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Tiger Woods leads the quartet of PGA Championship leader bets in the first round

After sharing my favorite deduction and matchup plays for the 2022 PGA Championship, we come to our final plays.

This is of course our favorite bet on the first round leader at Southern Hills Country Club. The betting equivalent of blindfolding and throwing darts, I choose to look for some longshots that could offer nice payouts rather than the favorites.

So, without further hesitation, here are the four players I’m targeting to find themselves at the top of the leaderboard on Thursday night. All odds are provided courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and are conflicting at the time of writing.

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Best Bet #1 – Tony Finau (+5500)

Finau is someone who does decently in my statistical model – he’s 36th in my 36-lap streak – but as an FRL bet there’s a lot going for him.

Just looking at Finau’s statistical modeling on the opening lap at courses over 7,400 yards, he jumps to 25th in my model.

Additionally, in his last 24 opening rounds for 7,400+ yards overall, Finau is sixth in the field in SG: Total, 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green, and 11th in SG: Ball Striking. Additionally, Finau ranks first in the field in birdies or better won in his last 24 opening rounds on over 7,400-yard courses and seventh in the field in avoided bogeys.

And while I don’t expect there to be many Eagles at Southern Hills, it’s worth noting that Finau is second in the field for Eagles won in the same 24 qualifying rounds and fourth for actual birdies won.

Also, Finau was at -1 after the opening round of the Masters T10 and has finished his opening round under par in two consecutive majors.

Best Bet #2 – Justin Rose (+5500)

I was a little surprised by this price for Rose, but all the stats point to this being a good bet.

The former US Open champion ranks first in the 50-round stats model and second in the 36-round metric, behind only Dustin Johnson. In the former model, Rose does not rank 13th in any of the six statistical measures, and ranks fifth or better in four of six statistical categories.

If you add an “opening round” qualifier to the statistical model, Rose still finishes third in both his final 50 and final 36 rounds.

Plus, Rose is 22nd in fielding in SG: 7,400+ yards overall in his last 24 opening rounds and 17th in fielding in his last 36 qualifying rounds. He is also 11th in the field in birdies or better won in his last 24 opening rounds on 7,400-yard courses and ranks in the top-38 for both chances won and bogey avoidance.

He also has experience finding himself at the top of the leaderboard at majors on Thursday. At the 2019 Masters, Rose ended the day as the first-lap leader.

Tiger Woods warms up on the range during a practice round before the start of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club May 17, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tiger Woods warms up on the range during a practice lap before the start of the 2022 PGA Championship.
Getty Images

Best Bet #3 – Tiger Woods (+6000)

Woods will undoubtedly be at his freshest when he starts his opening round, so why not have a flyer with the big cat?

That being said, Woods actually does very well in my statistical model this week. In my 36-lap model, he’s ninth overall and 22nd or better in the field in four out of six statistical measurements.

Additionally, in his last 24 opening rounds, Woods is ranked 26th in the field in strokes won: tee-to-green and 13th overall in strokes won: approach on courses over 7,400 yards. In addition, he is 20th in the field in birdies or better won in his last 24 opening rounds on courses over 7,400 yards and 22nd in actual birdies won.

Add to that the fact that Woods put together a solid opening round at the 2022 Masters (a one-under-71 left him just four behind FRL Sungjae Im) and the fact that he has a win under his belt at Southern Hills, and I do think he’s worth a gamble at 60/1.


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Best Bet #4 – Keegan Bradley (+7500)

Readers of my derivatives and matchup columns will know that I’m extremely high on Bradley this week. So why not complete the trifecta and get an FRL shot too?!

Last season Bradley was 13th in terms of his opening round points average and has strong underlying numbers to back him up. In his last 24 opening rounds on courses longer than 7,400 yards, Bradley is ninth in the field in SG: total and sits within the top-20 in all of SG: T2G (2nd), SG: Approach (3rd) and SG : around the green (17th).

Bradley is also 16th in birdies or better and fourth in the field in bogey avoidance over the same 24 qualifying rounds. If you also add an “opening round” qualifier to the statistical model, Bradley is 16th overall and 25th or better in four of six statistical metrics.

Additionally, in the opening round at Kiawah Island for last year’s PGA Championship, Bradley was just two shots from the opening round lead, finishing in the top five of the day.

For these reasons, I’m surprised Bradley isn’t hovering close to the other three for an FRL price and am happy to shoot at 75/1.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/18/tiger-woods-leads-quartet-of-pga-championship-first-round-leader-bets/ Tiger Woods leads the quartet of PGA Championship leader bets in the first round

JOE HERNANDEZ

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