Phil Mickelson is a nice story at the PGA Championship, not a good bet

·3 min read
Phil Mickelson smiles and celebrates with a fist pump after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson smiles and celebrates with a fist pump after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Don't let nostalgia influence your betting habits at the PGA Championship.

It may be tempting to see Phil Mickelson atop the leaderboard after two rounds and toss few dollars on him to win the whole thing, especially with BetMGM's current 12-to-1 (+1200) payout on him.

Why not, right? How cool would be to see Lefty win his sixth major at age 50?

The thing is, there's a reason the sports books have him as the fourth favorite to win the tournament despite him co-leading it alongside Louis Oosthuizen at -5.

Brooks Koepka (+400) leads the betting odds despite trailing the leaders by a stroke, followed by Oosthuizen (+600) and Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama (+800).

Remarkably, Mickelson was still listed as a massive +6600 longshot at BetMGM after his first round despite sitting just three shots off the lead.

So why do the oddsmakers seem to have no faith in one of the most decorated golfers of all time? Short answer: he's lucky to be here.

Mickelson has been a big star on tour for decades, but he's far removed from his prime when he was going toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods at seemingly every major.

He's fallen to 115th in the world and hasn't logged a top-20 finish on the PGA Tour this season. It's been two years since he won on tour and eight since he last hoisted a major championship trophy.

And if advanced stats are your thing, they also don't paint a bright picture for Mickelson. He ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained for every category this season: off the tee, approach, around the green and putting. Put simply, these first two rounds have been an anomaly for him. 

A lot of what makes Kiawah Island Ocean Course course difficult is the notorious swirling winds. Mickelson lucked out by playing a late tee time on Thursday, when the wind let up later in the day, and an early one Friday, before most of the big gusts arrived.

It's very unlikely he'll be able to sustain this pace.

And Mickelson seemed to acknowledge the work ahead of him to contend with younger, better players like Koepka or Matsuyama, who have won majors far more recently.

"Right now there’s a lot of work to do," Mickelson said Friday. "But the fact is I'm heading into the weekend with an opportunity and I'm playing really well and I'm having a lot of fun doing it.

And it could be a lot of fun to watch Phil try to continue to defy the odds this weekend. Just don't bet on it.

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