PGA Championship 2016 Odds: Favorites to Win the Wanamaker Trophy

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2016

PGA Championship 2016 Odds: Favorites to Win the Wanamaker Trophy

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The pace of the majors on the PGA Tour calendar succumbs to gravity like no other this year.

    For the first four months of the season, it's a long march uphill to the Masters, pushing that major piece of granite to the top. A little over eight weeks later, we get the U.S. Open. From there, it’s as if the PGA Tour has had enough with waiting, as the rock gathers up a full tank of Newtonian inertia on its way down the hill.

    The Open Championship takes place a month after the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship just two weeks after the British. For the impatient five-year-old in us all, the final major of the year arrives right on time following that thrilling two-horse race at Royal Troon.

    As a result of their epic duel at the British Open, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson get a bump in odds for the PGA Championship, according to Odds Shark. But who else among the field will be favored heading into Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey?

    Let's look at 10 of the top favorites for the 2016 PGA Championship and why these men have a chance at winning another major (or in the case of Rickie Fowler, his first). 

10. Rickie Fowler

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Money Line: +3900

    Best PGA Championship Finish: T3 (2014)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Masters: Cut

    U.S. Open: Cut

    Open Championship: T46

    Why He’ll Win

    Rickie Fowler is seventh in the Official World Golf Rankings, but should he be a favorite to win the PGA Championship?

    It’s a tough call, because Fowler appears capable of winning the most high-profile of tournaments at any moment, but he has yet to break through in a major. The Associated Press noted (h/t USA Today):

    Recent history would not seem to favor Fowler because only one player since 2004 has won the PGA Championship without having previously won that year. On the other hand, he could finally deliver when no one expects it. He went low at Baltusrol during a game with Jordan Spieth last August.

    Fowler believers may cite his magical 2014 season, where he finished inside the top five in all four majors. As impressive as that was, it happened two years ago, and the 27-year-old hasn't reached those heights in majors since.

    He’s a hard sell as a favorite, but he apparently likes Baltusrol, which can't be dismissed.

9. Bubba Watson

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Money Line: +3300

    Best PGA Championship Finish: Second (2010)

    How He Fared in This Year's Majors

    Masters: T37

    U.S. Open: T51

    Open Championship: T39

    Why He'll Win

    It's challenging to endorse Bubba Watson in the PGA Championship.

    His play on the course has been uninspiring, to put it mildly. He hasn't won a tournament since February's Northern Trust Open and has only tallied three top-10 finishes in 13 events this season.

    Watson's best finish since taking sole possession of second place at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March was a tie for 14th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Beyond that, he hasn't cracked the top 20.

    In 2016, he has played a slate of tournaments based entirely on money, prestige and legacy. The only non-WGC, non-major he has played since winning the Northern Trust Open five months ago was the Memorial.

    Why will he win? He had that second-place finish back at the 2010 PGA Championship, but since then, he has done no better than a tie for 11th in 2012.

    There are bigger long shots on the board, such as Branden Grace and Danny Willett, who make for better bets to win this tournament this year.

8. Adam Scott

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Money Line: +3300

    Best PGA Championship Finish: T3 (2006)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Masters: T42

    U.S. Open: T18

    Open Championship: T43

    Why He’ll Win

    With two wins and two second-place finishes, it’s hard to believe Adam Scott hasn’t been more competitive in majors this year.

    That could change given his relative degree of success in the season’s final major.

    Scott has played in this event every year since 2001 and has four top-10 finishes, with his best outing, a tie for third, having in 2006.

    The Aussie started 2016 about as hot as a golfer can with back-to-back wins in the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship. Since then, he hasn’t been as sharp, but he has made the cut in every PGA Tour event he's played this year.

    Scott ranks first in tee-to-green strokes gained, first in approaches and third in total strokes gained. Numbers like that could put him in a late Sunday pairing.

7. Justin Rose

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Money Line: +2800

    Best PGA Championship Finish: T3 (2012)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Masters: T10

    U.S. Open: Cut

    Open Championship: T22

    Why He’ll Win

    Justin Rose, like eight of the nine other golfers featured here, has a major championship to his credit. That came at the U.S. Open back in 2013.

    At this year’s Open Championship, he felt he performed better than his result (T22) indicated.

    "I really felt like I played great golf. I would say all week I've felt like I've played really well without much reward," he told reporters afterward.

    Rose's disastrous 77 on Friday extinguished his chances of keeping pace with Stenson and Mickelson at the Open, but he rebounded nicely on Saturday and Sunday with two rounds of 70. He now enters a major where he has experienced some degree of success.

    In 2015, he finished by himself in fourth place, and in 2012, he shared a tie for third. The potential to shoot low in this tournament is there. He merely needs to avoid the kind of play he brought to the PGA Championship from 2009 to 2011, when he missed three straight cuts.

6. Phil Mickelson

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    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Money Line: +1800

    Best PGA Championship Finish: First (2005, at Baltrusol)

    How He Fared in This Year's Majors

    Masters: Cut

    U.S. Open: Cut

    Open Championship: Second

    Why He'll Win

    If Phil Mickelson tees it up in a major at this point, he's just as likely to miss the cut by five strokes as he is to make a spirited off-into-the-sunset run at a sixth major championship. See Exhibit A: the 2016 Open Championship.

    His only win in the PGA Championship came in 2005 at Baltrusol, so who would be surprised if Mickelson puts together another divine four days of golf?

    By virtue of his second-place finish behind Stenson at the Open Championship, Mickelson moved into second place all time with 11 runner-up finishes at majors. Afterward, he told reporters:

    It's disappointing to come in second, but I'm happy for Henrik. He's really a great champion. We've been friends for some time. I've always thought that he is one of the best ball-strikers in the game and that major championships are perfectly suited for him. I knew that he would ultimately come through and win. I'm happy that he did. I'm disappointed that it was at my expense.

    Looking at Mickelson's past performances does little for predicting future efforts. Based on how he fared at this year's first two majors, you would have been crazy to bet on him for the Open. He then proceeded to shoot 63 to start that tournament and kept that pace up until the end when Stenson eclipsed him.

    Nothing about Mickelson makes sense. It's a matter of gut when it comes to Lefty. Gut and guts.

5. Henrik Stenson

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Money Line: +1400

    Best PGA Championship Finish: Third (2013, 2014)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Master: T24

    U.S. Open: W/D

    Open Championship: First

    Why He’ll Win

    A golfer has gone back-to-back in the final two majors of the season only five times in the last 25 years, per the APTiger Woods did it twice and Rory McIlroy did it in 2014, with Padraig Harrington and Nick Price rounding out this foursome.

    So this seems like a largely European thing, no? Woods was his own beast, but the other three are United Kingdom all the way. Stenson, hailing from Sweden, would fit the foreign bill.

    After his thrilling victory over Mickelson at the Open Championship, the majors monkey is now off his back, too. That has a way of turning a player loose, as it releases the pressure that comes with being the best player without a major.

    T.J. Auclair of PGA.com pondered, “All told, the PGA Championship has been one of Stenson's best majors performance-wise. He's finished third twice (2013 and '14), was T8 in 2008 and T6 in 2009. Will the Open win serve as an opening of floodgates for Stenson in the majors?"

    That’s the question. Opening the floodgates may be an overstatement, but it could be the difference between folding late or closing the tournament the way he did so brilliantly at Royal Troon.

4. Jordan Spieth

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    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Money Line: +1400

    Best PGA Championship Finish: Second (2015)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Masters: T2

    U.S. Open: T37

    Open Championship: T30

    Why He’ll Win

    Could it be that Jordan Spieth, who has antifreeze in his veins in place of blood, has not fully recovered from his back-nine meltdown at Augusta National Golf Club?

    It's tough to say. Since then, he won the Dean & Deluca Invitational and finished in a tie for third at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which perhaps suggests he isn't fazed by that collapse at the Masters.

    "I think it's been a solid year, and I think had last year not happened, I'd be having a lot of positive questions," Spieth told reporters after the British Open. "Instead, most of the questions I get are comparing to last year and negative because it's not to the same standard."

    His worst major finish in 2015 was a T4 at the Open Championship. At the age of 23, he may have already had the best season he ever will.

    But after a relatively tepid run through this year’s majors, you’d be silly to discount Spieth entirely in the PGA Championship. He still has plenty of good golf ahead of him, as he told reporters following the Open:

    Just getting three majors in my career would be special. That week at the PGA Championship alone could become one of the most special weeks I've ever had. So that's what we're focused on is grinding for that. There is a big focus on the end of this year with certainly a ton to play for. Tons to play for. A lot of golf left even though it certainly is kind of going by quickly, as we play a couple [majors] in three weeks.

3. Jason Day

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Money Line: +900

    Best PGA Championship Finish: First (2015)

    How He Fared in This Year's Majors

    Masters: T10

    U.S. Open: T8

    Open Championship: T22

      

    Why He'll Win

    The No. 1 golfer in the world won this tournament last year with masterful, near-flawless play. It was a win that launched him into the same stratosphere as McIlroy, Spieth and Johnson.

    His recent hot streak has only ramped up the pressure on him, as he told reporters last week:

    It's coming into the crunch time for me pressure-wise, because being kind of the favorite going into each tournament and expectation levels are high and then all that amounts to pressure you put on yourself and stress you put on yourself. You've got to somehow manage yourself, manage your ego; then somehow execute the shot, execute the gameplan, and go out there and try to win.

    Johnson is the only golfer on the PGA Tour to surpass Day's play this year. Day ranks first in strokes gained from putting and fourth in scoring average.

    On top of that, he—like most golfers featured here—plays with the confidence that winning majors brings.

    "I can't get too complacent with where I'm at," Day told reporters last week. "I know that I'm currently ranked the best player in the world but I need to work hard. I need to work harder than I ever have before to keep that spot."

2. Rory McIlroy

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    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Money Line: +900

    Best PGA Championship Finish: First (2012, 2014)

    How He Fared in This Year's Majors

    Masters: T10

    U.S. Open: Cut

    Open Championship: T5

    Why He'll Win

    It's hard to believe two years have elapsed since McIlroy won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship.

    "All I can do is keep plugging away," McIlroy told reporters after the British Open. "It's really close. I'm staying positive about it. I feel like good things are happening. If I can drive the ball like I did this week at Baltusrol and sharpen up a few bits and pieces, I think I'll be right there."

    In some ways, McIlroy has been relegated to the backburner with the recent play of Spieth, Day and Johnson. The only way for him to get back into the forefront of golf fans' minds is to win majors.

    He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but McIlroy finished in the top 10 in the other two majors this year.

    McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained off the tee and first in birdie average. If he does manage to sharpen up a few bits and pieces, he could win an amazing third PGA championship at the age of 27. 

1. Dustin Johnson

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Money Line: +800

    Best PGA Championship Finish: T5 (2010)

    How He Fared in This Year’s Majors

    Masters: T4

    U.S. Open: First

    Open Championship: T9

    Why He’ll Win

    Gone are the days when Dustin Johnson would collapse during a major. He’s perhaps the supreme talent on the PGA Tour, and he’s playing like it this year.

    Maybe he lacked the necessary focus to be the dominant talent of his generation, but ever since his leave of absence to close out 2014, he’s been on a world-beating tear.

    Johnson hasn’t finished outside the top 10 this year in the majors, with the U.S. Open marking his first major win. Especially important was his capacity to put his infamous three-putt at Chambers Bay in 2015 behind him, coming back a year later and winning the U.S. Open.

    T.J. Auclair of PGA.com wrote, "Though it took some time to win his first major championship, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Johnson become a multiple major winner when the week is through at Baltusrol. It seems no one in the game is more confident than Johnson at the moment."

    How could he not, with 12 top-10 finishes in 17 PGA Tour events this season? That includes two victories and two runner-ups.

    Stats courtesy of PGATour.com.

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