The PGA Championship begins this week at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The second major of the year should provide a brutal test, as this championship golf course has been stretched out to more than 7,500 yards. With water in play on 15 of the 18 holes and strong winds expected, this Par 70 set-up is an absolute beast.
As with any golf tournament, particularly majors, there’s no shortage of betting action. From recreational bettors placing a few wagers on their favorite golfers to sharps looking for those juicy value picks. As conversations swirl among a handful of heavy favorites, some mid-tier guys, and a few longshots, there are good arguments to be had about who might prove profitable this week.
We’ve seen a number of names that have picked up steam in the betting market. As a general rule, when action comes in heavy enough to drop the odds significantly, it’s a good idea to stay away. Betting on golfers who have been steamed down is a losing proposition as the betting value simply is no longer there.
There are a few players this week who are attracting unnecessarily heavy action in the marketplace. They all share two similar traits: these are super likable guys who are playing good golf. It’s simple to understand why fans are betting them — they want to see their favorite golfers win.
And I agree! These are great guys. I just don’t think they’re good bets.
Trap Bet No. 1: Jordan Spieth 16-to-1 Odds
Spieth is currently the darling of the sports betting world. He is finally trending in the right direction after seemingly treading water since the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Having regained his championship form, Spieth has been on a heater. A win at the RBC Heritage, a runner-up finish last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, and a few other strong finishes are hard to ignore.
Spieth’s storyline this week is attractive. With a win at the PGA Championship, he’ll complete the career Grand Slam of having won all four golf majors.
I love Spieth, and I think he’ll play well this week. But at 16/1? The betting value on him to win outright has evaporated.
Value Pick Instead: Dustin Johnson 28-to-1 Odds
DJ missed the cut at last year’s PGA but was runner up in both 2019 and 2020. He also has six top 10s in his last 10 outings at the PGA Championship. While he hasn’t exactly shown up at the last two tournaments (MC at RBC Heritage, T-59 AT&T Byron Nelson), he finished T-12 at The Masters, fourth at the WGC-Match Play, and T-12 at The Players. He shows up at the big events.
With most of the bettors off his scent, DJ makes a juicy contrarian play this week. And with a price tag almost twice as good as Spieth’s, he’s simply a better bet this week.
Trap Bet No. 2 Max Homa 50-to-1 Odds
This one stings a bit. Because, like Spieth, I really like Max Homa.
The PGA Tour’s favorite social media presence has been getting a ton of action after his victory at the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac. With four career wins under his belt and his game rounding into form at the right time, bettors have steamed Homa all the way down to 50/1 at some sportsbooks. Bettors could have bet him as high as 175/1 a few weeks ago.
Homa has played in only 11 majors as a pro. He’s missed the cut eight times and doesn’t own a finish higher than 40th. Not exactly a great track record. And definitely not the history of someone you would expect to see in the top 20 pre-tournament favorites.
Value Pick Instead: Tony Finau 66-to-1 Odds
If we’re looking for a guy who’s trending in the right direction and looks poised to make the next leap in his career then give me Top Ten Tony. While he hasn’t had much luck in the wins department, Finau shows up at majors. Period.
Having competed in 35 majors, Finau has missed the cut just three times. More importantly, he owns ten top 10s and four top 5s in his career at the majors. This includes a T-4 in 2020 and a T-8 at the 2021 PGA Championship.
We’re getting a better golfer, with a better PGA Championship history, at a better price.
Thank you. Next.
Trap Pick No. 3: Cameron Smith 20-to-1 Odds
Another golfer you might want to avoid this week is Cameron Smith.
The Aussie, like Spieth and Homa, is hard not to like. The easy-going Players Champion loves fishing and his family, and that hair/mustache combo is legendary stuff. He’s an easy guy to root for.
But at 20-to-1 odds? No.
If you look at Smith’s track record at the PGA Championship, you’ll notice something pretty alarming:
It’s terrible. God-awful. Downright bad.
In his last five trips, he’s managed to miss the cut twice and hasn’t placed higher than 43rd. While he’s picked up steam as a serious major contender, there’s recency bias among gamblers after his strong showing at the Masters.
Sure, Smith has five top 10s in his major career, but four of those came at Augusta National. That means he probably has some discomfort when competing on these longer golf courses. And while he could absolutely prevail this week, his +2000 price is way shorter than it should be.
Value Pick Instead: Brooks Koepka 40-to-1 Odds
It seems that everyone on Planet Earth has forgotten that Brooks Koepka is a giant killer. A beast. A major contender through and through. And he’s been particularly impressive at the PGA Championship.
Here’s how he’s fared over his last eight trips to the PGA: T-15 , T-5, T-4, T-13, 1st, 1st, T-29, T-2
There’s concern that since Koepka missed the cuts at both The Players and The Masters, there’s something wrong with his swing. Well…
The Players was chaos this year, with Koepka one of the unfortunate golfers who got caught on the wrong side of the draw and had to play in gale-force winds.
As for The Masters? Koepka also missed the cut at the Masters last year. How did that impact his major championship performances for the rest of 2021?
T-2 PGA Championship
T-4 US Open
T-6 The Open
Give me Koepka at double the price of Cameron Smith, a guy who’s never seriously competed at the PGA.
For anyone looking to take sports betting a little more seriously, it’s important to understand that sometimes the best bets are the ones you don’t make. Don’t chase bad odds. Preserve your bankroll and strike when the right opportunity presents itself.