Justin Thomas hits from the bunker on the 16th hole during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in San Francisco.
Justin Thomas hits from the bunker on the 16th hole during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in San Francisco.|Charlie Riedel | Associated Press
Golf

It's the final leg of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour Championship, and Kern picks 5 to get you some green

This is one of those weeks where you maybe go light. You either pick one of the faves and go mostly all in on him at shorter odds, or you take a shot on a few longer shots and hope for an upset.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Hard to believe, but the closing event of the 2019-20 season is finally upon us. It’s the final leg of the three-tournament FedExCup playoffs, the PGA Tour Championship for famed East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. And for the second year, it will be played under a staggered stroke format. Meaning the guy who finished first in the standings, Dustin Johnson, is the top seed. So he will start with a two-stroke lead over runner-up Jon Rahm, who of course beat DJ last week with a 100-yard putt on the first hole of a playoff. And of course DJ had won the week before that by a million.

The third guy, Justin Thomas, will begin three back. And so on and so fourth. The 6-10 guys all begin six back, followed by the 11-15 guys at seven, the 16-20 guys at eight, the 21-25ers at nine and the last five at 10. In other words, Johnson is starting at minus 10. The last five are starting at even par. Got all that?

And yes, officially the upcoming U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the Masters in November, both of which were pushed back due to the Covid virus, will count as part of the 2020-21 schedule. Which means there will actually be two U.S. Opens and Masters next season.

With only 30 players in the field, there’s obviously a better chance to get something right. In theory at least. But the staggered start kind of evens things out. Still, Rory McIlroy came from five back last year to win. So there is that.

I think this is one of those weeks where you maybe go light. You either pick one of the faves and go mostly all in on him at shorter odds, or you take a shot on a few longer shots and hope for an upset. Hey, it’s your bankroll. I’m just not sure that taking DJ or Rahm is the way to go, although the way they have both played the last two weeks suggest that they’re going to be around at the end. But will they be on top? It’s also a week where you might want to take a few guys to just finish in the top whatever (three or five seem to be the logical choices, since I’m just not sure it’s worth the investment for what a top 10 might get you back).

That being said, here goes:

Johnson is a little less than 2-1. Rahm is plus $275. Thomas is 5-1. Webb Simpson, who took last week off to rest, is 9-1. Bryson Dechambeau is 22-1. As are PGA champion Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, who was second a year ago (Thomas came in third). Ditto McIlroy, who has struggled since the restart but was tied for the lead last week through 36 holes. Hideki Matsuyama, coming off a good effort, is 28-1.

Tony Finau is 50-1, Harris English and Patrick Reed 66-1. I could go on, but you can check out the longshots for yourself. Because especially in this situation they really are longshots. At least to lift a trophy.

So what to do? Like I said, you could just go with DJ or Rahm and bet a bunch and hope they come through. But among the faves I would lean more toward Justin Thomas, at 5-1. He’s been a little up and down, but when he’s up it’s really up. You don’t have to go too heavy. I feel even a little stronger about Webb Simpson, at 9-1. And he has been largely consistent, in what’s maybe been his best year. He’s also plus $275 to get a top three, which I would certainly consider. Again, it’s not much of a payback, but if you cash you cash.

Among the blokes in the next tier I kind of like Daniel Berger. I’ve been saying that a lot lately, but he’s earned it. And he’s plus $600 for a top three, plus $250 for a top three. I would definitely back him up with some money on those props.

I’m just not feeling McIlroy, but 22-1 might be worth putting a little something on, just because. Like my theory on Tiger.

It’s hard to really come up with a longshot that you think could make a run, but if I had to give you one I would say Tony Finau at 50-1. Trouble is he never wins. So I wouldn’t put much on that. But he often hangs around the top of the leaderboard. So the plus $450 for a top five and the plus $900 for a top three are probably decent plays. Not for much, but for enough to keep you interested.

That’s all I got. It’s been a decent last few months. Hope we can end it in the right way. You can’t bet everyone, but you can place enough to give you an extra out or two. Options are always a good thing. If they hit. They can save your weekend. Good luck with whichever way or ways you decide to go. Which probably means DJ wins going away.

KERN’S PICKS

Faves: Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson (leaning more towards Simpson)

Next Tier: Daniel Berger

Long Shot: Tony Finau

A little something on: Rory McIlroy (just because)

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