Wyndham Championship Betting Preview

The final stop on the PGA Tour for the 2021 regular season is here! After this week, the PGA Tour will begin its three-tournament playoff event. The field is relatively weak, as the best players are resting up for the playoffs. Sedgefield Country Club is consistently one of the easiest courses on Tour. Players need to be prepared for a birdie-fest and scoring is the name of the game this week.

Sedgefield Country Club is a short Par 70, measuring slightly above 7,100 yards. As a Par 70 there are only two Par 5s. The Donald Ross-designed course, is a traditional Carolina style course with tree-lined fairways and undulating greens. The fairways are not overly wide but they are still easy to hit. Hitting greens has traditionally been easier here than the average Tour stop, so players will have plenty of opportunities. With greens being so easy to hit, and the winning score being so low I have completely eliminated Around-the-Green/Scrambling from all of my models.

Former winners of this event are Jim Herman, J.T. Poston, Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, and Si Woo Kim. All five winners were either -21 or -22 which shows just how easy this course can play. The key will be scoring on all holes, especially the Par 5s. Despite there being only eight Par 5s throughout the tournament, the last five winners were all -7 or better on those holes. Eagles are there for the taking so players who play with a controlled aggression is what I am looking for. The last five winners were all ranked #4 or better the week they won in strokes gained Approach. Strong Approach play, hitting almost every green, and finding just enough magic with the putter has been the blueprint for success.

 Six of the past ten winners were in the triple digits of the betting odds. When courses are easy, every player can contend. This is the type of week where you can take some shots deeper down the odds board and target golfers who have flashed signs of elite scoring upside. I am also targeting players who have been successful on Par 70s such as TPC River Highlands, PGA National, and Wai’alae.

Key Stats: Approach, GIR Gained, Good Drives Gained, 3-Putt Avoidance, Proximity 150-175 yards

Scoring Upside: Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards), Par 4 Birdie-or-Better, Par 5 Birdie-or-Better, Opportunities Gained, Birdies-or-Better Gained

Wyndham Championship Betting Tips

Russell Henley 35-1

            Russell Henley is one of the best Approach players on Tour and this is a good setup for Henley’s skillset. Henley is an accurate player who lives in the fairways and hits a lot of Greens-in-Regulation. The 32-year-old has three PGA Tour wins, with two of those wins coming on a Par 70 course. This season, Henley has played three events on a Par 70 course (Majors excluded), and he has finishes of 3rd, 11th, and 19th. Henley excels on short Par 70s because he is able to dial up his irons and throw darts.

Henley has recorded three Top 20 finishes in his last four starts, with the one outlier being a missed cut at The Open Championship. Henley is the fourth ranked Approach player among all PGA Tour players, and sixth among all PGA Tour players in Par 4 Scoring Average. Over the past 24 rounds, in this field Henley ranks: second in Proximity from 150-175 yards, eighth in Approach, and 26th in Fairways Gained. Henley fits this course very well and his irons can carry him to the finish line this week.

Jhonny Vegas 55-1

            Did someone say it’s an easy course? Jhonny Vegas loves himself a birdie-fest. Vegas is coming in with very good form. He has made his last nine straight cuts, with five Top 20s during that span. Vegas has the scoring upside to go low, highlighted by three consecutive events being double digits under Par.

Vegas is an elite driver of the golf ball, which allows him to have short wedges into greens where he creates a plethora of birdie opportunities. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Vegas ranks: third in Tee-to-Green, fourth in Birdies-or-Better Gained, eleventh in Opportunities Gained, eleventh in Approach, and 13th in Strokes Gained on Par 5s. Vegas is an elite scorer and on an easy course in a relatively weak field there is value on him.

Mito Pereira 66-1

            This season, at alternate events and easy scoring events I always save on spot on my card for an up-and-coming star. The Korn Ferry is extremely competitive right now, and these young players are being trained to go super low. Mito Pereira earned his PGA Tour card via the three-win promotion on the Korn Ferry Tour. Mito is no stranger to winning, and we have seen young players such as Garrick Higgo come on Tour and immediately win. Mito is an excellent ball-striker and during his limited PGA Tour experience he has flashed upside. Excluding the Barracuda, Mito is another player who has strung together three straight events going double digits under Par. The 26-year-old Chilean is a scoring machine and he is looking to capitalize on every PGA Tour opportunity that he gets. There is very limited strokes gained data on him due to his lack of experience on Tour, but Mito has shown to be a great Tee-to-Green player which should translate well this week.

Patton Kizzire 80-1

            Patton Kizzire is a streaky player who can get red hot and go nuclear with his putter. Kizzire is a two-time PGA Tour winner, winning at scores of -17 and -19. One of those wins came at Wai’alae, a course that I think has some similarities to Sedgefield. Kizzire is not the most accurate player, but he still finds a way to get himself onto the Green. With the Greens this week being easy to hit, I think he has less pressure on his Off-the-Tee game which will allow him to go birdie hunting. In 26 starts this season, Kizzire has recorded five Top 10 finishes.

Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Kizzire ranks: first in Opportunities Gained, first in Birdies-or-Better Gained, and 17th on Strokes Gained on Par 5s. Kizzire is a top-tier birdie maker and if this week is all about scoring than he makes a lot of sense. Kizzire ranks third among all PGA Tour players in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage and with twelve Par 4s in store this week, Kizzire profiles well for this course.

Chris Kirk 140-1

            This number is outrageous for Chris Kirk. I’ve seen him around 80-1 at most books, but Fanduel decided to almost double those odds. Kirk is a very streaky player, and his inconsistency makes him a tough golfer to project. However, volatility is a good thing for outright bets because his range of outcomes is so wide, he does have winning upside. Kirk has been out of form for the better part of two months. Former winners of this event have not always been in good form prior to their victories. I’m not saying to bet Kirk because he’s been bad, but this course is so easy and scorable that his bad form can completely turnaround for four days. Kirk doesn’t excel in any statistical category but he doesn’t lose strokes in any category either. He’s a very good Par 4 player, ranking sixth among all PGA Tour players in Par 4 Scoring Average. Kirk is ranked fourth among all PGA Tour players in Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards, and there are eight holes this week that are of that distance according to the scorecard. This number was just too big for me to pass on and I believe Kirk can turn around his poor play this week.

WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Betting Preview

            The PGA Tour is back in action following a one-week hiatus due to the Olympics. This week we will see only 66 golfers make the trip to Memphis, Tennessee for the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. This event transitioned to WGC-status in 2019 which obviously strengthened the field. Previous iterations of this events can still give us clues as to what type of golfer will find success at TPC Southwind. As a WGC event, there will be no cut which means the best golfers in the world are all guaranteed four rounds.

TPC Southwind is a Par 70 and measures slightly over 7,200 yards. The tight fairways and penal rough makes this course play much longer than the scorecard indicates. The Champion Bermudagrass greens are very small for PGA Tour standards which will lead to plenty of missed greens-in-regulation. Small greens, and tight fairways suggests that a strong short-game will be required in order to avoid bogeys and this assumption is supported by the fact that the last three winners of this event have all ranked inside the Top 6 in Scrambling for the week they won. Not only are the fairways tight, but there are numerous water hazards in play throughout the course. Accuracy and consistency Off-the-Tee will be imperative for keeping a clean scorecard. Memphis, Tennessee can be brutally hot this time of year, and the Real Feel will be over 100 degrees for three of the four days.

Previous winners at TPC Southwind are: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Daniel Berger twice. Since becoming a WGC, the two winners were ranked #3 and #1 in the OWGR. The last five winners have all recorded a Top 10 Finish in one of their five most recent PGA Tour starts, and four of the last five winners had recorded multiple Top 10 finishes in their five most recent starts. Essentially, the cream will rise to the top and elite players in good form should be targeted.

Four of the last five winners of this event finished their winning week as the #1 player from Tee-to-Green. The five recent winners finished inside the Top 15 of GIR Percentage and the Top 15 in Approach on their way to victory. Four of the last five winners were ranked inside the Top 10 in Off-the-Tee. Ball-striking has shown itself to be a key indicator of success at TPC Southwind. Players will need to pound both greens and fairways in order to contend. The scoring distribution from the former winners shows that the Par 4s are scoreable, but challenging. The Par 5s are birdie and eagle opportunities that golfers must capitalize on.

Key Stats: Ball-Striking, GIRs Gained, Around-the-Green/Scrambling, and Tee-to-Green

Scoring Upside: Birdies-or-Better Gained, Par 4 Scoring, Bogey Avoidance

WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational Tips

Dustin Johnson 20-1

            The world’s #2 ranked golfer has been struggling in recent months but this could be a great “buy low” opportunity. Dustin Johnson has dominated TPC Southwind over the course of his career. In eight appearances, DJ has recorded seven Top 25 Finishes, four Top 10 Finishes, and two wins. Dustin Johnson reaching the 20-1 range reminds me of Rory McIlroy earlier this season when he won at Quail Hollow.

Since 2015, Dustin Johnson has been the best player in this field on courses that are Par 70s and have small greens. Applying those parameters, Dustin Johnson has 38 rounds of data, and he has gained 2.54 Total Strokes per round. The next closest golfer is .72 strokes per round behind DJ’s mark. DJ has dominated on these types of course, in particularly with his Tee-to-Green game. Johnson’s recent form has been improving. Over his last five starts, DJ has four Top 25s and two Top 10 Finishes. Dustin Johnson is returning to a course he has dominated on, and is coming in at very attractive odds for a player of his caliber.

Scottie Scheffler 31-1

            Scottie Scheffler has made a name for himself this season by showing up at all of the high-level events this season. In 25 total starts this season, Scheffler has recorded eight Top 10 finishes. Seven of those eight Top 10 Finishes came at either a WGC/Major or on a TPC course. Scheffler has been flashing good form in recent weeks, recording four Top 10 Finishes in his last six starts. Scheffler has played on this course three times in his career. Last year, he finished in 15th place after shooting four sub-par rounds.

Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Scheffler is ranked: third in Birdies-or-Better Gained, seventh in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 22nd in Tee-to-Green, 24th in Ball-Striking, and 27th Around-the-Green. Scheffler is a very balanced golfer, and the completeness in his game has allowed him to contend on tougher courses against elite fields. Among all PGA Tour players, Scheffler is the #1 ranked player in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better Percentage. This should translate well on a course that features twelve Par 4s.

Shane Lowry 50-1

            Shane Lowry is another player whose recent form has been trending positively. Over his last six events, Lowry has recorded four Top 15 finishes. He has only played TPC Southwind two times, recording a 30th place and a sixth-place finish. Lowry is a true grinder, and plays his best golf on tougher tracks and in windy conditions. Memphis is expected to have 15 mph winds throughout the week, and the blistering conditions will make this event a grueling four days.

Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Lowry ranks: ninth in GIRs Gained, 11th in Birdies-or-Better Gained, 12th in Around-the-Green, 14th in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 14th in Tee-to-Green, and 21st in Ball-Striking. Lowry’s improved iron play has been extremely encouraging because he was primarily a short-game specialist in the past. If Lowry is able to continue the strong Ball-Striking he has displayed recently, this is a good course set-up for him.

Corey Conners 55-1

            If Ball-Striking is the path to success then Corey Conners has to be on the card. The only player who has been a better Ball-Striker than Conners this season has been Collin Morikawa, who is far and away the best Approach player in the world. Conners biggest weakness is obviously his putter, but he has seen improvement with the flatstick this year.

Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Conners ranks: third in GIRs Gained, third in Ball-Striking, eighth in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, and tenth in Tee-to-Green. If Conners can remain neutral with his putter than he can ball-strike his way into contention this week.

Sergio Garcia 70-1

            Sergio Garcia is a Tee-to-Green machine, and recent winners have shown that an excellent Tee-to-Green week will lead to victory at TPC Southwind. The 41-year-old Spaniard is always one of the best Off-the-Tee players and this is a course where he can capitalize on his strengths. Sergio has been in very good form as of late. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Sergio ranks: third in Ball-Striking, seventh in Tee-to-Green, and tenth in GIRs Gained. Similar to Corey Conners, Sergio is not a good putter. However, Justin Thomas won this event last year while losing nearly two strokes putting so if there is ever a course to fully embrace TeamNoPutt it is on this one.

The Open Championship Betting Preview

            The final Major of the 2021 Super Season is here! The PGA Tour will travel across the pond to England to Royal St. George’s Golf Club. This will be the fifteenth time that Royal St. George’s will host The Open Championship, with the last iteration being 2011. This is the only course on The Open rotation that is located in South East England, and will be a traditional links challenge.

Royal St. George’s is a Par 70 that measures slightly over 7,200 yards. The fairways are rolling, and undulating with many uneven lies in store for golfers. The course has practically no defense which means weather will be an aspect to monitor. Gusty conditions will be an added layer to the challenge this week. Missing the fairway will be penal. The fairway bunkers are some of the deepest golfers will ever see, and nothing compared to the sand that is seen on the PGA Tour. The rough will be very thick, which will mean golfers cannot control their spin approaching the green. With firm, fast bentgrass greens it will be imperative for golfers to stay on the short grass. In previous Open Championships on this course, we have seen extremely difficult scoring conditions. I would expect the winning score to be in the neighborhood of -5.

With limited course history to reference, I will turn my attention to general Open Championship traits. Golfers who have won this event have been older, experienced player. Seven of the last nine winners have been 32 years or older. The age stat is somewhat narrative based but it goes to show that patience, and experience is a factor. Eight straight winners of The Open Championship have been ranked inside the Official World Golf Rankings Top 40. As with every Major championship, the cream rises to the top. Eight straight winners of The Open Championship recorded a Top 6 Finish or better in one of their five PGA Tour starts leading up to this event. Seven of the last eight winners recorded multiple Top 10 Finishes in their five PGA Tour starts leading up to this event. A links golf course is certainly not the place for a struggling player to right the ship. Strong current form is a key indication of success, so I will be targeting golfers riding a hot hand.

The Open Championship Tips

Jordan Spieth 20-1

            Jordan Spieth can cap off a tremendous comeback season by winning his first Major since 2017. Spieth has been riding incredible form since the start February. Over his last thirteen events, Spieth has recorded six Top 5 Finishes, eight Top 10s, and eleven Top 20s finishes. The strong form is due to resurgent iron-play. The improved Approach play has taken so much pressure off of Spieth’s entire game and has allowed him to return to the Spieth of old. The Open Championship has been kind to Spieth over the years. Over seven appearances, Spieth has never missed a cut, has five straight Top 30 Finishes, and a win in 2017.

Spieth, now the 23rd ranked player in the world, has always been a very visual player. The vision he possesses allows him to see shots Around-the-Green that no one else can see. The creativity is something that is needed on links courses to save par and effectively scramble. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Spieth ranks: first in Total Strokes Gained, fifth in Approach, fifth in Bogey Avoidance, and eleventh in Scrambling. This a perfect course for Spieth and while he might be popular it is hard not love him this week.

Collin Morikawa 33-1

            There will be a day where books stop giving these odds on the 4th ranked player in the world. Morikawa has shown himself to be a proven winner, and someone who is not afraid of the moment. In his short career, Morikawa has already won four times including a Major and a WGC. He is another player who has been living at the top of leaderboards. Over his last seven events, Morikawa has recorded four Top 10 Finishes, and six Top 20 Finishes. Morikawa has shown well at big events this season, recording two Top 10s in the three Majors and a win at the WGC Concession.

Morikawa is a world class iron player. Whenever a course demands players to have controlled second shots in order to contend, Morikawa jumps to the top of the list. His elite Approach play mitigates his struggles on and Around-the-Green. If the weather conditions are benign and players are able to throw darts at the pins, I want the #1 Approach player in the world on my betting card. Over his last 30 rounds, Morikawa is gaining 1.90 strokes per round Ball-Striking, and has been basically neutral with his short game. I love the way that Morikawa is trending and he is a player who has shown he can win at any course.

Paul Casey 45-1

            Paul Casey has been one of the most consistent players this year. He has compiled a plethora of high finishes and has been in some of the best form of his career. Over his last eleven starts, Casey has recorded six Top 10 finishes. Those Top 10 Finishes have come at high level events such as the Players Championship, the PGA Championship, and the U.S. Open. Casey fits the profile of golfer that I was building earlier. He’s an older experienced player, ranked inside the Top 40, and has multiple Top 10 finishes in his recent events.

Paul Casey has been one of the best ball-strikers on Tour this season. He has contended in Majors this season while losing strokes with his putter. If he is able to continue his ball-striking, and find success with his flatstick I think he will be in the mix on Sunday. Over his last 36 rounds, Casey is gaining 1.28 strokes per round Ball-Striking, and 1.60 strokes per round Tee-to-Green. I expect Casey to avoid trouble this week with his elite ball-striking and continue to contend at a Major championship.

Cameron Smith 75-1

            Cameron Smith is a player who I have been on multiple times this season because he is a grinder who can create magic Around-the-Green. Smith won earlier this season at the team event with countryman Marc Leishman. Cameron Smith is prone to one or two holes every tournament that are complete catastrophe. However, most of the time this a result of Smith going for a swim off the tee, and with no water on this course he should be safe.

Smith is one of the best sand players on Tour, and while these bunkers are much different from what is commonly seen, it is important for players to be good out of bunkers. Smith’s strongest part of his game is his touch and finesse Around-the-Green. Scrambling has shown itself to be a crucial statistic at Open Championships. While most players are going to find trouble Off-the-Tee this event can become a short game contest and over his last 35 rounds, Smith has gained .95 strokes per round with his short game. Cameron Smith is an experienced wind player, and has a style of game that is well suited for a links course.

Abraham Ancer 90-1

            Surprisingly, Abraham Ancer is one of the few players who has met the majority of the trends identified at the start of this article. Ancer is the 22nd ranked player in the world, and has multiple Top 10 finishes in his last five starts. He is trending well and he has never won on the PGA Tour but he has had plenty of close calls. Ancer jumped into the picture at the PGA Championship with a final round of -7. Kiawah Island was a links style course so it is an encouraging sign to see Ancer start to adjust to that style of course.

In recent months, Ancer has been one of the most consistent golfers on Tour. At an event where scoring will be difficult, I am targeting players who can avoid trouble. Over his las 36 rounds, in this field Ancer ranks: third in Good Drives Gained, fourth in Bogey Avoidance, sixth in Total Strokes Gained, and eighth in 3-Putt Avoidance. It is definitely a big ask for Ancer to win this week, but at these odds and based on his current form I couldn’t turn a blind eye.

Rocket Mortgage Classic Betting Preview

            Following an eight-hole playoff victory for Harris English at the Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour makes its way to Detroit Golf Club for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. This will be the third edition of the event, with Nate Lashley winning the inaugural event and Bryson DeChambeau winning last year. Detroit Golf Club is an old-style golf course designed by Donald Ross. The other Donald Ross course on the Tour is Sedgefield. Ross commonly uses greens that slope from back-to-front.

Detroit Golf Club is a Par 72 that is only 7,340 yards. Golfers will me tempted to bomb their way around this course. The generous ryegrass fairways allow golfers to frequently pull out their driver. The course is not very long, and with most golfers choosing to hit driver the Approach shots on this course are much shorter than the Tour average. Proximity from 75-100 yards, and 100-125 yards will be more important this week than almost any other week. The greens are relatively easy to hit and scrambling is not difficult here. All of these signs point to a putting contest. With only two years of course data to use, there is not an overwhelming number of key stats that directly stick out.

Similarities between Nate Lashley’s and Bryson DeChambeau’s wins are pretty thin. Lashley gained less than a stroke Off-the-Tee whereas Bryson gained 6.6 strokes in that category. Lashley gained 5.5 strokes on Approach and Bryson only managed to gain .48 strokes on Approach. Both players gained at least 7.5 strokes Putting which shows that having a putting ceiling is vital this week. Bad putters can still contend if they are volatile and capable of getting hot with the flatstick, but if a player has shown a very low ceiling for putting, I will not consider them for this event. Bryson and Lashley both ranked 4th in Tee-to-Green in their winning weeks. This will be an absolute birdie-fest with both winners scoring into the low-to-mid 20s. Lashely made 28 total birdies and only 3 bogeys while Bryson made 28 birdies, 1 eagle, and 6 bogeys. Scoring is key, especially on the Par 4s. Lashley and Bryson combined to score on 38.75% of the Par 4s that they faced, and scored on astounding 65.63% of the Par 5s that they faced.

In a week like this, the elite golfers lose their advantage because every golfer is capable of winning. Young players coming off the Korn Ferry Tour might have extra appeal this week as they are used to going low in order to contend. The cutline that past two years has been -4 so golfers need to get off to a fast start and keep their foot on the gas. This week is a sprint, so I am mostly looking for high upside players. Players who are capable of getting to -20 under is the first thing I am considering. Players who are in good form, or trending in the right direction will be my targets. To be completely blunt, I do not think this is a great week to deep dive numbers and over-analyze the event.

Key Stats: Tee-to-Green, Short Proximities (75-100, 100-125), Putting Upside, Off-the-Tee, and GIRs Gained

Scoring Upside: Par 4 Scoring Average, Birdies-or-Better Percentage, Bogey Avoidance, Par 5 Birdies-or-Better Percentage

Rocket Mortgage Classic Tips

Webb Simpson 19-1

            Webb Simpson has not played too much golf this season, but when he has played, he has produced. In 15 total events this season, Webb has finished inside the Top 10 five times. Webb knows that not every course will fit his skillset so when he is playing it’s because he knows he has a chance to win. Webb Simpson’s best course every year is Sedgefield, which is also a Donald Ross design and in his only appearance at this event Webb finished T8. Webb Simpson is a proven winner who plays well at these types of events.

The 35-year-old has been a scoring machine this season, ranking inside the Top 12 in Par 3, Par 4, and Par 5 Scoring Averages. Webb is surprisingly very efficient on Par 5s and so with four Par 5s this week he should see plenty of birdie opportunities. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Webb ranks:16th in Proximity from 75-100 yards, 16th in Putting, and 18th in Tee-to-Green. Webb has great scoring upside and is capable of going nuclear with his putting, so I love his chances of winning this week.

Garrick Higgo 50-1

            Can Garrick Higgo really win two times in his first five PGA Tour starts? Why not. He won two events in a three-week span on the European Tour earlier this year and his victories were absolute birdie-fests. Higgo is no stranger to making birdies, and he is no stranger to winning. Higgo does not have too much ShotLink data available due to his limited PGA Tour experience but there’s enough to show that he is good and here to stay.

Higgo is long Off-the-Tee where he drives the ball 315 yards on average. This course will allow him to frequently use his length and set-up short wedge shots into the greens. Higgo is a great putter which is definitely something I am looking for this week. This event will get to -20 or lower so Higgo’s experience at these types of events is very attractive and he is a proven winner.

Brendon Todd 66-1

            Brendon Todd is a streaky player who is capable of going really low. In recent weeks, he has hung around leaderboards but has not contended. Last season, Todd won two events with scores of -20 and -24, so he is capable of winning a birdie-fest. Todd has made ten of his last 12 cuts and has struggled on weekends. However, I believe he has a high ceiling and the volatility to win. At a course like this, where there is not much trouble Off-the-Tee, Todd’s gameplan should translate well. Hit greens, make putts. It’s a simple gameplan but one that works. This is a relatively flat course, so reading the greens should not be overly difficult and I expect to see high caliber putters making long putts this week. Todd has consistently been a Top 20 Putter each season and he is currently ranked 4th. Todd has gained strokes on Approach in nine of his last fourteen rounds. I love Todd’s upside and this is his style of event.

Lucas Glover 100-1

Lucas Glover is playing some of his best golf in recent years. He is a streaky player and pretty volatile. He can finish in the Top 10 or miss the cut by five strokes. But over his last 24 rounds he is gaining strokes in every major stat category. His recent finishing positions have not reflected how well he has actually been playing.

Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Glover ranks: first in Proximity from 75-100 yards, eleventh in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, eleventh in Birdies or Better Gained, fourteenth in Tee-to-Green, sixteenth Off-the-Tee, seventeenth in Greens-in-Regulations Gained. Glover has been striking the ball very well, and his putter has been cooperating. He has gained 4+ strokes Putting in a single round three times this season, which is something he has only done two other times in his career. If Glover can continue hitting the ball well and find a hot putter like he has in recent months than he can certainly win this week.

Harry Higgs 300-1

            Harry Higgs is a fan favorite but he hasn’t played great this season. The appeal to Higgs is that he has random spike weeks and his best finish this season was at the Safeway Open. The Safeway Open was the only course where I could find cross-over leaderboards with the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

This is an easier course so I think every player is capable of competing this week, and Higgs is a decent putter who shouldn’t find much trouble Off-the-Tee. Higgs has been good on short Par 4s, ranking 18th in Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards. At 300-1, I think he’s worth a sprinkle and will have great odds in the Top 40 market.

Travelers Championship Betting Preview

            The PGA Tour makes a rare appearance in the New England area this week with the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands plays host to this event every year and is one of the shortest courses on Tour. Pete Dye designed the course in 1982, with Bobby Weed re-designing the course in 1989. As with all Pete Dye courses, precision and finesse will be required in order to execute the proper shots. The narrow, tree-lined fairways allow short hitters to contend, while also giving golfers the option of attempting to overpower the course.

TPC River Highlands is a Par 70 that measures just over 6,800 yards. As a Par 70, there are only two Par 5s. The majority of the twelves Par 4s will play between 400 and 450 yards. Birdie-making will be imperative this week with the last three winners scoring -17 or better. The greens are 5,000 square feet which are pretty small, so strong Approach play will be crucial. This is a full-field event which means there are 156 golfers and the Top 65 and ties will make the cut. Low rounds are possible at this course, evidenced by Mac Hughes’s opening round of 60 last year, and Jim Furyk’s PGA Tour record-low round of 58 in 2016. The main defense for the course is the thick rough, and narrow fairways. Accurate players have had success here because they are able to manage the course and play efficiently. Pete Dye courses tend to require golfers to truly understand the course they are playing. There are right places to miss, and shot-making will be necessary.

My handicapping process for this week began by reviewing the scorecards of the last five winners of this event to try and find what stats will be important this week. The last five winners of this event are Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, and Russell Knox. Bubba Watson has won this event three times, so it’s worth noting that some degree of course history exists. The five former winners have shown that strong irons and a hot putter are the keys to a winning week. All five of these players finished inside the Top 10 in Tee-to-Green for the week they won. Par 4 Scoring is the most important scoring stat to look at this week. The five winners faced a total of 240 Par 4s and scored on 76 of them, a 31.76% scoring rate. They also combined to score on 50% of the limited Par 5s they faced. The general blueprint for this week is finding someone who is a birdie-maker and has the potential to get red hot with their putter. Greens-in-regulation is another key stat to look at this week because with low scores anticipated golfers will need to have a plethora of birdie chances in order to keep pace with the field.

All styles of golf are capable of contending this week. I will be targeting golfers who hit fairways and greens, and have a very high scoring upside. There are some courses that have shown to be correlated to TPC River Highlands. Innisbrook (Valspar) has seen strong cross-over leaderboards, Harbour Town Golf Links (RBC Heritage) is another short course where precision is key, and Pebble Beach is a short course where birdies are available to the field and the Approach/Putting combination is the path to success.

Key Stats: Tee-to-Green, Ball-Striking, Putting, Approach, and GIRs Gained

Scoring Upside: Birdies-or-Better Gained, Par 4s 400-450 yards, Par 4 BoB % / Scoring Average, and Bogey Avoidance

Travelers Championship Tips

Scottie Scheffler 28-1

            Scottie Scheffler is going to win soon. He is an extremely talented player who has contended multiple times but has yet to close the door on his maiden PGA Tour victory. His current form is at a peak, with three Top 10 Finishes in his last four starts. In 23 total events this season, Scheffler has produced seven Top 10 finishes. He has incredibly high upside and is a natural scorer. The last time Scheffler played in the New England area, he rattled off a round of 59 at TPC Boston. In recent events where he has contended, Scheffler has seemingly melted down late on Sunday. At a course like this, I like Scheffler’s ability to go really low and set the pace while avoiding the pressure.

Looking at all rounds for the 2021 season, in this field Scheffler ranks: third in Birdies or Better Gained, tenth Tee-to-Green, eleventh in strokes gained on Par 4s from 400-450 yards, and 21st in Ball-Striking. Scheffler’s combination of both length and accuracy is intriguing on a short course like this where he is likely going to be playing a shorter iron into the green but won’t always be playing out of the rough. Scheffler has been particularly good on Par 4s where he is ranked eighth among all PGA Tour players in scoring average. Scheffler’s hot recent form and scoring upside will propel him to his first victory.

Joaquin Niemann 44-1

            Joaquin Niemann is a great ball-striker and is a player who is best suited for low-scoring events. Niemann’s length this week will allow him to overpower the golf course this week and give himself plenty of scoring chances. Niemann’s length leads to missed fairways, but even with his poor accuracy he still manages to get himself onto the green-in-regulation. His biggest weakness is his inability to chip and play well around-the-green. This week I do not anticipate scrambling to be a key indicator of success which means this is a good course setup for Niemann.

Looking at all rounds for the 2021 season, in this field Niemann ranks: fifth in Ball-Striking, seventh in Tee-to-Green, sixth in Birdies-or-Better Gained, twelfth in GIRs Gained, fourteenth in Putting, and 21st in Approach. Niemann has a lot of good stuff going for him this week. This year he is also sixth in Scoring Average, and fifteenth in Total Strokes Gained. His ability to play consistently well will translate into a win and this is a great week for that to happen.

Harris English 50-1

            Harris English has been playing really well in recent weeks. He spent most of the week in contention at Palmetto before finishing T14 and darted up the leaderboard on Sunday at the U.S. Open to finish in 3rd place. English is a very balanced overall player who does nothing exceptionally well, but he doesn’t do anything poorly. In 20 events this season, English has six Top 10 Finishes including a win. His lone win this season was at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua where he won in a birdie-fest at 25 strokes under par. Over his last 26 rounds, English is gaining strokes in every category and has gained 1.12 Total Strokes per round. English has shown to be a streaky player and while he is hot and in form, I will ride with him this week in hopes of another birdie frenzy like we saw back in January.

Sam Burns 70-1

            I mentioned Valspar as a good comp for TPC River Highlands so it makes sense that this year’s winner of that event stuck out to me this week. Burns followed up that victory with a runner-up finish at the Byron Nelson. In his most recent events, Burns has struggled. However, this week the PGA Tour returns to an easier course setup which suits Burns high scoring upside much better than the PGA Championship and U.S. Open did. Burns is an extremely volatile golfer and has played in the final pairing multiple times this year.

This season, Burns ranks 20th in Approach and 22nd in Putting. Over his last 32 rounds, Burns is gaining .74 strokes per round in Approach, and .28 strokes per round in Putting. This is the perfect combination for this course. Birdie-making is the name of the game this week and Burns in the number one player in Birdie Average and the number one player in Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage. Burns has the raw scoring upside to contend in yet another event this season and these are great odds for a player of this caliber.

Emiliano Grillo 95-1

            Emiliano Grillo has made his way onto another one of my betting cards. He is a great ball-striker who plays especially well on shorter courses. Grillo’s game plan is to stay in the fairways and hit greens. Grillo is not a good putter but with small greens this week, he should have plenty of short looks at birdies. This season, Grillo is the number one player in Proximity to the Hole, which is a great way to neutralize a poor putter. Grillo is also riding strong current form with four Top 15 Finishes in his last seven events.

Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Grillo ranks: first in Approach, first in strokes gained Par 4s 400-450 yards, third in GIRs Gained, sixth in Ball-Striking, and eighth in Birdies-or-Better Gained. Grillo’s iron play has been scorching hot and he excels on Par 4s. With twelve total Par 4s this week, Grillo’s mastery of these holes should allow him to contend.

U.S. Open Betting Preview

            The third Major of the year is upon us! The PGA Tour returns to Torrey Pines South Course in La Jolla, California for the second time this season. Torrey Pines plays host to the Farmers Insurance Open every year, and was host to the U.S. Open in 2008. One of the USGA’s top priorities is to ensure that this course will be a challenging test of golf. Torrey Pines will be setup much differently than it normally is, so looking at course history might be noisy. The U.S. Open tends to see the cream rise to the top. Each of the last ten winners of the U.S. Open were ranked inside the Official World Golf Ranking Top 30. This tournament has not traditionally yielded longshot winners, so you should not expect to see another Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship scenario.

Torrey Pines South Course will play as a Par 71, and measures over 7,600 yards. The major defense of this course will be the thick, kikuyu rough. Kikuyu is not common on the PGA Tour and is more prevalent in Australia. This grass type is a bit sticker which means golfers will struggle to control spin. The fairways will be narrowed, and distance will be a factor. U.S. Open’s have shown to favor bombers, but with the rough being so penal looking for fairway finders might prove to be beneficial. One thing we have seen recently at longer courses is that short-game specialists are still relevant. Players who excel Around-the-Green, can make up for lost strokes Off-the-Tee. The ability to save par will be crucial this week, as avoiding bogeys is the real key to success. Players who play clean, consistent golf are the ones who are most attractive to me this week. The greens at Torrey Pines are Poa Annua, a bumpier grass type that leads to more missed putts from short ranges. Other courses on the PGA Tour that have Poa Annua greens are Pebble Beach, Riviera, and Club de Chapultepec.

With thick rough, narrow fairways, and a tough putting surface this course should favor players who are strong Greens-in-Regulation players. While the greens will be more frequently missed, targeting golfers who can find ways to avoid long par putts will be vital this week. It is also worth noting that only the Top 60 and ties will make the cut this week. With 156 golfers in the field, it is imperative to find golfers who can make it to the weekend.

The course will likely play firm and fast. Scoring will be brutally tough, and avoiding double bogeys will be something to look at. Double bogeys or worse will be in play this week, and one hole could derail an entire tournament. I am targeting players who have avoided massive mistakes on one hole. Consistency is something I am valuing pretty heavily this week. I will be looking for players who are a complete player, and gains strokes in almost (or every) major stat category.

Key Stats: Distance, Tee-to-Green, Total Driving, Ball-Striking, GIRs Gained, Around-the-Green, and 3-Putt Avoidance

Scoring Upside: Bogey Avoidance, Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, Par 5 Birdies or Better, and Total Strokes Gained

U.S. Open Tips

Viktor Hovland 29-1

            Viktor Hovland has been one of the most consistent golfers this season. In 18 total events played, Hovland has made 17 cuts and has six Top 10 finishes. Hovland constantly finds himself in the mix on Sundays because of his ball-striking abilities. A runner-up finish at Torrey Pines back in January is a promising sign, as course familiarity might add confidence to his game heading into the week. Hovland has played in two U.S. Opens in his career, and has finished 12th and 13th. The #13 player in the world has never missed the cut in his five Major Championships which shows he can contend at this level of event.

Hovland’s biggest weakness has been his short-game, in particular his Around-the-Green play. Last year, Hovland was ranked 168th among all PGA Tour players in Around-the-Green, and this year he finds himself currently ranked 99th. While it is still a weakness, the improvement he has shown in such a short timeframe is an encouraging sign. The 23-year-old from Olso, Norway is primarily a ball-striker. Over his last 35 measured rounds, Hovland has gained 1.30 strokes per round with his ball-striking. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Hovland ranks: fourth in Ball-Striking, eighth in Total Strokes Gained, eighth in Bogey Avoidance, and 19th in GIRs Gained. Hovland is a balanced player who consistently gains strokes on the field. This tournament will come down to his short-game, and Hovland’s recent improvement instills confidence in me that he has what it takes to become a U.S. Open champion.

Tony Finau 29-1

            Tony Finau is one of the best golfers in the world, but has been unable to close events and win on the PGA Tour. His last win was at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, and since then he has had multiple chances at claiming victory, but has continuously fallen just short. While Finau has not won, he continues to put himself in positions to win. At the U.S. Open where scoring conditions will be brutally tough, it is far less likely for someone to out-pace Tony on Sunday and steal a win from him, like we have seen during normal PGA Tour events. If Finau can find himself in the mix on Sunday, his ability to avoid mistakes and play clean golf is very attractive. Finau has some of the best course history at Torrey Pines. Finau has played at Torrey Pines seven times in his career, and he has never finished worse than 24th. While the course will be setup differently, his stellar course history shows his love for this course and this is the type of place where Finau can finally breakthrough and win.

Finau has also been successful at U.S. Opens where he has three Top 15 finishes in only five attempts. As mentioned earlier, Around-the-Green play becomes vital at longer courses because it is more likely for golfers to miss greens. Finau is the seventh best Around-the-Green player on the entire PGA Tour this season. Finau’s finesse and touch Around-the-Green does not come at the expense of his ball-striking. Over the last 36 rounds, in this field Finau ranks: third Around-the-Green, fourth Tee-to-Green, ninth in Total Strokes Gained, 18th in Ball-Striking, and 20th in Approach. Finau possesses the rare combination of being able to drive the golfer ball exceptionally well, while also having a great scrambling ability. This combination should lead to a great week for Finau, and if he can find his putter for four days, I think he finally gets that elusive second victory.

Daniel Berger 50-1

            Daniel Berger has been one of the best players on the PGA Tour since golf returned to play over a year ago. Since the restart, Berger has won twice. Berger’s most recent win came in February at Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach was the site of the 2019 U.S. Open and also has Poa Annua greens. Berger’s four PGA Tour victories have come at either tough courses, or against tough fields. He has wins at Colonial, Pebble Beach, and two wins at TPC Southwind. Berger’s recent history at Majors has not been pretty but he has had some good showings. Berger’s pathway to victory will not be an easy one given his length Off-the-Tee. However, Berger is a golfer who lives on the short-grass and gets himself onto the greens-in-regulation. Berger also comes into this event in relatively good form, with five Top 20 Finishes in his last seven starts which also includes two Top 10 Finishes.

Over his last 35 rounds, Berger has gained 1.17 strokes Ball-Striking per round, and 1.42 total strokes per round. Berger’s a complete player, and he’s a good putter. With his lack of distance, he will need to compensate with a strong performance on the greens. He is a consistent player, and I really like his ability to avoid trouble. If he can stay out of the rough, and stick to his general blueprint of scoring on the Par 5s, and grinding Par 4s then this should be a good setup for him. Berger ranks second in Par 3 Scoring Average, tenth in Par 4 Scoring Average, and 18th in Par 5 Scoring Average. Berger’s ability to turn possible bogeys into great Par saves is a quality that will go a long way this week.

Paul Casey 50-1

            Paul Casey has been on a heater for the better part of six months. Casey won on the European Tour back in January, and turned that good form into positive results on the PGA Tour. Casey has five Top 10 Finishes in fourteen events this season. Casey’s most recent appearance resulted in a T4 finish at the PGA Championship. Casey has played his best golf this season on difficult courses such as Kiawah, TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill, and Pebble Beach. Casey has made eight straight cuts at Majors and is playing some of the best golf of his career.

The #19 ranked player in the world has been elite with his ball-striking this year. Over his last 25 rounds, Casey has gained 1.08 strokes per round on Approach and 1.41 strokes per round Tee-to-Green. Casey is fifth among all PGA Tour players in Total Driving which means he has a good combination of both distance and accuracy. Casey’s pure ball-striking has been so good that it has allowed him to avoid bogeys. At 50-1, Casey is one of my favorite outright bets and I expect a big week from him.

Will Zalatoris 66-1 (Placed in February)

            Zalatoris catapulted onto the PGA Tour scene with an incredible T6 finish at his PGA Tour debut at last year’s U.S. Open. Zalatoris has followed up his impressive debut with a barrage of Top 25 Finishes. In 20 PGA Tour events this season, Zalatoris has recorded thirteen Top 25 Finishes and has played exceptionally well at Majors. Zalatoris has finishes of T6 at the U.S. Open, T8 at the PGA Championship, and T2 at the Masters. Zalatoris is a tee-to-green machine which allows him to frequently find himself at the top of leaderboards.

The 24-year-old has shown no stage is too big for him, and he has quickly risen into the Top 30 OWGR. Over his last 36 rounds, in this field Zalatoris ranks: fifth in GIRs Gained, 12th in Double Bogeys Avoided, and 13th in Ball-Striking. Zalatoris has questionable putting but with much of the field struggling with short putts this week, I think his Tee-to-Green game will excel and keep him in the mix all week.

Abraham Ancer 70-1

            Abraham Ancer’s first PGA Tour victory coming at the U.S. Open is a big ask and rather unlikely. However, there are plenty of reasons why it is possible. Ancer is not long Off-the-Tee but he is the epitome of consistency. Similar to Berger, Ancer’s game is reliant on his ability to hit fairways and greens. Ancer does both of these exceptionally well, ranking third in Driving Accuracy and 12th in GIR Percentage among all PGA Tour players. Ancer is a great ball-striker but unlike other ball-strikers his strokes gained are almost a perfectly even split. Ball-Striking is Off-the-Tee + Approach, so being excellent in one of those categories could skew your Ball-Striking number. Over his last 35 rounds, Ancer is gaining 1.39 strokes per round Ball-Striking with .67 strokes per round coming from Off-the-Tee and .72 strokes per round coming on Approach.

Ancer’s balance is very appealing in a week where Par is a good score. Playing error-free will be the pathway to a victory, and Ancer avoids mistakes on tough Par 4s, ranking third in Par 4 Scoring Average among all PGA Tour players. With eleven holes being a Par 4, avoiding bogeys on these holes, while scoring on the Par 5s will be the most likely path to a win.  The 30-year-old from Mexico has made ten consecutive cuts, and has five consecutive Top 25 Finishes. Ancer is the model of consistency and hovering around Par should keep him live to make a Sunday run.

The Memorial Betting Preview

            Jason Kokrak took down Jordan Spieth in the final round Sunday to claim his second career PGA Tour win, and his second win of the season. We have another great week of golf in store for us this week. The PGA Tour travels to Dublin, Ohio to “Jack’s Place” for the Memorial Tournament. This is one of the premier events of the season, and always attracts a strong field. This will be the last time we see some of the top-tier names until Torrey Pines in two weeks for the U.S. Open.

Muirfield Village Golf Club is a Par 72 and has been almost completely renovated over the past year. The course will now measure over 7,500 yards as about 150 yards have been added. The green complexes have been recontoured and rebuilt with significant changes to the greenside bunkers. I do not believe the changes will lead to any vast differences in what style of golfer will find success. For the most part, as with most Nicklaus course, golfers will be challenged as they get closer to the hole. The fairways are rather generous, and the real difficulty is scrambling to save par if golfers have an errant second-shot. The second-shot nature of the course puts a premium on strong approach players, or strong around-the-green players. Golfers who miss the green will need to navigate tricky greenside bunkers, and capitalize on their short-game to avoid bogeys. Muirfield Village is a classical, second-shot golf course with undulating bentgrass greens, so it is fair to say that Augusta National is the most obvious comparison. High class players tend to rise to the top, and an overall complete performance will be needed to contend this week.

Former winners of this event are Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Dufner, and William McGirt. Collin Morikawa claimed victory at Muirfield Village last summer during the Workday Charity Open, which was hosted the week prior to the Memorial Tournament. The five previous winners of this event have shown the ability to score on the Par 5s. Over the past five years the winners have an average score of -9.2 on the Par 5s while the overall winning score has only been an -14.2 on average. More than half the scoring will come on the Par 5s so it is worth looking at golfers who are aggressive on Par 5s and go for the green in two shots. With seven Par 4s slated to play between 450-500 yards, I will be looking for golfers are efficient on these longer Par 4s. The previous five winners have played exceptionally well Tee-to-Green and have put together strong performances on both Approach and Around-the-Green. I will be looking for golfers who are good scramblers, and good iron-players. Finding a blend of these two stats will be the blueprint for a successful week at Muirfield.

I have already mentioned Augusta as a comparable course but The Concession and Sherwood are two other courses that were played in the past year that resemble Muirfield. The Concession is a Jack Nicklaus design that requires golfers to be precise with their irons and plays as a true second-shot golf course. Golfers who found themselves off of the green fell victim to tricky runoff areas and big numbers presented themselves to poor scramblers. Sherwood was the host of the 2020 ZoZo Championship and saw a leaderboard littered with stud players who excel with their Approach.

Key Stats: Approach, Tee-to-Green, Around-the-Green, Scrambling, GIRs Gained, Proximity 175-200 yards

Scoring Upside: Birdies-or-Better, Par 5 Birdies-or-Better, Bogey Avoidance, Par4 Efficiency 450-500 yards

Memorial Betting Tips

Hideki Matsuyama 30-1

            I have already mentioned the similarity between Muirfield and Augusta so it makes sense that this year’s Masters winner has my attention. Hideki is a great Approach player and he has great touch around-the-green. He is up to 14th in the Official World Golf Rankings and has been in great form this entire season. Since the start of the 2021 PGA season, Hideki has played in 19 events and has made 16 cuts. During that span, Hideki won the Masters and finished T13 at the November Masters, and he also finished T15 at the Concession. The six-time PGA Tour winner also got his first ever PGA Tour victory at this course back in 2014. This classical style golf course fits Hideki’s game perfectly, as he has played here eight times and notched five Top 25 finishes, including the win.

Matsuyama is a great ball-striker and is particularly good on Approach where he ranks eleventh among this field this season. The strong approach game, in addition to his touch around the green is the perfect combination I am looking for this week. Over his last 24 rounds, among this field Hideki ranks: ninth in GIRs gained, 12th in Birdies-or-Better Gained, 12th in Approach, 14th in Total Strokes Gained, and 20th in Tee-to-Green. Matsuyama’s biggest weakness is his putter, and former winners have not needed to rely on a spike week with the flatstick in order to win. Hideki will utilize the strengths of his game to give himself plenty of birdie opportunities and I expect a big week from him.

Patrick Reed 35-1

            A long course with a need for short-game excellence sounds like the perfect recipe for Patrick Reed. While Reed is not a long hitter, he has found a great deal of success on longer courses. Reed’s three best finishes this season have been a win at Torrey Pines, T6 at Quail Hollow, and T8 at Augusta. Reed also has a T9 at the Concession, a T10 at the November Masters, and a T14 at Sherwood which indicates he has a propensity for classical courses that challenge each facet of a golfer’s game. The generous fairways at Muirfield should allow Reed to avoid trouble with his worse clubs. In six trips to Muirfield Village, Reed has never missed a cut and has recorded two Top 10 Finishes.

Among all PGA Tour players, Reed ranks third in Putting, eighth in Par 4 Efficiency from 450-500 yards, ninth in Total Strokes Gained, 12th in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better Percentage, and 24th in Around-the-Green. Reed is a short-game specialist and this is the type of course where he should excel. The former Masters winner, has won nine times on the PGA Tour and has won against elite fields at very tough courses. 35-1 is a great number for a proven winner who has also played great at similar courses this season.

Keegan Bradley 50-1

            Keegan Bradley is playing some of the best golf of his career and he has no hardware to show for it. If Bradley continues to live at the top of leaderboards, he will find himself with chances on Sunday to win a tournament. Bradley has made ten consecutive cuts, eight consecutive Top 30s, and five consecutive Top 25s. Bradley has experience at Muirfield, where he has played the course eleven times in his career and has netted two Top 10 Finishes.

For someone who is so bad with his putter, Keegan is actually pretty solid with his Around-the-Green game. Over his last 32 rounds, Bradley has gained .54 strokes per round Around-the-Green, while also gaining 1.54 strokes per round Tee-to-Green. That is the exact blueprint I am looking for this week. At a really basic level, if you are looking for the player who has the best blend of Tee-to-Green and Around-the-Green it is Keegan Bradley. Over his last 24 rounds, among this field Bradley ranks: fourth Tee-to-Green, seventh in Total Strokes Gained, eighth in GIRs Gained, ninth Around-the-Green, 15th on Approach, and 15th in Birdies-or-Better Gained. I am embracing TeamNoPutt this week because I believe ball-striking and overall completeness will be the most likely path to a win.

Cameron Smith 55-1

            Cameron Smith is another short-game specialist who excels on classical courses. Smith comes into this event in tremendous form, where he has recorded four Top 10 Finishes over his last eight starts. During that span, Smith won the Zurich Classic with his teammate Marc Leishman. Smith finished runner-up at the November Masters, and followed it up with a T10 at Augusta back in April. A fourth-place finish at Sherwood, another fourth-place finish at Riviera, along with a T11 at the Concession paints an encouraging picture for the 27-year-old Australian. Smith plays these tougher classical courses very well because of the overall completeness of his game.

Cameron Smith is the best Par 5 scorer on the PGA Tour. Among all players, this season Smith is number one in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better. Smith’s ability to score is appealing this week and I particularly like his short-game abilities. Over the last 24 rounds, among this field Smith ranks: sixth in Total Strokes Gained, eighth in Birdies-or-Better Gained, and tenth in Around-the-Green. I love Smith’s ability to contend at these styles of courses and finding him at this price is a bet I will make every time.

Si Woo Kim 100-1

            Si Woo Kim is a very volatile golfer and coming off of a withdrawal at Colonial has bumped his outright odds into the triple digits. Si Woo has mediocre course history at Muirfield, where he has never missed a cut in his six tries but has never contended. The argument for Si Woo lies with his high ceiling. The 25-year-old South Korean has already won on Tour this season, and has played well at Augusta. Kim’s win this season was at the American Express which does feature the Nicklaus Tournament Course. His last two starts at Augusta have resulted in a T12 and T34 Finish. Among all PGA Tour players, this season Kim ranks: 10th in Par 4 Scoring Average, 10th in Par 4 Efficiency from 450-500 yards, and 11th in Scrambling. Si Woo is a good Around-the-Green player and has the volatility to find himself at the top of a leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

Charles Schwab Challenge Betting Preview

            Following another exciting Major Championship, the PGA Tour will begin a stretch of golf that will feature classical courses, and good fields. This week the Tour will stop at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Immediately after Colonial, we get Muirfield Village, and then the U.S. Open. Golf is in a great place right now and this upcoming stretch should add to the buzz.

Colonial Country Club is a Par 70 and measures close to 7,200 yards. As a Par 70, there will only be two Par 5s this week. This means there should be an added emphasis on Par 4 scoring. Dominating the twelve Par 4s will be the pathway to success. Recent winners of this event have been elite scorers and proven winners. Colonial is a classical course which tends to favor players who have experience on the course. Classical courses have certain intricacies to them, and players who know their way around the course will be best suited for the challenge. The bentgrass green complexes are small, measuring only 4,500 square feet. This requires players to be very precise. This is not a course that can be overpowered. Finesse and execution are imperative and being able to create the right shot are traits to look for this week. The fairways are tough to hit, but many players in recent years have emphasized the importance of landing in the fairway. As with most Texas courses, the overall scoring conditions are dependent on the wind. The course is relatively exposed to the elements and strong winds can dry out the greens and cause the course to play firmer, and faster.

Former winners of this event are Daniel Berger, Kevin Na, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, and Jordan Spieth. Just by looking at these names, it is apparent that driving distance is not a key indicator of success at this course. These five former champions played the Par 4s to an average of -9.2 in the year that they won. The overall winning score has been an average 0f -15 over the past five years. This means that more than half of the total scoring for the winners came on the Par 4s. This is not an event where Par 5 scoring will catapult someone into contention. With that being said, scoring on the limited number of Par 5s will bolster someone’s chances greatly at winning. Over the last five years, the five winners have faced a total of 40 Par 5s, and have scored a birdie-or-better on 21 of them. The Par 3s are certainly scorable with the last five winners playing the Par 3s -1.8 strokes to par.

The strokes gained data from the former champions have indicated that Approach will be as important as always. The last five winners have gained on average over 6.5 strokes on Approach while also landing on the green-in-regulation just north of 75% of the time. The type of golfer I will be targeting this week is someone who is an accurate driver of the golf ball, an elite approach player, and someone who has scoring upside. Being able to make birdies will be crucial this week. I will also target golfers who have shown good form recently and also consider players who have shown the ability to win. The list of former winners at Colonial shows that players who are highly ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings have been successful.

The spreadsheet I use to track all of the former champion data can be found here.

Key Stats: Approach, Good Drives, GIR Gained, Approach 150-175, Tee-to-Green

Scoring Upside: Birdies-or-Better Percentage, Par 4 Birdies-or-Better Percentage, Scoring Average, Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 yards, Par 3 Efficiency 150-175 yards

Charles Schwab Challenge Tips

Corey Conners 25-1

            Corey Conners has been one of the best players this season, and is one of the best ball-strikers on Tour. Conners has been riding tremendous form, dating back to last September. Over his last twenty events, Conners has recorded fourteen Top 25 Finishes, and seven Top 10 Finishes. The high finishes are a result of having a very high floor. The 29-year-old Canadian lives on the fairways, and his excellent iron-play allows him to avoid major mistakes. He has played at Colonial three times where he has made the cut each time, and has one Top 10 Finish.

Among all PGA Tour players, Conners is ranked tenth in Scoring Average, and 19th in Par 4 Scoring Average. Conners ability to avoid bogeys is a great trait for this course and he should find plenty of birdie opportunities. Over his last 50 rounds, in this field Conners ranks: first in GIRs Gained, second in Opportunities Gained, third in Approach, fifth in Fairways Gained, and fifth in Strokes Gained on Par 4s. Conners is an elite ball-striker and his lone PGA Tour win came in the state of Texas. Conners has been living at the top of leaderboards all season, and this is the type of event that Conners is live to win.

Charley Hoffman 45-1

            Charley Hoffman has seen a resurgence in his game this year. Since February, Hoffman has played in ten events and has recorded eight Top 20 Finishes, including a Top 20 Finish last week at the PGA Championship. Hoffman has played this event twelve times in his career, where has recorded five Top 25 Finishes. Hoffman plays great in the state of Texas, and has the scoring upside to make him an attractive bet this week. Hoffman excels on Par 70/71 courses where the greens are small. On courses that fit these criteria, dating back to 2015, Hoffman has gained 1.11 Total Strokes per round, which is ninth best in this field.

Over his last 36 rounds, Hoffman is gaining 1.49 strokes per round with his Ball-Striking, and gaining 1.79 Total Strokes per Round. During this span, Hoffman is positive in every major category. He has the overall completeness to his game to make him a contender this week. If you look further back, over his last 50 rounds in this field, Hoffman ranks: third in Birdies-or-Better Gained, fourth in Opportunities Gained, sixth in Approach, seventh in GIRs Gained, and 16th in Strokes Gained on Par 4s. Hoffman profiles perfectly for this course and is in great form.

Brian Harman 50-1

            Brian Harman is a short-game specialist, and we’ve seen shorter hitters win at this event on the back of a ceiling putting week. Harman is the 15th best Putter on the PGA Tour season. Harman has the upside to start draining long putts and going on birdie-streaks. Harman has missed two straight cuts, however he missed cuts at courses that don’t really fit his game well. Having the weekend off, might be a benefit considering how mentally, and physically exhausting the Ocean Course was last week. Prior to his two recent missed cuts, Harman had recorded five consecutive Top 20 Finishes, so he is in good form despite his most recent results. Harman has played at Colonial eight times in his career, finishing T31 or better seven times.

Harman is another player who excels on Par 70/71s with small greens. On courses that fit these criteria, dating back to 2015, Harman has gained 1.32 Total Strokes per round, which is fourth best in this field. Harman performs well on these types of courses because it allows him to really emphasize the strongest aspect of his game. Harman is a fairway-finder who will be able to contend this week on a course he has always played well.

Emiliano Grillo 75-1

            Emiliano Grillo is a great ball-striker, who has done his best work on shorter courses. One of the most frequent comparisons to Colonial is Harbour Town, where Grillo just finished runner-up. The similarities among these two courses include: small greens, shot-making ability, greens-in-regulation, and exposure to wind. Grillo plays great on these types of tracks. Over his last eight events, Grillo has recorded five Top 25 Finishes. The 28-year-old Argentine has played this event five times, and has recorded three Top 25 Finishes.

Grillo is coming into this event with great form, especially with his ball-striking. Over his last 30 rounds, Grillo is gaining 1.45 strokes per round with his ball-striking, while also gaining 1.54 Total Strokes per round. Grillo is a great Par 4 player. Among all PGA Tour players, Grillo is the best player in terms of Par 4 Scoring Average. With twelve Par 4s on the course this week, I expect Grillo to be efficient. Over his last 50 rounds, among players in this field, Grillo ranks: second in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, fifth in Opportunities Gained, sixth in GIRs Gained, seventh in Approach, and 13 in Birdies-or-Better Gained. Grillo fits the profile of the type of golfer who has won at this course, and I expect a big week from him.

Chris Kirk 80-1

            Chris Kirk is a former winner of this event, and has been in good form so this number was pretty surprising. Kirk has stated that he prefers golf courses where golfers need to be creative with their shot-making, and need to have a good feel for the course. Kirk’s best events this season have been at the Sony Open and the RBC Heritage. Both of those courses are not Par 72s, and their shorter courses. His other best event was at the Valero Texas Open Kirk has played at Colonial ten times in his career and has never missed the cut. In his ten appearances, Kirk has recorded six Top 20 finishes including his 2015 victory.

Over his last 28 rounds, despite two missed cuts, Kirk is positive in every major category, and has gained 1.32 Total Strokes per round. Over his last 50 rounds, among golfers in this field Kirk ranks: tenth in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 16th in Birdies-or-Better Gained, 19th in GIRs Gained, 23rd in Opportunities Gained, 24th in Approach, 28th in Short-Game, and 31st in Fairways Gained. Kirk is extremely balanced, and he loves this course so I could not let this number pass me by.

PGA Championship Betting Preview

            The second Major of 2021 is upon us! The PGA Championship will begin a stretch of high-level golf over the next month. Following this event, Colonial, Muirfield Village, and the U.S. Open are all on the horizon. Golfers will be tested this week with a brute of a course. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has been ranked as the hardest golf course by Golf Digest. The course is unofficially 7,876 yards, the longest course in Major Championship history. While distance will be one the main talking points this week, the real test on this course is the wind. Keep an eye on the weather forecast as the week progresses, as the scoring conditions will be dictated by the severity of the winds.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is a coastal, Pete Dye-designed course. The vision while building this course was to build a links style course which means the Europeans in the field might reap the benefits of the design. The PGA Tour has been no stranger to Pete Dye courses so far this season. The key takeaway from Dye courses is that he wants to challenge golfers on every single shot. Precision and execution are the name of the game this week. While the course is certainly long, golfers will need to be creative with their shot-making and need to keep the ball in the fairway. Missing the fairways will be almost as deadly as missing the green. The green complexes are large, measuring 6,000 square feet. Missing the green will land golfers in tricky runoff areas and leave golfers scrambling for par. Avoiding bogeys, and avoiding double bogeys will be paramount.

The greens are paspalum grass which are not commonly seen on the PGA Tour. Most venues that feature paspalum grass are coastal courses such as El Camaleon (Mayakoba), Corales Puntacana, and Grand Reserve Country Club (Puerto Rico Open). Paspalum grass usually runs slower than traditional bermudagrass which should allow some golfers to get better reads and better speed on their putts. The rough is grown to 3.5 inches which is why golfers will want to stay in the fairway. The course will present as many mental challenges as physical challenges, tempting some of the longer hitters to use their distance. While distance will be important this week, I think it’s been overstated. The longest course that has been played this season was Torrey Pines where Patrick Reed won by a four-shot margin. The length of the course, along with the expected adverse conditions has led me to put an emphasis on Around-the-Green play. This week I am looking for golfers who excel on Par 5s and longer Par 4s, golfers who can scramble when they need to, and golfers who have an overall completeness to their style of play.

Key Stats: Off-the-Tee, Distance, Approach, GIRs Gained, Around-the-Green, 3-Putt Avoidance, and Total Strokes Gained

Scoring Upside: Par 3 Efficiency 200-225 yards, Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, Par 5 Efficiency 550-600 yards, Par 5 Birdies-or-Better, Scoring Average, and Birdie-to-Bogey Ratio

PGA Championship Tips

(I will use the betting numbers I bet these golfers at, there are some better numbers and some worse numbers currently available)

Xander Schauffele 20-1

            Xander Schauffele is one of the best players on the PGA Tour, but he does not win nearly as much as he should. Schauffele plays a relatively limited schedule and when he plays, he contends. Over his last five starts, Xander has finishes of 14th, 11th, 3rd, 18th, and MC. Schauffele is now the #4 player ranked in the world, despite his shortcomings with winning events. The 26-year-old from California is a big game hunter. The last time Xander missed a cut at a Major was the 2017 PGA Championship, the first Major he ever played in. In fifteen total appearances at Major Championships, Xander has eight Top 10 Finishes! If Xander can continue to hang around the top at these events he is bound to win.

Using 2021 ShotLink data, in this field Xander ranks: second in Total Strokes Gained, eleventh in GIRs Gained, 14th Around-the-Green, 17th in Distance, and 22nd in Approach. Statistically, Xander covers all bases with his overall game. He is a great ball-striker and has enough distance off the tee if this course ends up favoring bombers. Additionally, Xander has the touch and finesse Around-the-Green to save pars and limit bogeys. In terms of scoring upside this course fits Xander very well. In this field he ranks: second in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better, fourth in Par 5 Efficiency 550-600 yards, fourth in Scoring Average, sixth in Par 3 Efficiency from 200-225 yards, 19th in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards. Xander is a balanced player who limits mistakes while still possessing birdie upside. He has shown the ability to play well on the longer Par 4s and longer Par 5s which will be critical this week.

Viktor Hovland 28-1

            Viktor Hovland is extremely chalky this week and appears to be the “obvious” choice. If you go on Twitter, I’m sure you’ll see half your timeline filled with Hovland on betting cards. Hovland has back-to-back finishes of third places. He is a streaky player who can go on ridiculous runs of birdies. He has shown this elite upside multiple times this year. He won at Mayakoba at the end of 2020 and he has six Top 5 finishes in sixteens starts this season.

Hovland is an elite ball-striker, ranking fourth Off-the-Tee, fourth in GIRs Gained, and 19th on Approach among golfers in this field. Hovland’s pure ball-striking ability should translate well to this course. At Torrey Pines earlier this season, Hovland finished runner-up which shows he can dominate a long course with his ball-striking. In order for Hovland to win this week he will need to have an outlier Around-the-Green performance. This is the weakest part of his game, but he has shown improvements in the category this year. In his limited experience at Majors, Hovland is 5/5 on making the cut. Hovland ranks second in Scoring Average and ninth in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better which means he can take advantage of the limited birdie opportunities and ball-strike his way to Pars on the harder parts of the course.

Patrick Reed 35-1

            Big game hunter Patrick Reed. Patrick Reed is public enemy #1 in the golf world, and his odds reflect the public’s disdain for rooting for him. Whenever Reed touches this range of the betting board, he is an auto-bet for me. Reed has won multiple WGCs, multiple FedEx Cup Playoff events, a Major Championship (the Masters), and the Tournament of Champions. When all of the best players in the world are on the same course, Patrick Reed brings his A-game. In 28 career Major Championship appearances, Reed has eleven Top 15 finishes including one win. Reed is coming into the event in good form, recording two Top 10 finishes in his last three starts.

The #8 player in the world, Reed does his best work Around-the-Green. He is short-game specialist, capitalized by his elite putting. Since the start of the calendar year, Reed is gaining .96 strokes per round with his putter which is second best in this field during that span. During that same timeframe, Reed is gaining 1.11 strokes per round with his short-game (fourth in this field), and 1.32 Total Strokes per round (19th in this field). Reed won earlier this season at Torrey Pines; the longest course played so far this season. Although he is a shorter hitter, Reed excels on longer Par4s and Par 5s. In this field, Reed ranks: first in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, first in Par 5 Efficiency 550-600 yards, eighth in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better, and 16th in Scoring Average. The numbers don’t lie, and while many will think you need to be a bomber to compete on long courses, Reed breaks the mold and has shown an elite winning upside.

Cameron Smith 40-1

            Smith is very similar to Patrick Reed in terms of being a short-game specialist who excels on Par 5s. If the wind kicks up and players are losing their ball all over the course, this tournament will become a short-game contest. Missing the green will lead to bogeys which is why I like strong short-game players. The Australian is now up to #25 in the world, and is riding tremendous form. In his last five events, Smith has finishes of 1st, 9th, 10th, 28th, and 17th. Smith has played well at Majors only missing three cuts in eighteen appearances. Smith has only missed one cut in 2021, and has eight finishes of T11 or better in fifteen events.

In this field, Smith ranks first in 3-Putt Avoidance, first in Par 5 Birdies-or-Better, third in Par 5 Efficiency 550-600 yards, third in Birdie-to-Bogey ratio, eighth Around-the-Green, fourteenth in Scoring Average, sixteenth in Par 3 Efficiency 200-225 yards, and 25th in Total Strokes Gained. Smith fits the profile of someone who can score on some of these holes while being a complete enough player to limit any damage on the harder holes. If you shop around, you will find some better numbers than what I have on him.

Justin Rose 80-1

            Justin Rose is a high ceiling play. He has been inconsistent over the past year and a half but he has winning upside. Rose came storming out of the gates at the Masters where he was the first-round leader. Rose followed that solid outing with another one at the team event. Rose’s pedigree at tough, difficult events makes him an attractive bet this week. Rose has won at Torrey Pines which is one of the longest courses on Tour. Rose is a former US Open champion and has played well at the Open Championship in his career. If the winds kick up this weekend, I like Rose’s chance of being in the mix by Sunday. He has a Top 10 at this course when it hosted the 2012 PGA Championship. I’ve seen Rose as high as 100-1 which is a great bet if you are only looking at the ceiling. The floor with Rose is very low and he could miss the cut, but for my outright bets I like choosing players who I know can win and have won before.

Charley Hoffman 150-1

            Charley Hoffman has been one of the best players on Tour this season, but doesn’t have any hardware to show for it. Since the start of the calendar year, Hoffman is gaining 1.31 strokes per round ball-striking (4th in this field), 1.01 strokes per round in Approach (6th in this field), and 1.72 Total Strokes per round (3rd in this field). Hoffman’s ball-striking has been resurgent this year and he’s been able to contend at many events because of it. He is known for his ability to play well in the wind and his consistency is appealing to me this week because I think balance will translate into a high finish or a win at this course. I like the way Hoffman fits this course regardless of the scoring conditions. He has been really good on longer Par 4s ranking third in Par 4 Efficiency over 500 yards, and eleventh on Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards. At these odds, he has been playing to well for me to pass it up.

Wells Fargo Championship Betting Preview

            A championship style golf course awaits a championship level field this week at the Wells Fargo Championship! Ten of the top fifteen in the Official World Golf Ranking will tee it up in this loaded, top-heavy field. Quail Hollow Golf Club was the host of the 2017 PGA Championship which is a testament to the quality of this course. This classical, Carolina-style course will challenge golfers to execute at all levels of their game.

Quail Hollow is a long Par 71 that measures over 7,550 yards which is incredibly long for a Par 71. This immediately gives an advantage to the long bombers, but it’s worth noting that the rough is very penal. Distance gives golfers an edge, but controlled distance is the real key to success.  Spraying the ball off the tee will lead to long, difficult approach shots with golfers struggling to control spin. The narrow, tree-lined fairways will be hard to hit, and the greens normally run fast. There is the possibility of rainy weather early in the week which could soften up the golf course. The closing stretch of holes, nicknamed the Green Mile, will lead to an exciting finish. The Green Mile is a three-hole stretch that features two 500-yard Par 4s and a long, 225-yard Par 3. Capitalizing on the three Par 5s will be imperative. The Par 4s are scoreable, but there are plenty of bogeys that will be awaiting golfers on these holes this week. The performance on the Par 3s will likely be the determining factor for deciding a winner. The Par 3s are absolutely brutal, and golfers should take Par as a good score on these four holes. A complete performance will be required in order to win this week, which means I will be targeting golfers who have shown a good combination of both ball-striking and short-game.

My handicapping process for the week began by reviewing the scorecards of former winners to search for key stats to value for this course. Recent winners on this course are: Max Homa, Jason Day, Justin Thomas (2017 PGA), James Hahn, and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy had an outlier performance back in 2015 where he shot -21. The last four winners on this course have all shot -15 or worse. The majority of the scoring has come on the Par 5s. The last five winners have faced 64 total Par 5s and have scored a birdie or better on 47 of them (73.44%). While the Par 5s have presented themselves as great scoring opportunities, the Par 3s have been the polar opposite. The last five winners have faced a combined 80 Par 3s and have scored a birdie or better on only 8 of them (10%)! These five golfers have an average score of +1.8 relative to Par on the Par 3s. Even in the year that McIlroy shot his impressive -21, he was still +3 for the tournament on the Par 3s. The last five winners have all ranked inside the Top 15 of Tee-to-Green during the week they won, and the last four winners were all inside the Top 10 of Putting during the week they won. This week I will be targeting longer hitters who are good from 200+ yards on approaches. Avoiding 3-Putts will be crucial so Putting Average is a factor for me this week. Birdie-makers, especially on Par 4 and Par 5s, will be valuable this week, while I have placed an added emphasis on Par 3 Scoring Average.

Correlated courses I looked at were mainly the tougher, non-major tracks that golfers face every year. Riviera (Genesis Invitational), Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance Open), and Club de Golf Chapultepec (WGC Mexico) are all courses that require golfers to put together a complete performance. The scoring at these events are reflective of the projected scoring conditions for Quail Hollow.

Key Stats: Distance, Tee-to-Green, GIR Gained, Proximity 200+, Around-the-Green, Putting Average

Scoring Upside: Par 3 Scoring Average, Par 4 BoB, Par 5 BoB, Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, Birdie-to-Bogey Ratio, Bogey Avoidance

Wells Fargo Championship Betting Tips

Rory McIlroy 20-1 (BetMGM)

            Rory McIlroy has spoken candidly about his recent struggles with his golf game both mentally and physically. However, the four-time Major champion returns to a course where he recorded a seven shot victory back in 2015. McIlroy has played this course ten times in his career. He has made nine cuts, he’s won twice, and has seven Top 10 Finishes. If there was ever a course that could right the ship for Rory it’s this one. McIlroy has played very well on tough courses in the past, in particular at Torrey Pines where he has recent finishes of 16th, 3rd, and 5th. Torrey Pines is a good comp for Quail Hollow because it is a long course where distance is an advantage. Among all 2021 PGA Tour golfers, McIlroy is ranked third in Driving Distance, and fifth Off-the-Tee.

Over the last 36 rounds, in this field McIlroy ranks: eighth in Driving Distance, eighth in Strokes Gained on Par 5s, tenth in Proximity from 200+ yards, and 25th in Tee-to-Green. The 32-year-old Irishmen has been much better than his recent finishes would indicate, which speaks to the mental struggles of his game. Coming back to this course should help instill confidence in McIlroy and let him trust his game. Rory’s Official World Golf Ranking is at its lowest level in over a decade, and I am buying low on a premier golfer who never touches this outright number.

Tony Finau 31-1 (Fanduel)

            Tony Finau is an elite player who does everything except win. He lives at the top of leaderboards and had consecutive runners-up finishes at the Genesis Invitational and Farmers Insurance Open. Those were two events that featured tough scoring conditions and required golfers to put together a complete, all-around performance in order to contend. Finau’s ability to contend every single week makes him an attractive bet because it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through with a victory. Finau has played on this course five times and has never missed a cut.

Using 2021 ShotLink data, in this field Finau ranks: fourth in Putting Average, sixth in Tee-to-Green, 15th in Proximity from 200+ yards, 17th Around-the-Green, and 20th in Driving Distance. Finau’s scoring stats are just as impressive as his strokes gained data. In this field, Finau ranks: fourth in Par 3 Scoring Average, 13th in Par 5 Birdie-or-Better, 13th in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better, 17th in Birdie-to-Bogey ratio, and 23rd in Bogey Avoidance. Finau’s combination of birdie-making upside while being able to avoid mistakes will be crucial this week. I particularly like his ability to make Pars or better on Par 3s, which I believe will be the determining factor in deciding a winner this week. The balance in Finau’s game allows him to contend, especially when scoring conditions are tougher. A win this week, in this loaded field, would change the narrative surrounding Finau.

Will Zalatoris 33-1 (DraftKings)

            This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Zalatoris on these betting previews, and it won’t be the last time either. Zalatoris has had a meteoric rise up the Official World Golf Rankings and continues to shine on the PGA Tour. Zalatoris is a ball-striking, tee-to-green machine who contends on tough tracks because of his ability to limit mistakes. The 24-year-old Wake Forest product has been amazingly consistent on the PGA Tour, recording eleven Top 25 finishes in his last 16 starts. Following his runner-up finish at the Masters, Zalatoris spoke about the confidence he has in himself to win at this level.

Using 2021 ShotLink data, in this field Zalatoris ranks: fifth in Tee-to-Green, fifth in GIRs Gained, 12th in Driving Distance, 12th in Bogey Avoidance, and 16th in Proximity from 200+ yards. Additionally, Zalatoris is the fourth ranked Approach player among all PGA Tour players in 2021. He is a ball-striking extraordinaire and has shown an ability to contend amongst the toughest fields, on the toughest courses. While some might be scared off by his relatively short outright number, it’s short for a reason. Sportsbooks are expecting a big week from Zalatoris, and so is the majority of the golf community.

Sungjae Im 45-1 (DraftKings)

            Sungjae Im’s biggest concern has been his lackluster Approach play. However, he has two good recent finishes with a T8th at the Honda Classic, and a T13th at the RBC Heritage which is an encouraging sign that he might be finding form. Im has been stellar with the flatstick as he is gaining .80 strokes per round over his last 32 rounds. The former winners have combined great Tee-to-Green weeks with great Putting weeks. Im has one part of the puzzle, and will need to be consistent with his ball-striking. While he is not a bomber by any means, Im is ranked seventh in Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee among all 2021 PGA Tour players. Im’s ability to gain strokes Off-the-Tee without being a long hitter indicates that he has been able to find fairways. Staying on the short grass will be crucial this week, as the rough is penal and leads to missed greens.

Using 2021 ShotLink data, in this field Im ranks: fourth in Bogey Avoidance, 13th in Par 3 Scoring Average, 14th in Par 5 Birdie-or-Better, 14th in Par 4 Efficiency from 450-500 yards, 15th in Birdie-to-Bogey ratio, 23rd in Par 4 Birdie-or-Better, 23rd in Tee-to-Green, and 24th in GIRs Gained. Im’s productivity on Par 5s and longer Par 4s is tied directly to his approach game. While his overall iron-play has been sub-par, the one area he has been strong in is Proximity from 200+ yards. In 2021, Im is ranked second in Proximity from this distance, which tells me that when his irons are clicking, he’s scoring. I like the upside that Im brings to the table, and given a relatively weak middle of the betting board I like this number for Im.

Matt Wallace 80-1 (Fanduel)

            Wallace is not a regular on the PGA Tour, but when he has played stateside, he has shown some upside. Wallace has made five straight cuts on the PGA Tour and his worst finish during that span was a T34 at the Masters. Wallace is a great approach player, ranking 8th amongst all PGA Tour players in that category this season. Additionally, Wallace is a great putter, ranking 17th amongst all PGA Tour players this season. I love the idea of Wallace being able to combine his two strengths this week into his first PGA Tour victory. As previously mentioned, Quail Hollow is long. There are eight Par 4s that measure over 450 yards, and the good news for Wallace is that in this field he is ranked first in Par 4 Efficiency from 450-500 yards. Wallace has been great on long Par 4s and he will see a lot of them this week. Additionally, Wallace is ranked third in Par 5 Birdie-or-Better. The majority of the scoring from previous winners has been on the Par 5s, with birdies mixed in on the Par 4s. This course profiles perfectly for Wallace’s strengths, but he will need to avoid mistakes on the dangerous Par 3s in order to contend this week.