Who’s the best bet to lead the headlining group of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy after Round 1?
- The PGA Championship from TPC Harding Park runs August 6th-9th in the year’s first major championship
- There are plenty of marquee threesomes including Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy
- We’ve selected the best bets and value picks on three-ball matchups below
The wait is finally over for major championship golf with the PGA Championship teeing off from TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas lead the odds to win the Wanamaker Trophy.
There are plenty of fascinating three-ball matchups to be on for the first round on Thursday, which we’ll dive into below.
Thomas/McIlroy/Woods 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds
All odds taken August 5th
McIlroy & Woods Have Won on This Track
There’s something to be said about familiarity and comfort, and both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will have that as they step onto the property.
Woods claimed a WGC title in 2005, and Rory won the WGC match play event in 2015. Justin Thomas has not played this venue in a Tour setting.
An epic Tiger/@PGA_JohnDaly duel at TPC Harding Park that ended in heartbreak. pic.twitter.com/z8mnnfW0NM
— Skratch (@Skratch) August 4, 2020
McIlroy is second on the tour this season in first round scoring average, while JT is ranked 20th. Rory is 4th in SG: Off the tee which will be important with penal rough on this course, while Thomas is ranked 18th – Tiger hasn’t played enough to qualify for the stat.
Despite winning here in 2005, Tiger has only played four competitive rounds since February, so it’s tougher to imagine him out-duelling the first and third ranked golfers in the world.
The last two events held at TPC Harding Park (2005 and 2015 WGCs) were won by the No. 1 golfer in the world at the time — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Justin Thomas heads into next week @PGAChampionship as the new No. 1 👀
— Adam Stanley (@adam_stanley) August 2, 2020
Though I want to pick McIlroy for the extra juice, his recent form (no top tens in five events since the restart) compared to JT says otherwise. He’s outperformed McIlroy in six of seven strokes gained categories in the last 24 rounds, you have to ride with the hot hand.
Pick: Justin Thomas (+140)
2020 US Open Odds Tracker
Koepka/Woodland/Lowry 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds
Koepka Rounding Into Form Yet Again
Though Gary Woodland finished runner-up to McIlroy at the WGC event here in 2015, it’s increasingly difficult to ever doubt Koepka’s prowess on the grandest of stages.
He finished T-2nd last week in defense of his title at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and is the two-time defending champion of this tournament for a reason.
In the last five majors, he’s opened up with rounds in the 60’s, whereas Woodland has been in the 60’s in just two of his last eight majors.
No matter how @BKoepka plays this weekend, we’ll always have this. pic.twitter.com/uxGKT9Xr2Y
— Skratch (@Skratch) July 31, 2020
Lowry has lost strokes to the field in four of the six events since the hiatus, though he did have a solid T-6th showing last week.
At this point betting against Koepka in any capacity in a major championship is fool’s gold, as he’s been in the top-four in six of the last seven majors, including three victories.
Pick: Brooks Koepka (+100)
2020 US Open Odds Tracker
Matsuyama/Fleetwood/Hovland 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds
Count on a Hovland Bounce Back
Though he’s started to come back down-to-earth in the last two tournaments, Viktor Hovland was on an absolute tear just before that.
With five straight tournament finishes inside the Top 25, he gained 5.7, 6.1, 10.6, 9.6 and 15 shots on the field tee-to-green, respectively, which is just a ridiculous stat.
Though he has cooled off a bit, the 22-year-old showed he was well equipped to handle major pressure last year, finishing as low-amateur at the Masters (T-32nd) and US Open (T-12th), so it’s not like he’s going to be scared this week.
Viktor Hovland is 6-under through EIGHT holes. 😳#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/CdNAj3VpNu
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 17, 2020
Tommy Fleetwood has only played six rounds since Tour golf returned, missing the cut to an inferior field at the 3M Open and finishing T-35th last week. He’s also only gained four or more shots tee-to-green just once in his last eight events where strokes gained were tracked.
Hideki Matsuyama’s balky putter has caused him to lose strokes to the field six straight weeks on the greens – hardly a recipe for success at a major.
Take the extra juice on the Norwegian sensation in this matchup.
Pick: Viktor Hovland (+195)
Morikawa/Stenson/Zach Johnson 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds
Morikawa the Clear Favorite
Though this will just be Collin Morikawa’s second major start, and his first PGA Championship, he’s acclimated himself very well on tour in his young career, already picking up a pair of victories including three starts ago at the Workday Charity Open in dramatic fashion.
We have a new #MustSeeMoments champion.@JustinThomas34 and @collin_morikawa were incredible on the first playoff hole at the Workday Charity Open.
Here’s how you can win, too: https://t.co/sX50naq5OH pic.twitter.com/IcGFEBKWER
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 15, 2020
He’s been playing a lot of golf, which is more than could be said for a potential rusty Henrik Stenson who played last week (T-35th) for the first time since March.
Zach Johnson, meanwhile, hasn’t had a top-ten finish anywhere in the world since 2018.
Sometimes the choice is as clear as day, and this one is just that.
Pick: Collin Morikawa (+110)
Michael “Hound Dog” Harrison is well known in the sports industry as the resident statisitician for the Jay and Dan Show. He has worked at TSN for over 13 years, where he’s been featured on Sportscentre, That’s Hockey, That’s Hockey 2Nite, The Masters preview shows, and several more.