2014 PGA Championship: Updated Odds After the Cut

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2014

2014 PGA Championship: Updated Odds After the Cut

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    After the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship, the man oddsmakers favored to lift the Wanamaker trophy is in prime position. Looking for his third win in as many starts, Rory McIlroy leads the field at nine under after two rounds. 

    An impressive bunch is nipping at the Ulsterman's heels, however, including Jason Day, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson

    A few notable players found themselves outside the cut line in Kentucky, including Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley and Jordan Spieth. 

    If the question entering the PGA Championship was "Will Rory McIlroy be able to win his second-straight major?" The answer after two rounds is, "It sure as heck looks like it. But how good are his chances?"

    And speaking of chances, who has the best hope of catching McIlroy?

    Click through to see.

    *The updated odds are mine based on an evaluation of consensus figures from Oddschecker. All stats via PGATour.com.

Ryan Palmer: -7

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    Reason to Buy: He's playing pretty well so far. Ryan Palmer slept on the lead after the opening round of this PGA Championship and shot a respectable one-under 70 in Round 2. He hasn't done anything to indicate he's not prepared to continue his strong play at Valhalla. 

    Reason to Sell: Palmer is in uncharted waters. Since turning pro in 2000, Palmer has one top 10 in 18 major starts. Even the best players in the world have to experience Sunday near the lead at a major a few times before they win one (think Rory McIlroy). Palmer simply hasn't had the relevant experiences to feel comfortable this weekend, and low comfort yields high scores. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 40-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: The golf gods have anointed him the dark-horse winner at the House of the Gods (which Valhalla roughly translates to in Norse) this year. And a couple of more 65s wouldn't hurt.

Lee Westwood: -5

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    Reason to Buy: His opening-round 65, in which he made nine birdies, sent a clear signal that the man with the most major starts without a victory has intentions of ridding himself of that designation this week. Although he leveled off in Round 2, the performance was indicative of the fact that Westy is firing on all cylinders in Kentucky. 

    Reason to Sell: The same as it always is with Westwood: his putting. Westy gained an incredible 3.04 strokes on the field with the flatstick Thursday but came back to earth Friday. One has to think he'll stay there (and thus well behind McIlroy) for the remainder of the week. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 36-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: He reprises his opening 65 twice more. Westwood is four strokes back of McIlroy entering Saturday, and will need some low scores to get the major monkey off his back.

Henrik Stenson: -5

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    Reason to Buy: During his second round, Henrik Stenson hit 67 percent of fairways and 66 percent of greens. Solid numbers, sure, but what was really impressive was the Swede's putting. Stenson, who traditionally struggles with the flatstick, picked up three strokes on the field with his putter.

    Reason to Sell: After an impressive opening-round five-under 66, Stenson cooled off during the second round, carding a 71. Unless he reignites the flame, he'll have no hope of chasing down McIlroy, and odds are his putting will regress to its traditional less-than-stellar mean. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 18-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: His putter gets hot, victory could be his. While there are more than 10 players between Stenson and McIlroy and the Swede will need help, lifting the Wanamaker is still a possibility. Thanks to his first-rate ballstriking, Stenson will hit enough greens to have a chance.

Phil Mickelson: -6

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    Reason to Buy: Phil Mickelson has expressed confidence his game is coming together. As he told TNT after his opening-round 69 "It was the first time in a long time I stood on the first tee...feeling like I had the game to compete and to win this week."

    When the second-best golfer of the last decade says he can compete, we take him at his word. 

    Reason to Sell: Mickelson hasn't had a top-10 finish so far this season, thanks in large part to his struggles with the putter. Mickelson is 78th in strokes gained-putting this year, per PGATour.com. The 78th-best putter on tour isn't winning this tournament. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 16-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: With more than five players separating Lefty and McIlroy, the former will need two things if he's going to win this tournament: birdies and a little help. 

Jim Furyk: -8

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    Reason to Buy: How many times can you knock at the door before someone answers? Jim Furyk has six top-15 finishes in major championships in the last three years. Statistics aside, isn't this guy due for a piece of hardware to go alongside his 2003 U.S. Open trophy? 

    Reason to Sell: Furyk has made a habit of faltering on Sunday. Most recently, he was unable to close the deal at the RBC Canadian Open. Even if he gets in position to win this tournament (doubtful), it's questionable whether he'll be able to steer the ship into port. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 10-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: he avoids a Sunday meltdown and duplicates his first-round 66, he'll be in the mix come Sunday. He picked up 2.2 strokes on the field with his putter during his second round. Reprising that performance Sunday could earn him a date with the Wanamaker. 

Rickie Fowler: -7

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    Reason to Buy: Rickie Fowler has stood out at the majors this year. And through two rounds at the 2014 PGA Championship, he's continuing that trend. And a second-round back-nine 33 suggests Fowler is primed to play well this weekend. 

    "I'd say each major I've felt more and more comfortable," said Fowler, according to USA Today's Christine Brennan. "It doesn't feel like a big stage. I feel like I'm out there having fun."

    Reason to Sell: This will begin to sound like a broken record. The main reason to sell Fowler, along with everyone else on this list, is simple: Rory McIlroy is playing too well to be beaten.

    Also, in the second round, Fowler hit just 58 percent of greens in regulation. If he continues to live dangerously, he'll struggle to scramble as well with weekend pin locations. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 15-2

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: Through 11 holes in his second round, Fowler made seven birdies. If he does the same and eliminates the bogeys, he'll be well-positioned for another Sunday showdown with McIlroy.

Jason Day: -8

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    Reason to Buy: Jason Day is establishing a reputation as a golfer who plays exceedingly well in majors (seven top 10s in 16 starts). He's hitting greens this week at an alarming rate (better than 80 percent), and his putter started heating up during the second round. 

    Reason to Sell: The pesky thumb injury that has bothered Day this year has the habit of plaguing him at the most inopportune times, such as at last month's Open Championship. If it hampers him again, his play will suffer.

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 7-1

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: Inflammation in the thumb stays down, swing speed stays up, balls fligh high and land softly on Valhalla's soft greens; all that and he beats McIlroy by two strokes in a 36-hole match.

Rory McIlroy: -9

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    Reason to Buy: McIlroy winning the PGA Championship is the easiest buy on this list. He's firing on all cylinders. He hit 57.1 percent of fairways in his second round and 61.1 percent of greens, and he's picking up more than a stroke on the field with the putter. Simply, McIlroy has been the best golfer in the field through two rounds. 

    Reason to Sell: McIlroy's meltdown during the final round of the 2011 Masters is becoming a distant memory. Still, the incident that year still serves as reminder that one bad hole (the 10th, which McIlroy triple bogeyed) can completely derail the golfer. Although it's a remote possibility, something similar could happen at Valhalla. 

    Updated Odds to Win PGA: 11-10

    He'll Hoist the Wanamaker Trophy If: He's about 85 percent as good as he has been through two days. 

    As Bill Fields of The New York Times wrote after McIlroy's second round: "McIlroy’s towering tee shots and all-around game mimic Woods at his best, but McIlroy has also demonstrated that hard-to-teach ability to stay close to the leaders with a burst of birdies after trouble."

    Such is the stuff of major champions and central reasons why McIlroy ought to hoist the Wanamaker this year.