2020 PGA Championship matchup betting preview

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With it finally being major championship season we are given a huge variety of wagering types throughout the course of the events. These tournaments also bring in a market of people who may not typically gamble on golf. The best way to get into golf betting is by placing bets on head-to-head matchups. This wagering type offers odds that look more similar to what someone might see for other major sports. It may seem tempting to throw $100 on your favorite golfer to win but the odds are slim and most likely you will end up down $100 at the end of the week. Betting matchups allows the bettor more favorable odds at winning and simply places two golfers against each other. Pick which one will finish better at the end of the tournament and you win.

A more detailed breakdown of strategy and description of matchups betting can be found here:

What is matchup betting in golf

There are two main philosophies when it comes to playing head-to-head wagers for a major. First, attempting to target golfers that appear to be poised to make a good run at the event. The second option is targeting golfers that are not in good form and picking whoever is facing them in the matchup. I’m going to break down a handful of matchups that caught my eye for this week and will analyze them from both of those perspectives. 

Matchup breakdowns

Justin Thomas -120 vs Rory McIlroy

The biggest conundrum so far since the PGA Tour returned in May is “What happened to Rory?” He was by far the hottest golfer on tour when it was cancelled and ever since the restart he just hasn’t seemed quite right. His last five events prior to the shut down were 1st, 3rd, 5th, 5th, and 5th. Simply astounding. Since the tour has been back he has finished 32nd, 41st, 11th, 32nd, and 47th. That kind of inverse in finishes doesn’t just happen without something being off with his game.

On the other hand, Justin Thomas is perhaps in the best form of anyone else on the PGA Tour. With the win this past week at WGC – Memphis, Thomas has retaken the #1 World Golf Ranking. Since his return, he has four top 10 finishes in six starts including a 1st and a 2nd. He has been the most consistent golfer over the past two months and that does not appear to be changing anytime soon. It is always a scary thought to bet against Rory McIlroy but that is exactly what I’ll be doing here.

The pick: Justin Thomas -120

Matthew Fitzpatrick -125 vs Adam Scott

Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of my favorite plays heading into this week. He has been incredibly consistent with his all around game. He gains strokes in almost every relevant stat that has been deemed important for playing TPC Harding Park including putting on bentgrass. His recent results have backed up these numbers with him finishing 3rd and 6th the previous two events. With the weather potentially overcast and windy, the European style golfer may be able to find familiarity to conditions commonly seen on the other side of the pond. All of these reasons lead me to believe Fitzpatrick is poised to have a strong week.

Adam Scott has yet to play since golf returned in May. The last time we saw him on the course was March 8th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he missed the cut. We have no idea what his game currently looks like but I am willing to roll with the guy who has been grinding on the course over the guy who hasn’t played a competitive round in three months.

The pick: Matthew Fitzpatrick -125

Patrick Cantalay staring
Mar 12, 2020; Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA; Patrick Cantlay tees off on the 11th hole during the first round of the 2020 edition of The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Cantlay -115 vs Hideki Matsuyama

The PGA Championship has traditionally been an event that sees breakthrough victories for first time major winners. Patrick Cantlay has a great opportunity to do just that this weekend in San Francisco. He is primed to capture a major sometime in the near future since last year he finished in the top 21 three different times including a 3rd place finish at this exact event. He is a premier ball striker and his game bodes well for this type of course. 

Hideki is a golfer that the betting community has a love/hate relationship with. Typically speaking, I love betting golfers who are pure with the irons and can’t seem to putt. It’s my own personal torture to myself on Sunday afternoons when they are hitting every green and then 3-putting from inside ten feet. Hideki is that prototype. Just look at these ball striking numbers over the past 5 and 10 events:

Hideki average strokes gained

What a machine. Okay, now let’s look at the putting over his last six:

Hideki recent strokes gained putting

Truly remarkable. Nobody can compete for a major title with those types of stats putting. This is the type of advantage I’m looking for in a head-to-head matchup.

The pick: Patrick Cantlay -115

Joaquin Niemann -130 vs Phil Mickelson

I was beyond happy watching Phil Mickelson make a charge up the leaderboard of the WGC this past week because I knew it would lead to some value in the matchup market for the PGA. And here we have just that. 

Phil is clearly past his prime but he does tend to pop up every now and then. I like to think of these as more anomalies than anything. This past week he gained almost 4 strokes putting over the course of the event. Prior to that he had lost 3.7 at Memorial and 4.4 at the Workday Charity Open. Those two events have greens more in line speed wise with what we will see this week. 

Niemann on the other hand is one of my favorite plays of the week. He is a consistent ball striker and finds a ton of fairways. Bentgrass is also his favorite and preferred putting surface. I will have a wager on Niemann to win the event this weekend which means I will be running as fast as I can to place this head-to-head matchup against the aging Phil Mickelson and his inconsistent putting stroke.

The play: Joaquin Niemann -130

Brooks Koepka vs Bryson DeChambeau -130

Great job by the sportsbooks giving us this matchup for the week. These two world-class golfers have developed a bit of a rivalry on tour. It dates back to January with a dig from Brooks regarding his major titles. It then continued this past weekend with another about fire ants. All very comical but there is no way that this doesn’t fuel them to go at it on the course.

When the rest of the golf betting world zigs, I am perfectly happy to zag. Bryson is the “it guy” on tour right now. So much news has been made of his recent transformation and his length off the tee. I will admit, it is pretty impressive how far he is driving the ball. But apart from that, his game has been an ongoing process to piece together. He is struggling to find distance control with his wedges and when you are driving the ball that far you will end up with a wedge in hand more often than not. His past two events he has lost 6.2 and 7.1 strokes on approach. He’s also been losing strokes around the green as of late. If approach is not dialed in and the short game is off, it is a recipe for disaster on a challenging major championship style course. 

Brooks Koepka is the two time defending champion of this event. He has had a rocky start to this return of golf but pieced it all together this past week at the WGC finishing 2nd just behind Justin Thomas. Koepka preps himself for the large events. You won’t see him winning the Rocket Mortgage but you will see him winning majors and WGCs. It’s what he prepares for and when the spotlight is on he tends to show up. For instance, he gained 10.9 strokes tee to green last week. Enough said. Give me the four time major champ at even money over the current trend that is DeChambeau.

The pick: Brooks Koepka +100

Daniel Berger -110 vs Rickie Fowler

As mentioned above, we are looking for golfers who are in good form and find a head-to-head matchup featuring them. Look no further than Daniel Berger when it comes to recent form. He has finished inside the top 10 in seven of his last eight starts including a victory back in June at the Charles Schwab. He has been dialed in with his irons gaining 3.8 strokes on approach in his last 5 events played. There is no stat category that Berger has been losing strokes in during his last 20 events played. All of that leads me to lean towards Berger in any matchup being offered.

Placing him against the inconsistent Fowler and the matchup becomes even more appealing. I am a pretty big Rickie Fowler fan but something about Sundays and big tournaments doesn’t seem to work for him. He found himself in one of the final pairings this past Sunday at the WGC after three solid rounds. Of course, he then shot three over par and lost strokes in all major categories slipping down to a tie for 15th place. He is incredibly talented and one of the most popular guys on tour but until he can show more consistency I will happily target him in head-to-head matchups.

The pick: Daniel Berger -110

Check out the outrights betting preview for this week as well. I will also be playing specific round matchups as we move through the event. Find the guys dialed in with the irons but struggling on the greens. That’s the key to in-play matchups. I’m beyond excited for the year’s first major. Good luck to all and hopefully none of our guys drive their ball into an ant hill.

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