PGA Bets: Mike Kern picks Zurich Classic team event, likes Tony Finau & Cameron Champ, Horschel & Burns, more

The teams tee off Thursday morning in New Orleans.
Tony Finau is usually in the hunt. Maybe partner Cameron Champ will get him over the hump.
Tony Finau is usually in the hunt. Maybe partner Cameron Champ will get him over the hump.Darron Cummings | Associated Press Photo

Last week in Hilton Head we had Corey Conners at 25-1, and he finished fourth, which still got us a 5-1 for a top five. Not bad. And we had Cameron Smith, also at 25-1, and he got a top 10. But since the odds weren’t as good for that we might not have actually played it. Still, we cashed something, and it’s been a good three-week run that included an exacta a few weeks back and a near-miss at the Masters. Let’s try to keep it going, by all means.

This week it’s the Zurich Classic, in New Orleans, which for the fourth time is being played as a team event. So it’s different, if nothing else. The first and third rounds are contested as better ball, while the second and fourth are alternate shot. So it’s not just a matter of counting up the strokes. And the play here might be to tread carefully, just because. But what do I know? Last year it wasn’t played, because of the pandemic. This is the fourth time it’s being held as a team thing. In 2019, Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer were the winners. And so they’re the faves, at 6.5-1. Actually, the co-faves, along with Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. Which makes sense.

Australians Marc Leishman and Cam Smith are next, at 11-1. Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff are 12-1, Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson 14-1, Cameron Champ and Tony Finau 16-1.

Billy Horschel and Sam Burns are 22-1. Horschel just won the match-play championship, and he won here a few years back. He also won here when it was still an individual event in 2013. I’m not going to run down too much more of the field, because with something like this you could always find a way to make a case for just about any of them. And sometimes longshots do well in these different type of outings.

I will say that Justin Rose, who played well at Augusta, and Henrik Stenson are 35-1. They’re 6-2 as partners in Ryder Cup play. Tom Lewis and Thomas Pieters are another European pairing that has possibilities, and they’re 45-1. Cameron Tringale and Roberto Castro are 50-1. They’ve played well in this event, tying for fifth two years ago. And Kevin Kisner, who’s won the match-play tourney, and Scott Brown are 55-1. They were the runner-ups in 2017 and were fifth in ’19. Both missed the cut last week.

I could find a way to go like 10 different ways. But obviously that’s too many, I think. You know my aversion to chalk, so I’m looking for value, which means I would take a chance on like three or four teams at higher odds. And back at least some of them up with some top five insurance.

So here goes. For no good reason I will drop a few bucks on Cam Champ and Tony Finau, at 16-1. Finau has only won once, and that was five years ago in a satellite event. But he’s almost always there. So it would only make sense that he gets a win in a team event. Golf works like that occasionally. But again, this is just a stab, just in case my twisted logic turns out to be right. If that doesn’t work for you, then I would lean more toward either Marc Leishman and Cam Smith at 11-1, though that is a little low for my blood, or Billy Horschel and Sam Burns at 22-1, based on their track record here. And they’re 5-1 for a top five, which might be the best investment of all to get serious about.

As for longer shots, I would go but go lightly on Tringale-Castro and/or Kisner/Brown, both of which would get you a nice payout. And they’re both also 10-1 for a top five, which again seems reasonable enough. And 10-1 is nothing to sneeze at, right. I know a few folks this week who are even just going with Rahm/Palmer at +150 for a top five. But that’s a little too chalky for my blood. But different strokes for different bankrolls.

As always, good luck out there. See you next week at the Valspar Championship. And yes, the PGA Championship, the next major, is less than a month away. Time flies. Especially the older you get. And I just turned 63. That’s almost like having a running clock.

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