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I’ve already filled out my 2023 PGA Championship card with my outright bets and placement markets. Now I’m circling back to bet tournament matchups for the PGA Tour’s 2nd major of the season.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP 2023 PREVIEW: BETTING ODDS, COURSE AND EVENT
For the record, I’m going lighter on these head-to-head bets than my horses for the course. I’m splitting 1 unit among four tournament matchups for the PGA Championship. All of the following lines are available on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Justin Thomas (-120) at Viktor Hovland
I’m kind of splitting hairs here but my model at FantasyNational.com ranks Thomas 9th and Hovland 13th. Regardless, I’m confidently backing Thomas over Hovland because JT’s game fits Oak Hill better.
There are seven Par 4s at the East Course longer than 460 yards. Over the last 50 rounds, Thomas leads the field in Par 4 Efficiency (EFF): 450-500 yards whereas Hovland is 30th.
Thomas is the reigning PGA Champion and won the 2017 PGA Championship. This isn’t a surprise but last year’s PGA Championship course, Southern Hills Country Club, is a comp course to this year’s track.
Also, there is THICK rough around-the-green (ARG) at Oak Hill and the greens are the 4th-smallest on Tour. Thomas is 1st in this field for Strokes Gained (SG): ARG over the last 50 rounds and Hovland is 137th.
Furthermore, when Andrew Green renovated Oak Hill in 2018 he made the bunkers more hazardous. Thomas is 16th in Sand Saves Gained over the last 50 rounds and Hovland is 91st.
JT is having a subpar season by his standard but still ranks higher than Hovland in total SG on the PGA Tour in 2022-23 (1.21-0.91).
BET: 1/2-unit on Justin Thomas (-120) over Hovland at the 2023 PGA Championship
Chris Kirk (-120) vs. Emiliano Grillo
Grillo has an edge over Kirk in ball striking and driving but Kirk is much better ARG. In fact, Grillo ranks 126th in SG: ARG over the last 50 rounds and Kirk is 10th.
Plus, Kirk is having a better season than Grillo. Kirk won The Honda Classic 2023 and Grillo’s last win was in 2015. In the PGA Tour 2022-23 season, Kirk is 19th in total SG at +1.07 and Grillo is 77th at +0.31.
Per FantasyNational.com, Kirk is 25th in total SG at comp courses used and Grillo is 95th. Kirk finished T5 at last year’s PGA Championship and Grillo wasn’t even invited.
Finally, since the East Course at Oak Hill is Par 70, there are 12 Par 4s. Over the last 50 rounds, Kirk ranks 14th in this field for Par 4 scoring and Grillo is 90th.
BET: 1/4-unit on Chris Kirk (-120) over Grillo at the 2023 PGA Championship
Tommy Fleetwood (-110) vs. Sam Burns
Fleetwood is 10th in my PGA Championship power rankings and finished T5 at last year’s event. Burns is 47th in my power rankings for this event and was T20 at the 2022 PGA Championship.
Oak Hill is a long, difficult course and is the type of track Burns struggles at. Burns is 118th in this field for Scrambling and 69th in Par 4 EFF: 450-500 yards at long, difficult courses. Fleetwood is 15th in Scrambling and 7th in Par 4 EFF: 450-500 on those tracks.
Lastly, Fleetwood ranks 26th in this field for SG: Ball striking (BS), SG: Approach (APP), and 13th in Par 4 scoring over the 50 rounds. Whereas Burns is 102nd in SG: BS, 120th in SG: APP, and 91st in Par 4 scoring.
BET: 1/4-unit on Tommy Fleetwood (-110) over Sam Burns at the 2023 PGA Championship
Jason Day (+100) vs. Tony Finau
I’m ditching my model for this head-to-head. Finau is 5th in my power rankings for this event and Day is 11th. However, Finau rarely plays well in majors and Day won the 2014 PGA Championship.
Day ranks 7th in Scrambling and 10th in Opportunities (Opps) Gained both over the last 50 rounds at long courses with difficult scoring conditions. Finau is 75th in Scrambling and 71st in Opps Gained.
Majors test a golfer’s full skill set. Finau is the better ball striker than J-Day but not by enough to make up for Day’s edge in their short games. Day is 25th in this field for SG: ARG and Finau is 65th.
BET: 1/4-unit on Jason Day (-110) over Tony Finau at the 2023 PGA Championship
Check out the Hot Links golf gambling show hosted by Geoff Clark on the OutKick Bets podcast feed. New episodes drop Tuesdays for most full-field PGA Tour events in the 2022-23 season
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