FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — No, you weren’t having deja vu on Friday. Brooks Koepka really did torch Bethpage Black for the second day in a row.
But fear not, our degenerate friends. A runaway does NOT mean there aren’t plenty of wagers to still be made. How else are you supposed to make the weekend interesting?
Yes, Koepka is the heavy favorite following a second-round 65 that featured seven birdies and … GASP … two bogeys. But that just means there is more value as you make your way down the leader board and see who is chasing him. Can anyone catch him? It’s unlikely, but it’s possible, provided Koepka falters too. Unless someone has a pair of 65s in them, we doubt anyone’s catching him without help.
So, who do we think will finish second to Koepka? We polled our expert panel, including the best collection of golf-handicapping expertise, thanks to a partnership with the Action Network, a leader in premium handicapping data; a PGA Tour caddie, offering insight from the range and putting green at Bethpage, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; 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:
Outright winner: Justin Rose (+3300, DraftKings) Bet $10 to win $330— Well, it happened. Hulk definitely smashed today and achieved the lowest 36-hole total in major championship history. The only thing stopping Brooks at this point is a rules infraction ala David Lipsky, or a Friday-evening slip on the stairs like his bash bro, Dustin Johnson. Joking aside, it looks like nothing is getting in the way of Brooks defending another major victory. This should be a competition for second place and cashing a check with more zeros on Sunday evening may be the only saving grace for these professionals. If you’re feeling frisky and want to dabble in someone ‘catching’ Brooks, Justin Rose at +3300 is an enticing number. Rose finished inside the top-10 today with a solid round shooting 67 by gaining just under six strokes through ball striking. Rose hasn’t played the best in his recent majors with a missed cut at Augusta earlier this season, but he obviously has the talent to climb up the leaderboard this weekend. Coming into this tournament, Rose ranked top-five in birdie or better gained over the last 36 rounds and inside the top-30 in fairways gained this week.
If you’re book offers top-five/top-10 odds, take advantage as Rose (+200 for Top 5) has a top-three finish at every major and Brooks’ scoring has been elite on the weekends over his past three major victories. — Reid Fowler, DraftKings expert
Low finisher without Brooks Koepka: Xander Schauffele (+2800, DraftKings) — Because of Brooks Koepka’s dominance, you should be able to find these “bet without Brooks” bets on whatever book you use. This gives you a chance to bet on another guy to just come in second to Koepka, assuming he goes on to win (we know what happens when we assume). This bet makes the weekend a lot more interesting, and a guy I have my eye on is Xander Schauffele at +2800. Remember where he was after Friday at the Masters? Me either. Remember where he ended up? T-2 with a guy by the name of Brooks Koepka. Xander has been a savage at the majors in his young career, and I expect another strong weekend performance from him. At one under for the tournament, he’s just four back of second, which is ground he has the talent to make up on moving day. Gimme the X man with all this value up in here. — Christopher Powers, Golf Digest
Low finisher without Brooks Koepka: Justin Rose (+850, Betfair) — With eyes on Brooks Koepka’s domination, Jordan Spieth’s revival, and Tiger Woods’ missed cut, Rose has quietly played great golf through two rounds. He ranks fifth in strokes gained/tee to green so far and is sixth in strokes gained/ball striking, which combines strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach, according to FantasyNational.com. — Brandon Gdula, NumbersFire
Low finisher without Brooks Koepka: Erik Van Rooyen (+1000) — Behind Koepka, Van Rooyen leads the entire field in strokes gained/ball striking and is quite a value at long odds like this. At -2, EVR is tied for tenth entering the weekend and is just three strokes back from Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott (-5). — BG
Patrick Cantlay to finish top 10 (+275), Patrick Cantlay to finish top 5 (+750) — Patrick Cantlay is the weekend warrior I need after the shellacking on Friday. Ranking third in round three scoring and 23rd in round four scoring average, Cantlay should play well this weekend and also don’t mind rostering him at $9,200 in weekend showdown contests on DraftKings. Even though he’s lost two strokes putting this week, we should be able to trust him to stay away from the big numbers as he ranks 26th in greens in regulation so far and seventh in three-putt avoidance over the last 36 rounds coming into this week. — RF
Top Englishman: Matt Wallace (+300, DraftKings) — DK always has these top golfer nationality bets, and I never dabble. That changes now. I think this is a big weekend in the career of Matt Wallace, who ranks 31st in the world, an impressive standing considering he’s still somewhat unknown. But that’s because he spends the bulk of his time on the European Tour, where he’s won four times since 2017. He almost picked up a fifth last week at the British Masters, finishing T-2. He’s impressed in his limited starts on the PGA Tour this season as well, including finishing T-6 at Bay Hill. While this is only the second time he’s made a cut in a major in six tries, I think he’ll seize the opportunity. He’s fiery, which could play well to the weekend crowd at Bethpage. As of now, he’s the top Englishman on the board, and yet is still the third favorite for top Englishman behind Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose. I’ll take my chances with Wallace at that solid +300 number. — CP
Third-round matchup: Tony Finau (-136) over Emiliano Grillo — My model favors Tony Finau by a full stroke for the third round, which is worth paying the price. Finau’s advantage in length will be the difference here. He’ll be eyeing up a low round to get back into contention, and he certainly has the firepower to back here. — Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University
FanDuel Weekend Golf Value Picks from Brandon Gdula
Jason Kokrak ($8,900) – Kokrak leads all cut-makers in strokes gained/off the tee (+3.5) and ranks 13th in approach (+3.5). He’s been a mess on the greens, but that’s the type of profile we can buy into for weekend golf: guys putting themselves in position but not converting on the green.
Max Homa ($8,500) – Homa finds himself third in ball-striking in the entire field but has lost 4.3 strokes on the greens. He’s a strong value pick with that profile.
Erik Van Rooyen ($7,900) – As noted above, EVR ranks second in ball-striking behind Koepka and is a massive value that lets us roster studs, including Koepka, Johnson, and Rose.