Last week marked an impressive first for our gambling column: All seven of our experts hit our match-up bets. That means if you backed each pick, you ended up having a nice week. We did in more ways than one, with Patrick Reed earning a victory at 50-1 for yours truly, thanks in part to a recommendation by the Action Network's Jason Sobel. That same 50-1-and-up range provides more tempting picks this week at BMW Championship, and Sobel and our other experts are back with more analysis.
Our expert picks this week, just like every week, include a PGA Tour caddie offering insight from the range and putting green at Liberty National Golf Club, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; picks from Sobel from, a senior writer at The Action Network, which is becoming the leader in sports betting and handicapping analysis, and it's growing its presence in golf; two of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, which tracks DFS ownership and sentiment; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
Our panel of experts are confident in their sleeper picks to take home the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs—read on for the bold takes and predictions from the best golf gambling round-up in the industry.
2019 BMW Championship Picks To Win (Odds from Bovada)
PGA Tour Caddie Guest Picker of the Week: Dustin Johnson (14-1) — Our expert pick last week was Dustin Johnson. But us caddies are going to stick with him. The course sets up for his game, again. He put himself in position last week at the Northern Trust and just didn’t close the deal on the weekend. He’s trending in the right direction. I’m going to ride DJ until he completely bucks me.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Patrick Cantlay (20-1) — Let’s see, I bet Patrick Reed every week for about two months, then decided for an opt out last week, and I’m far poorer because of that decision. I won’t make the mistake again with Cantlay. He led the field at the Northern Trust in birdies despite a T-15 finish, and his long-term stats from FantasyNational.com suggest he’s perfectly suited for Medinah. It’s a testament to how far he’s come that I’m now worrying about his irons and not his short game.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire editor: Patrick Cantlay (20-1) — Cantlay ranks second in 2019 in my adjusted stroke average stats (which adjusts for field strength), behind only Rory McIlroy. His all-around play has him ranked inside the top 15 in all four strokes-gained stats over the past 50 rounds on tour, according to FantasyNational.com. What more do you want?
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Rickie Fowler (28-1) — It's almost as if people have given up on Rickie Fowler. But oddsmakers haven't. This is a pretty low number for someone with mediocre recent results. That's partly due to public popularity. But sharp bettors have likely not been on Rickie. Maybe they should be. Rickie's projected odds, per my model this week, say he should be at 10-1. You're almost getting triple that number here. Everything has yet to click for Rickie later this season, but I'm willing to bet it will this week.
__Jason Sobel, Action Network senior golf writer: Joaquin Niemann (80-1) — Sure, I've explained in past weeks why the playoffs have been dominated by only the best players, but I’m reversing course here and taking the last man in the standings. Maybe I feel guilty for chalky selections in this category over the past few weeks, but I really feel like Medinah should set up well for Niemann’s strengths. He enjoys playing tree-lined tracks where he can take some definitive sightlines off the tees.
While I certainly recommend an outright punt on the youngster at big money, remember: Don’t be beholden to a specific category here. Since I like him to win, that means I similarly like him for top-five, top-10, OAD, DFS and matchup bets. In fact, he could be a smash play in those last two categories.
Golf Digest editors: Xander Schauffele (33-1) — Oddsmakers have a soft number here on Schauffele after his missed cut at Liberty National. This should probably be around 20-1 or so, given the level of player Schauffele has proven to be. A comparable course tee-to-green would be Aronimink, with its tree-lined fairways and perched up greens. Schauffele finished third there, and we're willing to bet on him bouncing back from the bad week last week to capture the form he showed for most of 2019.
Lee Aldrick, FanShare Sports golf expert: Rory McIlroy (8-1) — Rory rates out way ahead of the rest of the field yet again. It is only a matter of time before he wins another event. He ranks first in our course-suitability metric this week, 10th in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months and 23rd for Opportunities Gained. The stat that really stands him out over the other contenders is his putting on Bentgrass greens. He is 20th in the field in strokes gained/putting on Bentgrass greens, the highest ranking of the top 8 in the market. We know he'll have good vibes, too, coming back to Medinah.
(Results on the season: We’ve correctly predicted seven of the season’s 35 events. Pat Mayo has correctly picked Bryson DeChambeau (12-1, Shriners); Matt Kuchar (60-1 at the OHL Classic) and Phil Mickelson (25-1 at Pebble Beach). Lou Riccio called Rickie Fowler's win (16-1) in Phoenix and had a runner-up (Dustin Johnson) at the PGA. Brandon Gdula nailed Rory McIlroy (9-1, Canadian Open) and has had five runners-up. And our Golf Digest editors have also correctly picked Patrick Cantlay (16-1 at the Memorial) Kevin Tway (55-1 at the Safeway)
Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win at the 2019 BMW Championship (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: Wyndham Clark (150-1) — You have to like someone who's hungry and pumped to be here. The rookie earned his way and played well last week with the T-18 at Liberty National.
Mayo: Ian Poulter (50-1) — The Brit finished inside the top 10 at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, and followed that up here in 2012 by being the highest scoring member of either squad in that year’s Ryder Cup. If he can keep it in the short grass, Poulter has the short-game chops to recover with ease, and actually finished third in the field last week in approach. I wouldn’t expect him to gain seven strokes with his irons like he did last week, but if the rest of his game catches up, and the fall-off isn’t all that much, he’s live at this price.
Gdula: Collin Morikawa (50-1) — Morikawa isn’t super long off the tee, but his standing in the FedEx Cup rankings (57th) means he’ll need to play aggressively. I like that narrative for someone who has shown superior ball-striking ability in a small sample.
Riccio: Phil Mickelson (150-1) — Ignore the stats and the results for a second. And ask yourself whether Phil Mickelson at 150-1 odds are worth something. The answer is yes, a little something. You'll be happy you did in case he finds something in his game this week. He's still in the top-20 of my model this week.
Sobel, Action Network: Byeong Hun-An (80-1) — Simply put, Ben An is way too cheap for his talent level. I’m going back to the Memorial corollary here, as he lost in a playoff last year and finished T-17 a few months ago. This is another guy who’s been trending in the right direction and whose game should fit the course. At well below the average price in DraftKings and FanDuel, he should alleviate some salary concerns while allowing you to load up on a few more studs.
Golf Digest editors: Joaquin Niemann (80-1) — 2019 has been a successful year already for the 20-year-old. A hot middle of the summer propelled him to a run in the playoffs, great for his first full season. There's really nothing to lose this week. If you're into great storylines, go back 20 years ago at Medinah, where an ultra-talented 19-year-old Sergio Garcia nearly won his first major here. How about Niemann earning his first PGA Tour victory here at Medinah to catapult him into golf stardom? It's worth a shot at these high odds.
Aldrick, FanShare Sports: Andrew Putnam (80-1) — The FanShare Pro Research Tool shows Putnam excels on long courses with Bentgrass greens, averaging 17 birdies per tournament. His form is excellent right now, making nine consecutive cuts in a row, including two top-five finishes. He's also an excellent Bentgrass putter, ranking eighth in field in strokes gained/putting over the past six months on Bentgrass greens.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
PGA Tour Caddie: Jason Day (50-1) — J-Day has a new/old/buddy caddie on the bag this week. He’s sort of searching, and in an unusual spot where he’s going to need to finish fifth in order to avoid missing the Tour Championship for the first time since 2012. He’s probably ready to call it a season. Sometimes, caddie changes are made to find lightning in a bottle. That didn’t happen with Steve Williams, and that wasn’t Steve’s fault. It’s just been a tough year for Jason on the course.
Mayo: Jordan Spieth (28-1) — Despite a gutsy effort in Jersey, it’s simply not sustainable to gain this many strokes on the greens every week. Spieth can always make me look foolish, but until he hits a few more fairways, this course is just going to be too long for a victory, especially now that he’s being priced back up on the odds board.
Gdula: Justin Rose (18-1) — Among favorites, Rose usually stands out as one of the weaker ball-strikers. He’s still elite—don’t get me wrong—but at this particular course, Rose stands out as overvalued, and I’d rather back any of the other favorites this week.
Riccio: Rory McIlroy (8-1) — This is dangerous, but hear me out. I've been all for backing a favorite when my model makes him the clear No. 1 for the week. That's not the case with Rory this week. My model predicted his odds at 50-1, which is obviously way higher than what he'd ever be listed at, but a sign that the stats don't point to a good week from Rory. Rory has lost strokes on his approaches in two of his past four events. You're going to need to do better than that at Medinah. He'll also need to scramble well here, which is not his strength. I'd look elsewhere.
Sobel, Action Network: Jason Day (50-1) — It wasn’t so long ago that 50-1 odds on Day, anywhere, would’ve been an offer too good to refuse. He’s lost something, though—his game, his confidence, his edge; maybe all three—and his game is currently in shambles. Without a win in 15 months and inexplicably outside the top-eight automatic qualifiers for this year’s International team, it’s difficult to point to one area of the game which is letting him down. If it wasn’t for the Presidents Cup, I might’ve expected Day to pack it in and call it a season already; other than maybe Sergio Garcia (who didn’t advance to the BMW), there’s not a guy out there right now who looks like he needs a break more than Day.
Golf Digest editors: Dustin Johnson (14-1) — Did you see him on the weekend at Liberty National, a place that should be suited to his game? He was missing fairways by a wideeee margin. Easy fade here.
Aldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (14-1) — The poor putting stats and inconsistent play on the weekend last week have me much more confident in the rest of the favorites.
2019 BMW Championship: Matchups
PGA Tour Caddie: Patrick Cantlay (-150) over Patrick Reed (Sportbet) — Reed will have a little hangover after the win. He’s already in the Tour Championship and a bad week won’t kill him in terms of winning the whole FedEx Cup. Cantlay's a great play where driver efficiency is emphasized, like it will be at Medinah.
Mayo: Tommy Fleetwood (-125) over Jordan Spieth (Bovada) — I’m just looking to pick on Spieth here, and targeting Tommy, coming off his worst iron week of the season. He's primed for a rebound.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (-116) over Justin Rose (FanDuel) — Johnson has gained at least 5.5 strokes from approach shots alone in two of his past three events but has a 51st and 24th in them to show for it. Overall, his tee-to-green numbers are solid, and at a big-hitter course, Johnson should edge Rose.
Riccio: Tommy Fleetwood (+105) over Webb Simpson (Sportbet) — Again, it's dangerous to fade Webb here, as he's been a strokes-gained machine over the past two months. And my model has favored Webb over the past month or so as his results have been strong. But I think Fleetwood and Webb rate out pretty evenly this week, thus why I like Fleetwood at plus-money. My model actually gives Fleetwood the 15th best chance of winning, whereas Webb is down at 35th. Fleetwood has been playing nearly as good as Webb, so give me the plus-money.
Sobel, Action Network: Jason Kokrak (-135) over Brandt Snedeker (Sportsbook) — I’d already earmarked this matchup as one of my favorites, but I’ll give my boy Sleeze a little credit for numbers he listed on our Action Network Podcast. Long and straight off the tee works every week, but even more so at Medinah, a big ballpark where that’s absolutely imperative. In total driving, Kokrak ranks 11th, while Snedeker is a mere 168th. In strokes gained off the tee, Kokrak is 13th, Snedeker is 153rd Throw in the fact that Kokrak is fresh off a T-6 and a T-12, the latter of which included a final-round 66 at Liberty National last Sunday, and I think this is a tremendous play.
Golf Digest editors: Webb Simpson (-115) over Rickie Fowler (Bovada) — Webb's strokes-gained stats might be the most impressive, outside of Rory, in this field. Webb has gained more than five strokes on the field in every event since March. That's absurd! He's gained strokes on his approaches in every event since the Masters and even in putting in every event since May. There's no reason to get off him, and every reason to wait and see Rickie's return to form before backing him.
Aldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Rose (-116) over Dustin Johnson (FanDuel) — I'm going to jump on the opposite side of Gdula's opinion here. DJ’s putting has been very concerning of late. Now there are concerns about his driving, too, having lost shots to the field off the tee last week. Around Medinah he isn’t going to be able to get away with either.
Matchup results last week: PGA Tour Caddie: 1 for 1 (Rory Sabbatini (+105) over Marc Leishman); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Bubba Watson (-105) over Sergio Garcia); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Patrick Cantlay (-126) over Rickie Fowler); Riccio: 1 for 1 (Hideki Matsuyama (-115) over Gary Woodland); Action Network: 1 for 1 (Patrick Reed (-130) over Shane Lowry); GD Editors: 1 for 1 (Patrick Cantlay (-140) over Tiger Woods); Lee Aldrick, FanShare: 1 for 1 (Justin Rose (+110) over Dustin Johnson)
Matchup results for the year: GD Editors: 18 wins, 11 losses, two pushes; PGA Tour Caddie: 18-13; Action Network: 10 for 13; Riccio: 14-14; FanShare Sports guest picker: 4 for 5; Mayo: 12-15-2; Gdula: 11-17-2
Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: Vaughn Taylor (+1000) — Anytime we’re at a major-caliber course, short game should be emphasized. Taylor's short game could propel him to a top 10. He has flown under the radar this year, because being in the top 70 is really good for someone in their 40s. It sounds crazy, but why not try to double down? He’s got nothing to lose. I could see his game peaking at the right time.
Mayo: Adam Hadwin (+750) — The course plays over 7,600 yards, so everyone is loading up on bombers. But historical stats from Medinah show somewhat of a different story. Fairways-hit, medium distance off the tee and long irons are the key. Two of the four par 5s aren’t reachable in two, so it actually plays to the strengths of some of the shorter players who are accustomed to these distances on a week-to-week basis. Per Fantasy National, over the past 24 rounds the Canadian is top-10 in the field in proximity from 200+ yards, fairways-gained and par-3 scoring from 200-225 yards. He’s a longshot, but one who should be competitive.
Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (+290) — Matsuyama is struggling a bit, but over a larger sample, Matsuyama has the elite ball-striking needed to contend at Medinah, and I like the value on a top-10 due to the recent struggles.
Riccio: Jordan Spieth (+225) — The three-time major champ is starting to figure it out. He comes in with great momentum after the Sunday 67 at Liberty National, which should help him mentally. This could be the week he gets that elusive win of 2019, but even if not, I expect him to contend this weekend, and these top-10 odds in a 70-person field are appealing. My model gives him the fourth-best chance of winning at Medinah.
Sobel, Action Network: Patrick Cantlay (+175) — Same bet, different week. After four straight starts of top-10 results, culminating with his win at the Memorial Tournament, I started thinking: Hey, this guy is pretty good at finishing in the top-10. Sounds like a good bet to make. Since then? He’s posted results of 21-15-41-12-12, now failing to cash this bet by a single stroke in two straight events. Like a roulette ball that keeps falling in red when you’re betting black, might as well just keep doubling up on Cantlay for a top-10, because at some point, it’s inevitable. This feels like the week. I also really like Jason Kokrak and Ryan Moore for top-5, top-10 or top-20 picks, whichever you prefer.
Golf Digest editors: Matt Kuchar (+325) — Kuchar struggled last week, but Liberty National isn't a course suited for him. Medinah should be. The ATM machine in a 70-person field at more than 3-to-1 odds for a top 10? This is an auto bet.
Aldrick, FanShare Sports: Hideki Matsuyama (+290) — Matsuyama sets up perfectly for Medinah. He plays long courses just as well as anyone, putts very well on Bentgrass greens, ranks in the top 20 in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months and 12th for Opportunities Gained over the same period. He's primed to contend this week.
Top 10 results last week: Aldrick: 1 for 1 (Patrick Reed (+500); Everyone else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results for the year: Mayo: 9 for 29; GD Editors: 8 for 28; Gdula: 6 for 27; Riccio: 5 for 28; PGA Tour Caddie: 6 for 29; Action Network: 3 for 11; FanShare: 2 for 5
Mayo: Justin Thomas is now gaining an average of 5.5 strokes on his approaches over his past four starts, and he has gone T-12/T-12/T-11 over his past three events. At some point, he’s going to start making some 10-footers. Hopefully it’s this week … The books are savvy to Ryan Moore this week. He’s gained over seven strokes tee-to-green in his past two events and has shown a propensity to get hot this time of year. He’s well suited to three-shot par 5s, and will be one of the few in the field who can hit driver on every hole and not worry about finding the forest. He seems overpriced based on the name power around him, but don’t be duped into passing on Moore. Here are players I'm targeting this week:
Justin Thomas ($10,000); Patrick Cantlay ($9,800); Ian Poulter ($8,000); Ryan Moore ($7,700); Adam Hadwin ($6,900).
Riccio: Here's my lineup for this week:
Dustin Johnson ($10,700); Jordan Spieth ($8,900); Rickie Fowler ($8,800); Jason Day ($8,100); Joaquin Niemann ($7,300); Kevin Tway ($6,200)
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rory and Rose rank out very well in my model this week as does Hideki so I want all 3 of these in my lineup. I’m confident enough with the other 3 low priced player to load up on all 3 of my fancies.
Rory McIlroy ($11,500), Justin Rose ($10,200), Hideki Matsuyama ($8,200), Andrew Putnam ($7,300), Wyndham Clark ($6,400), Nate Lashley ($6,100).
FanShare Sports' Under The Radar DFS Pick of the Week — Jason Day (+8,100) — J-Day has had a poor past four events by his standards: Two missed cuts, a 66th and a 40th is not what we expect from J-Day. People will likely jump off of him this week, but I’m not ready to jump ship. The Australian ranks fourth in the field on average DraftKings points scored on courses over 7,400 yards. And despite his bad results, he does still rank 21st in the field this week for strokes gained/tee-to-green over the last two months.
Gdula: This week, I think that your teams should include either Brooks Koepka ($12,200), Rory McIlroy ($12,100), Dustin Johnson ($12,000), or Jon Rahm ($11,800). That’s an easy statement, sure, but their win equity is significantly higher than the rest of the $11,000 range, so it makes sense to anchor your lineup that way.
The mid-range is loaded with big names given the field, and some standout values include Collin Morikawa ($9,500), Jason Kokrak ($9,100), Joaquin Niemann ($8,700), and Byeong-Hun An ($8,300).
Riccio: The top five players here are in the top five in my model for the week. And Phil Mickelson should make a ton of birdies this week, giving him some value.
Dustin Johnson ($12,000); Rickie Fowler ($10,700); Jordan Spieth ($10,600); Jason Day ($9,800); Joaquin Niemann ($8,700); Phil Mickelson ($7,800).
About our experts
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.
Pat Mayo is known as one of the pre-eminent experts in daily-fantasy sports and golf handicapping specifically. Mayo is a 17-time fantasy sports-writers association finalist, the most of any writer this decade, and Mayo won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com. Here’s a link to watch his complete DraftKings preview of the 2019 Wyndham Championship.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Jason Sobel is a senior writer for The Action Network. To read The Action Network's full betting breakdown for the Northern Trust, click here.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a UK based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.