Jessica Marksbury picks winners.
Entering the 10th week of our game, we’re starting to see trends.
We’re seeing who’s hot. We’re seeing who’s not. Betting may be a guessing game. But the past can give us clues.
Koepka was playing average, at best, entering last week’s PGA Championship. The four-time major winner was tied for fourth entering the final round. It’s a safe bet he’ll play well in a major again. Morikawa has won more tournaments – three, including the PGA – than he’s missed cuts – one. It’s a safe bet he’ll make a cut (or better) again.
Marksbury has picked two winners. She picked Webb Simpson to win the RBC Heritage in June. She picked Morikawa to win the PGA. It’s a safe bet she’ll pick a winner again.
She, too, looks at trends.
“I like to look at a mix of past performance and current form, so I usually start by checking the past few years of leaderboards at a given venue to come up with a short list of players who have done well,” Marksbury explained. “Then, I look for patterns. Has the same guy posted a few top 20s there? If so, I might pick him just based on that.
“But if not, current form is another important factor. Golf can be streaky, so going with the guy who won or was a T5 player the previous week doesn’t always feel right. Winning and even contending is super draining, and it’s really hard for a guy to go back-to-back. When I picked Webb to win the RBC Heritage, it was because he had a long history of good play there. And this past week with Morikawa, as a hot player back on familiar turf, he just felt right. So picking a player based on his comfort level in his ‘home environment’ can also yield results. That, and some right-pick, right-time luck!”
This week, the PGA Tour is playing the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. Who does Marksbury like?
Simpson, at +1,100.
“He’s the odds-on favorite this week, so it’s not like this is a very insidery pick,” she wrote. “But his performance at the Wyndham in his past three appearances can’t be denied: 2nd (2019), T2 (2018) and 3rd (2017). He also won by three in 2011. I’m not going to overthink this.”
A quick refresher on our game. Thirteen members of our staff will make three $100 bets — to win, top 10 and a prop bet of choice — for each tournament from the Charles Schwab Challenge through the Masters in November. Each member starts with $4,000, and the odds will come from the DraftKings website. The first-place finisher will play a round of golf when it’s all said and done, and the last-place finisher is on the bag for the winner.
Our primary goal, of course, is to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook.
The picks (in order of money total)
Jessica Marksbury ($9,426)
To-win: Webb Simpson, +1,100. He’s the odds-on favorite this week, so it’s not like this is a very insidery pick. But his performance at the Wyndham in his past three appearances can’t be denied: 2nd (2019), T2 (2018) and 3rd (2017). He also won by three in 2011. I’m not going to overthink this.
Top 10: Justin Rose, +275. Rose had a nice top 10 at the PGA Championship last week, with a final-round 67. Feels like he could do it again this week.
Prop: Winning margin, one stroke, +225. Historically, this is a pretty low-scoring event, so I’m counting on a bunched leaderboard that comes down to the wire on Sunday.
Nick Piastowski ($6,468)
To-win: Brendon Todd, +3,500. Wyndham requires accuracy off the tee. Few are more accurate than Todd.
Top 10: Si Woo Kim, +1,000. Kim played well here last year and played well last week at the PGA.
Prop: Top 20, Charles Howell III, +400. Death, taxes and Charlie Three Sticks earning a nice paycheck.
Tim Reilly ($5,000)
To-win: Patrick Reed, +1,600. After a strong showing at the PGA Championship, it’s time for Reed to get back into the spotlight. He’s due.
Top 10: Brendon Todd, +450. What else can you say about Todd this season? He continues to perform week in and week out. He’s become one of the most consistent players on Tour and become a fixture on leaderboards.
Prop: To be decided by a playoff, yes, +400. We were robbed of a playoff at a crowded PGA Championship. Redemption this week.
Josh Sens ($4,388)
To-win: Justin Rose, +2,200. His tee-to-green game was scruffy early on at Harding Park. But he looked sharp on Sunday. These are reasonably good odds for a guy who plays at such a consistently high level.
Top 10: Kevin Kisner, +500. Back in the Carolinas. Familiar turf for Kisner. A little home cooking. Guaranteed to beat the cut line and likely to be in contention come the final round.
Prop: Leader after Round 1, Harris English, +4,500. OK, so this is a crazy bet. Crazy like a renard.
Jonathan Wall ($4,203)
To-win: Patrick Reed, +1,600. Past winner who seems to have found something of late with two top-15 finishes in his past three starts.
Top 10: Kevin Kisner, +500. Another example of a guy who seems to be trending in the right direction. Followed up a T25 in Memphis with a T15 at Harding Park. Feels like a good spot for Kiz.
Prop: To be decided by a playoff, yes, +400. Took it last week and figured it was a mortal lock on the back nine. I’ll give it another shot.
James Colgan ($4,063)
To-win: Patrick Reed, +1,600. Things have been awfully quiet out of the Reed camp over the past few weeks. That’s gotta change soon, right? How about this weekend?
Top 10: Brendon Todd, +450. Mr. 54 Holes has been playing sensational golf. Even if he hasn’t quite found the gear to turn those 54-hole leads into wins every time, he’s a good bet to turn one of them into a top 10 this week.
Prop: Hole in one in Round 3, +700. The line is +120 for two holes-in-one this week, but +700 for an ace on either of the weekend rounds. Can you say, market inefficiency?
Josh Berhow ($3,738)
To-win: Patrick Reed, +1,600. He’s had some pretty solid but not spectacular results since the Tour’s restart in June. But his game around and on the greens remains among the best in the business, and that’s going to make him a threat every week. He’s won here before, too.
Top 10: Brandt Snedeker, +550. He’s had an up-and-down season, but tough to bet against a guy who has won here twice, most recently in 2018.
Prop: Wire-to-wire winner, +1,400. Yes, I got a feelin.’
Sean Zak ($3,697.30)
To-win: Si Woo Kim, +4,200. Mr. Traj has been pegging it well.
Top 10: Kevin Kisner, +1,000. Guy seems to play well in the Southeast, doesn’t he?
Prop: To make the cut, no, Jordan Spieth, +163. GUY IS SEARCHING FOR IT
Zephyr Melton ($3,095)
To-win: Sungjae Im, +4,500. Im has been a bit quiet since the PGA Tour’s restart, but he’s as talented as any of the young stars out there. A second victory of the season should surprise no one.
Top 10: Lanto Griffin, +750. Griffin has put together a solid season thus far, notching a win in the fall, and he performed well in his first PGA Championship with a T19. I like Griffin this week in North Carolina.
Prop: To make the cut, no, Brooks Koepka, +225. Koepka got hot for the past couple of weeks, but his final round in San Francisco shows he is far from the player of the past several years. Something still isn’t quite right with his knee, and the mental toll of the PGA shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
Andrew Tursky ($3,000)
To-win: Si Woo Kim, +4,200. Fair warning – I’m going all in on Si Woo Kim this week. He just finished T13 at the PGA Championship, and he finished 5th in last year’s Wyndham Championship. He’s playing well right now and he plays this event well? Sign me up across the board.
Top 10: Si Woo Kim, +500. See reasoning above. But also, by finishing T13 at the PGA Championship, he stayed away from the stress of seriously contending. He won’t come in this week disappointed from the PGA, but rather, he’ll be encouraged by the state of his game.
Prop: Leader after Round 1, Si Woo Kim, +6,600. Start hot, stay hot. We’re probably going to need a 62 or 63 to lead after one, but we’re fine with that (see the reasons above).
Alan Bastable ($2,450)
To-win: Brooks Koepka, +1,200. The Wyndham isn’t the kind of event that usually gets Koepka’s motor running, but his closing 74 at Harding had to go down about as well as a pint of spoiled milk. I think he’s out for revenge this week. Look for an opening 63 or 64, and he never looks back. Could win by a touchdown.
Top 10: Chez Reavie, +1,100. Has quietly had a strong run since the restart (DK reports Reavie is in the top 6 in aggregate strokes gained since Colonial). He put three good rounds together in Greensboro last year before a Sunday 70 bumped him down the ’board.
Prop: Top 20, Jim Furyk, +400. Made the cut at Memorial, missed by one at Harding Park. Top 20 at Greensboro doesn’t seem too much to ask.
Luke Kerr-Dineen ($1,550)
To-win: Webb Simpson, +1,100. I’m sticking with my same picks because I think they’ll come good, especially Webb, who showed encouraging signs on a course that doesn’t suit him – and now he gets to play one that very much does.
Top 10: Brendon Todd, +450. Back to the regular season, where King Todd gets to rack up another solid finish — off the back of a top 20 last week.
Prop: To be decided by a playoff, yes, +400. Feels like we’re due for one.
Dylan Dethier ($1,300)
To-win: Harold Varner III, +7,500. This debt isn’t gonna pay itself off, after all.
Top 10: Harold Varner III, +650. Look, HVIII has been hitting it great. Once his putter gets hot, look out! It may as well come this week.
Prop: To make the cut, six-way parlay, Harold Varner III, J.T. Poston, Billy Horschel, Doc Redman, Lucas Glover and Joaquin Niemann, +1,215. Thus begins the rally.