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2018 PGA Championship Odds: Dustin Johnson is an Underrated Favorite

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in Golf

Updated Mar 27, 2020 · 9:50 AM PDT

Jason Day PGA Championship
After Dustin Johnson, Jason Day is the former champion with the best odds to win the 2018 PGA Championship. Photo by Omar Rawlings (Flickr) [CC License].
  • We examine the odds on this weekend’s PGA Championship, the last major of the year
  • Dustin Johnson might be underrated at +800
  • Tiger Woods’ major decline started at the PGA Championship. Maybe it will end there as well?

The 100th PGA Championship tees off on Thursday at Bellerive Country Club. Dustin Johnson is the betting favortie, at +800, but how does he stack up against the field?

2018 PGA Championship Odds

Player Odds
Dustin Johnson +800
Rory McIlroy +1200
Justin Thomas +1200
Jason Day +1800
Brooks Koepka +2000
Jordan Spieth +2200
Rickie Fowler +2200
Justin Rose +2200
Jon Rahm +2800
Tiger Woods +2800

We’ve been tracking these odds since April, and you can see how they evolve at our PGA Championship Odds Tracker.

You already know how I feel about Jordan Spieth. You probably already know how I feel about Rickie Fowler too.

Justin Thomas won last weekend, in dramatic fashion, and would be the favorite if the course didn’t line up so well with Dustin Johnson’s many skills. Jason Day also isn’t to be counted out: the 2015 champion is quietly having a great year and is due for another great result.

Dustin Johnson at +800?

The immensely boring man at the top of the OWGR leaderboard right now is listed at +800 to win at Bellerive, and I think that’s a soft number.

Tiger Woods’ run from 2004-2009 was the most dominant run in the history of golf, and cemented his reputation as the best golfer in history. Here’s how Dustin Johnson’s performance in 2018 stacks up:

Player Strokes Gained, Total SG, Off the Tee SG, Approach SG, Around Green SG, Putting
Tiger Woods, 2004-2009 +2.89 +0.58 +1.34 +0.24 +0.73
Dustin Johnson, 2018 +2.729 +1.136 +0.794 +0.232 +0.567

It’s not a bad comparison, and it’s the closest to peak Tiger anyone’s ever got. The really scary part is when you start adding up tee-to-green stats, the sum of strokes gained off-the-tee and strokes gained on approach.

Player Strokes Gained, Tee-to-Green
Dustin Johnson, 2018 +1.93
Tiger Woods, 2004-2009 +1.92

DJ and Tiger Woods are getting to the green in different ways: Dustin Johnson is more effective off the tee and Tiger is better on approach. However, Dustin Johnson is slightly more effective when you combine those two skills.

How Does Bellerive Suit Dustin Johnson?

We can’t be sure because the course hasn’t hosted a PGA Tour event since 2004 (The BMW Championship) and it was redesigned in 2005 by Rees Jones.  We do know, however, that it’s long (almost 7,500 yards from the tips), has long par fours (the tenth is 519 yards), and that the greens are unusually soft this week. Add this all up and you get Dustin Johnson, the world’s leading proponent of bomb and gouge.

Here’s how DJ does on long par fours:

And here’s how DJ deals with doglegs over water, like 2 at Bellerive:

Tiger Woods’ Name Appears Here for SEO Purposes

The long saga of Tiger Woods’ decline had a real turning point at the 2009 PGA Championship, where he led after 54 holes, played an uninspiring back 9, and lost to Y.E. Yang and his wild antics.

Brendan Porath has a great write-up of Tiger’s last best chance to win a 15th major on SBNation, and you should read it.

How will Tiger do this weekend? Hopefully better than last weekend, in which he shot a bunch of 73s and disappointed everyone. His start was promising, 66 and 68 are encouraging, but he’ll need four good rounds to win this weekend. I wouldn’t bet on him, you’ll just never get fair odds, but I wouldn’t count him out, either.

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