NLU picks for the 2020 PGA Championship

Written by: Scott Schaeffer

Glory's first shot! This week's PGA brings a long awaited (now 54 weeks) return of major championship golf. Our crew has some major predictions for what may happen in California this week. As a bonus, each of us has been generously given an opportunity to win a free 50 points by picking this week's top-finishing Callaway staffer, regardless of odds. The potential for major swings in the standings is highlighted below:

"THE READ": A new leader! Sticking with Chez has proven fruitful as Neil has been able to feed the haters a healthy helping of humble pie in recent weeks. DJ has now been dethroned and Icarito will keep a similar approach this week in trying to maintain his lead.

Chez again headlines Neil's picks this week. If TPC Harding Park skews toward the longer hitters, rule Chez out, right? Not so fast. Chez finished in the Top 15 at both Bellerive and Bethpage…two courses that certainly didn’t favor his profile. Also finished T3 at Pebble in last year’s U.S. Open, so he’s not afraid of or new to major championship pressure. He's also backing Cali natives Max Homa and Xander Schauffele to contend on familiar land.

The Rib has struggled to find the form that made him a weekly contender in 2019 & 2020 prior to the COVID halt. He even tried multiple different putters in Memphis last week. Moreover, his proximity statistic has fallen off recently which has given him less realistic looks at birdie. Still, at 15:1, Neil thinks his potential is too great to pass on at those unusually high odds. If he does win, he may just do so in style according to Neil. His final pick won't finalize until late Sunday evening at the earliest, as he will be waiting to see if the eventual champion can manage to birdie the difficult 72nd. Rory indeed was the last to birdie the last en route to a PGA victory when he did so in 2012 at Kiawah.

"THE READ": Whether he would admit it or not, who knows, but DJ probably got a little comfy given the lead he had built himself. He couldn't have imagined Neil would be the one to catch him. DJ is part of what you will notice is a bit of a trend in picking Xander this week, both to Top 10 and finish as low Callaway ambassador. Also following Neil's example by believing in Max Homa this week in the hope that he can translate his recent form to a major for the first time.

Shortly following the Rocket Mortgage PMI Classic, DJ emphatically claimed Bryson would lap the field at the PGA considering how well the venue would fit his length. Despite a couple lackluster weeks from Beefy Bryson, DJ is sticking to his guns by picking him to win. The climate in California likely isn't favorable for fire ant colonies to emerge, so consider that one less element Bryson will have to allow for this week. The exact finish bets are back this week and just as unlikely as ever! Still, the payout is too enticing for DJ to pass on, as he will be hoping for a DeChambeau/JT 1,2 punch.

"THE READ": Back in the killhouse, Randy was able to successfully count to 5 bets and stop this week. Seeing the form Lefty had last week, Randy has absolutely loaded up his chamber with Phil bullets this week. Randy is predicting the "former" California resident Mickelson will beat Joaquin Niemann en route to beating all Callaway staffers. However, there might be a seed of doubt in Randy's mind as he was only comfortable enough to endorse Phil through the first 18 holes.

Evidently the consistency of Matt Fitzpatrick is in for a rude interruption this week. Fitzy is coming in off a solo third at the Memorial and a T6 last week in Memphis and confidence is riding high. Dangerously high, Randy believes, as he's picking the young Brit to MC at +225.

Randy would be very happy to join his strapped brother Neil to root for the winner to birdie the 72nd, though a bogey or worse would suffice his anything but par bet as well. You may think this seems like a smart play at +130, but the winner has parred the last every year since Jason Dufner bogeyed the 18th at Oak Hill in 2013 to seal his victory. One of those victors who parred the last was Jason Day at Whistling in 2015, who coincidentally rounds out the big guy's picks this week. Surprisingly, despite a global pandemic, constant back stiffness and ditching his long-time swing coach (and former caddie) Colin Swatton, J-Day has found something in his game the past month or so. Interesting to see the former world #1 and PGA Champion all the way down at 45:1 this week.

"THE READ": The controversy continues. The pushback the crew and the fans gave TC for his Heinz 57 play last week didn't bother him in the slightest...and he's back at it again with the white Vans this week. Although none of the crew was able to follow Tron's results last week, I was able to calculate his nugget total and can confirm everything is above board here.

Seemingly shoving to Randy's picks to surely not win the Wanamaker this week, TC is sprinkling the Rib, former world number one Jon Rahm (good run), Chokey Finau and Adam Scott who is still alive. All four plays would potentially serve to keep Tron afloat should his Heinz prove as fruitless as last week.

The Heinz 57 has made everyone irritable and confused so I'll try to break it down as quickly and simply as possible. Each play will be paired with another in a round robin format and judged as a two-way parlay (1&2, 1&3, 1&4, etc.) (15 plays at 1.4 units risked per play=21 units risked.) Next, each play will be paired with two others in a round robin format and judged as a three-way parlay (1,2&3, 1,2&4, 1,2&5, etc.) (20 plays at 1.4 units risked per play=28 units risked.) Third, there will be four-way parlays matched in the same round robin format (15 plays at 1.4 units risked per play=21 units risked.) Then, there will be five-way parlays matched in the six different combinations available (6 plays at 1.4 units risked per play=8.4 units risked.) Finally comes the 6-way mega parlay, which should be familiar to everyone (1 play at 1.4 units risked=1.4 units risked.) The sum total? 79.8 units! So, unless TC hits two of his six Heinz plays at minimum, it is impossible for him to win any portion of the Heinz bet back. Even going three of six last week led to a loss of 58 of his 79.8 units. As confusing as it may seem, I hope this helps. If not, just ignore our resident curmudgeon.

"THE READ": Although he's still in the cellar of the standings, Soly is coming off two straight (marginally) positive weeks. You might liken Soly's consistent "big swings" at a large point shift to the swings his largest play will be taking this week. Many forget that the reason Bryson claimed to chase distance was to improve upon the poor results he's had in major championships to this point in his career. Even if he is a sociopath, Bry-guy will have a chance to prove his efforts weren't in vain by winning this week, which would bring Soly back from the depths and into the positive figs. Soly is also wasting, I mean placing, ten of his points on an exact finish box containing the combo of the Mark McGwire version of Bill Nye, and the world's hottest caddie Bones Mackay.

Continuing the love for maybe the most well-rounded player on Tour, Soly is trusting another significant portion of his nuggets toward the hopes of Xander Schauffele this week. X-man, as everyone calls him, has Top 20's in every start but one beginning with his shaky finish at Colonial. He's just a grinder who won't be bothered by difficult conditions or setup this week.

While Brooks will be looking for a couple swing keys from Claude Harmon to get him through the week, Soly's final pick just wants to talk about life, man. The soon-to-be renowned author Bubba Watson has been hit or miss lately and really his entire career. However, a self-proclaimed improved mental game and outlook on the game of golf as it relates to life may give him some new life this week in his chase for his third career major. Remember when he said he was gonna retire if he won 10 times on Tour? What a wildcard. Almost as blasphemous as Daniel Summerhays' retirement proclamation.

"THE READ": Really love seeing I'm the only guy on Brooks. He found enough last week to go on. He's just mentally tougher than 99% of the field (s/o the Cat) and physically able to do more than most. If Brooks falters unexpectedly, I expect his buddy DJ to be right there in the mix at a course that may resemble a long U.S. Open venue he has thrived on in the past. I also agree with the crew's near consensus that Xander will make a strong run at his first major win in his native California. Shane Lowry is still often forgotten despite his win last summer at The Open. An excellent pair of hands allows him to excel in the wind and around the greens, so why shouldn't he stand out this week? Abe Ancer and Chez Reavie may not profile well at a course that emphasizes the need for distance. I just can't pass on either given their current form. They both seem primed to take advantage of the best golf of their respective careers.

The standings below are as of completion of play last week. I know they are not at all the same as the graphics that appeared in the video...but trust that DJ (or whoever is editing the gambling videos, don't want to throw Dennis under the bus) has made numerous accounting errors in his standings. For example, Randy was credited a win last week for his Rickie over J-Day pick even though Day did in fact top Fowler in Memphis. Enjoy the PGA! Glory's first shot!! If you like my perspective and want more content related to the crew's picks and year-to-date status, I can be found on twitter and instagram @total_misread.

-Scott Schaeffer