GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of first major of the 2020 season, the PGA Championship.
PGA Championship | 6th-9th August 2020 | Sky Sports
Here we are, at long last, the first major of the year in August as golf's elite head to California to compete for the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Big Brooks Koepka is looking for a three-peat whilst Justin Thomas comes into the back of this having won last week's WGC – both are very, very worthy favourites at 10/1 or fewer.
Not too far behind is Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Bryson Dechambeau but for me, it could well come down to the duo right at the front of the market come Sunday. However, there's not much value or fun in backing one of the two favourites.
Next month will see the US Open before the strangely poised Masters in November.
TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California.
- Par 70, 7,234 yards
- Public course
- On the edge of the Pacific Ocean (wind!)
- Tree-lined parklands
- Large and undulating Bentgrass greens
- Has held 2015 WGC-Cadillac, 2009 Presidents Cup and x3 Charles Schwab Classics
- In short, big bombers who are exceptional ball-strikers
- Length is at a premium but so is accuracy with the rough looking particularly long and thick
- Long iron player, particularly 175+ yards and above could prove to be a key metric
- GIR vs Scrambling, either/or, both.
- Wind players
- A win in the last year is often a key trend for winners of this major
- Top 50 OWGR
- Current form – a top-30 last week should help
- Some correlated courses could include Quail (PGA '17), East Lake, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Olympic Club, Muirfield Village, PGA National & Kapalua.
Xander Schauffele (22/1 William Hill)
We were on X man last week at very similar odds and he managed to scrape in a tie for sixth place. Perhaps, this tougher test is even more up his street and if we're getting similar odds despite a very good showing, then there's some great value to be had.
Schauffele could've been in the hunt come Sunday but for an eight on the par-4 12th during his second round. If he makes par there, then he's on JT's winning -13 number. What's also encouraging is the fact that he only managed one other bogey or worse the whole week and you don't want to make those here.
Xander ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour for Approach, GIR, Scrambling and SG: Off-the-tee and inside the top-30 for Total Driving, which ticks further boxes here.
The American has won at East Lake and at Kapalua, two courses I think could link well with TPC Harding Park. Throw in T2s at the Masters and the Open as well as a T3 at the US Open in the past few years, then it only emphasises that Schauffele is a classy operator when it comes to tough tournaments.
Webb Simpson (28/1 William Hill)
An in-form world #4 isn't even in the first eight names of betting? That could be quite a madness, which is why Webb Simpson makes great appeal this week. Harding Park could well play like a US Open, which is the only major the American has won – and that was at Olympic Park, who have the same course designers as here.
Perhaps his performance last week has resulted in these odds but he only missed out on a T10 by one stroke. Simpson has arguably become one of the best players in the world recently, winning the Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage.
On the PGA Tour, he is 7th for Approach, 14th for GIR, T15th for Total Driving, 19th for Scrambling and is one of the best iron players from greater than 175 yards out. Exactly what we're looking for. I don't think he should be similar odds to both Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa at all. I was expecting him to be around 18-20/1 for this so lap up what you can.
Jason Day (40/1 William Hill)
Jason Day appears to be on a bit of a revival lately and it's hard not to ignore him this week. He's just hit three straight top-7s including a fourth at the Memorial. We know what we get with the Aussie in terms of short-game, which is a plus.
Meanwhile, right before a string of missed cuts and withdrawals due to injury problems, Day picked up decent finishes at both Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach – including another fourth at the latter.
I think of all the majors, the PGA is right up Day's street, especially given his win in 2015 at Whistling Straights before a runner-up the next year at Baltusrol (alongside Brooks, this week's fave). His other wins have come at big tournaments too, including two WGCs and a Players – and of course, he's won at Torrey twice in the past too.
We just need him to be accurate off the tee this week – if so, he could well be one of the names in contention. Fingers crossed three straight appearances hasn't put the strain on his back just yet.
Adam Scott (50/1 SkyBet)
A lot may pass on Adam Scott this week as it's his first appearance post-restart but he has been practising hard and going by social media, has even been playing at Harding Park for a week or so now.
The Aussie has won two of his last four outings, one of which was in similar nature being off the back of a break – winning the Genesis at Riviera. Scott is long and accurate off the tee, is one of the best ball-strikers in the game and is very adept in the wind. We just need a good week from that flat-stick.
He's another with a major and several WGCs in the bag whilst he's pretty much had a top-10 or a good go at winning at nearly all of the aforementioned correlated courses.
Louis Oosthuizen (66/1 SkyBet)
Louis Oosthuizen is an interesting prospect at 66/1 when SkyBet
are offering 11 places.
He doesn't play too often, though he is someone whose game seems to elevate at the majors – he's won an Open Championship and has also finished as the runner-up in all them since 2012.
A T6th at the WGC FedEx last week is very encouraging, putting up four solid rounds, which suggests his game is at the level we're looking for. I think one of the best comps this week is to Quail Hollow, and particularly to how they set it up for the 2017 edition in which JT won. Who was 2nd place that week? Oosty.
I feel like the 11 places on offer makes the South African even more enticing and is well worth a shot. You could, of course, take him a little longer with fewer places on offer too.
Billy Horschel (90/1 SkyBet)
Another that may have gone a little under the radar after a run of three straight top-25s is Billy Horschel. Interestingly, he pops off at a lot of those courses we've listed and has obviously won at East Lake. He's also inside the top 50 OWGR yet we're getting nearly three figures and 11 places.
Horschel is performing well tee-to-green and is someone whose game is fundamentally built on strong iron play. He could well be one that outplays his odds.
PGA Championship – Xander Schauffele (22/1 each-way William Hill)
PGA Championship – Webb Simpson (28/1 each-way William Hill)
PGA Championship – Jason Day (40/1 each-way William Hill)
PGA Championship – Adam Scott (50/1 each-way SkyBet)
PGA Championship – Louis Oosthuizen (66/1 each-way SkyBet)
PGA Championship – Billy Horschel (90/1 each-way SkyBet)