Hot Futures Picks for Golf’s Four Major Championships

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The 2021 PGA season is officially under way and it is never too early to start looking for value in golf’s four major championships. It is important to get a good number as early as possible, because you never know how much the numbers could fluctuate. Bryson DeChambeau was at 80-1 to win the U.S. Open last February, and was around 40-1 to hoist the U.S. Open trophy as golf returned to play last summer. DeChambeau teed off at 10-1 and ended up winning his first major that week.

Please Note:
The British Open was cancelled for the first time since World War II last year, and the other three majors were played without spectators. The Masters recently announced that it will permit a limited number of spectators in attendance this year, while it remains unclear at this time if any of the other three major championships will be allowed to have fans in attendance this year.

All odds are according to

The Masters – Augusta National GC – April 8-11

The Masters is back only five months removed from hosting the first-ever November Masters. The event was moved from its usual April timeslot to November because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the golf schedule into a hiatus last March. The 19-month wait in between Masters was no fun for anyone, so here comes the reward in a mere a five-month wait this time around. A limited number of patrons will be able to attend once again and the course should return to its usual state of splendid springtime glory. The azaleas will be in full bloom and the greens will return to their firm and unforgiving ways.

The Favorites

Defending champion Dustin Johnson is the early favorite to successfully defend his title at +600. He is followed by Rory Mcilroy (+900), DeChambeau (+900), Jon Rahm (+1000), and Justin Thomas (+1000). There is no reason to place a Futures bet on any of these great golfers because these will likely be their prices when the tournament comes around. The market is well aware of the talent of the top 10 golfers in the world.

But there are early plays to be made amongst the current top tier of golfers. The first name that jumps out is Patrick Cantlay at +2500. Cantlay will benefit from the sudden switch from soft and forgiving greens back to the normal Augusta greens. Cantlay has a win at Memorial, a course that requires a short memory due to its difficult makeup. Cantlay also picked up a win at the Zozo Championship and is more than capable of winning another tournament before the Masters, which would surely shorten his odds.

The Pick: Patrick Cantlay

The Middle Tier

The next name to take as soon as possible is Harris English (+6600). English already has collected a win this season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, as well as a fourth-place finish in the U.S. Open. English is playing the best golf of his life and can handle difficult courses. Expect his number to be closer to 45-1 by the time April comes around. Buy Harris English stock before the rest of the market catches up.

The Pick: Harris English

The Longshot

Down at +15000 is someone who already has collected two top-10 finishes this season and is no stranger to the stage of major championships. Billy Horschel is 150-1 currently and it is hard to believe that will not get down closer to at least 90-1 come April. Horschel finished tied for 38th at both the U.S. Open and The Masters last season, with final round scores of 80 and 75, respectively. Horschel has five PGA Tour victories and has a top 30 finish in each of the four major championships to his name. If Horschel is in contention on Sunday, you have an easy hedge opportunity because of the massive payout a 150-1 ticket offers. Few golfers possess the ability to win The Masters from this odds range. Take Horschel before this number is gone.

The Pick: Billy Horschel (+15000)

PGA Championship – Kiawah Island – May 20th-23rd

Kiawah Island in South Carolina hosts the 2021 PGA Championship on its Ocean Course. The last time a major championship was held at Kiawah, Rory Mcllroy cruised to an eight-stroke victory back in 2012. The Ocean Course is a notably long layout that plays extremely difficult with wind coming off the water. The event being played in May as opposed to August, such as it was in 2012, will only add to the difficulty of this track.

The Favorites

An incredibly grueling and long golf course in the Southeast? Plug in Dustin Johnson as the favorite at +900. Close behind the world No.1 are Jon Rahm (+1100), Mcllroy (+1200), Brooks Koepka (+1200), DeChambeau (+1400), Thomas (+1400), and Xander Schauffle (+1600). Cold and windy weather could provide an advantage to golfers familiar with the European Tour, as the conditions will be more familiar to them. Although Rory fits that same mold and won at Kiawah in 2012, Jon Rahm at +1100 is the better bet because of his more consistent form over the past year. Currently ranked No. 2 according to the Official World Golf Rankings, Rahm got to world No.1 for a short time last year, and this year the 26-year-old might just cross major champion off the list as well.

The Pick: Jon Rahm (+1100)

The Middle Tier

The first name to look at in the middle tier odds range is Viktor Hovland at +4000. Many great young golfers have broken through with their first major win at the PGA Championship and he has what it takes to join the club. Just last year, fellow 23-year-old Collin Morikawa was the one hoisting the Wanamaker trophy. Hovland has the skill set necessary to tackle the distance this course throws at a golfer and he is no stranger to finding himself in contention. The Norweigen has two career PGA Tour wins and has one already this season. Look for Hovland to take the leap to major championship contender this season.

Another golfer looking to take a leap into major championship contention is Matthew Fitzpatrick (+5000). Fitzpatrick has yet to live up to the lofty expectations he earned with his accomplishments as an amateur, but he is only 26 years old. The Englishman frequently plays on the European Tour, so the conditions will be no surprise to him. Throughout his relatively brief PGA Tour career, Fitzpatrick has found the most success in tournaments with higher difficulty, as opposed to birdie-fests. At 50-1, it’s worth taking a chance at Matthew Fitzpatrick to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Rory Mcllroy, and win the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

The Picks: Viktor Hovland (+4000); Matthew Fitzpatrick (+5000)

The Longshot

Two guys sitting at 80-1 right now are absolute must bets to win the PGA Championship: Cameron Champ and Joaquin Niemann. Champ played in the final pairing of last year’s PGA despite finishing tied for 10th. Champ is a boom-or-bust golfer, but there is no doubt he is capable of winning this golf tournament. Champ is one of the longest drivers on tour and that should give him a huge advantage over the majority of the competition. He also can draw on the experience he gained being in the final pairing last yea, to know what it takes to finish the tournament off this time around.

Grab Niemann before his number starts to plummet. Niemann finished second at both the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open. He is playing the best golf of his life and the 22-year-old will make the leap to major championship winner soon. Niemann has been on the Tour since he was 19 years old, so he has more experience than most of the more popular 23-year-olds (Morikawa, Hovland, Matthew Wolff). The forgotten youngster has all of the talent to win any given week and he will likely have a win on tour before this tournament kicks off, making this 80-1 number on him impossible to get come May.

The Picks: Cameron Champ (+8000); Joaquin Niemann (+8000)

U.S. Open – Torrey Pines – June 17th-20th

Cue to 2008 U.S. Open highlights. The U.S. Open is returning to Torrey Pines for the first time since that historic performance by Tiger Woods on a torn ACL, when the wounded but still dangerous Tiger defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff. Torrey Pines hosts the annual Farmers Insurance Open, but this time around the USGA will have a few tricks up its sleeve in order to make the championship as difficult as possible.

The Favorites

The early favorite for the U.S. Open is, as with the other aforementioned majors, the very formidable Dustin Johnson (+900), followed by Rahm (+1100), Mcllroy (+1200), Thomas (+1200), Koepka (+1400), DeChambeau (+1400) and Schauffle (+1400). Of the golfers under 20-1 odds, it is unlikely that their odds will be worse in June. So again, stay away from this top group for the time being.

The first name worth a look right now is Daniel Berger (+3000), who returned to his promising 2017 form last season. After Berger had struggled with a wrist injury the past couple of years, he was amazing following quarantine, immediately picking up a win in the Charles Schwab challenge when golf returned last summer. Berger notched seven top-10 finishes last season and has shown no signs of slowing down. Berger is likely to contend in one of the first two majors, so it is wise to snatch him up for the U.S. Open at a 30-1 number that will surely be closer to 20-1 in June.

The Pick: Daniel Berger (+3000)

The Middle Tier

The middle tier is full of a lot of big names such as Jordan Speith (+5000), Rickie Fowler (+5000), and Justin Rose (+5000). However, the value lies within a less familiar name to the casual golf fan in young Sungjae Im (+6000). The 22-year-old from Korea notched his first Tour win in 2020, and also secured a tie for second place at the Masters. Im finished 11th in FedEx Cup points last season largely because of his seven top-10 finishes, a reflection of his consistent style of play. Im is too young to know the pressure on the final group come Sunday afternoon. He seems to just lock in and play the best golf he can, allowing nothing to rattle his stoic demeanor. Im has the mental and physical makeup to become a major champion at age 22. Lead NBC golf analyst and 12-time PGA Tour winner Paul Azinger told has said Im has the tools to one day possibly be the top-ranked player in the world. Grab Im soon for the U.S. Open, because as the top-10 finishes pile up in the 2021 season, his odds will continue to shorten.

The Pick: Sungjae Im (+6000)

The Longshots

The first longshot to win the U.S. Open worth a look is Abraham Ancer (+8000). Ancer was the 36-hole leader at the Masters before Dustin Johnson did those amazing things that only Dustin Johnson can do. Ancer has been in contention in numerous tournaments over the years but his first Tour victory has evaded him. He had two runner-ups in 2020 where he almost became the first Mexican to win on the PGA Tour (a feat accomplished by fellow countryman Carlos Ortiz). It is unlikely to see a first-time Tour winner collect the U.S. Open trophy, but this bet would likely hinge on Ancer getting that monkey off his back before June and then collecting his second win at Torrey Pines. Assuming Ancer gets that first Tour win beforehand, his odds will shrink. Hence, the need to buy him at this price.

The second longshot is Cameron Smith (+9000), who already has two career victories on the PGA Tour. Smith finished tied for second with Im at the 2020 Masters and has picked up two top-10s to kick off the 2021 season. Smith has an extremely well-rounded golf game and was not phased by the pressure of playing in contention on Sunday at Augusta. If not for Dustin Johnson playing one of his best rounds of golf that Sunday, Smith very well could have been the one slipping on the green jacket with the help of defending champion Tiger Woods. Cameron Smith to become the first Aussie to win the U.S. Open since Geoff Ogilvy’s historic come-from-behind win over Phil Mickelson in 2006 at Winged Foot.

The Picks: Abraham Ancer (+8000); Cameron Smith (+9000)

The Open Championship – Royal St. George’s GC – July 15th-18th

The Open Championship was cancelled in 2020, so for the first time since World War II, the Claret Jug stayed in someone’s possession for more than 20 months. The defending champion Shane Lowry (+5000) is unlikely to repeat. Then again, of all four major championships, it is the British Open where the most unlikely things tend to become reality. The past two winners at Royal Saint George’s were Ben Curtis and David Clarke, so no one is out of the realm of possibility to win. RSG is the epitome of links golf, with steep pot bunkers throughout the course, winds gusting, and firm conditions.

The Favorites

Although it has been the longshots that have thrived at this course, the favorites are always worth a look. Dustin Johnson (+900) once again currently leads the pack, followed by Mcllroy (+1100), Rahm (+1200), Koepka (+1600), Schauffle (+1800) and Thomas (+1800). With the course history in mind, the first name worth a look is Patrick Reed (+4000). Reed is world class at scrambling and saving pars in the face of adverse conditions. Reed was the 36-hole leader at Winged Foot for the 2020 U.S. Open, before a bad Saturday round opened the door for Bryson DeChambeau’s first major championship. Reed is not easily rattled and has a top 10 in each of the major championships, including a win at the 2018 Masters. Reed has the championship pedigree with a favorable price. Back Patrick Reed to hoist the Claret Jug in 2021.

The Pick: Patrick Reed (+4000)

The Middle Tier

The first middle tier bet to look for is Rickie Fowler (+5000). Fowler had a rough 2020 and bookmakers have made a killing off his loyal following throwing away money by betting on him the past two years. So why give him a look now? Fowler finished tied for sixth at the 2019 British Open and has shown the ability to play links golf with the best of them. Fowler once looked capable of winning any of the four major championships at any given time, but now the Open Championship appears his best chance due his ability to play links golf and the chaos that seems to happen at every British Open. Fowler will have all season to return somewhat to his peak form and quite frankly it feels like the golf gods owe him one.

The second middle tier bet to look at is Scottie Scheffler (+8000). The 24-year-old has proven to be a force to be reckoned with on the Tour, and is capable of winning every week he plays. Scheffler is just as talented as anyone under 25 years old on the TOUR, yet for some reason the odds rarely seem to reflect that. Scheffler should take a giant leap this year, and the Open Championship has yielded crazier champions before.

The Picks: Rickie Fowler (+5000); Scottie Scheffler (+8000)

The Longshot

Of all four majors, the Open Championship is by far the most likely to yield a longshot winner because of the usually brutal course conditions. The first longshot to take a look at this yer is Matt Wallace (+12500). The Englishman is no stranger to the harsh conditions of links golf. Although Wallace has no PGA Tour victories to his name, he has four European Tour wins at — you guessed it — links golf courses. Wallace finished tied for third in the 2019 U.S. Open, so he has experienced high pressure major golf on a Sunday. At 125-1, Matt Wallace is for sure worth a small bet.

The pickings get scarce the further you look down the leaderboard, but if you take Fowler to win, how about the guy currently one spot ahead of him in the OWG rankings at triple the odds. Erik van Rooyen (+15000) has collected two top-20s in the past two British Opens, and is no stranger to links golf as a frequent contender on the European Tour. At these odds, you are just looking for someone with any chance to win, and 30-year-old South African provides that.

The Picks: Matt Wallace (+12500); Erik van Rooyen (+15000)


Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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