The PGA Championship starts Thursday morning, which feels a little bit strange in the middle of May at a course famous for hosting the U.S Open, but I’m not complaining. This is one of the most stacked fields in golf, so picking a winner is not always the easiest thing, and I think there are a lot of questions surrounding the golf course. We want to identify fit and story that fits the golfers we attack, but with a relative lack of knowledge about what will truly dominate here, we may have to spread on a few different ideas.
Bethpage Black is a 7400-yard, par-70 course that has been played in a few different fashions over the last 20 years. We saw Bethpage host both the 2002 and the 2009 U.S. Open, which produced winners of Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover, respectively. We have also seen the course played at the first stage of the FedEx Cup a few times.
I would expect the course to play in between the difficulties of those two tournaments. We all know that the U.S. Open is typically made to play as tough as possible, where the PGA is often seen as the most scoring friendly major, along with the Masters depending on the conditions. I would expect the winner here to be around -10 with a cut line between +2 and even depending on the course layout.
The USGA often puts pin locations and tee locations in rather tough spots. I do not expect that, but I expect the course to be relatively similar other than that. The course has seen a lot of rain recently, which will often cause the course to play longer and will also typically make the approach shots stick to the green a little more. There are a few ways to attack that idea. Find guys that hit the ball long because this course already plays long like it is with a lot of par 4s between 450-500 yards.
Long hitters should avoid these really long approach shots and have better looks to stick it close. Another idea is that you have to take guys that hit the fairway because the rough will be very penal if you miss the fairway. You can also attack good second-shot golfers because they will be the best at scrambling for par if they have to lay up, and they will also be able to take advantage of the potentially soft greens. You will have long approach shots on this golf course.
We have to talk about the most polarizing player in the golf betting world, Tiger Woods. The issue I have with Tiger is that the odds are inflated at all times. This is great for some, but I have been touting Tiger as a legitimate contender for about a year, which was laughed at at the time. This course doesn’t fit Tiger like a glove, but he has been absolutely fantastic in approach shots and grinding out pars. Tiger has been a wizard at avoiding bad holes because of his irons. At +1100, I’m not sprinting to bet Tiger to win again, but I will bet him in some matchups and daily round bets.
My favorite value on the board is Hideki Matsuyama at +4000. Matsuyama is an elite iron player who struggles to stay consistent with the putter. If iron play is as important as I believe it will be, I think Hideki’s pinpoint accuracy will help vault him to the top of the board.
Adam Scott (+5000), Webb Simpson (+7000), and Rafa Cabrera Bello (+10000) are my three favorite plays outside of the top 15 golfers. All three are in fine form and are golfers capable of playing at a really high level. Cabrera Bello is not on the same level in that regard, but his odds are much longer, and he has a similar skill set. Simpson and Scott are both players that can go nuclear on the approach shots, and that is what I want to attack. This course will not provide a ton of huge days for golfers, but these players all have capabilities to get into a zone and shoot -5 when everyone else is +2.