2021 PGA Championship: History and Premium Betting Picks
The Fourth Major
While lagging in media exposure behind the other three majors, the PGA Championship has a long history, having been around since 1916. Despite having the largest field of professional golfers among the four majors (the Masters has a much smaller field and the US Open has many amateurs competing), the PGA, as it’s known, clearly lags behind the Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open in television ratings and general societal importance.
From August to May
It didn’t help that the PGA Championship traditionally took place in the middle of August, when everyone is on vacation and no one pays attention to anything in the sports world besides baseball and the upcoming football season. Sensing that and seeing the low television ratings, in 2019 the PGA Tour moved the PGA Championship to May, which is a much better fit. Now there is a major championship every month from April to July with the PGA Tour Playoffs in August and September. The schedule flows nicely and golf fans can see a Major every month before they stop paying attention around Labor Day when football season begins.
Second PGA Championship for the Palmetto State
This year’s PGA Championship takes place at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. This stunning golf course is situated on the Atlantic Ocean in the low country of South Carolina, a short drive from the tasty food and rich history of Charleston.
The Ocean Course was designed and built specifically for the Ryder Cup, which it hosted in 1991. It also hosted the PGA Championship in 2012, won by Rory McIlroy. The Ocean Course consistently ranks as one of the best courses in America. And it’s open to the public! Yes, you can play the Ocean Course… but only if you book your next vacation at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, where guests are able to play the famed course after forking over an eye-watering $383 greens fee (plus caddie tip).
Let’s get into who the best picks are for the 2021 PGA Championship. But first, here are some names:
- David Toms
- Rich Beem
- Shaun Micheel
- Y.E. Yang
- Keegan Bradley
- Jason Dufner
Remember any of them? These six men have each won the PGA Championship since 2000. Many stars have also won it (Tiger Woods has 4 Wanamaker trophies), but the fact that many unheralded golfers have won the PGA Championship makes it less predictable than the other three Majors. The pre-tournament favorites often do not end up winning this Major.
Of course, you can say that about many tournaments, including the 2021 Masters, in which Dustin Johnson, the heavy betting favorite at 9/1, ended up not even making the cut while Hideki Matsuyama, who came in between 35/1 and 40/1, became the first Japanese man to win the Masters. Golf is funny that way.
2021 PGA Championship Betting Strategies
If, in theory, more players have a chance to win the PGA Championship than other majors, what does that mean for handicapping? Good question. There are several strategies a bettor could execute for the PGA Championship, including:
- Spread out several small bets among high-profile players (Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, among others)
- Pick favorites to finish in the Top 5, Top 10, or even Top 40(!), taking the reduced odds in exchange for a better chance of winning
- Play some of the many prop bets available on sportsbooks such as DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel, including Leader after Round 1; Make/Miss the Cut; and a Straight Forecast, which is a prediction of the winner and runner-up, in order, similar to an exacta bet in horse racing.
- Wait for the pairings to come out and sprinkle bets across favorable matchups during the tournament
- In a contrarian move, make one huge bet on Dustin Johnson at +1850 because favorites have to win sometimes and he is playing so well and he will totally rebound after his disastrous Masters showing and he is from South Carolina and he just seems like such a nice guy
2021 Betting Favorites
Top 10 betting favorites, courtesy of DraftKings:
- Rory McIlroy +1150
- Jon Rahm +1450
- Justin Thomas +1450
- Jordan Spieth +1500
- Bryson DeChambeau +1650
- Xander Schauffele +1700
- Dustin Johnson +1850
- Viktor Hovland +2000
- Daniel Berger +3000
- Collin Morikawa +3000
Players with longer odds that have made some noise in 2021 and could compete for the Championship:
- Patrick Reed +3500
- Tony Finau +4000
- Cameron Smith +4650
- Brooks Koepka +5000
- Will Zalatoris +5500
- Tommy Fleetwood +7500
- Dustin Johnson (+1850) is from South Carolina and will have many fans cheering him on at the Ocean Course. He would surely love to win a major in his home state and may be extra motivated, particularly after his poor Masters showing. He has been battling injuries lately, but it would still be very surprising if he is not in contention on Sunday.
- Rory McIlroy (+1150) won the last PGA Championship played at the Ocean Course in 2012 and obviously knows how to play the challenging layout. A month ago he was 18/1, which would have been a good value pick. He quickly became a betting favorite after his terrific win (first in 18 months) in Charlotte two weeks ago. All of a sudden he is the man to beat.
- Bryson DeChambeau may be over-valued at +1650. He was also a top-10 betting favorite at the Masters and ended up tied for 46th place. The strong winds at the Ocean Course could favor a finesse player rather than someone like Bryson who overpowers the course with long drives. Counterpoint: He did win the US Open last fall so he knows how to deal with the pressure of a major championship. His short game could (finally) come together this week and lead to a strong showing.
- Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship in 2017, his first and so far only major win. He is listed at +1450 because of his stellar 2021 campaign, which has included a 3rd place finish at the Tournament of Champions and a Players Championship victory. He will definitely be one of the players to watch at this year’s PGA Championship, but it’s debatable whether his game is strong enough to win his second major.
SAO Picks Product & Free Premium Pick(!)
The experts at SAO, and all the premium subscribers who have used their picks as part of their handicapping strategy, have had a terrific 2021. Our golf betting experts are up nearly 200 units so far this year, having correctly picked five outright winners on the PGA Tour.
Derek ‘Notorious’ Farnsworth got the ball rolling by picking Si Woo Kim to win The American Express at 70-to-1 (+7000). He also picked Justin Thomas to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
TJ ‘tjl5124’ Laessig correctly hit the winners of the Farmers Insurance Open (Patrick Reed) and The Honda Classic (Matt Jones). The team also hit big on Brooks Kopeka winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Free Premium Pick
As promised, here is your free premium pick from Justin ‘STLcardinals84’ Van Zuiden. He is an impressive +61.69 units on golf picks this year:
Daniel Berger to Win (+2800)
“If he’s going to win a major in the next year or two, this is the sport for Daniel Berger to do it. He has four top-15 finishes in his last six stroke-play events, including a tie for third last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson with a blistering Sunday finish. Berger now ranks fourth on the PGA Tour in ball striking this year, and I like targeting him when his odds are fair. At 28/1 (+2800), Berger is my favorite bet on the board.”
When it comes to golf matchups, SAO’s experts are picking winners at greater than 70%. Join in the winning by signing up for SAO Premium today!