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Rory McIlroy favored in PGA Championship, but watch out for long shots

Rory McIlroy is the 7-1 favorite to win the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, where he’s won twice and has six top-1o finishes in seven tournaments.

Jordan Spieth, coming off his epic British Open triumph, is the 8-1 second choice to win and become the youngest golfer to complete a career Grand Slam.

But William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said there’s no value in betting on single-digit favorites on the PGA Tour.

“I always throw out the favorites because it’s so hard to win a golf tournament. At least get 30-1 to 40-1 for your money,” he said. “Guys are just so good that getting 7-1, what is that?”

For sleepers to win the year’s final major — which starts Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina — Bogdanovich singled out Xander Schauffele (80-1) and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (125-1), whose home is located near the seventh tee.

“Webb’s a member there, so he knows the course better than anyone,” Bogdanovich said. “(Schauffele’s) lights out right now. He’s young and fearless like all these young kids now.”

Spieth’s victory at Royal Birkdale ended a string of seven consecutive first-time major winners. Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler, tied for the third choice at 12-1 odds with Dustin Johnson, are two of the best players never to have won a major.

Golf handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) is betting on Fowler to break through at Quail Hollow, the site of his first PGA Tour win and a long course at 7,600 yards that’s expected to be made longer by wet weather.

“People are looking at Rory because he’s won at Quail Hollow before and he destroys wet, soft golf courses,” Reynolds said. “But there’s a lot of guys that can put a hurting on a wet, soft golf course. Fowler has the distance to do that as well.

“He’s been so close to winning majors. He’s got the game to do it. He just hasn’t done it yet.”

For sleepers, Reynolds is on 60-1 long shots in Tommy Fleetwood and Branden Grace, who shot the first 62 in a major at the British Open and has five top-six finishes in majors since 2015.

“That’s a lot of value for (Grace), who has placed well in major championships,” he said. “He’s knocked on the door, and you need to knock on the door a couple times before you can break through and win a major.”

Fleetwood’s odds to win the British Open near his hometown were 20-1.

“Now it’s triple the price,” Reynolds said. “You’re getting a much fairer price on a top-15 player in the world.”

Reynolds also is firing on Justin Thomas (35-1) and Daniel Berger (50-1), who have each won this year, and 60-1 shots Kevin Chappell and Tony Finau.

Finally, he’s sprinkling a few bucks on former Quail Hollow winners J.B. Holmes (80-1) and James Hahn (200-1), as well as on Kevin Kisner (80-1) — whose brother is a member there — and Gary Woodland (100-1), a big hitter whose putting woes cost him the recent Canadian Open.

“He was out there (Wednesday) with Steve Stricker, who’s known as a putting guru,” Reynolds said. “Guys really play well after getting putting tips from Steve Stricker. (Woodland’s) a real sleeper.”

NFL preseason trends

For those fearless souls — some would call them degenerates — who welcome the challenge of handicapping the NFL preseason, which starts in earnest Thursday, coaches are one of the biggest keys to success.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has been a cash machine in the preseason, going 11-2 against the spread (Minnesota is a 1½-point road favorite Thursday over Buffalo). Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is 30-14-1 (68.1 percent) ATS, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh is 23-13 ATS (Baltimore is a 1-point home favorite Thursday over Washington).

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has the most profitable preseason over-under record at 53-36 (59.5), and Packers coach Mike McCarthy is second at 26-18 (59.1). Both coaches will be on the field Thursday, with the New England-Jacksonville total at 40 and the Green Bay-Philadelphia total at 38½. On the flip side, the Steelers have gone under in 25 of 42 preseason games (59.5) under coach Mike Tomlin.

Browns coach Hue Jackson is 0-8 ATS in the preseason (Cleveland is a 3-point home favorite Thursday over New Orleans), proving that there might be a correlation after all between preseason and regular-season success.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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