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Thomas, Rose challenge favorite Johnson on PGA Championship odds

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Dustin Johnson has the top odds at the sportsbooks, but the golf season’s final major might be a battle of the Justins – Thomas and Rose.

Johnson is the +800 favorite on the PGA Championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the tournament due to tee off on Thursday at the 7,547-yard, par-71 Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri.

The top of the board also includes Rory McIlroy (+1200), the aforementioned defending champion Justin Thomas (+1400), Jason Day (+2000), Brooks Koepka (+2000), Jordan Spieth (+2000), Rickie Fowler (+2200), Justin Rose (+2200), Jon Rahm (+2500) and Tiger Woods (+2800).

Johnson is coming off a tie for third at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a win in the RBC Canadian Open. The world No. 1 is also first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, an attribute that is likely to factor in heavily with the layout at Bellerive, which is exceptionally long for a par-71. Laying chalk here is justifiable, but there is also the regression factor; everyone cools off eventually.

Thomas won the Bridgestone handily, by four shots, and in the process climbed to second in strokes gained tee-to-green and third in approach. He still has a modicum of betting value and rates strong consideration. Rose is a chancier proposition after missing the Bridgestone Invitational with back spasms, but he is on a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes and his game seems adaptable to any course.

On the plus side with McIlroy, a two-time PGA Championship winner, he is playing well enough to be in the hunt almost every week of late. The downside is that he’s had four events this season where he’s played in the final grouping on Sunday and hasn’t won any of them – so either he’s due, or he’s not right mentally.

Jason Day also offers some upside, on the strength of having two wins this season and four top-10 finishes in the last five PGA Championships, the most of any player.

Spieth has battled inconsistency and Woods has been erratic with his iron play of late, which could only get worse in the sweltering humidity expected in Missouri. It might also be best to fade Fowler, who has been as likely to shoot 73 as 63 lately. Rahm is on a course tailor-made for a big hitter such as he, but a suspect approach game might keep him from the birdie opportunities that a lot of the leaders will be cashing in throughout the week.

Among the relative darkhorses on the golf odds for this week, Tony Finau (+4000) is the only player with top-10 finishes in each of this season’s first three majors, while he’s also in the top 15 in strokes gained tee-to-green.

A string of poor results in majors have led to bookmakers fading Bubba Watson (+5000), but the left-hander does have three wins this season and his game might be a good fit for Bellerive. Henrik Stenson (+5000) is also second only to Dustin Johnson in gaining more strokes combined off the tee and on approach shots. Stenson’s three top-10 finishes in the last five PGA Championships are second only to Jason Day.

This will be the final PGA Championship held in August. Starting in 2019, it will be held in May and serve as the second major of the year, in between the Masters and the U.S. Open.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Francesco Molinari goes bogey-free, wins The Open

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There was chaos, and there was carnage. But in the end, a star-studded leaderboard gave way to the breakthrough of a decorated veteran. Here’s how things ended up at the 147th Open, where a steady round from Francesco Molinari turned into a two-shot victory at Carnoustie:

Leaderboard: Francesco Molinari (-8), Xander Schauffele (-6), Rory McIlroy (-6), Justin Rose (-6), Kevin Kisner (-6), Tiger Woods (-5)

What it means: For much of the afternoon, it seemed like the Molinari-Woods pairing would produce an improbable champion – just not Molinari. Woods was in control of his game at the halfway point, taking a one-shot lead at the turn and apparently within reach of a 15th major. But chaos shortly ensued after he doubled the 11th, and amidst a bogey barrage from other contenders Molinari’s even-keel round of 16 pars and two birdies helped him rise to the top. He broke free of a tie with Schauffele thanks to a birdie on the 72nd hole, then watched as his score held up. It’s his third win in his last five worldwide starts, and at age 35 the Italian now has his first major championship after only one top-10 finish in 10 previous Open appearances.

Round of the day: On a day when the winds were up and conditions as tough as they’ve been all week, Molinari started his round with 13 straight pars before finally making birdie on the par-5 14th that was playing more like a par 4 during the final round. He didn’t add another circle until stuffing his final approach to 8 feet, but it was his lack of mistakes that proved to be his biggest strength on a day when the three players who shared the 54-hole lead combined to shoot 11 over.

Best of the rest: Eddie Pepperell admitted that he was “a little hungover” after a disappointing third-round performance, but he shook off the cobwebs in stunning fashion while shooting a 4-under 67 to rocket up the leaderboard. Pepperell made five birdies against just a single bogey to go from eight shots off the lead into a tie for sixth, his best-ever finish in a major.

Biggest disappointment: The back-to-back bid for Jordan Spieth fell apart in shocking fashion. Seen as the favorite among the trio sharing the 54-hole lead, Spieth came undone on the par-5 sixth hole after hitting into a gorse bush en route to a double bogey. After appearing in command for much of the first three days, Spieth didn’t make a single birdie during the final round while dropping into a tie for ninth after a final-round 76.

Shot of the day: Molinari was still tied with Schauffele at 7 under when he stood over his wedge shot from the light rough right of the 18th fairway, but he steeled his nerves and flighted a shot that rolled to within 10 feet. The subsequent putt broke the tie and ultimately gave Molinari a two-shot margin of victory.

Dustin Johnson the British Open Betting Favorite, but Carnoustie Plays Shorter

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With his best asset perhaps rendered irrelevant, Dustin Johnson seems like a vulnerable betting favorite for the British Open.

Johnson is the +1200 favorite on the British Open betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the golf season’s third major due to begin at the 6,941-yard, par-71 Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland on Thursday.

A warm summer in the United Kingdom has created some firm fairways at the famously wind-whipped course. That could keep many players’ drivers in their bag, which would negate the edge that big hitters such as Johnson get from strokes gained off the tee. Johnson also has just three top-10 finishes in nine starts at the British Open.

Rickie Fowler (+1600), Justin Rose (+1600) and Rory McIlroy (+1600) are also high up on the board. There is a case for backing Fowler until he sheds the stigma of “best player not to have won a major,” as he has three top-five results in his last five majors. Rose has only placed in the top 10 twice in 16 starts at the British Open, so it might be wise to look past him for value.

McIlroy is a past winner but season-long putting problems might make it hard to trust him.

Getting into the longer odds to win the 2018 British Open, reigning two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (+2200) has cracked the top 10 in his last two starts in the British Open. Only Tiger Woods (2000) and Tom Watson (1982) have won both the U.S. and British titles in the same year in the last 45 years. That doesn’t automatically rule out that it could happen.

With that said, Tommy Fleetwood (+2200) holds the course record at Carnoustie and also has recent momentum, what with being a U.S. Open runner-up. Tiger Woods (+2200) has the same price and could benefit from not needing to use his driver frequently this week.

The tournament comes at a bad time for defending champion Jordan Spieth (+2200), who has missed the cut in three of his last seven starts.

The case for, or against, Francesco Molinari (+3300) comes down to whether bettors give more weight to recent results or his track record in the event. Molinari has two wins, a second-place finish and a tie for second within his last five tournaments and his proficiency at hitting fairways could serve him well. He’s finished outside of the top 30 in the last three British Opens, but all of those were at other courses.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.