BMW Championship 2020 picks: Why our experts are buying the Bryson hype
Oddsmakers are making our jobs tougher than normal this week. Eight golfers have odds of 20-1 or lower to win the 2020 BMW Championship, depending on which book you use. In a usual week, that number’s more like five or six. The guys who make the odds know that the heavy hitters win these events, just like Dustin Johnson did last week. They don’t want to be burned again.
Our expert panel, the leading collection of golf handicappers in the industry, remains up a collective 239.47 units since October when the 2019-’20 PGA Tour season started (that includes outright, matchup and top-10 bets). This might be our coldest stretch of the season, but we’ve still hit six winners in the past 13 events, and we have 13 outright predictions this season. The experts consist of a tour caddie reporting live from Olympia Fields; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman, a data scientist who has his own analytics site, RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports and us two jabronis.
Read on to see who we like this week at the 2020 BMW Championship.
BMW Championship 2020 Picks To Win (Odds from PointsBet)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Jon Rahm (9-1) — It seems like Rahm is peaking again. Just like he did before winning Memorial, he got hot the previous Sunday. I think we can see something similar here from Jon Rahm. If he can putt better than his average, I peg him as the guy to beat this week.
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Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Rory McIlroy (18-1) — Things are actually beginning to align for Rory McIlroy, despite what you might have watched last week, and what you might’ve heard him say. Rory’s irons have crippled him for months. That wasn’t the case in Boston, though. He was actually top 10 in the field on approaches. It was his driving and putting that let him down. If he can keep nailing the irons at last week’s rate, and the driver and putter return to normal, after a one-week aberration, he’ll pop off. Plus, you finally get a discount on his number over the other favorites.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Bryson DeChambeau (13-1) — I don’t usually back golfers this short, but DeChambeau is guaranteed four rounds, and he’s the field leader in birdies or better gained over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.com. He won the U.S. Amateur here in 2015, giving him some course knowledge that others might not have. Among the studs, he’s the best putter in the mix, as well. I also bet Rory McIlroy (+1800) because the odds are too good. That’ll let me keep the card light because of these two favorites.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Bryson DeChambeau (13-1) — DeChambeau is coming off an ugly missed cut, and I can’t pass up the extra value built into this number. Olympia Fields should be a course where DeChambeau can flex his muscles. Checking in at 7,366 yards, it’s the second-longest par 70 we’ve seen on the PGA Tour in recent memory behind only Bethpage Black. There are few golfers in this field that have competitive experience at Olympia Fields and that includes DeChambeau. He won the 2015 U.S. Amateur at this course in convincing 7 and 6 fashion.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Daniel Berger (20-1) — I was going back to J-Day until we talked about Daniel Berger on our podcast this week. I’m with our guy Eric Patterson from The Score … Berger could’ve easily been priced around 15- to 16-1 this week, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But there’s a tiny bit of value left here at 20-1. The motivation of hoping that Augusta National grants him a special invite has to be real.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Bryson DeChambeau (13-1) — Normally I stay away from the heavy favorites, but the FedEx Cup playoff events are usually won by the big names. I’m placing betting all of my chips on Bryson this week. Last week’s MC at the Northern Trust was clearly an outlier, especially on the greens, where he lost 4.2 strokes putting. In his previous nine events he gained strokes putting eight times. He’s been a complete menace since the restart, and recent history has shown he thrives in the playoffs (he won back-to-back events in 2018). Expect him to start fast, too, as he leads the tour in first-round scoring average. Also (don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…) he won the U.S. Amateur here in 2015!
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Day (28-1) — Yes, Day had a very disappointing week last week … losing 6.5 strokes on his approach. But he still has four top-seven place finishes in his past five events. Due to his past performances on long par 70s with Bentgrass greens, FanShareSports ranks him 14th in our course-suitability metric. I’m willing to trust the longer sample size.
Results from this season: Golf Digest's betting panel continues to be the hottest golf betting panel in the industry: Counting outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, we are up 239.47 units (the equivalent of being up $2,394.70 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets). We’ve correctly predicted six winners in the past 13 tournaments, and overall, we have nailed 13 of the first 32 tour champs this season.
BMW Championship 2020 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses (odds from PointsBet)
Caddie: Alex Noren (66-1) — I can't believe how this guy has turned around his game over the past 12 months. It's a testament to his work ethic. He's just progressively playing better as the season comes to an end. Look out for him this week.
Mayo: Adam Scott (40-1) — Don’t be tempted to reach too far for a dark horse in a field like this. But Adam Scott is interesting. It’s the first time the Aussie has played back-to-back events since the restart, and now you get him at a course where ball-striking rules over all else. Sounds like Adam Scott.
Gdula: Cameron Champ (80-1) — Champ won the Illini Invitational in 2016 at Olympia Fields and is 14th in the field in birdie or better rate gained over the past 50 rounds, per FantasyNational.com. I’d primarily prefer few longshots in a field this tough, but Champ is definitely interesting among the few realistic golfers with long odds.
Gehman: Ryan Palmer (80-1) — Palmer is having a great season that no one is really talking about. Not only was he in contention deep into the Sony Open and the Farmers Insurance Open, but he’s been great recently. It all started when he missed the cut at the Workday Charity Open and flew home to get an emergency swing lesson from his coach. He also switched to a putter that he hadn’t touched in years. Well, since then, he’s gained 1.91 strokes per round, which is the fifth best average on tour. Don’t expect this stage to be too big for the seasoned veteran who has played in the BMW Championship 11 times. He has three top 25s in the past five years, including two fourth-place finishes.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Matthew Fitzpatrick (50-1) — I’m not much for narrative plays in gambling, but hear me out. Fitzpatrick went to college at Northwestern outside Chicago (sure, it was just one semester). But he’ll have some positive vibes being back in the area. Plus, he shot a second-round 66 at TPC Boston, gaining strokes in every major category. Though he missed the cut, I like that he had the weekend off to regroup. This is a position golf course, and that’s the guy’s game. You had to lay numbers around 30- and 35-1 a couple weeks ago, and this is the same guy who finished third at Memorial and sixth at the WGC FedEx St. Jude.
Powers, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (66-1) — He might not be priced among the elites, but he has been elite over the last month. He nearly won the 3M Open as a 100-1 longshot, then finished 19th at the PGA Championship and eighth last week at the Northern Trust. Yes, the 10-time European Tour winner has never won on the PGA Tour, but it clearly seems like he’s building toward it.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Scottie Scheffler (33-1) — These odds don’t scream “longshot,” but in a field of 70, he’s the 17th-highest favorite, so he’s not exactly a favorite. Despite the lower number, I think there’s value left here. Scheffler ranks second in the FanShare course-suitability ranking, thanks to his past performances on long par 70s (including the great showing at the PGA Championship). The rookie is seventh in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months, which has helped him to these back-to-back top fives, so you gotta like the form.
BMW Championship 2020 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Rory McIlroy (18-1) — When a professional golfer admits he’s having trouble motivating myself, it should get your attention. Rory usually excels this time of year, but the past couple of weeks haven’t left many signs that he’s close.
Mayo: Xander Schauffele (16-1) — Xander’s the fade of the week until his odds get back to a realistic level. Sure, he plays well at no-cut events, but his odds should really be in the high 20s, low 30s, not the mid teens.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (+750) — I think this is the third time in about five starts that I’ve said to fade Dustin, yet his turnaround has made me change my tune on him. That being said, at these odds and with so many contenders, I just can’t advise betting DJ here. It’s now just about the value rather than the stats.
Gehman: Paul Casey (50-1) — Casey told us himself on Twitter that he is “running on fumes.” Casey has played six weeks in a row, and this week will be seven. That’s a schedule that the top players in the world try to avoid but the condensed schedule this year has made it a necessity. The fatigue is showing in his stats. He’s lost strokes on approach in each of his last two events. While that doesn’t seem so bad, I had to go all the way back to 2017 in the RickRunGood.com database to find another two-event stretch where Casey lost strokes on approach in back-to-back weeks.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (18-1) — I’m with our tour caddie. The number is really tempting, but there’s a stronger case to be made for the other top guys.
Powers, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (+750) — I’m never betting on anyone at this number to win a golf tournament, though if anybody can rip off three straight playoff events and the FedEx Cup, it’s DJ. But he’s given himself the opportunity to coast to a middling finish this week, then give everything he has for the big prize at East Lake.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (13-1) — Olympia Fields will put a premium on superb iron play, and right now, that’s a weakness of Bryson DeChambeau’s game. He was so good with his driver and putter at Detroit Golf Club that his weak iron play didn’t cost him a victory, but this is a much tougher strength of field. I’m not seeing enough improvement with the irons for me to back him here. Plus, the FanShare course-suitability ranking puts him … get this, 56th out of 70 players in the field. I’m running away from him here.
BMW Championship 2020 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Bryson DeChambeau (+100) over Justin Thomas (BetMGM) — Bryson would be my pick to win behind Jon Rahm, so getting him at even-money is attractive. He has such positive vibes at this course from his U.S. Amateur win. I know he wants to cap off his successful summer with a win in bigger field event, and this could absolutely be the one.
Mayo: Adam Scott (-110) over Paul Casey (DraftKings) — Scott’s one of favorites to win, and Casey has been riding a hot putter the two weeks following his near hit at the PGA Championship. Note: Casey is not a good putter, so that’s bound to regress.
Gdula: Daniel Berger (-122) over Jason Day (FanDuel) — Berger is on fire right now, and that’s been due to his elite stats across the board, including with the putter. He’s been better than Day since the restart and in 2020 as a whole.
Gehman: Daniel Berger (-118) over Rory McIlroy (DraftKings) — Berger has been the best player in the restart, and it’s not particularly close. He’s gaining 2.38 strokes per round in that span, nearly a half a stroke more than Bryson DeChambeau, who is next on that list. The impressive part about Berger is that he’s been phenomenal in every facet. Since the restart, he’s 13th in Strokes Gained/Off-the-Tee, sixth in Strokes Gained/Approach, 13th in Strokes Gained/Around-the-Green and seventh in Strokes Gained/Putting. McIlroy continues to struggle and lament the lack of energy on the course without fans.
Hennessey: Collin Morikawa (+100) over Rory McIlroy (William Hill) — Morikawa had the weekend to relax after the emotions of teeing it up in your first start after that breakthrough major. I think he’ll play well at Olympia Fields, which our guys the Tour Junkies have likened to TPC Harding Park. You think Morikawa likes Harding Park at all?
Powers: Tiger Woods (+100) over Jason Day (DraftKings) — The ball-striking signs are there from Tiger. It’s just the putting that needs to improve. Meanwhile, J-Day lost 6.5 strokes on his approach shots last week and goes to a course where iron play is crucial? This should be an easy win.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (-115) over Bryson DeChambeau (FanDuel) — I don’t care about Bryson DeChambeau winning the U.S. Amateur here. I can make the argument Justin Thomas is a better fit for this course. Iron play is going to be crucial, and Bryson has only been OK with his iron game in the past couple of events. JT continues to be one of the best iron players in the world. JT is No. 1 in strokes gained/tee-to-green and second in Opportunities Gained in the past two months, per FantasyNational.com.
Matchup Results from the Northern Trust: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Daniel Berger (-112) over Patrick Reed); Tour caddie: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1. Hennessey’s matchup on DJ over Koepka would’ve been refunded.
Matchup Results this season: Hennessey: 12-7 (+5.87 units); Powers: 12-7-1 (+5.57 units); Tour caddie: 16-10-1 (+5.11 units); Alldrick: 17-11-2 (+3.71 units); Gehman: 5-6 (-1.49 units); Gdula: 12-15-2 (-2.53 units); Mayo: 12-18 (-5.81 units)
BMW Championship 2020 picks: Top 10 (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
Caddie: Bubba Watson (+600) — Bubba showed some flash last week despite a bad finish. I think he's flying so far under the radar that you can get him at great odds at a course that favors long hitters.
Mayo: Tyrrell Hatton (+350) — The Brit was one of the best players in the field at the Northern Trust … at least on Thursday and Saturday. He also happened to be one of the worst players the other two days. Still, $8,300 on DraftKings is too cheap for the world’s 15th-ranked player. Especially when you consider he’s been the best player since the restart from 175-200 yards on approaches.
Gdula: Abraham Ancer (+550) — Ancer is a positive top-10 value in my win sims. He’s cooled off but is a good all-around golfer who can make putts and linger. He should be able to hit fairways and avoid disaster. He’s 29th in birdie rate gained over the past 50 rounds, as well.
Gehman: Matthew Wolff (+450) — Outside of an abysmal 77 on Saturday at the Northern Trust, Wolff was excellent. He was 14-under combined in his other three rounds including an impressive bounce-back on Sunday where he carded a 67. Wolff is young and will be volatile, but his game should translate beautifully to Olympia Fields just as it did in 2018 when he won a collegiate event here.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ryan Palmer (+550) — As Rick Gehman pointed out in his analysis on why Ryan Palmer is his sleeper, Palmer has two top-four finishes in his past five BMW Championships. And Palmer is on right now. Put two units on this, and make this a nice payday.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (+350) — Throw last week’s MC out the window and Finau has finished eighth or better in three of his past four starts. He’ll bounce back this week. Top-10 Tony is one of the safest bets in the game.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Henley (+500) — I’ve been riding Russell Henley the past two weeks, and I’m not stopping now. He has back-to-back top-10s and three total since the restart. The old putting form is back, and along with another excellent tee-to-green performance, should us another good opportunity to cash another top-10 ticket this week.
Top 10 results from the Rocket Mortgage Classic: Tour caddie: 1 for 1 (Alex Noren, +800); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Russell Henley, +750); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Harris English, +700); Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1
Top 10 results from this season: Mayo: 5 for 28 (+18.5 units); Hennessey: 5 for 19 (+8.75 units); Alldrick: 6 for 29 (+6 units); Gehman: 2 for 11 (+3 units); Gdula: 5 for 30 (+2.2 units); Powers: 2 for 19 (-6.3 units); Tour caddie: 4 for 37 (-7.4 units)
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
2.46 — The average strokes gained for Daniel Berger dating back to the Waste Management Open. The story about Berger has been his success in the restart, but he’s been this good for even longer than people realize. That’s the best number on the PGA Tour in that span.
1.28 — The average strokes gained for Kevin Na on par-70 courses in the past two seasons. That’s the fifth-most of any golfer in this field, behind only Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele and Billy Horschel.
172 — The number of DraftKings points scored by Dustin Johnson last week. That’s the most of any golfer in at least the past three years and potentially the highest number ever.
6th (or better) — The approximate finishing position needed by Tiger Woods to earn enough FedEx Cup points to advance to the Tour Championship next week.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing 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.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
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 U.K.-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.