PGA Championship expert picks to win, sleepers to watch at Kiawah Island

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning last year's PGA Championship.

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This is a story about how great I am. 

I’ll stop typing for a second to hear the sound of a million mice clicking away. … OK, let’s continue.

Collin Morikawa wasn’t the only winner at last year’s PGA Championship. I was. And so was Jessica Marksbury. In this space last August, we picked Morikawa to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy, and, if you ask me, it was impressive as Morikawa’s drive-the-green tee shot on 16 at Harding Park. Maybe better, if we’re being totally honest.

I’ll stop typing for a second to relax my tiny neck as it struggles to hold my giant head. … OK, let’s continue.

But four paragraphs are all I’ll give me and Marksbury. This year’s PGA Championship tees off Thursday at Kiawah Island. And in the prognostication business, you’re only as good as your next pick.

All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy a linked product, GOLF.COM may earn a fee. Pricing may vary.


Sign up for ESPN+ now to catch 12 hours of exclusive coverage of the first and second rounds, early weekend coverage, featured groups and much, much more from the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

We, along with members of our staff, have each made a to-win and sleeper bet using odds from DraftKings to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook or through free-to-play Chirp Golf, an app from our parent company that is available in the App Store and at Google Play.       

On to our expert picks — and info on how to bet for free. 

Expert picks 

The sportsbook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
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Alan Bastable 

To-win: Abraham Ancer, +5,500. Few players have been steadier over the past two months, with no finishes outside of the top 30 in his past eight starts — including a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow and a fifth at Innisbrook in his past two starts. Ancer will get his first PGA Tour win in 2021 — why not at a major? If you don’t pick him to win, be sure to grab him at +450 to top-10.

Sleeper pick: Cameron Tringale, +11,000. Took a hit at the Wells Fargo with an MC, but he finished T3, T9, T13 in his three starts before that. His third at the RSM Classic, at Sea Island, last fall proved he’s comfortable on breezy oceanside courses.

Josh Berhow 

To-win: Patrick Reed, +3,500. I like a gritty player with a strong short game to win this week, so Patrick Reed immediately grabs my attention. He’s second on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting and is one of the best/craftiest players around the greens, too. It’s also a major, and he rarely struggles in the big ones. He’s been no worse than T13 in his past four major starts.

Sleeper pick: Marc Leishman, +7,000. The Ocean Course is long, difficult and a windy place to play golf, but it’s a course that fits Leishman well. He’s talked several times before about learning to play in the wind while growing up in blustery Warrnambool, Australia, and he actually prefers a ball flight that’s low and that he can work both ways. His stats from this season won’t jump off the page, but he’s played well lately (T28 or better in his past four, including a win) and should have a good chance this week.

James Colgan 

To-win: Brooks Koepka, +5,000. Is Brooks Koepka fully healthy? Probably not! He looked hobbled (and not at all himself) in his performance at the Masters, which is a smart reason to stay away from him. That said, +5,000 odds for a player six months removed from contending for a PGA three-peat? That value might just be worth the risk.

Sleeper pick: Gary Woodland, +10,000. The last time we entered a seaside major championship where everything hinged on a stiff breeze, Gary Woodland won by three strokes. If the wind stays home, there are worse bets than Woodland, who’s see-sawed a bit of late, but has two top-10s in the past two months.  

Dylan Dethier 

To-win: Xander Schauffele, +1,700. This PGA is particularly interesting because none of the front runners come in without some extra baggage. Was Xander Schauffele allergic to the lead on Sunday at Augusta? Sure. But he still might be the best player in the game. This is the week he climbs the mountain. (But maybe sprinkle in a top 10 bet just to make sure. …)

Sleeper pick: Max Homa, +17,500. This pick is justifiable on its own — Homa has big-time game — but Homa’s fill-in caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, is the X-factor that could propel him to the big-time this week. Sometimes these guys need a little tweak in their routine to focus them in. Caddies don’t matter a ton, except when they do.

Jessica Marksbury 

To-win: Rory McIlroy, +1,150. I just can’t imagine anyone having a better chance than Rory this week. Not only is he fresh off a victory at Quail Hollow, he’s a former champion at this very venue, and the ultra-long course seems like it will suit him even better (if that’s even possible) this time around. Bring on major victory No. 5!

Sleeper pick: Matt Jones, +17,500. The Aussie has had some great performances on tough golf courses this year (T8 at the Genesis, a win at the Honda). He’s a perfect sleeper this week!

Zephyr Melton 

To-win: Jordan Spieth, +1,500. Jordan Spieth is back to doing Jordan Spieth things, and it feels like this is finally his time to complete the career grand slam. The small tweaks he made in his swing are paying dividends, and with the championship contested at the windblown Kiawah Resort, I like the shot-making Texan’s chances to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday. 

Sleeper pick: Garrick Higgo, +14,000. Garrick Higgo might not be a familiar name to American fans, but the South African has been one of the hottest golfers in the world this spring. He owns two wins and two top 10s in his past four starts on the European Tour, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he keeps up his hot streak on U.S. soil. 

Ryan Palmer hits out of the sand during last year's Charles Schwab Challenge.
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Nick Piastowski 

To-win: Matthew Fitzpatrick, +6,000. The major breakthrough happens this week. And when I looked at the 2012 leaderboard and saw three Englishmen in the top six (and Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland winning), this pick began to look really good to me. (Could also be a sleeper at those odds.) 

Sleeper pick: Lee Westwood, +11,000. I don’t think he’s a sleeper, but the odds say he is. The career renaissance is capped by his first major win. 

Tim Reilly 

To-win: Dustin Johnson, +1,850. I still feel that we’re bound to get a run in DJ’s career where he rolls off a few major victories. I still have faith the ’20 Masters was the start of it, and it will pick up at the ’21 PGA Championship. 

Sleeper pick: Rickie Fowler, +17,500. We’ve come a long way with Rickie that he’s now considered a long shot. For years, Fowler entered each major with a cloud over his head as the “best player to never win a major.” After he watched the Masters at home, I’m counting on Rickie playing with extra purpose this week.

Claire Rogers 

To-win: Rory McIlroy, +1,150. The new father secured his first win since November of 2019 at the Wells Fargo Championship last weekend, and he won the PGA Championship by eight (!) at Kiawah in 2012. His game is trending in the right direction, and I’m expecting a good week for the Northern Irishman.

Sleeper pick: Shane Lowry, +10,000. The 2019 Open Champion has proven he can compete in windy conditions. He finished eighth at the Players and T9 at the RBC Heritage, so I’m eager to see how his game will play at Kiawah this week.

Josh Sens 

To-win: Daniel Berger, +3,000. Lots of talk this week about the Ocean Course playing nearly 8,000 yards. Big whoop. I’m betting that bombing it will matter less than plain old grit. I’ll take the great putter who doesn’t have an ounce of quit. Not to mention a guy who has been rock solid all year.

Sleeper pick: Jason Kokrak, +13,000. It’s been a quietly strong season for the veteran, who has added a much-improved short game to his power repertoire.

Andrew Turksy 

To-win: Patrick Reed, +3,500. Reed is a grinder who navigates windy conditions well with a relatively low ball flight. That’s not a bad combination for success on an Ocean Course that typically sees high winds and unpredictable conditions. He’s also in decent form coming off a T6 at the Wells Fargo and a T8 at the Masters over his past three events (although he did miss the cut at the Valspar).

Sleeper pick: Joel Dahmen, +35,000. Dahmen captured his first PGA Tour win at the 2021 Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in March, and he finished T10 in last year’s PGA Championship. Taking sleeper picks is always a bit risky, but Dahmen should be coming into this week with confidence he can win. His happy-go-lucky attitude may also work well at the Ocean Course, where being able to roll with the punches can be invaluable.

Jonathan Wall

To-win: Viktor Hovland, +2,000. Has the game and mindset to handle whatever Kiawah throws at the players this week. And with back-to-back T3 finishes heading into the PGA, he’s peaking at the right time. Hovland has the pedigree to win at least a couple of majors during his career. It starts this week.  

Sleeper pick: Garrick Higgo, +14,000. The 21-year-old lefty is on an absolute heater at the moment, with two wins in his past three European Tour starts. The PGA Championship is a completely different beast, but I have a weird feeling he’s going to contend in his first major. 

Sean Zak 

To-win: Daniel Berger, +3,000. It’s time for the Class of 2011 to bag another one. Berger’s best golf has come in the past 12 months. Let’s see it! 

Sleeper pick: K.H. Lee, +22,500. You’re telling me I can get K.H. Lee, the man who barely missed a shot all last week, at 225-to-1??? Give it to me!

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