This week we have some exciting events to lace bets on - but before we get to that, let's do a quick recap from last week.
- Four horseplayers have filed a class-action lawsuit against trainer Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit's owner, Zedan Racing, over the results of the May 1 Kentucky Derby in which Medina Spirit finished first but now is in jeopardy of being disqualified after Baffert revealed the horse failed a post-race drug test. The investigation is ongoing.
- Despite the investigation, Medina Spirit was still allowed to run the Preakness Stakes, but was beat out by Rombauer (a 11-1 longshot).
- Stephen Curry officially won the scoring title, and is Lebron's pick for MVP. Jokic is still the favorite to take the MVP.
- It's been reported that the Green Bay Packers are requiring a QB in a trade for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers (-125) remain the favorite to retain Rodgers. But the Denver Broncos (+200) have surfaced as a possible landing spot and their Super Bowl odds improved from +6000 to +2000 almost instantly.
- K.H. Lee shot 6-under 66 to win first PGA TOUR title at AT&T Byron Nelson. He entered the tournament as a massive underdog, with PGA Tour odds of +15,000. Did any of you have him pre-tourney?
- Charles Oliveira (- 140) took down Michael Chandler by KO in R2 - in a stunning turnaround after it looked like Chandler had control of the fight. Tony Ferguson (+ 150) also lost to Beneil Dariush by decision.
Now onto what is happening tonight and this weekend.
NBA Play-In Tournament:
The Play-In Tournament (new this year) is offically underway with the Pacers defeating the Hornets and the Celtics defeating the Wizards last night.
Tonight, we have some exciting matchups (and opportunities to bet). The Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs take on the Memphis Grizzlies.
Here are where the sharps are laying for the play-in games.
The sharps like the Lakers to win and to cover. They feel the same about the Grizzlies. They favor the Over in both matchups - these will likely be high scoring affairs.
Here are some picks from around the landscape if you're waffling:
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies:
Prediction: Grizzlies Win
Reasoning: Even if legendary Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has a game plan to slow down Morant, Memphis still has other options who can pick them up.
- Chris Mannix: Grizzlies
- Michael Pina: Grizzlies
- Howard Beck: Spurs
- Elizabeth Swinton: Grizzlies
- Jeremy Woo: Grizzlies
- Ben Pickman: Grizzlies
- Robin Lundberg: Grizzlies
- Michael Shapiro: Grizzlies
Why the Spurs Can Win?:
If this game is close at the end, who do you trust to carry their team to the finish line? I'm taking DeMar DeRozan's track record over Memphis and its' minus-6.2 net rating in the clutch this season.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers:
Prediction: Lakers Win
Reasoning: If anyone can slow down Curry, it’s the Lakers. LA ended the season with the league’s No. 1 defense. While they don’t have an ideal individual matchup for Curry, they do have some long and physical defenders who could make life difficult for him. James’ skill as a ‘free safety’ style help defender is the glue that holds the Lakers together.
- Chris Mannix: Lakers
- Michael Pina: Lakers
- Howard Beck: Lakers
- Elizabeth Swinton: Lakers
- Jeremy Woo: Lakers
- Ben Pickman: Warriors
- Robin Lundberg: Lakers
- Michael Shapiro: Lakers
Why the Warriors Can Win?:
Steph Curry is again the game's most potent scorer, the Warriors have reclaimed their defensive mojo (they boast a Top 5 defensive rating for the first time since 2016-17), and a more talented Lakers team still lacks the continuity needed for a one-game, high-pressure showdown. There's a hedge here on LeBron James' and Anthony Davis' health -- a fully good-to-go duo might be insurmountable -- but all signs point to the upset.
Not a lot of variance out there - the favorites are being picked, well, as the favorites. The one game nature of the play-in games make it anyone's game though. +190 on the Warriors might be just the ticket. Place bets accordingly.
Now, for the PGA Championship:
One of the most wide-open major championship fields in recent memory will tee it up this week on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island for the 2021 PGA Championship.
First, let's get the odds out of the way. McIlroy is favored in this one.
Here some picks from around the landscape.
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Justin Thomas (16-1) — I’ve walked during practice rounds the past couple days. The most important skill sets to playing well this week will be: Having precision with your irons and deft touch around the greens. Justin Thomas is not only one of the best iron players but one of the best chippers on tour.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst:Cameron Smith (35-1) — He’s flirted with a breakthrough win long enough. Like John Cena, his time is NOW. Since missing the cut at Torrey Pines the last week of January, Smith doesn’t have a finish worse than T-17 with a win and three top-10s over his past six starts. Everything is firing at an elite level except for his driving. It’s not like he can’t drive it well, it’s just been erratic. Figure that out for four rounds and the Aussie is live.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor:Dustin Johnson (18-1) — Johnson withdrew from the AT&T Byron Nelson due to what he cited as knee discomfort, but if was just precautionary, there’s a lot to like about the World No. 1. He has named Kiawah’s Ocean Course as one of his favorites in his home state, he thrives at Carolina and Pete Dye Courses courses overall, and he has been bogged down by a cold putter recently, which isn’t that uncommon for recent major winners entering their victory.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder:Jordan Spieth (16-1) — The sentiment for Spieth is growing by the minute, and it’s well-deserved. Since the start of 2021 he is gaining 2.03 strokes per round, the best mark on tour—and it’s not close. To put it into perspective, the gap between Spieth and the second-best golfer is the same gap from No. 2 to No. 10. He’s combining the approach play of Collin Morikawa with the short game of Matt Fitzpatrick. If you were to create the best golfer for the Ocean Course, it would be Jordan Spieth.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor:Jordan Spieth (16-1) — The creativity needed around Pete Dye courses and the Ocean Course plays into Spieth’s hands. And he can hit the shots he needs—it seems like he’s fully back. He has six top-10s in 2021, plus the win, and just a few big numbers cost him at the Masters. The three-time major winner has a great chance to complete the career Grand Slam this week.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor:Viktor Hovland (22-1) — My quick Viktor Hovland checklist for this week: Is he playing well? Yes (back-to-back third-place finishes). Does he play hard courses well? Yes. Those two thirds came at Quail Hollow and Innisbrook. He also finished second at Concession, fifth at Riviera and second at Torrey. Speaking of Torrey, is that a seaside course? Yes! So is Pebble, where he won a decent little amateur event a few years ago. Kiawah Island is tough, it’s seaside, and it’s paspalum grass, a surface Hovland got both of his two PGA Tour wins on. The knock - short game woes, but to that I’d say his short game has dramatically improved during this recent hot stretch for him, and if it’s sharp this week he will absolutely contend for his first major title.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports:Jordan Spieth (16-1) — Spieth’s game is absolutely where it needs to be right now to complete the career Grand Slam. He comes into this event ranked seventh for strokes gained/tee to green over the past two months and 12th for SG/putting over the past two years. He ranks 23rd in SG/total on courses that FanShare Sports has marked as comparable. It’s Spieth’s time.
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): Here we are. Four months ago, I would have howled at the idea of picking Spieth to win each of the first two majors of the year. He finished T3 a month ago at the Masters after I picked him there, and I'm going back to the well. I'm not sure anybody in the field combines elite iron play (only Justin Thomas has been better over the last six months) with a great short game (Spieth is gaining a stroke on the field on and around the greens over the last six months). If he drives it like he did at Augusta National (a decent-sized "if"), we'll be talking about the slam on Sunday evening.
Sleeper -- Charley Hoffman (150-1): Since missing the cut at the Phoenix Open, Hoffman has been on an absolute tear. He has six top-20 finishes in his last eight starts, including a T17 at The Players and a near-win at the Texas Open the week before the Masters. He's been absolutely flushing it, which is his M.O., and if he can somehow keep it up for just one more week, I think he could get in the mix on the weekend, which is all you're looking for from somebody who's 150-1.
Top 10 lock -- Daniel Berger: I badly wanted to pick Berger to win, but I couldn't quite do it. He's been so good this year -- only he and Spieth have a strokes-gained number above 2.0 for the year, and he finished great at the Byron Nelson last weekend. The thing I love best about him is that if he's in it late on the weekend, there's no retreat, no back down. He'll go to the mat with anybody in the field and love the entire process. That matters at majors maybe more than it does at other events.
Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: I will probably regret this one, but as always, the point of this is to pick the best player and biggest name who will not hold the trophy. I think the No. 1 player in the world qualifies. His game just has not been sharp in several months. And I'm always wary of him -- specifically him, actually -- flipping a switch in a hurry and turning it on for the biggest events, but I'm just not feeling it this week at Kiawah for some reason.
Surprise prediction: Several of the big hitters (Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm) will struggle. This might be the longest major championship of all-time, but it's not the type of course where you hit it as far as you can and then go hit it as far as you can again (like Bethpage Black was and Torrey Pines will be). One or more of those top guys will be just a bit off, and it will snowball in a hurry. Bombers can win here (and probably will), but it's going to play differently than you think when you hear "7,900 yards."
Lowest round: 66 (-6)
Winning score: 281 (-7)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (-2)
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner -- Bryson DeChambeau (16-1): Last year, I figured that the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park was the major most set up for the Big Golfer to dominate and the U.S. Open at Winged Foot would be a challenge for his style. Of course, I was wrong about the latter, as DeChambeau not only won but cruised with a final round 67 on a Sunday where no one else shot better than 70 to win by six strokes. But to review the T4 finish at last year's PGA Championship is to see a 10-under championship effort good enough to win most years, just not good enough to beat Collin Morikawa with that 65-64 weekend showing. While recent form has been up-and-down -- finishing outside the top 40 at The Masters and last week's AT&T Byron Nelson -- he's got a win this season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and top-10 finishes against stellar fields at The Players and the Wells Fargo Championship. The form is good, and he's a smart pick to win any PGA Championship but especially one that will require excellence off the tee.
Sleeper -- Matt Wallace (80-1): Wallace is having a really strong 2021 so far. He currently ranks inside the top 10 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained on approach and strokes gained tee-to-green after finishing solo third at the Texas Open in April and T6 at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month. Last time the PGA Championship was at Kiawah Island, we saw Euros all over the final leaderboard, but as impactful in my pick is Wallace's T3 finish at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, another bear of a course that required some length and strength off the tee.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: Too easy. The narratives this week are going to power a sentimental push for Rory to win, snapping his major drought at a course that featured one of his most dominant wins, but the most likely outcome is finishing on the first page of the leaderboard. It's an easy pick because you know there's multiple ways it could happen, either being in contention to win on Sunday afternoon or a backdoor top-10 finish after going low on a course he loves in the morning wave.
Star who definitely won't win — Dustin Johnson: Those who try to point to South Carolina connections as a reason the World No. 1 must have missed him fail to close at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head earlier this season. There's also the knee injury that caused him to withdraw from the Byron Nelson last week and a missed cut at the Masters. Improved play and a week off good health would be encouraging for Johnson, who hasn't cracked the top-10 since mid-February, but I'm not betting on there being enough improvement to win.
Surprise prediction: Five of the last six major champions have been first-time major winners with Johnson's Masters win in November 2020 as the only exception. That run will not continue here because I think the group of former major winners -- with motivation ranging from ending droughts to building on recent success -- is too strong compared to the contenders who have yet to win a major.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 278 (-10)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Kyle Boone, writer
Winner -- Xander Schauffele (22-1): The PGA Championship has been conquered by a first-time major winner four times since 2015, most recently with Collin Morikawa last year. It'd be fitting if Schauffele could continue that trend in 2021. He's quietly played some great golf this year with four top-five finishes and a T3 at the Masters, as well as a T14 at the Wells Fargo a week ago. I like his chances to be in the hunt and at 22-1; there is some excellent value there as well.
Sleeper -- Scottie Scheffler (40-1): It was at the PGA Championship a year ago that Scheffler really introduced himself to the greater golf scene with a T4 finish at TPC Harding Park. There, he put on a show of control as he maneuvered to his best major championship finish as part of a scorching finish to the year. And while he enters on a relatively cool streak by comparison (T47 and T29 at the Byron Nelson and Valspar, respectively), it feels like he's a bit of a gamer who tends to show up in big events. Just take his last two Masters finishes (both top-20) as an example, or even his showing at the PGA last year. If he finds a groove with the putter, he'll be in the mix this weekend, and you probably won't find many golfers in this range you could say that about at these odds.
Top 10 lock -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): No one feels like a safer contender to bet than Spieth as a top 10 lock because this year, regardless of event, he's mostly been a top 10 lock. Of the 10 events he's played in, six he finished in the top 10, five in the top five and one he won. He is playing as well as anyone on the PGA Tour right now.
Star who definitely won't win -- Brooks Koepka: At the Masters, Koepka was hobbling -- literally -- all over Augusta after opting to play despite a knee procedure the month prior. He missed the cut. That led to a five-week absence for the two-time PGA Championship winner, who at the Byron Nelson went 71-70 and missed the cut. It's hard to envision a world in which he goes from those two early exits to hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy this weekend.
Surprise prediction: Dustin Johnson misses the cut. D.J.'s odds have slipped from 10-1 to 20-1 to win, and that feels like a more accurate reflection of how he's entering Kiawah Island. While he's always got the goods to make a charge up the leaderboard and be in contention, particularly at the PGA Championship where he's finished top-two the last two years, he's not had the best year. He missed the cut at the Masters and is coming a just-OK T48 showing at the Valspar.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 276 (-12)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Jacob Hallex, producer
Winner -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): Maybe I've been working with Kyle Porter for too long, but I'm all in on Spieth to complete the career grand slam this week at Kiawah. Spieth has wandered out of the woods and is ready to win another major. His victory at the Texas Open put him over the mental hurdle of winning again on the PGA Tour. Spieth is the only player to gain more than 2 strokes per round this calendar year. He's also tightened up his off the tee game that plagued him on the road to recovery.
Sleeper -- Stewart Cink (125-1): Cink, 47, is tied with DeChambeau for most wins on the PGA Tour this season with a pair of victories each. Do you know what else this duo has in common? They both can hit the ball a country mile! That's right. On the PGA Tour, Cink is ranked inside the top 25 when it comes to driving distance. Cink currently has the same odds as invitee Rickie Fowler ... that's just disrespectful to our guy Stew!
Top 10 lock -- Matthew Fitzpatrick: When conditions get tough, there is one name you can almost always count on to grind it out. Fitzpatrick is playing excellent golf this year. The Englishman is gaining strokes in all categories which has translated to four top-10 finishes this season. Included in that is a T4 at the RBC Heritage, a Pete Dye designed water-side course on the South Carolina coast. Need I say more?
Star who definitely won't win -- Bryson DeChambeau: Several stars won't win this week because of lingering injuries. Koepka is still battling a bad knee; his appearances at the Masters and at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson prove that. Johnson withdrew from last week's tournament with knee discomfort; that's a red flag for me. I'll firmly go on record saying this isn't a great setup for Bryson. It's a long course which theoretically fits Bryson's eye, but I can't see him playing well at a place like the Ocean Course. He's never played all that well in Open Championships which this event could turn into. I'm out on the big boy this week.
Surprise prediction: Patrick Cantlay will miss the cut. It's tough to miss the cut at the PGA Championship when the field is loaded with club professionals. That gives you a great opportunity to fade a start at juicy odds if you're into that sort of thing. Right now, Cantlay is +200 to miss the cut at Kiawah. Cantlay is the No. 12 golfer in the world but has missed the cut in each of his past four stroke play events. At 2-1 odds, I think it's more than worth the wager to bet against Cantlay.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 280 (-8)
Winner's Sunday score: 67 (-5)
Don't feel like betting on Golf or the NBA? Here are the sharp bets in the MLB and NHL.
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How to look at this:
- This shows you where the bets (#) and the amount of money ($) are laying down across different bets.
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Do with it what you will!
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We'll see you again next week. Good luck out there!
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