PGA Championship Betting Preview

 PGA Championship logo and flag

Golf fans are waiting in anticipation for the 102nd 2020 PGA Championship, taking place from August 6-9 at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. 

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the golfing circuit in its tracks, with the Players Championship halted mid-tournament. With all 2020 majors postponed or canceled in April, May, June, and July, golfers and fans have had to wait 13 long months for the excitement of a major championship. It looks like it was worth the wait! It’s going to be an incredibly exciting 2020 Championship, with Brooks Koepka looking for a record three-peat of PGA Championship titles, Rory McIlroy in the form of his life, and John Rahm claiming the coveted spot of world number 1 after his win at the Memorial Tournament in July. Who is going to lift the coveted Wanamaker Trophy in this truly unprecedented year?

Let’s take a look at how the Championship has been affected by COVID-19, the previous ten winners of the competition, the course, and the top players with odds to win the PGA Championship.

How has COVID-19 impacted the PGA Championship?

In 2019, the PGA Championship was moved from its traditional spot in August to May for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would be good for the tournament to be second in the major’s calendar; it also meant better weather and turf conditions in both Northeast and Southern venues, then there was the mid-year Olympics to consider. Lastly, it ensured there was no clash between the FedExCup and the NFL on Labor Day weekend. However, the PGA Championship is now set to return in August, a week after the FedEx St Jude Invitational, due to delays as a result of COVID-19. 

The first Major Men’s Golf tournament during the pandemic will go ahead without fans in attendance. It’s going to be interesting to see if this has an impact on the players themselves or if it will be business as usual.

One thing we do know is that the tournament will be live-streamed by a number of stations. For the first time ever, fans can now follow their favorite player from their first tee throughout the whole tournament. 

An array of technology is going to be used to comprehensively bring the only major championship of the 2019-20 PGA Tour to life. Live drones, fly cams and more, will be used to get right up in the action. The 4D replay we saw in 2018 is also back, giving fans a 180-degree insight into a players’ swing.

Past winners in the last two decades

Phil Mickelson of the United States plays his shot during The Memorial Tournament on July 16, 2020

2000 Tiger Woods

2001 David Toms

2002 Rich Beem

2003 Shaun Micheel

2004 Vijay Singh

2005 Phil Mickelson

2006 Tiger Woods

2007 Tiger Woods

2008 Padraig Harrington

2009 Y.E. Yang

2010 Martin Kaymer

2011 Keegan Bradley

2012 Rory McIlroy

2013 Jason Dufner

2014 Rory McIlroy

2015 Jason Day

2016 Jimmy Walker

2017 Justin Thomas

2018 Brooks Koepka

2019 Brooks Koepka

The course

Rory McIlroy hits from bunker during the World Golf Championships Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park
  • Name: TPC Harding Park
  • Designer: Willie Watson & Sam Whiting, 1925, with 2014 renovation
  • Course Type: Classical
  • Par: 70
  • Length: 7,234 yards 
  • Water Hazards: 7
  • Fairways: Kentucky Bluegrass with Ryegrass
  • Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Ryegrass
  • Greens: Tyee Bentgrass with Poa Annua

Located by Lake Merced on the west side of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park is a public golf course. The mid-length parkland course has hosted some elite tournaments including the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship, 2009 Presidents Cup and PGA Tour Champions Charles Schwab Cup Championships (2010, 2011, 2013), as well as the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play.

Course changes

Many were surprised that TPC Harding Park was the chosen venue for this year’s PGA Championship. The course was last used for an elite event in 2015 for the WGC Cadillac Match Play and proved a stern test for players at the time.

The PGA Championship has become synonymous with long-hitters taking the win, with many of the winners taking their first major title in the process. With the exception of Oak Hill in 2013, won by Jason Dufner, most of the recent Wanamaker Trophy first major winners have been long-hitters, such as Y.E. Yang (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Keegan Bradley (2012), Jason Day (2015), Jimmy Walker (2016), and Justin Thomas (2017).

Then you can include notorious long-hitter Rory McIlroy’s wins in 2012 and 2014, and of course Brooks Koepka’s extraordinary driving in the last two tournaments at Bellerive and Bethpage Black respectively.

Luckily, TPC Harding has undergone some significant changes specifically for this reason and a lot of work has gone in to add extra elements to the design of the course. Over the last year the following significant changes have occurred:

  • Tighter fairways: Fairways are as tight as 22 yards, demanding incredible accuracy.
  • Longer rough: Rough is now mature and between 3.5 and 4 inches long.
  • Longer holes: With 5 tees pushed back, the course will be 100 yards longer. With a mix of hole length tests.
  • Scorecard changes: Two holes (9 and 12) have been changed from par-4s to par-5s.

What skills will this course benefit?

The players that have controlled power off the tee are going to be best suited to the mixed hole length tests. Total drivers with high-quality ball striking, and long straight driving are going to flourish on the narrow fairways, and players with consistent medium-long approach play are likely to dominate.

PGA Championship betting odds

Jon Rahm plays his shot during THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course 2017

These are just some of the top players in this year’s PGA Championship:

  1. Rory McIlroy

Odds: +1000

What’s there not to bet on? Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, McIlroy won the 2015 WGC-Match Play Championship on the same course, and he’s looking to lift the third Wanamaker Trophy of his career. That being said, he hasn’t looked particularly sharp since the PGA Tour restart, having failed to finish in the top 10 in any tournament.

  1. Jon Rahm

Odds: +1000

Having just become number 1 in the world for the first time in his career after his July Memorial win, Rahm is on golf cloud 9 and will be searching for his first-ever major win this week. On the other hand, he’s never won a major. Could the pressure prove too much?

  1. Bryson DeChambeau

Odds: +1100

Seven consecutive top 10s and a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic put DeChambeau in good stead going into the PGA Championship. He also seems to have spent his time off bulking up and working on weight and strength training. This will, however, be his first crack at a major championship and he does have an affinity for the rough.

  1. Justin Thomas

Odds: +1200

Having won this event previously and with two wins, a runner-up, and a third in this PGA Tour, Thomas also leads in strokes gained/tee-to-green. A good week for Justin pretty much guarantees him a good position. However, his proximity to rough leaves a lot to be desired and he may struggle in the 4-inch grass.

  1. Brooks Koepka

Odds: +1600

Koepka could become the first person to three-peat the PGA Championships since 1958. The two-time defending champion will be looking to make history on the course. However, he has not been up to his usual standards after his knee operation in the offseason.

  1. Dustin Johnson

Odds: +1600

Johnson has 12 consecutive PGA Tour seasons with at least one win after his July victory in the Travelers Championship. He is also known for his long, straight drives. A pair of 80s at the Memorial and only one major title more than four years ago could test Johnson’s ability to tackle this major championship.

  1. Tiger Woods

Odds: +2200

Tiger loves this course, having won the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship and won all five of his matches to help the USA clinch the 2009 Presidents Cup. However, he’s played just one tournament in five months and seems to still be struggling with his back.

  1. Xander Schauffele

Odds: +2500

Simply put, we feel like Schauffele is always overlooked. Someone who has finished in the top 6 in five out of 11 career major starts should surely be eager to go all the way. On the other hand, it’s been 18 months since he won anything significant.

  1. Patrick Cantlay

Odds: +2500

Cantlay had a great 2018-20 PGA Tour season, finishing up with a T-3 at the 2019 PGA Championship and second PGA Tour win at the Memorial. He has finished in top 10s three times this season, with six finishes within the top 25. He’s a great ball-striker and a well-balanced player, but he has been known to land in the rough more often than he’d like, which he needs to avoid at the TPC Harding Park course to stand a chance.

  1. Collin Morikawa

Odds: +3000

Consistency is the name of the game for Morikawa, who has only been pro for just over a year. He has a pair of victories and leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained/approach. It’s his putting that lets him down though, sitting at a lowly 172nd for strokes gained/putting.

  1. Webb Simpson

Odds: +3000

Simpson is one of the best iron players in the world and he has recently found exceptional putting form, which will be perfect for the course at TPC Harding. Simpson’s only major victory was at the Olympics in 2012, however, and he’s only been in two top 10s in the majors since then.

Bet on the PGA 2020 Championship

There’s no better time for sports betting than now. The 2020 PGA Championship is set to be unique and there are a number of the world’s most exciting players vying for the chance to lift the Wanamaker Trophy. Is Koepka going to make history, or do you think he’s going to be knocked off his perch in what could only solidify how unusual 2020 has been? BetMGM sportsbook casino has got you covered for all your online sports betting needs. Bet on the most exciting golf majors and more today!

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