US PGA Championship Picks: Tony Finau provides Betting Value
Tony Finau is a very interesting +3600 price to win the US PGA
15:33 Monday 17th May 2021 - 8 minute read
Our golf man J.N. Campbell has had a pretty good couple of weeks. With Abraham Ancer going close in the Wells Fargo and then Kyoung-Hoon Lee being his long shot to win the Byron Nelson coming in. He has a look at the US PGA and has a winner pick and some player props for you...
Dates: May 20-23
Site: Kiawah Island GC (Ocean Course)
Designed: Pete and Alice Dye, 1991
Length: 7,876 yards
Grass Type: Paspalum
Field: 156 players (20 PGA professionals)
Prize money: $11 Million in 2020 / Winner’s share: $1.98 million in 2020
Within the space of a year in 2020, we lost a pair of golf architects that helped to shape the 2nd half of the 20th century. Alice O’Neal and Pete Dye, who were married in 1950, will forever be inextricably “linked” to the revolution in course design that swept America. They met after Dye was stationed in North Carolina, serving out his enlistment as the greenskeeper on the base golf course at Fort Bragg. There, he got to know Donald Ross, one of the seminal “lights” of course design from the 1st few decades of the American Century. Can you imagine … Ross and Dye at Pinehurst No.2? What a nexus of design!
Taking inspiration from Ross’ naturalistic planning, the Dyes eventually scored commission after commission, working with some of the best in the business over the years. Jack Nicklaus, an impressive architect in his own right, credits Dye as his greatest influence when it comes to landscape planning for the game. In 1991, the Dyes came back to South Carolina and laid out the plans for what would become known as the “Ocean Course” at Kiawah Island. Part of what is now a golf mecca, comprising 7 different courses, this particular one was the scene of the infamous Ryder Cup (“The War by the Shore”), and also provided the backdrop for the film starring Will Smith and Matt Damon, The Legend of Bagger Vance.
The last time the PGA Championship, and its famed gargantuan Wannamaker Trophy visited Kiawah was in 2012. That year, Rory McIlroy shot a bogey-free -66, enroute to cementing his place among the golf legends, as he notched his 2nd of what has become 4 majors. Now, older and wiser, the Irishman returns to the place where he turned in a masterful performance. His is apparently clicking on all cylinders after notching his 1st victory of 2021 in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. See how his chances are shaping up below …
Last week, this golf-capper surveyed the field at the Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas just outside of Dallas . . . Although my Texas boys of DeChambeau (“Win”), Spieth (“Top 5”), and Zalatoris (“Low Score”) did not hit . . . I really came out ahead with the selection of K.H. Lee. The Korean-born sharpshooter was “on” with his irons, and brought his putter, on the way to a -25 score! At 150/1, he was definitely the play of the weekend for me. I thought he had a great chance to make the weekend, and he did not disappoint earning his 1st PGA Tour victory, and punching that very last ticket to the PGA Championship. Well done, Mr. Lee!
Here are some “prop” bets you might want to consider before this year’s PGA Championship tees off …
Cracking the Top Ten … (Jordan Spieth, +1800)
Country: United States
World ranking: 28
Worldwide victories: 15
Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015), British Open (2017)
PGA Championship history: 8 appearances, 2 top 10s, best finish: Runner-up (2015)
Rationale: Jordan Spieth recently informed the media that he did in fact contract COVID-19 sometime after The Masters. Spending the next 3 weeks in quarantine would drive most absolutely bonkers, but knowing the work ethic of this Dallas-based golfer, he used the time wisely to prepare not only for the Byron Nelson (he shot an overall -18, tied for 9th), but for the trip to South Carolina. When Spieth is scrambling, he is simply the best of this generation, and he will need that skill on a Kiawah course that is unrelenting.
Winning the PGA Championship would complete the “Career Slam,” and make him a shoe-in down the road for World Golf Hall of Fame. Do not think that just because Spieth was struck down by the virus that he is incapable of rallying in this spot. His ability to sink 15 footers makes him extremely dangerous. I think this is the right moment for him to finally crack the Top Ten in this marquee major event.
Make the Weekend … (Abraham Ancer +4500)
Country: United States/Mexico
World ranking: 19
Worldwide victories: 1
PGA Championship history: 2 appearances, best finish T-16 (2019)
Rationale: I’ve been bullish on Abe Ancer for the past 2 months, and he has not disappointed with some fine finishes, week-in and week-out. The Wells Fargo Championship was a triumph as he made the weekend, then clawed his way up the board on Saturday, and into Sunday. Though he was not in the final group with McIlroy, he ended up at -9, just a shot off the lead. That was a nice payday for the young man who hails from South Texas, and continues to make a name for himself on the international stage.
The Presidents Cup will probably beckon once again in 2022 when he returns to Charlotte. His creative play is a weapon, and when I saw how he got up-and-down in the Snake Pit at the Valspar, I knew he was peaking at the proper time. Maybe his best comes on Par 3s, which can set him up nicely for a series of birdies, if he can get within a reasonable distance. Ancer is the real deal, and do not be surprised if he scores well enough in Kiawah to easily make the weekend.
Long shot Overlay to Win … (Tony Finau +3600)
Country: United States
World ranking: 14
Worldwide victories: 1
PGA Championship history: 6 appearances, 2 Top 10s
Rationale: Utah’s own Tony Finau is overdue . . . In other words, his time is coming because he has all of the tools at his disposal to become a major champion. His driving game off the tees is impressive, and when his mental approach is sound, he can be a formidable opponent. Though he lies just outside the inner circle of elite players, over the past 3 years he has made significant inroads when it comes to the rankings.
In the 2019 Masters, he was neck and neck with Tiger Woods and Francisco Molinari on Sunday, before landing tied-5th. Simply, making the Top Ten isn’t good enough anymore for this ball striker. Sometimes, you need to keep backing a “near-miss” type because, eventually, it can pay significant dividends.
I understand many are down on him right now (missing the cut in the Wells Fargo was a disappointment). However, I want to be there when Finau reaches the pedestal. It will come, and when it does, it is going to be a career-changing moment. Maybe what he needs to hone more so in this coming week is his soft touch around the greens. I like his chances, and his price is going to be magnificent, especially when you compare it to Rory McIlroy.
Favorite Against to Win … (Rory McIlroy +1000)
Country: Northern Ireland
World ranking: 7
Worldwide victories: 27
Majors: PGA Championship (2012, 2014), U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014)
Rationale: He was 23 the last time he hoisted the Wannamaker Trophy at Kiawah Island. Much has transpired in the some 10-odd-years since. At the beginning of the new decade in 2010, it appeared that the “golf axis” would rotate between a series of titanic matches between Tiger Woods and the kid from Northern Ireland. It was thought by some to last for more than a decade. That didn’t happen . . . We have seen the Icarus-like fall of Tiger Woods, his brief resurgence at Augusta, but then a car crash that nearly ended the celebrated golfer’s career and life. Meanwhile, McIlroy has had his share of struggles.
Though he has made Ryder Cup Teams, and put in countless hours of work on his game, his ability to finish in majors has lacked the needed punch to get home. The last one he notched was back in 2014 when he led a Viking-esque charge against Phil Mickelson at Valhalla in Kentucky. Since then, there have certainly been some Tour victories, but little to write home about when it comes to classic wins. He had made changes with Pete Cowen, and sought the mental benefits from working with well-known sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella. Two weeks ago, he powered through the field in a wonderful display of the old “Rory” at the Wells Fargo Championship. He had that spring his step, and the swinging of the arms, like he was out for a brisk jaunt along the moors.
The question is can he take that momentum that he was able to grab in Charlotte, and channel that into his driving, iron play, and putting? I am not so sure. McIlroy is not up against the Tiger of old, but rather he is facing what all athletes must . . . the ticking of time. His odds at 8/1 or 10/1 just do not seem inviting enough, considering that this is a stacked field that will be going against a monster of a course. Pete and Alice may have designed a course with ocean views, but it will be unrelenting if McIlroy cannot strike the ball with pinpoint precision. He is a miss for me . . . Will he win another major championship? Unknown, at this point . . . Time will be the guide.