PGA Championship Betting Preview

The Wanamaker Trophy (Courtesy kompuder_dude)

The Wanamaker Trophy (Courtesy kompuder_dude)

The final major championship of 2013 is here, as Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York plays host to the 95th PGA Championship.
 
2013 PGA Championship Fact Sheet

  • Course: Oak Hill Country Club
  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Yardage: 7,163 yards, par 70
  • Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Brandt Snedeker

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (TNT)
  • Friday – 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (TNT)
  • Saturday – 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM ET (TNT) & 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday – 111:00 AM to 2:00 PM ET (TNT) & 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
 
This is obvious, right? Tiger Woods is still seeking his 15th major championship and he’s coming off of his most dominant win in years with his destruction of the field last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Everyone is waiting for him to win his next major, and now is as good of a time as any for that win to come, but let’s not forget that this is a tremendously talented field on a brutally tough golf course. I’m not going to get into the whole debate about whether or not he can still win major championships, or if his season can be considered a success without one because both of those things are utterly ridiculous. What I will say is that he’s the best player in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything is guaranteed. Here are a few of the other storylines I’m watching this week:

  • Rory McIlroy: Nobody knows what’s going on with McIlroy, himself included. He could miss the cut or win the tournament by ten, and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised by either.
  • Glory’s Last Shot: This used to be a tagline for the tournament, and while it’s not as widely used these days, it’s still applicable as the last major of the year. For players like McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, winning this tournament might not mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but for a guy like Lee Westwood who has yet to win a major, he’s seeing his window close.
  • The Younger Players: The last three winners of the PGA (McIlroy, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer) were all 25 years of age or younger when they won, and the list of players who are that age or younger now is better than it’s been in years. Winning a major at a young age can set a player up for life, and that’s a really big deal.

Oak Hill Country Club
 
There hasn’t been a professional tournament at Oak Hill, save for the 2008 Senior PGA, since the 2003 PGA Championship. That tournament will forever be remembered for the 7-iron hit by Shaun Micheel on the 18th hole, which allowed him to tap in for a two-shot victory over Chad Campbell. You can watch video of the shot below:
 

 
Now, as it relates to the tournament this week, Oak Hill is expected to have some of the thickest rough and tallest trees that any of these players have seen in their careers, so it’s going to be even more important to find the fairway. How difficult has the course played historically? In the five non-Senior stroke play events contested at Oak Hill, there have only been ten instances where a player has finished under par. At the ’08 Senior PGA, only twelve rounds were played under par, so history suggests that it’ll be difficult to score this week.
 
Also, there are some suggesting that the length of the course indicates that the players will be able to overpower the layout, but don’t forget that the same thing was said about Merion before the U.S. Open. Throw in the fact that a bunch of the players here have never played the course in a competitive setting, and you have a recipe for high scores.
 
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Tiger Woods: There’s no doubt that he’s the best player in the world, and the days of us getting him at 12-1 like we did earlier in the year at the Farmers are done. We know what’s at stake for him this week, and I have no doubt that he’s going to be in the mix, but much like last week, there’s simply no value at roughly 4-1. Last time at Oak Hill, he finished tied for 39th at 12-over par.
  • Phil Mickelson: Mickelson actually held the first round lead at Oak Hill back in 2003 after a 4-under par 66, but played the next three rounds in 12-over par and finished tied for 23rd. He’s won two of his last three events, and won the PGA back in 2005.
  • Adam Scott: Scott ended up tied with Mickelson back in 2003, and even though he’s only had one top-10 since winning the Masters back in April, he hasn’t had a terrible run recently either. He’s had some success at the PGA in the past, but the state of New York hasn’t been the best to him, with one top-10 finish in eleven starts.
  • Henrik Stenson: People might be surprised to see Stenson near the top of this list, but they shouldn’t be. He’s probably the hottest player in the world, finishing no worse than 10th since the end of June, including a pair of T3’s and a runner-up last week to Woods at Firestone. Sixth on the PGA Tour in fairways hit and second in GIR percentage.
  • Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker won two weeks ago at the Canadian Open, but never really got it going at the Bridgestone, firing four rounds in the 70’s and ending up tied for 33rd. Still seeking his first major, Oak Hill wouldn’t usually be a good fit for Snedeker, but his driving accuracy has improved significantly in 2013 and his short game is still as good as ever.

Suggested Plays
 
Lee Westwood (Best Odds 36-1 at BETDAQ)
Everyone knows Westwood’s deal at this point. He might be the best player int he world without a major championship win, and he almost passed that title to someone else last month, but Mickelson blew him away on Sunday at Muirfield. He missed the cut at Oak Hill back in 2003, but he’s a much better and more consistent player now than he was then. His usually solid ball striking let him down at Muirfield on Sunday, and I have a hard time believing that happens again. He’s finished inside the top-10 in 11 of the last 23 majors, and the time is right for him to win one of these.
 
Luke Donald (Best Odds 41-1 at Betfair)
It’s been a tough year for Donald, but he looked good last week at Firestone despite his 2-over par round on Sunday. When he’s playing well, he’s a perfect fit for this course and his T23 in 2003 looks pretty good when you consider how early it was in his career. Much like Westwood, he’s been waiting for a while to win that first major and he could be peaking at the right time.
 
Jason Dufner (Best Odds 45-1 at You Win)
Dufner also hasn’t had a great 2013, but he’s got a pair of T4’s in his last four starts, and he does just about everything well. The best thing about loaded fields like this is that you can get really good players at great prices, and that’s exactly what this is. Great value on a player who’s in good form.
 
Zach Johnson (Best Odds 50-1 at bwin)
Johnson didn’t play at Oak Hill in 2003, but his game of fairways and greens is perfectly suited for the course, not to mention that when he’s hot with the putter, there’s almost nobody better than him on the greens. The best part? He’s on a run of three consecutive top-6 finishes.
 
Sergio Garcia (Best Odds 60-1 at You Win)
I was prepared to leave Garcia off of this list until I saw him at roughly 60-1, which seems a little ridiculous to me. He’s still one of the best ball strikers in the field and he doesn’t miss fairways very often, and despite his reputation of not being a good player in North America, he’s played quite well in the New York area, finishing in the top-20 ten times since 2000, including two wins. He missed the cut here back in 2003, but I still like him at this price.
 
Matteo Manassero (Best Odds 270-1 at BETDAQ)
You want to talk about crazy odds, well, here we are. You shouldn’t be able to get Manassero for anything in three digits, and I’m assuming that the only reason you can is because he’s missed the cut in all three majors this year. Even though he’s not a big hitter, he won’t miss the fairways and is a great putter. There’s no better value play in the field than Manassero.

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