Can Haotong Li stay atop the leaderboard on moving day at the PGA Championship? Photo from @nypost (Twitter)
- Two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka is the +400 favorite to win the PGA Championship heading into the weekend
- China’s Haotong Li will carry a one-shot lead into Round 3 of the tournament on Saturday; his odds to win are +1400
- Koepka is among a group of six players who are two shots off Li’s pace – see odds for all contenders within the story below
Hands up everyone – who had Haotong Li in their pool as the midway leader of the PGA Championship?
Heading into moving day – or Round 3, for those not fluent in PGA Tour-isms – Li is eight-under par and maintains a one-stroke advantage over the field.
It’s that next group of players, though, who figure to get the betting action heating up. Among that group at -6 is two-time defending champ and bookmakers’ darling Brooks Koepka.
Koepka is the betting favorite to win the tournament at +400.
2020 PGA Championship Live Odds
|Player||Position||Score||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds taken Aug. 8th
Jason Day, the 2015 PGA Championship victor, and 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose are also at six-under and T-3.
Who’s going to tell Donald Trump that a guy from China is leading the first major event of the year in the US President’s favorite sport on American soil?
Well, maybe wait a bit to break the news to The Donald. If Li’s mercurial history comes into play, he won’t be on top for long.
Just 25, Li is perhaps best remembered as the fellow who shot 41 for his first nine at the 2019 Presidents Cup. His erratic game was in evidence even as he moved atop the leaderboard at TPC Harding Park.
Haotong Li is either shooting 62 or 83 tomorrow. There’s no in between pic.twitter.com/mPu7cLvEhE
— Brad Dalke (@DalkeKong3) August 8, 2020
Friday, he carded a bogey-free round of 65 despite a driving accuracy rating of 28.57%. His strokes gained putting were an impressive 2.851, well above his season average of 2.061.
No wonder bettors can get the same +1400 price on Li that they can access on Xander Schauffele, who’s tied for 11th and four shots off the pace.
It might also explain why Li was still working on the practice range more than 12 hours after he completed Round 2. In his six PGA Tour rounds prior this event, he’d never scored better than 73.
2020 US Open Odds Tracker
Will Koepka Cop It?
Koepka has taken completely different paths to his consecutive PGA Championship victories.
In 2018 at Bellerive Country Club, he was also two shots off the pace at the midway point. However, a third-round 66 moved him into the lead that he’d never relinquish.
A closing birdie for @BKoepka.
He’s two back heading into the weekend in search of his third straight @PGAChampionship. pic.twitter.com/T8E3OWqlPT
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 8, 2020
Last year at Bethpage Black, Koepka crushed everything and everyone. At this point, he’d assembled the lowest 36-hole scored in major history, a 12-under par 128 that included a course-record 63 in the opening round.
Even with a fourth-round 74, he still won by a shot.
Friday, playing with a nagging hip issue that required adjustment mid-round, Koepka still fired a 68.
Best Live Value Picks at the PGA Championship
- Tommy Fleetwood (+900): The Englishman is viewed by many in the game as a major winner waiting to happen. He’s come close twice, finishing as runner-up in the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Open Championship. Fleetwood knocked down seven birdies during a six-under par 64 on Friday. His consistent play was highlighted off the tee. Fleetwood hit 12 of 14 fairways.
- Daniel Berger (+900): Berger appears to be sacrificing a bit of distance off the tee for accuracy. That’s not a bad strategy in a major, where going into the rough can prove unforgiving. His driving accuracy rating of 71.3% is well above his season mark of 64.29%. Off the tee, his distance is down about five yards, from 295.3 yards to 290.5. Berger’s been a machine on the greens. His strokes gained putting are 2.122, well above his season average is 1.042. Berger’s third-round scoring average of 67.73 is #4 on the PGA Tour.
- Xander Schauffele (+1400): Schauffele is the only player on the PGA Tour to play more than 50 rounds this season and show a scoring average under 70. At 69.416, he’s sixth overall. Consistent performance is the sort of trait that can win a major. His strokes gained off the tee average of .682 is seventh among PGA Tour players.
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.