Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


PGA Championship 2021 picks: The seven bets we’re making heading into the weekend


Darren Carroll/PGA of America

The 36-hole mark of a golf tournament can be either a glorious position or a nightmare for bettors. Either you’re ripping up your pre-tourney tickets, or you’re going to bed dreaming about the money you could win on the weekend. We’ve been on both sides, so we can sympathize with how ever you’re feeling after two rounds at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

There was certainly some carnage (like Cameron Tringale’s opening-nine 48 on Friday), but there was also some great golf—particularly by the 36-hole co-leaders, Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen, and the man just one back of them, Brooks Koepka, who is now the betting favorite, 4-1 to win at William Hill. Koepka was 50-1 or higher at some books before Thursday, so hopefully if you’re reading this, you have a nice live ticket and you’re thinking about hedging (though it’s too early for that, we’ll talk about that in a little). Or you’re in the boat of a lot of others, with your outright tickets in some not-so-good shape (Jordan Spieth, we can thank you for being in this position).

Either way, we have some bets we feel strongly about to help you profit this weekend. Read on for our nine favorite bets heading into the weekend at Kiawah Island.

Brooks Koepka to be the leader after Round 3 (+350, William Hill)

It’s not the sexiest odds, but it’s still plus money with a guy you can trust on Saturday of a major. The way I see it, Phil Mickelson shooting a third straight under-par round would be nothing short of miraculous (I’m rooting for it, though). Then there’s Hideki Matsuyama at three under, who will have a very tough time replicating his second-round 68 and is facing plenty of pressure as he looks to win a second straight major. Beneath him, no one really worries me too much, so you’re essentially betting on Brooks to go semi-low and beat Oosthuizen by two on Saturday to grab the solo lead. –Christopher Powers, assistant editor

Hideki Matsuyama to finish top five (+150, DraftKings)

Matsuyama’s live strokes-gained numbers are very impressive. Per Datagolf, the Masters champion is gaining more than 4.5 strokes/tee to green over the first two rounds, second only by one hundredth of a point to Koepka among those in the top 10. And he’s only a slightly positive putting and around the greens, which is really all he needs to do to play well. Matsuyama didn’t look lost with the putter like we’ve seen at points over the past couple of years … he hit a handful of good putts that just missed slightly. I’d expect Matsuyama to stay around the lead and cash this ticket. –Stephen Hennessey, dep. managing editor

Bryson DeChambeau to win (15-1 with top-four each way, Bet365)

I didn’t think Bryson would play well at the Ocean Course before the weekend started … I thought there was too much trouble lurking. But so far, he has avoided the really big miss off the tee and has played really well—gaining the fourth-most strokes tee to green—and most surprisingly to me, he’s actually lost strokes putting. The long-term stats tell us that he’s a better putter than that, so I expect his putting to revert back closer to his mean. If they do, I think he’s in a nice position to charge up the leader board. And the +375 top-four bet isn’t too shabby to have, either.

Jon Rahm to finish top 10 (+400, DraftKings)

No disrespect to Rahm, who I absolutely believe will win multiple majors, but this has been his schtick so far in his early majors career, no? Rough start, digs himself too big of a hole to get out of … but then makes a solid weekend charge and ties for fourth. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but that’s kind of been his M.O. So we might as well try to capitalize on that here at +400. I kind of like the +1000 for a top 5 as well. He’s only four back of T-12, and as we saw the first two days, a 68 or 69 is all you need to make up a ton of ground. We know Rahm’s got that type of weekend in his bag. –CP

Tyrrell Hatton to finish top 10 (+450, DraftKings)

The Englishman is the king of the low weekend to surge up the leader board. A lot has been made of his struggles in majors recently (three straight missed cuts), but he has five top-10s at the majors in his career. This is a juicy number to snag … and being just seven back of the lead … you really just need a few 69s or 70s to cash this. --SH

Rory McIlroy to finish top 20 (+120, DraftKings)

Another guy, who, like Jon Rahm, ain’t scared to sneak through the back door. At three over (T-39), McIlroy is only three back of T-19, and he got the least he possibly could out of his even-par 72 on Friday. I expect a very strong weekend from him, which will be more than enough to get inside the top 20, and possibly in the top 10. –CP

Billy Horschel over Patrick Reed (+116, tie no bet Day 3 match up, DraftKings)

Horschel's ball-striking has been significantly better than Reed's through two rounds. Horschel has gained more than three strokes on his approach shots through two rounds, where Reed is just above zero with his irons. And Reed has lost nearly 1.5 strokes/off the tee. Horschel has been victim of a couple really bad short-game shots. This has some nice value at plus-money. --SH