The Black Course at Bethpage State Park is set to host a 156-man field for the year's second major. The course is a beast, coming in at 7,459 yards and listed as a par 70.
Players will need to find fairways for two reasons. One, Bethpage Black has been getting hammered with rain, making the rough thicker than a typical PGA Championship setup. Also, for the most part, the greens at Bethpage are elevated, and being able to hit them requires control from the fairway. Players who spend their time hacking out of thick rough won't have much of a chance to contend.
With a significant emphasis on a player's ability to drive the ball, here are the best bets to make for the PGA Championship.
Dustin Johnson (11-1)
If you need one guy to provide you with a winning bet regardless of their odds, it's Dustin Johnson. It feels like one of those weeks where Johnson will crush the competition and cruise to a multi-shot victory. Every single aspect of his game fits Bethpage Black perfectly. His length and accuracy off the tee are well-documented, his improved wedge play will give him plenty of birdie looks, and he thrives on Poa grass greens, which Bethpage Black has.
His results this year indicate he's close. He didn't play particularly well at the Masters and still tied for second. He's finished inside the top 10 in five of his last six events, including a five-shot win in Mexico. It's baffling that Johnson only has one major victory to his name, but expect that to change after a dominant week at the PGA Championship.
Paul Casey (50-1)
With narrow fairways and the rough being "juicy," as Paul Casey put it, the Englishman stands out as a great value. He's the only player in the field that ranks inside the top 20 for the 2019 season in strokes gained: off the tee, driving accuracy, and good-drive percentage (on par 4s and 5s, the number of fairways hit plus the number of greens or fringe in regulation hit after a missed fairway, divided by the number of par 4s and 5s). Basically, Casey is one of the longest and straightest ball-drivers in the field and will be hitting from the fairway more often than his peers.
He's coming off of a T-4 result from the Wells Fargo and won the Valspar Championship three tournaments ago. He's yet to show up for a big event this year, missing the cut at the Players and the Masters. However, he's bound to find himself near the top of a major leaderboard this season, and Bethpage Black suits his game.
Adam Scott (55-1)
Adam Scott is becoming the forgotten man due to his light schedule, but his lack of events also creates value, as bettors aren't lining up to back the Aussie. He's only played in seven tournaments this season, making the cut in five and finishing inside the top 18 in four. He finished second at Torrey Pines and seventh at Riviera - both long, difficult tracks that resemble the challenge Bethpage Black will present.
Scott finished T-4 at the 2016 Barclays on the same course, where he led the field in strokes gained: tee to green but lost 4.8 shots putting. However, he appears to be switching back to the long putter this week - the same one he used in his run at the 2018 PGA Championship.
Aaron Wise (22-1)
As a long shot, Aaron Wise at 125-1 is tempting, but going with the safer top-five approach at a good number is the smarter move. Wise is turning into a world-class driver of the ball, ranking 16th in strokes gained: off the tee and 28th in driving distance for 2019. He's performed well at courses that demand length and accuracy with a driver, finishing as a runner-up at Quail Hollow and recording a T-6 at Firestone last season.
Paul Casey (-110) over Matt Kuchar
Instead of repeating why Casey is a good pick to win the tournament outright, this head-to-head bet is more a knock on Matt Kuchar. Though Kuchar's playing the best golf of his career, Bethpage Black will be a lot for him to handle. There's no debating that he'll find fairways, but he averages only 291 yards off the tee and will leave himself hybrids and long irons into a lot of greens. If his approach game is off slightly and the greens firm up over the course of the week, he'll spend way too much time scrambling for par instead of lining up putts for birdie.
Hideki Matsuyama (-138) over Jordan Spieth
While Hideki Matsuyama is the clear favorite over Jordan Spieth, paying a little extra juice on the line is well worth it. These two are in totally different leagues at the moment when it comes to ball-striking. Hideki has put together nine straight performances of gaining strokes tee to green. Spieth, on the other hand, is relying heavily on his putter to make cuts and has only gained strokes tee to green in two recorded events this season. Expect Spieth to head home Friday and Matsuyama to be in the mix Sunday.
(Odds courtesy: bet365)