Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler among top plays for PGA Championship

Updated August 7, 2018 - 8:17 pm

The Review-Journal has provided golf handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) with a mythical $200 bankroll to play the futures board at the Westgate sports book for the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. Reynolds correctly picked Brooks Koepka to win the U.S. Open at 25-1 odds in the Review-Journal in June.

The 100th PGA Championship will be played at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis for the first time since 1992. The par-70 course, which measures more than 7,300 yards, was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones and redesigned by his son, Rees Jones. The key stats for success at Bellerive are greens in regulation, three-putt avoidance, strokes gained: tee to green and birdie average.

Two angles I see as key to picking the winner of the Wanamaker Trophy are the facts that the last 27 major champions have ranked in the top 50 in the world and that in 14 of the past 17 years, the PGA Champion has won an event earlier in the season.

$40 on Jon Rahm at 25-1

The Spaniard seems to be the forgotten man this week among the top-10 players. This is a buy-low opportunity with Rahm, 23, coming off missed cuts in the last two majors. He did finish fourth at the Masters, and between the two missed cuts at the majors, he had two top fives. Rahm has two wins this year, including the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, also a Jones-designed course. The seventh-ranked player in the world also checks the statistical boxes, ranking No. 6 in GIR, No. 2 in birdie average and No. 11 in strokes gained: tee to green. He also ranks No. 15 in driving distance.

$40 on Rickie Fowler at 18-1

Besides Rahm, the ninth-ranked Fowler is the highest-rated player without a major. He tied for 17th at the Bridgestone but hasn’t won since February 2017 at the Honda Classic. Fowler, 29, is close friends with many players, including Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who are younger than he is. At some point, it will get to Fowler that his boys are winning more than he is. He ranks in the top 40 in all the key stats and has eight top-five finishes in majors, including the runner-up at this year’s Masters. He knows he has to cash in soon at a major.

$30 on Tony Finau at 30-1

The 29th-ranked Finau is the only player in the world to finish in the top 10 of all three majors, tying for 10th at the Masters, finishing fifth at the U.S. Open and tying for ninth at the British Open. That’s one reason he’s a sharp market play this week. The Salt Lake City native also checks all the boxes statistically and comes in with solid form after a top-10 finish at Bridgestone.

$25 on Patrick Cantlay at 40-1

Cantlay is a familiar name in Las Vegas as the winner of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November. The 24th-ranked player in the world has five top-10 finishes this season and tied for sixth at the Bridgestone. Cantlay checks all the statistical boxes and also falls into the category of players motivated by the chance to be selected for the Ryder Cup team. That group includes Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kyle Stanley, Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau.

$15 on Bryson DeChambeau at 60-1

Another potential buy-low opportunity here for the world’s No. 22-ranked player, who won the Memorial. DeChambeau’s game should fit this course.

$12 each on Kyle Stanley, Thorbjorn Olesen at 80-1

Stanley finished second and Olesen third at the Bridgestone. It was the second runner-up this season for Stanley, who has proven he can play on big stages by placing in the top five in three of the last four WGC events. Great ball striking will be paramount, and that’s the strength of Stanley’s game.

Other than Francesco Molinari and Dustin Johnson, no other golfer has better recent form than Olesen.

Long shots: $10 on Gary Woodland at 100-1, $8 each on Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Si-Woo Kim at 125-1.

More betting: Follow all of our sports betting coverage online at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

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