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PGA Championship: These four players are worth a wager

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Majors golf returns beginning Thursday with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Justin Thomas won his 13th PGA Tour event last weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational by three shots over Brooks Koepka, Tom Lewis, Daniel Berger and Phil Mickelson. Jon Rahm’s reign as the world No. 1 lasted just two weeks as now Thomas holds that mantle and the role of co-favorite with Koepka at 10/1 at William Hill. Koepka is attempting to become the first man to win three consecutive PGA Championships since Walter Hagen did it in 1926 during the match play era.

Here are some players who are worth a wager this weekend:

Xander Schauffele (18/1): Has five top six finishes the past three years in majors and a top three finish or better in every major with the exception of the PGA.

Last week, Schauffele finished tied for sixth and had bogey-free rounds on both Thursday and Sunday. He finished four shots back of Thomas at 9-under. His strength is more off the tee, but his iron play is better than he showed. Furthermore, he is also in the Top 10 for Scrambling and actually led the field in Memphis for Strokes Gained: Around The Green so he’s one of the best in the game at escaping trouble.

Xander Schauffele
Xander SchauffeleGetty Images

Patrick Cantlay (24/1): Schauffele (San Diego) and Cantlay (Long Beach) are Southern Californians playing in NoCal, but both should relish the return to the Golden State.

In 2019, ​Cantlay showed he has the game to contend in majors. He tied for third at the PGA and for ninth at the Masters, where he held the outright lead for a brief spell on Sunday.

While tying for 35th last week in Memphis isn’t exactly inspiring and the “Week Before” angle above would disqualify him from consideration, Cantlay did shoot 8-under on the weekend (fourth-best in the field).

Jason Day (30/1): It has been a lean two-plus years for the former No. 1. Day hasn’t posted a top three finish or better finish since winning the Wells Fargo in May 2018. Numerous injuries and swing changes actually dropped Day out of the top 60 in the world rankings, but three straight top seven finishes may indicate he has found something.

Day recently split with his longtime swing coach and one-time caddie Colin Swatton and it’s seemingly done him some good to get back to basics. And with windy conditions expected, Day has a lot of experience with wind on the West Coast having twice won at Torrey Pines and a perennial contender at Pebble Beach (fourth earlier this year while completely out of form). That previous success also indicates that he should be able to roll the ball well this week on the Bentgrass/Poa Annua greens.

Hideki Matsuyama (50/1): He’s a perennial disappointment in majors but comes in under the radar this week. Matsuyama has three Top 25s since the restart, but remember the last time there was a full field major championship type event, he was the first-round leader at The Players Championship, shooting a 9-under 63.

He seems to have a liking for this course, having reached the Round of 16 at the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play where he unfortunately ran into then-No. 1 Rory McIlroy who dominated the event.

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