Can Kern threepeat with another winner? The tournament starts Thursday morning.
We ended the 2018-19 golf season by picking Rory McIlroy to win the Tour Championship, which he did at 9-1. That gave us our fifth victory since we started making weekly picks in January, including Phil Mickelson at 40-1 at Pebble Beach. Not too bad. But you’re only as good as your last winner, right?
So we started off the new PGA season by taking Joaquin Niemann to win last week at the Greenbrier Classic, and damned if he didn’t come through. At 33-1 no less. And he won going away. Folks, it’s tough enough to get one right every now and then, let alone go back-to-back. So I hope someone out there was paying attention. And I hope that helps make up for some of the pro or college football stuff I’ve been throwing out there.
The 20-year-old from Chile not only won, he won by six shots. And he becomes only the second non-American under 21 to win on the PGA Tour. The others were Seve Ballesteros and McIlroy. Yo.
Now we move on to the Sanderson Championship in Jackson, Miss. Where, a few years back, me and a friend played in the pro-am. Don’t ask. We were paired with Brendon Todd, who I’m sure remembers it vividly. Anyway, if nothing else I can say I’ve been there and butchered that (our team finished next to last, as I recall, and none of it was Todd’s fault). Though I don’t know what that’s worth for these purposes.
The favorite, in a not-so-stellar field (which you’re going to get for much of the fall schedule), is none other than Niemann, at 12-1. And why not? He was playing well before last week, and might just be able to keep it going. Next is Brandt Snedeker, at 18-1, followed by Sungjae Im (20-1), Byeong Hun An (22-1) and Scottie Scheffler (also 22-1). The last three all played decently last week. Especially Sheffler, the rookie who tied for seventh.
Lucas Glover is 25-1. Brian Harman, coming off a tie for third, and Cameron Smith are 30-1. Emiliano Grillo, whose only issue seems to be his putter, is 40-1. So is J.T. Poston, who won the Wyndham not too long ago. Russell Henley is 42-1. Corey Conners, another promising rook, is 45-1. He was second here last year, and had a top 10 two tourneys ago in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Zach Johnson is 60-1, Charley Hoffman 65-1. Ryan Armour, who won this in 2017, is 90-1. Sam Burns, who tied for third last year, is 100-1. As is Robbie Shelton, who has four pro wins in his short career and had a top 10 last week after opening with a 62 (he would close 70-70 to tie with Scheffler).
As much as I’m tempted to stick with Niemann, in this kind of field I’m going to look for longer odds, just because. So here goes:
(See Mike Kerns's picks below:)
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Scottie Scheffler (22-1)
A lot of people like this guy going forward, so why not this week? It has to start sometime. He’s coming off a good effort, and it’s not like he wasn’t the best player on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Corey Conners (45-1)
Again, his time will probably come at some point. I’d like to try and get in on the ground floor. And at this time of year, especially, almost anything seems possible out there.
Brian Harman (30-1)
I was leaning toward Emiliano Grillo, but his putting woes bother me. So I’ll go instead with Harman, who had a real good effort last week even though he was never a threat to leave with the trophy.
Robbie Shelton (100-1)
This is my longshot stab. Hey, I’m game. He’s won before, just not at this level. He too is coming off a decent performance. This is the type of guy that you might want to back up with like a top 10 wager, which would still figure to get you something worthwhile in return in case he contends but can’t get it all the way done. That happens too.
And if we make it three in a row I might have to consider buying some lottery tickets for a change. I guess stranger things have taken place. But that would at least be near the top of my list.