Unfortunately, for fans hoping for some compelling theater on Sunday at Bethpage Black, they aren’t going to get it. Brooks Koepka has locked this thing up and thrown the key all the way into the Long Island sound. He leads by a whopping seven strokes heading into the final round, and will almost surely win his fourth major in his last eight tries, an absolutely staggering accomplishment that’s already being put into perspective by many in the golf media despite the fact he hasn’t actually finished the thing off yet.
For those looking for some action, you came to the right place to find it. The race for second can still be gripping television with a little bit of your hard-earned cash on it, and there is plenty of value among the host of players who will all be letting it rip tomorrow as they look to go as low as possible. What else do guys like Jordan Spieth (nine back), Dustin Johnson (seven back) and Xander Schauffele (nine back) have to lose?
Who do we like to grab the silver medal? We polled our expert panel, including a group of golf’s most well-respected fantasy experts, Reid Fowler of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf. Here’s the value they found after Round 2:
Winner without Brooks Koepka: Xander Schauffele (+1200, FanDuel) Bet $10 to win $120 — Xander is one round from yet another really strong outing at a major. Starting Sunday two back from a foursome at -5, Schauffele has brought his all-around game to Bethpage, ranking top-30 in all four strokes gained areas through 54 holes. At twice the odds of Hideki Matsuyama to finish behind Koepka, Schauffele looks like a stellar value play. — Brandon Gdula, NumbersFire
Winner without Brooks Koepka: Jordan Spieth (+1600, FanDuel) — I’ve made some stupid bets in my life, some really stupid ones, like Cleveland Browns on the road against the Houston Texans money line stupid (real thing that happened in my life last NFL season). After watching how Jordan Spieth hit the ball on Saturday, this might rank right up there in my all-time stupid wagers. The guy was slinging hooks all over the place, and somehow still shot 72. Imagine what he would have shot if he, ya know, hit the ball well? I’m banking on him doing just that tomorrow, which will set him up with plenty of birdie looks that he has no choice but to be aggressive with. At three under, he’ll likely need something in the 64-66 range to leap frog Dustin Johnson and cash this bet, so it’s a big ask. I just think this is the best value play on the board, especially for a three-time major champ with nothing to lose on Sunday. — Christopher Powers, Golf Digest
Winner without Brooks Koepka: Patrick Cantlay (+1600, FanDuel) — Cantlay enters at -3 on Sunday and grades out fourth in ball-striking and 19th around the green. Only Dustin Johnson has struck the ball better among golfers ahead of Cantlay on the leaderboard, and he’s added strokes off the tee and via approach shots in every round so far. He’s locked in. — BG
Winner without Brooks Koepka: Erik Van Rooyen (+8000, FanDuel) — I was on EVR much of the weekend, and that remains while he’s a long shot. He gained 1.9 strokes tee-to-green on Saturday. On the full tournament, he still ranks second in ball-striking behind only Brooks Koepka. The putter has let him down, but long odds to make up three strokes isn’t the worst punt play on a weekend where Koepka just won’t let up. — BG
Top 10 and Top 5: Lucas Glover (+500 for top 10, +1800 for top 5, DraftKings) — Bethpage played extremely tough on Saturday with the top eight averaging a score of 69 (-1) and Harold Varner III carding the best round of the day shooting a 67 (-3). We should expect much of the same and I’ll only be looking at golfers who have long enough odds and are in an arm’s length to hopefully nab a top 10. After starting with a two-over 72 on Thursday, Lucas Glover was able to shoot a one-under 69 on both Friday and Saturday to get him inside the top 20 coming into the final round. His back-to-back scores in the red were most likely attributed to his improvement in strokes-gained approach from the previous round and solid putting splits. Glover ranks 26th in fairways gained in difficult scoring conditions relative to par and was able to gain strokes in all key statistical strokes gained categories today with exception to off-the-tee where he broke even (0). Glover ranks 21st on tour in round four scoring average coming into this week and we’ll need to depend on his elite ball striking and his bogey avoidance in difficult scoring conditions where he ranks 31st over the last 36 rounds. — Reid Fowler, DraftKings expert
Top 5: Rickie Fowler (+840, FanDuel) — This is such a prime spot for a Rickie Fowler Sunday 65 that vaults him into the top 5 and has everyone saying “man, he’s going to get one of these one of these days!” Sorry if that sounds mean, but it’s true. And I’m a Fowler guy, which is what makes him so frustrating. It’s always “almost” with this guy. And no, even if he does fire a 65, it’s by no means an “almost” win considering he’ll still be eight or nine back of Koepka, but it’d be so typical for Rickie to add another “T-4” to the majors section of his Wikipedia page. — CP
Top South African: Erik Van Rooyen (+175, DraftKings) — It’s not just the finishing positions I like about Erik Van Rooyen (T12) over Louis (T22) tomorrow, EVR is just playing better. Oosthuizen has name value along with more experience in majors as well as a victory at the 2010 Open Championship, but EVR has been playing incredible golf all week gaining 10 strokes ball striking, second to only Brooks. EVR has lost strokes putting in two of the last three days and is still in the hunt for a top-five/top-10 finish while Louis is struggling to make birdies converting only eight so far this week. — RF
Final-round matchup: Rickie Fowler (-177) over Sung Kang — My model favors Rickie Fowler over Sung Kang by almost two full strokes on Sunday at Bethpage Black. That, plus Fowler’s experience in majors (10 top 10s, three runner-ups), is enough to lay that kind of number. Kang, on the other hand, has only one top 20 in his five major appearances. Fowler loves to post a low number from the back of the pack on Sundays at majors. I expect something similar to happen tomorrow. — Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University