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The PGA Tour's official events for 2019 are in the books, and now that our pockets are lined with cash from picking
a ton a couple of winners throughout the season, it's time to look ahead at 2020's biggest tournaments.
What's the point of previewing majors so early? Finding value. If you can identify players whose odds could be slashed in half by the time the tournament rolls around, you've already generated positive expected value on a bet. Gary Woodland was a perfect example of this strategy at the 2019 U.S. Open. His odds were in the 125-1 range months before the event, but he eventually closed in the 70-1 range before going on to win.
With that said, identifying value doesn't have any impact on the player's chances of actually winning the tournament. You're simply betting on a golfer you believe can win the event at a number you expect to be shorter once the tournament gets underway.
Alright, let's get started!
When: April 9-12
Where: Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, Georgia
Top of the betting board:
Brooks Koepka (8-1) stands alone as the deserving favorite, which is a common theme throughout this preview. Oddsmakers would be foolish to list the four-time major winner as anything other than the top dog.
The usual suspects fill out the rest of the favorites. Rory McIlroy and defending champion Tiger Woods are both at 10-1, and it's tough to see either of their prices dropping as the Masters approaches. The Northern Irishman could eventually enter as the co-favorite alongside Koepka in his attempt to claim his first green jacket, but a slight change in his odds wouldn't be anything to get excited about.
Jon Rahm (12-1) was listed around 18-1 before winning the European Tour's Race to Dubai and climbing to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. His current price is fair and will likely stay there until early April. The 25-year-old has posted back-to-back top-10 finishes at Augusta and is an obvious choice when predicting who will claim their first major in 2020.
Favorite to consider: Justin Thomas (20-1)
There's an easy case to be made that Thomas is one of the three best players in the world right now, but he's still being priced as more of a top-10 golfer at the Masters. Does Thomas have a better shot to win at Augusta than Rickie Fowler does? Absolutely. But the odds indicate their chances are equal.
Thomas has recorded two victories in his past five starts with only one finish outside the top 12 in his last nine appearances. His trips to Augusta haven't been jaw-dropping, but he's improved his result in four straight appearances. In 2019, he finished T-12 while battling the same wrist injury that forced him to skip the PGA Championship.
A victory or a run of top-tier results during the early part of 2020 - a portion of the season when he usually excels - would shrink Thomas' odds into the Rahm range of 12-1, which would make his current price a steal.
Long shot: Lee Westwood (125-1)
The Englishman qualified for his 19th trip to the Masters by finishing T-4 at the 2019 Open Championship. Westwood has posted six top-11 showings at Augusta since 2010 and is currently playing golf that resembles some of his better years.
Westwood's odds are unlikely to dip into the 66-1 range, but they could end up around 80-1 with some solid results between now and April. He's a veteran who's enjoyed plenty of success at the Masters, and he's worthy of consideration at triple-digit odds.
When: May 14-17
Where: TPC Harding Park - San Francisco, California
Top of the betting board:
The PGA Championship will head to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco for the first time. The venue is relatively unknown for touring pros, having only hosted the Presidents Cup in 2009 and the World Golf Championship in 2005. However, players can expect similarities to other PGA Championship courses - aside from last year's, when Bethpage Black played more like a U.S. Open test.
Looking at the betting board, the familiar names are back with subtle differences in their odds. For instance, Rahm is 18-1 compared to his much lower number for the Masters.
Due to the nature of the PGA Championship - which feels a little more wide open than other majors - the enticing options are in the 33-1 range. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are both California natives who are knocking on the door of their first major victory and should be considered for a futures bet. Additionally, strong play from either golfer prior to May's major will lead to their odds plummeting. One thing is certain: Neither of them will be priced higher than 33-1 once the PGA Championship begins.
Favorite to consider: Xander Schauffele (33-1)
Schauffele always seems to show up for the season's biggest contests. He's placed inside the top six in five of his 11 career starts in majors, which includes two runner-up finishes. No one would argue that the 25-year-old isn't eventually going to win a major championship, so why not take your chances when his odds are above 30-1?
Long shot: Viktor Hovland (125-1)
The risk in Hovland is that he hasn't qualified yet. However, it's expected he'll climb within the top 70 on the PGA Championship points list by the deadline, which may not be an issue if he picks up a win beforehand.
The 22-year-old has already established himself as one of the best ball-strikers in the world. There's no reason to believe he can't contend in major championships during his rookie campaign.
When: June 18-21
Where: Winged Foot Golf Club - Mamaroneck, New York
Top of the betting board:
The U.S. Open is returning to the iconic Winged Foot course for its 120th edition. This was the site of Phil Mickelson's epic collapse on the final hole in 2006, as Geoff Ogilvy won at 5-over thanks to Lefty's double-bogey.
Like all U.S. Open courses, Winged Foot will play extremely difficult and test every aspect of a player's game, which means one of the elites will likely walk away with the trophy.
Koepka, McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson are all priced below 10-1 - another sign that the cream is expected to rise to the top. But the three big favorites create value for the other top-tier talents in the field.
Favorite to consider: Jon Rahm (20-1)
Rahm's been heavily featured in this preview because of all the players looking for major No. 1, he feels the readiest.
Not only does Rahm fit the bill of a U.S. Open champion - he's got length and accuracy off the tee, elite iron play, and an ability to make big putts - but his odds are higher here than for any other major. He's made tremendous strides when it comes to handling his fiery personality on the course, which is the last piece of the puzzle he needs to break through at a big tournament.
At the tender age of 25, Spain's next big talent has already won nine times worldwide in addition to claiming the European Tour's season-long championship. Rahm's now on the brink of a monster season that includes a major championship.
Long shot: Danny Willett (150-1)
Danny Willett lost his game after winning the 2016 Masters, dropping outside the top 400 in the world, but he regained his form with two marquee wins on the European Tour over the past 13 months. He's currently No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The Englishman has a chance at the U.S. Open because he thrives when par is a good score. He owns a tremendous short game and he's a solid putter - a key reason why his 5-under number was good enough to earn the green jacket.
Willett's listed at 50-1 to win the 2020 Masters, 66-1 to win the Open, and 80-1 to claim the PGA Championship. Backing him at 150-1 to hoist the trophy at Winged Foot is an obvious value wager.
When: July 16-19
Where: Royal St. George's Golf Club - Sandwich, Kent, England
Top of the betting board:
Golf's oldest major championship will return to England's Royal St. George's for the 15th time. It's the first since 2011 when Darren Clarke won at the age of 42.
It's impossible to predict who will be playing well seven months from now, but when it comes to Open Championships, one thing is constant: Experience matters. The average age of the winners at this event is much higher than at any other major due to the emphasis on strategy and creativity versus power and distance.
The betting odds reflect that, with no clear favorite and no player priced below 10-1. The unpredictability of links golf opens this tournament up to nearly everyone in the field.
Favorite to consider: Tiger Woods (25-1)
Perhaps the first sign that Tiger was back and ready to win again was when he briefly took the lead during the final round of the 2018 Open Championship. Before Woods won the 2019 Masters, many believed The Open would be his best chance to claim another major because, once again, creativity is much more important than distance off the tee.
Woods is listed below 15-1 for the three other majors but somehow remains at 25-1 to hoist a fourth Claret Jug. The 43-year-old proved his health by winning the Zozo Championship, and he should be in good shape for The Open if he paces himself throughout the 2020 season. There's some obvious risk in backing Tiger for an event this far away, but there's also too much value at 25-1.
Long shot: Robert MacIntyre (125-1)
Never heard of Robert MacIntyre? Don't worry, you're not alone.
The 23-year-old Scot recently claimed European Tour Rookie of the Year honors thanks to three runner-up showings and four additional top-10 finishes. His most noteworthy result was a T-6 at the Open Championship, where he shot 68 in the final round despite treacherous conditions.
MacIntyre doesn't have much Open Championship experience compared to recent winners, but growing up in Scotland certainly gives him an upper hand on links courses. He's a budding talent who may not have the hype that Hovland, Morikawa or Matthew Wolff are receiving, but the 66th-ranked player in the world is worth a sprinkle at a whopping 125-1.