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12D AGO

Prop Farm: Valhalla trends, angles on how to bet ‘Superman’ Scottie Scheffler

7 Min Read

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    Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer

    Golf's second major championship of the year is upon us. The PGA Championship returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, for the fourth time and for the first time in a decade. Mark Brooks won here in a playoff over Kenny Perry in 1996. Tiger Woods won the PGA at Valhalla in year 2000 and Rory McIlroy captured his last major to date, 10 years ago here at Valhalla.

    Both McIlroy and Woods are back in the field this week with McIlroy coming off a blistering final round last week that was good enough to earn him his fourth Wells Fargo Championship title. But maybe the biggest storyline this week involves world No. 1, Scottie Scheffler, who we haven't seen in competition since he won in back-to-back weeks at the Masters and then at the RBC Heritage.

    Scheffler and his wife have welcomed their first child into the world in the last week and bettors are wondering how this will impact his golf game. Taking three weeks off is not anything too out of the ordinary, especially for some of the game's star players, but to have this built around the arrival of one's first child is different. Will there be fatigue? Will there be a bit of rust due to a lack of playing or practicing? One thing I believe we can say for sure is that Scheffler's incredible run of four wins in his last five starts, has been interrupted. Will he come out on the other side no worse for the wear - or will he be off a tick?

    "With the questions coming in, it is tough to back Scheffler at that price (+450),” said golf bettor and director of content at Betsperts, Andy Molitor. "But with the big purse, I'm using him in some one-and-done fantasy entries. I'll give him a bit of a bump in some head-to-head matchup betting this week as well.”


    Scottie Scheffler on maintaining focus from event to event


    "I'm not counting on his recent fatherhood to negatively impact his game," said professional bettor and handicapper, Paul Stone. At the same time, Stone says, "But it's difficult to play Scheffler in any of the markets because you are paying such a premium. Personally, I'm not going to step in front of the best golfer in the world in a major."

    Evidently many golf bettors are confident that there will be no change in Scheffler's game this week. Drew O'Dell, senior data analyst at BetMGM points out, "Scheffler is No. 1 at BetMGM for highest ticket count (18.2%), highest handle (29.4%), and is our biggest liability in the outright winner market." O'Dell went on to note that Scheffler is also responsible for the highest ticket count in the First Round Leader market. He is second here in handle, trailing only McIlroy.

    Long time sports betting writer/reporter and now host at VSiN, Matt Youmans provided his thoughts. "Scheffler has been Superman, so it's tough to bet against him, but maybe he'll lose that edge with the baby and the brief layoff."

    Scheffler did not make my outright card, either. For me it is an unknown as to how he will come out of the gates immediately off this brief but life-changing hiatus. I believe it is possibly similar to a bye-week in the NFL. When you have a team that has won four or five games in a row (in the case of Scheffler, golf tournaments), and you interrupt that momentum with a week off, often times those teams come out on the other side with a down performance. We will see if that is the case with Scheffler but there is no doubt that this has paused what has been a historically red-hot run.

    If you are one who is staying away from Scheffler this week, then who are we betting to win at Valhalla in 2024?

    "This is the first time in several years that I have had great respect for McIlroy's all-around game coming in but I'm looking for reasons to bet the favorites," said Youmans, a well-connected long time Las Vegas bettor. "I'm not betting players at single-digit odds anyway.”


    Rory McIlroy on playing with confidence and momentum


    I have to throw my own hat in this ring as well as I fancy Brooks Koepka's chances this week. Despite the overwhelming love for a three-time PGA Championship winner, he's nearly impossible to ignore. He's also been a machine at TPC Southwind over the years, which is another course that has Zoysiagrass fairways. The combination of Zoysiagrass fairways and bentgrass greens were present at Bellerive where Koepka won his second PGA in 2018 and are exactly the same pairing we have at Valhalla.

    Molitor said he is exploring the finishing position markets but does already have a play on another very interesting figure in this week's field. "Xander Schauffele for a top-10 finish is an auto-bet, I suppose," he said.

    Once again, I am aligned with Molitor as I have both an outright bet and a top-10 finish play on Schauffele. It is hard to give Schauffele a pass on two lost 54-hole leads, last week at the Wells Fargo Championship and back in March at THE PLAYERS Championship. But let's also note, Schauffele didn't necessarily "lose" those championships - rather, he was beaten. He shot a two-under round of 70 on Sunday at THE PLAYERS, only to be tracked down by Scheffler who fired a 64. Last Sunday, he was better than the majority of the field, shooting an even-par 71, but again, and outlier round got the best of him - in this case, a 65 by McIlroy.

    While the world is doubting Schauffele, I believe it is a good spot to be in the minority and take another shot with the No. 3 ranked player in the world at what I believe is a very fair price (+1400).

    Stone landed on some long shots to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy this week. "I took Sepp Straka and Shane Lowry at triple-digit prices," said the Texas native. "I also played them for top-20 finishes and I took Straka in a matchup over Alex Noren."

    Straka is a player I identified in my early handicapping last week and I too grabbed him to win as well as finish top-20. He comes off of an eighth-place finish last week at Quail Hollow Club, was 16th last month at the Masters, and finished seventh at the PGA Championship last year, while being the runner-up at The Open Championship last summer. He's really starting to show that he can handle golf's biggest stages, including the Ryder Cup, where he earned a point for Team Europe last fall, paired with the aforementioned, Lowry. Straka also has a PGA TOUR win on a Jack Nicklaus design (as is Valhalla), winning at PGA National in 2022.

    Youmans wins the clever line of the day in further explaining his handicap this week. "My longer shots are Justin Thomas, Joaquin Niemann, and Tyrrell Hatton. This is a long course already and it will play even longer with the rain - so look for a 'Louisville Slugger.' Well done.

    Senior Manager at Mandalay Bay Race and Sportsbook, Tristan Davis, checked in with some of the action he is seeing in other markets at his shop in Las Vegas.

    "All sharp money on Viktor Hovland to beat Wyndham Clark in a head-to-head matchup. We went from -130 to -145 on Hovland. Weirdly enough, other sharp action on Clark to beat Cam Smith, moving from -120 to -135," said Davis.

    And then of course, there is Tiger Woods. "At +20000, there is some support still for him but nowhere near what we saw back in April," Davis continued. "A notable market as always, 'Will Tiger Make the Cut.' Classic case of the sharps versus the recreational players. Great two-way battle with the 'NO' winning the handle ever so slightly at -185 versus +140 for 'YES.' Sharps are playing the 'NO' option as they tend to do with the Tiger markets.”

    I'm in line with what Youmans said about this golf course playing even longer with the rain leading up to this tournament and possibly continuing in spots during the championship. This will also make the four-inch rough even nastier. I played Denny McCarthy over Patrick Reed in a head-to-head matchup along with Will Zalatoris over Dustin Johnson. I'm just not sure Johnson is in form but Reed is not a bomber and will be punished when missing fairways if errant off the tee. Relying on short game to bail you out all week, that was a notion I am willing to bet against.

    I'm with Youmans and Molitor again in that the "Prop Farm" at Valhalla will yield a crop that features a Louisville Slugger. Here's to all of our wagers being a home run.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

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