3-Ball Picks for Thursday's PGA Championship Opening Round

The PGA Championship starts Thursday. Matt MacKay shares his best 3-Ball picks for the opening round of the PGA Championship.

Jason Day hits his tee shot from hole 15 during the AT&T Byron Nelson.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2023 PGA Championship is set to get underway from Oak Hills Country Club in Rochester, New York, beginning Thursday morning. Oak Hills hasn’t hosted the PGA Championship since 2013, so players with past experience here could face some adjustments due to the numerous changes implemented on the Donald Ross-designed course. Whether it’s the addition of all Bentgrass greens, which run up to 13 feet, the removal of large amounts of oak trees, the installation of a new drainage system, or modifying several holes on the course, expect minimal birdies and a lot of bogeys at a difficult track like Oak Hills.

If you’re new to the 3-ball betting market, get ready to embark on a ride during Round 1. Golf groups are the same in 3-ball, with each player receiving odds for whether or not they’ll finish the opening round with the lowest score in their group. Oftentimes, we’ll see an unsung hero rise to the occasion and cash a first-round leader outright bet, like we just saw at AT&T Byron Nelson with S.Y. Noh delivering an -11-under-par opening round. 

Betting on 3-ball matchups is more obtainable than the longshot odds designated for first-round outright leaders. We simply bet on the player who we think will wind up with the lowest score in the opening round amongst his three-player group. If there is a tie between two or all three players with identical Round 1 scores, we still get a payout, but it’s significantly reduced compared to leading the group outright. Thus, there’s still some risk involved, but the payout probability is much greater.

I’ve identified five of my favorite Day 1 3 Ball picks to bet ahead of Thursday’s opening round from Oak Hills CC at the 2023 PGA Championship. Good luck, and let’s cash these Opening Round 3-Ball bets! 

Before we get into our 3-Ball picks for PGA Championship, make sure to take a moment to check out these awesome sports betting offers for this week. You can use one of the HUGE first bet offers to wager with more confidence on your 2023 PGA Championship selections this week.

PGA Championship Opening Round 3-Ball Picks

Xander Schauffele (+125) vs. Dustin Johnson vs. Tyrrell Hatton

This is a quality 3-ball pairing, but betting Xander Schauffele at plus odds in the opening round is free money. The 29-year-old Californian averages 68.27 in 11 total first rounds this season, which ranks fourth-best on the PGA Tour. Plus, Schauffele is red-hot right now, logging previous finishes of T10, fourth, and runner-up entering the second major of the year. He’s ranked fourth in total strokes gained, including 19th putting, seventh tee-to-green, and fifth approaching the green. Plus, he’s an exceptional scrambler. Bet on Schauffele’s +125 Day 1 3 Ball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook now, as Tyrrell Hatton and Dustin Johnson are stiff competition but tend to take a bit more time to get rolling than Schauffele.

Sungjae Im (-105) vs. Seamus Power vs. Chris Kirk

Sungjae Im wasn’t competing at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week because he was preoccupied with earning an outright win on the KPGA this past weekend. The 25-year-old South Korean native is another strong player in the opening rounds on the PGA Tour this season, averaging 68.73 to rank sixth-best. Im is a phenomenal player with his irons, ranking 10th in total strokes gained and ranking inside the top 20 in tee-to-green, off-the-tee, and around the green. Additionally, he’s ranked 18th in total driving, which will be a huge asset early on at Oak Hills. Im is -105, which is solid value compared to the slower pace of Seamus Power and Chris Kirk, so don’t hesitate to bet Im to come through with the lowest round on Opening Day in this group.

Jon Rahm (+100) vs. Cameron Smith vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick

It’s a bit surprising to see Jon Rahm still at even odds, as he’s been such a dominant force on the PGA Tour this season. Whether it’s the four outright wins, including the first major at Augusta National last month, the star Spaniard has the lowest scoring average this season, averaging 67.55 through 11 first rounds played. He’s had a couple of blips on the radar, but Cameron Smith and Matthew Fitzpatrick are no match for Rahm’s quick start ability. Rahm has many ridiculous metrics to persuade you to bet on his Opening Day 3-Ball odds, including ranking first in total strokes gained. Let’s leave it there and proceed with betting confidently on Rahm to continue his hot Round 1 starts against Smith and Fitzpatrick on Thursday.

Jason Day (+110) vs. Bryson DeChambeau vs. Keegan Bradley

We just watched Jason Day end his five-year winning drought at AT&T Byron Nelson, so expect the confidence and momentum to transfer seamlessly onto a much bigger stage at Oak Hills this weekend. The 35-year-old Aussie averages 69.79 through 14 first rounds played this season, ranking 38th on the PGA Tour. Keegan Bradley is 71st at 70.23 through 13 first rounds played, while Bryson DeChambeau has not been nearly as dominant at LIV compared to what we’ve seen from him in past years on the PGA Tour. Day is ranked second in bogey avoidance, second in scrambling, and 11th in strokes gained putting. He’s more than capable of going on a heater and securing an outright win, but he starts fast and is back in full form, so don’t hesitate to place a wager on Day winning his Opening Day 3-Ball matchup.

Collin Morikawa (+210) vs. Justin Thomas vs. Rory McIlroy

I saved the biggest value bet for last, with Collin Morikawa paired up against Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. All three of these golfers have secured outright wins at previous PGA Championship events, albeit at different courses, but Morikawa could wind up with the lowest scorecard amongst the three on Thursday. McIlroy tends to start slow, while Thomas is much better early on. However, I simply don’t trust his ability to finish around the green. Morikawa is a wizard with the irons, ranking fifth tee-to-green, fourth approaching the green, and third in driving accuracy. It’s a bit riskier than the previous four Opening Day 3-Ball matchups, but Morikawa has the ability to start fast, evidenced in his 69.58 average in the opening round, ranking 28th best on the PGA Tour. +210 is huge value for a 3-ball bet, so let’s jump on this number now and let it ride.

Matt MacKay

Matt MacKay is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game from a fantasy sports and sports betting perspective. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly aiming to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.