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PGA Tour Championship 2022: Pre-Tournament Head-to-Head Best Bets

by August 23, 2022
Patrick Cantlay

The top 30 players ranked in the FedExCup will conclude the 2021-22 PGA Tour season at East Lake Golf Club. It’s the site of the PGA Tour Championship, which is the last event in a three-playoff event format. While there is not a cut line enforced, this is the only playoff event where players gain starting strokes. For instance, Scottie Scheffler is ranked first in the FedExCup standings. Therefore, he will start Thursday at 10-under-par. Conversely, players who barely finished inside the top 30, such as Adam Scott, will start Thursday’s opening round at East Lake with a score of even par.

This format will certainly be unique and adds an extra layer of excitement during the final weekend of the PGA season. Don’t let it phase you when laying wagers on head-to-head bets. It will take four rounds for the outcome to settle, meaning the starting number of strokes under par will drastically change. It’s well worth the wait based on the lucrative odds available.

Here are three of my favorite pre-tournament head-to-head best bets to lay ahead of Thursday’s opening round at East Lake during the 2022 PGA Tour Championship. All plays below are one unit each, or 1% of your betting bankroll.

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Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Patrick Cantlay over Scottie Scheffler (+115)

Cantlay is seeking to become the first reigning FedExCup champion to defend his title at East Lake. There have been a few players with multiple wins but never back-to-back. Could it be based on the starting strokes format? Perhaps. Scottie Scheffler is extremely talented, evidenced in the four events that he won this season. Yet, Cantlay is in prime form right now and only starting two strokes back (-8) from Scheffler ahead of Thursday’s opening round.

Cantlay wound up -21-under-par to defeat Jon Rahm by one stroke last year. He barely held on after starting -10-under-par, while Rahm climbed the ranks from six-under-par to nearly pull off the upset. This time around, Cantlay’s dialed in, ranking eighth in total strokes gained and 12th in strokes gained putting. Fresh off his first solo win of the season at the BMW Championship last week, his confidence is through the roof and his irons are fully dialed in.

Take the plus odds (+115) for Cantlay to finish higher on the leaderboard than Scheffler by Sunday evening.

Billy Horschel over Collin Morikawa (+105)

Horschel is not my favorite golfer to bet on but he’s set up for success against Collin Morikawa. The 35-year-old native of Florida has just one T25 finish since winning the Memorial Tournament but he’s equipped with a hot putter and great irons. Horschel is ranked 14th in strokes gained putting, while ranking inside the top 50 for four of the remaining five strokes gained categories. Horschel was ranked T26 and began at even par here at East Lake in 2021, surging up the leaderboard to finish T9 at -10-under-par.

Meanwhile, Collin Morikawa is trending in the wrong direction. He went eight-over-par in the final round of the BMW Championship last weekend due to consecutive water shots and missing short putts. Yes, Morikawa drew a T5 finish during the first FedExCup playoff event at TPC Southwind. Looking closer, the 25-year-old American missed three cuts during his previous four events leading up to the FedEx St. Jude Championship. His putter is significantly worse than Horschel’s, while Morikawa’s 154th-ranked strokes gained around the green are indicative of his short-game volatility.

Since both players are starting at T21 (-1) at East Lake, Horschel is a solid bet at +105 to outperform Morikawa by the end of the weekend.

Jordan Spieth over Joaquin Niemann (-120)

The odds for betting on Jordan Spieth to defeat Joaquin Niemann aren’t as enticing as the previous two but it’s extremely safe. Spieth has been flying under the radar since his win at RBC Heritage on Easter Sunday. While his putter is the most inconsistent part of Spieth’s game, he’s a beast with his irons and can obliterate the golf ball with his driver. East Lake is a course that suits Spieth’s strengths. Last year, he started off T6 at four-under-par but wound up keeping that same score (-4) after the 2021 PGA Tour Championship, yielding a T20 finish.

Joaquin Niemann is certainly no slouch. He has gone T13 and T8 in the two FedExCup playoff events thus far, earning his keep in the middle rounds. Spieth and Niemann will both start at two-under-par on Thursday. Last year, Niemann was the only player to finish over par, yielding a score of +4. He’s playing much better but this is a testament to how challenging the tiered greens and lengthy doglegged fairways can be at East Lake. Niemann never went below par in any of the four rounds a year ago.

While both players have a lot to prove from a year ago, Spieth has superior talent. If not for a +3 round on Saturday at the BMW Championship, Spieth would have finished inside the top ten instead of T19. Don’t let Niemann’s current momentum scare you off of betting Spieth at -140.

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Matt is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Johnny, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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