PGA Championship – Long Shots to Watch at Quail Hollow

Long Shots Worth Watching who Could Contend at the PGA Championship

The PGA Championship at Quail Hollow has a deep pool of leading contenders, but as we’ve seen in many tournaments and majors over recent years, the next wave of players below those favorites and even some long shots have not only contended, but won big events. Last year’s PGA Championship was won by well-liked pro Jimmy Walker, who was offered at odds of 125-1. So while the big names and favorites get more headlines and media coverage, know that there is money to be made on others including long shots.

Major sports books offer many more head-to-head tournament match-ups and even single round match-ups during the majors, so you have an opportunity to bet some of the long shots in match-ups, props and even group bets. Of course, analyzing any tournament can provide insight into not only win wagering and match-ups, but also for fantasy golf players or those in other golf pools.

Until last month’s Open Championship in England won by Jordan Spieth, there had been a first-time major winner in 7-straight major championships. Along with Jimmy Walker, Danny Willett won the Masters after he opened at 150-1 odds. Brooks Koepka was near 40-1, while Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia were both 25-1 or 30-1 range when they won major championships in the past year. Jason Day and Dustin Johnson were among the leading contenders below 20-1 when they won their first major, and now Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler carry the mantel as top players priced below 20-1 who have not yet won a major championship. Fowler has won the PLAYERS Championship, but so has Si-Woo Kim, at odds of 500-1 when he won the 2017 PLAYERS.

The PGA Tour is deep and filled with so many talented players, so many long shots are plenty capable of contending and winning. It’s up to us to find those with the best value and most likely to be in position on Sunday. As mentioned in my PGA Championship preview there

The Wanamaker Trophy on the 14th hole at Quail Hollow

are some key stats to apply and consider when analyzing this major in search of a winner, top finisher or the preferred percentage play on head-to-head match-ups. Fantasy and prop players take note too, as we try to provide insight and analysis you can use to be more informed and hopefully make some #birdies and #green.

Ball Striking – Measures Total Driving combined with Greens in Regulation.

Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee – Measures player performance off the tee on all par-4s and par-5s.

Strokes Gained: Approach-The-Green – Measures player performance on approach shots including par 3’s.

Here are comments and notes on some long shots that you can add to your #bag and consider with some of the leading contenders.

Long shots greater than 50-1

Daniel Berger – He has the game to challenge in the majors and biggest events, and his talent is showing with a No. 11 ranking this year in Strokes Gained: Total. His strong play has moved him into the top-10 of the FedEx Cup standings. A win in Memphis in June was followed by a pair of top-5 finishes, and recall last year he posted top-10 finishes in the Masters and PLAYERS Championship. Berger finished top-20 last year at Quail Hollow, but if his tee-ball accuracy improves, so will his PGA Championship standing.

Kevin Chappell – Talent, length and key stats to support make him a sleeper and value player to watch. His win at TPC San Antonio to hold off Koepka on a course where length and control are both demanded suggests he’s a fit here, and a pair of most recent top-15 finishes shows his solid form.

Branden Grace – Huge overlay for a player that has posted some top major finishes. How ‘bout his opening round 62 at #TheOpen last month, where he finished T6? The South African was solid in his next event last week at Firestone (T28) tuning up for this major. Yes, this is his debut playing this course at Quail Hollow, but so were his four top-5 finishes at previous Majors. He now has five top-6 finishes in his last 10 majors since 2015, and his experience and placement in major events cannot be ignored at this price greater than 75-1.

Charley Hoffman – A plug for Las Vegas and this UNLV alum, who is having his finest season as a pro at age 40 and consistently contending. Up to No. 11 in the FedEx Cup standings, ‘surfer’ Charley cut his hair and has cut his strokes while contending. He’s finished top-5 in three events the last six weeks. Accuracy off the tee likely prevents a top finish for charitable Charley.

Zach Johnson – Probably a better chance than the No. 1 Dustin Johnson this week, this 2-time major winner continues to get little respect especially in the betting market. His form is fantastic the past month with a pair of top-5’s including 2nd last week at long, demanding Firestone, plus a top-15 at #TheOpen. Zach won the Masters years ago on a long, wet track, and while he’s not a power player, Zach is one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball on Tour. Three top-15 finishes in Tour events at Quail Hollow provides solid course form as well and another reason for optimism.

Alex Noren – Rare that you’ll get a World ranked player in the top-10 priced at 100-1, but BookMaker says the Swede has little to no chance. Players with far less credentials and standing have won majors, and while Noren has not been in peak form recently, it’s been good enough and he did finish T28 last week at Firestone, top-10 at #TheOpen and 10th earlier this year at the PLAYERS, where ball striking and precise use of the irons is required.

Justin Thomas – The hottest player to start the year must be considered at long odds. Thomas led the U.S. Open early in the final round before faltering. He finished 7th here in his debut in 2015, and he ranked 3rd at last week’s event at Firestone in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green with his putter holding him back from a top finish. Another non-major winner who could contend.

Gary Woodland – Big hitter with raw power who’s been striking the ball well including at recent Canadian Open where he finished top-5. The 33-year-old says his game has been coming together for a while, and he’ll finish in front of other contenders despite being priced at greater than 100-1.

Other long shots: Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Bill Haas, Francisco Molinari, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters.

Head-to-head Tournament Match-ups:

Zach Johnson (-120) over Bubba Watson

Best wishes as you shoot for #birdies, #green and long shot winners at the PGA Championship.

Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay