There are two types of avid golf gamblers. This week, if you’re Gambler A you’re saying: I’m saving my money until next week. This is an unknown course and a new event—I’ll save my bankroll for Torrey Pines. We don’t blame you. This field, well, leaves a lot to be desired (though we assure you the course should be awesome to watch).
Or, if you’re Gambler B, you’re digging in and saying: I can gain a real advantage this week if I do enough research to gain an edge over others. Damn right. Whichever gambler you are, of course, you’re welcome here. But even if you planned to go light this week before clicking this article, we’ll see if our experts can convince you of a proper bet. (A good time to remind you to gamble reasonably here. Seriously.)
Our betting panel—the most impressive collection of experts in the industry—is here to help as it is every week. Though we didn’t pick Patrick Cantlay in this column, we did have Jason Kokrak the week before … and we’re feeling good about this week. Our Stephen Hennessey had the chance to play and scout Congaree a couple weeks ago, so he feels like he has a good feel for this week—which probably will mean his picks will miss the cut. And hey, whether you’re Gambler A or Gambler B, you know that’s how it goes, because betting on golf is so dang hard.
Here are our favorite bets (and fades) from our panel, which includes an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com and Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com.
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Sungjae Im (22-1) — The comparisons of Congaree to Royal Melbourne are warranted. Royal Melbourne was so firm and fast that week … and so far, that’s what we’re seeing at Congaree. Yes, it’s a little softer than what some expected. But I think back to how Sungjae excelled at Royal Melbourne and the deft touch he showed there, and I think this place will suit him better than most.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Tyrrell Hatton (14-1) — This course strikes me as a Middle East Swing/Scottish links crossover where there are multiple ways to attack the greens. The creativity angle and sandy experience points directly to Hatton, who has experienced most of his career success on these two types of layouts.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Tyrrell Hatton (14-1) — Hatton comes in at good odds and could dominate Congaree if driving distance is not totally necessary. Either way, Hatton isn’t short off the tee by any means and is the field’s second-best golfer in my database over the past year, trailing only Dustin Johnson. There’s value here.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Sungjae Im (22-1) — There are certainly concerns around Im, which is not uncommon in this field. He’s coming off two straight missed cuts but his metrics have been stabilizing since a rocky start to 2021. He’s flashing the type of play that we saw from him at the end of 2020, where he was piling up top finishes. Congaree should ask golfers to lean on their short-game which is where Im has thrived recently.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Tyrrell Hatton (14-1) — I think Mayo is spot-on here: Congaree was designed to play very links-like. And that should suit Hatton. The Englishman’s No. 1 in my model for all the things he does well … his approaches; his short game, etc. But the thing that put me over the edge: Hatton ranks first in this field in strokes gained/approach on firm greens over the past 24 rounds, per Fantasy National. That’s a crucial stat to look at … even if the course will be softer than it usually is, this stat is indicative of the precision needed to hit the ball exactly where you need to. And that will serve Hatton well.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1) — In two of his last three starts, Fleetwood has lost strokes on approach and thus missed the cut. The one week he gained strokes, at Wells Fargo, he finished 14th. The short game will always be there for the Englishman, which will be huge for him around these Congaree greens. If we can just get the same mediocre iron play he gave us at Quail Hollow, he could be in line for a breakthrough win against a weak field.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (+850) — Koepka comes into this event ranked second in the field for SG/tee to green over the last two months, mainly due to his performance at the PGA Championship. I believe this course setup will play like a major, which as Koepka quite often explains takes half the field out of contention. Koepka is also an excellent putter on Bermuda greens.
Results from last season: Golf Digest’s betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons. Our experts have now predicted six of the past 17 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jason Kokrak’s victory at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge (at 45-1)! He also picked Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. That continued a strong 2021—at The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That was each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Luke List (66-1) — Yes, it’s true—Luke List is one of the few golfers to not only see Congaree prior to this week but really enjoy playing … he fired a low 65 a few months ago. His ball-striking has been trending up over the past few months—I think he’s worth a look here.
Mayo: Rafa Cabrera Bello (66-1) — Another European player who has had experience in the Middle East, who has quietly recaptured some of his past form. The Spaniard has gained on approach in three straight events and has the highest upside of players in this range.
Gdula: Luke List (66-1) — List is long off the tee and just an elite tee-to-green golfer. He’s equally non-elite with the putter in his hand, ranking in the fourth percentile in SG/putting over the past year, based on my database. Still, a modest putter with his best tee-to-green play make him enticing at this number.
Gehman: David Lipsky (100-1) — Lipsky has been playing on the Korn Ferry Tour full-time this year and has found plenty of success. He has a win, two runner-up finishes and has accumulated enough points to secure his PGA Tour card for next season. He’ll be looking to hit the ground running this week with plenty of opportunity in this weak field.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Kevin Kisner (40-1) — I’m sticking to my guns here. When I walked off Congaree a few weeks ago after playing it twice, I said to myself: This is the perfect place for Kiz. Not only does the short-game imagination and deft touch required suit Kiz’s (usual) strengths, but it’s the whole vibe. Congaree is country—as remote as it gets—and that lowcountry, Southern hospitality will put Kiz right at home, quite literally. He’s been playing quite poor, but I still think he can control his ball as well as anyone in the world.
Powers, Golf Digest: Camilo Villegas (100-1) — Villegas’ redemption tour has come to a halt over the last few weeks, but if you go back and look at the weeks he popped, they were all on courses in the south with Bermudagrass greens. He should be pretty comfortable at Congaree, then, where his elite around-the-green play should shine.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Garrick Higgo (40-1) — This man has been on fire on the European Tour and this course will suit his game. Higgo is an elite driver of the ball, which will help on this extremely long course. He is also the best putter, statistically this year, on the European Tour, hence why he has two wins in his past four events.
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Alex Noren (35-1) — Did Alex Noren win a golf tournament recently? Am I missing something? I know he’s playing much better golf, but he’s being priced in a super elite range. There’s a lot more consistent long-term form in this range than a returning-to-form Alex Noren.
Mayo: Harold Varner III (35-1) — I’d love to see HV3 finally break through, but these odds are simply too steep. He’ll have to win without me.
Gdula: Brooks Koepka (+850) — Brooks is always hard to figure out because it’s hard to build his level of interest in an event into a betting model, but the super-high odds and lingering major (and off-course buzz) make me okay missing out on a +800 winner either way.
Gehman: Tyrrell Hatton (14-1) — I’m generally a fan of Hatton, but it’s difficult to find an investment this week in the Englishman. While he’s been making cuts this year, he doesn’t have a top-15 finish in any individual event. His ball-striking has been suspect at times, but most of all—I just don’t like his price. I believe there are better options at shorter odds and more enticing options at longer odds.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (+850) — There’s likely to be a lot of randomness to this course. Balls will just miss finding the proper slopes; good shots won’t always be rewarded the way players think they should be. I don’t think this is a week to pick a sub-10-1 favorite, and we know Koepka will be working on shots he needs for Torrey.
Powers, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (35-1) — Great short-game player and a proven winner on the European Tour, but not prepared to bet him at 35-1 with his unreliable approach play.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Harris English (30-1) — English does not come into this event in particularly good form, so I’m not sure why he’s 30-1. He ranks just 47th for SG/tee to green over the past two months and just 101st in Fantasy National’s Opportunities Gained stat over the same period.
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Brice Garnett (-120) over Rory Sabbatini (DraftKings) — Excellent ball-striking will be so crucial at Congaree, and there is a huge advantage in this matchup in that category. Sabbatini ranks T-159 in ball-striking this season, whereas Garnett is 36th.
Mayo: Tommy Fleetwood (-114) over Harris English (DraftKings) — Continuing the theme of stacking international players this week has me leaning Fleetwood over English. Both are showing flashes of their overall upside lately, they just keep having blow-up rounds. But I’ll lean on the short game of Fleetwood.
Gdula: Ian Poulter (-128) over Garrick Higgo (FanDuel) — Higgo is pretty much reliant on his putter and has average-at-best tee-to-green play, which you can probably say for Poulter, too, but the longer-term form makes this one not even close.
Gehman: Patton Kizzire (+110) over Harris English (William Hill) — Kizzire’s best two attributes, iron play and putting, is a dangerous combination. When both of those “click,” he’s a true threat to be near the top of the leader board as we saw with third-place finishes at the Charles Schwab Challenge and the AT&T Byron Nelson. While he’s streaky with his approach play, the putter has been dialed-in and he has gained strokes on the greens in nine consecutive events.
Hennessey: Jason Dufner (-120) over Scott Piercy (DraftKings) — Dufner is playing sneaky good golf right now folks. He’s actually in the top 10 of my custom Fantasy National model this week … I know, it might be time to check my stats. But he’s sixth in FN’s Opportunities Gained stat in the past 24 rounds; 22nd in SG/approach; and even 23rd in Scrambling Gained (!!!). Is Dufner back? He really might be…
Powers: Tommy Fleetwood (-114) over Harris English (DraftKings) — We haven’t quite seen English rediscover that late-fall, early-winter form, and I like Fleetwood to win so this was an easy matchup pick.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Harold Varner III (+100) over Harris English (Betfair) — Varner comes into this event ranked seventh for opportunities gained over the last two months and fourth for SG/tee-to-green. English on the other hand ranks just 101st for opportunities gained and 47th for SG/tee-to-green.
Matchup results from the Memorial: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Jordan Spieth (+120) over Jon Rahm) … this one’s dirty, Rick; Gdula: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau (-108) over Hideki Matsuyama); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Collin Morikawa (-128) over Bryson DeChambeau); Caddie: pushed (Jordan Spieth over Rory McIlroy); Mayo, Powers, Alldrick: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 18-12-2 (up 5.13 units); Gdula: 19-14-1 (up 3.74 units); Alldrick: 19-14-1 (up 3.43 units); Powers: 15-15-4 (down 1.08 units); Gehman: 15-17-2 (down 1.88 units); Mayo: 14-17-2 (down 4.14 units); Caddie: 12-18-4 (down 5.75 units).
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Matthew NeSmith (+650) — These are nice odds for the No. 1-ranked approach player in this field in the 2020-’21 season. NeSmith’s ball-striking and above-average off-the-tee game should give the former University of South Carolina golfer decent looks here.
Mayo: Luke Donald (+1400) — One of the premier putters of the millennium lost strokes on the greens in 16 consecutive events before Wells Fargo. Now, he’s gained in two straight. So, it appears, he has that solved. But the biggest factor has to be his approach play. He’s gained over a stroke a round on the field in his past eight rounds. That’s incredible considering the state of his game. In a field this weak, let’s roll with it.
Gdula: Lucas Glover (+400) — Glover is a course ambassador, which gives him an ostensible leg up in terms of course knowledge, but he’s also just a good process play with his strong tee-to-green game lately.
Gehman: Ben Martin (+600) — Martin doesn’t have much data to dive into because three of his last seven events have been “unmeasured”—lacking the valuable strokes-gained data. However, in the four measured events, he’s gained strokes off-the-tee and on approach in each of them. His most recent finishes include a T-26 at the AT&T Byron Nelson and a T-11 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Martin Laird (+550) — This is another Euro who should embrace the links-like layout this week. And the numbers show that’s true: He’s second in this field over the past 24 rounds in SG/approach on firm greens and second in SG/putting on firm, fast Bermuda greens. For all of those reasons, Laird is fifth in my model this week.
Powers, Golf Digest: Brandt Snedeker (+350) — Thought he’d have a good week at Colonial and I was very wrong, but I’m not hopping off this Sneds comeback tour just yet. Around the green and on the green he’s been very good over the last few weeks. If he can replicate what he did at Valero on approach, when he gained nearly eight strokes on the field, he’s going to contend again soon.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Keith Mitchell (+350) — Mitchell comes into this event ranked sixth for SG/tee-to-green over the past two months and fourth for opportunities gained over the same period. The course will also suit his game, ranking ninth in our course-suitability ranking this week due to his strong off the tee and approach game.
Top-10 results from the Memorial: 0-for 1, everyone
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 7 for 31 (up 10.85 units); Powers: 5 for 31 (down 3.5 units); Hennessey: 5 for 31 (down 3.5 units); Gdula: 3 for 31 (down 12.5 units); Tour caddie: 5 for 31 (down 12.85 units); Mayo: 2 for 31 (down 16 units); Alldrick: 2 for 30 (down 20 units).
Palmetto Championship 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Lucas Glover — The one thing that has held Glover back in his career has been his putter. However, it appears he’s starting to make tangible gains in that department. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, Glover has gained strokes putting in six of his last eight measured events. In the eight events prior to that stretch, Glover lost strokes in every single one. If these putting gains remain, he will make plenty of noise.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa. Charles Schwab Challenge: Charley Hoffman. Memorial Tournament: Billy Horschel.
Hennessey: Matt Fitzpatrick — I’ve used Hatton and Sungjae here. Surprisingly, I haven’t used Matt Fitzpatrick, and I actually think he could contend this week. He’s a real cerebral golfer, and I think he’ll really appreciate the test that Congaree will present. Don’t forget he’s still seeking his first PGA Tour win. So while there’s a chance he’ll be looking up flights out of Savannah come Friday afternoon, if he starts off hot, he’ll be engaged and doing his best to win.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Abraham Ancer. Memorial Tournament: Collin Morikawa.
Powers: Harold Varner III — Brutal break on Rahm last week to say the least. Going to roll with HV3 in a weak field here. He’s close.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann. Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm.
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
7,655 – The scorecard yardage for this week, making it the longest par 71 on the PGA Tour schedule.
1.41 – The strokes gained per round by Matt Fitzpatrick in 2021, the second best of anyone in his field (Brooks Koepka).
7 – The number of consecutive events for Dustin Johnson without a top 10. That’s the longest such stretch for him since the start of 2020.
4 – The number of golfers in this field who have played the other two South Carolina events (PGA Championship, RBC Heritage) this year and are averaging at least 1.0 strokes gained in those rounds—Matt Fitzpatrick, Harold Varner III, Sungjae Im and Tyrrell Hatton.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.