to win his first-round pairing (+163)
Fleetwood is paired with Viktor Hovland and Hideki Matsuyama, so taking care of business against his playing partners on Thursday will be no easy task (that’s why he—and both Hovland and Matsuyama, for that matter—is plus money). But it is a task from which Fleetwood will not shy away. The 13th-ranked Englishman stayed away from the United States most of the summer and then quarantined in New York, where he played round after round at Shinnecock—a major championship course that will have him ready for this week. Fleetwood missed the cut at the 3M Open but is coming off a T35 result in Memphis, where he fired a final-round 65 to boost his confidence in a major way. It is also worth noting that the 29-year-old has three top-four finishes at majors dating back to 2017. Hovland has been one of the tour’s most impressive players this summer, but he appeared to cool off with finishes outside the top 47 at the Memorial and the FedEx St. Jude. Meanwhile, in five starts since golf’s return Matsuyama has no result better than 20th.
Tony Finau to finish in the top 20 (+175)
Finau has become one of the best players to have never won a major. Is this the time for the No. 17 player in the world? Well, probably not—but that’s not because of him; it’s because of the competition level. Guys like Thomas, Koepka, and DeChambeau simply look too good. Finau does not necessarily control his own destiny…but he does control his own destiny when it comes to finishing in the top 20. The 30-year-old American already has two top-10 performances this summer (eighth at The Memorial and third at the 3M Open) and he has been outstanding in major championships in recent seasons. In 2018 he posted was top 10 three times (the Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open) and in 2019 he was top five twice (the Masters and British Open). Based on current form and his ability to thrive on the big stage, Finau should coast into the top 20 at Harding Park.Last updated: Wed 5th August 2020