In this edition of his weekly column The Ticket, Adam Kramer explores the Phil Mickelson PGA Championship win at incredible odds, Adam’s own struggles betting the 2021 NBA Playoffs play-in games, and early college football Week 1 lines.
First, a disclaimer. I am overwhelmingly #TeamTiger. Watching Tiger Woods over the past two decades has brought me some of the greatest non-gambling joy I have experienced in sports.
And yet, I have always had a soft spot for Phil Mickelson.
A guilty pleasure, if you will.
He has always been—through his smiles and his ‘thumbs up’ and his not-so-quiet love of gambling and his course mishaps—far more relatable. Perfectly imperfect. A magician with a wedge. A showman with a certain something matched by no one.
I wish these thoughts came to me sometime after dinner on Wednesday night—before the PGA Championship had started. It was here, in this moment, that you could’ve bet the 50-year-old to win the event at odds that at one point hit 300/1.
DraftKings (aka @DKSportsbook) took a $1,000 bet at 300-1 (payout $301,000) on Phil Mickelson to win @PGAChampionship & another for $364 at 250-1 (payout $91,364), plus other smaller ones that have been Tweeted out…kudos to all who took a shot! @VSiNLive https://t.co/toHP4cIh19
— Dave Tuley (@ViewFromVegas) May 23, 2021
That he did on Sunday, becoming the oldest golfer ever to win a major. At times, he was dominant—bombing drives past the mighty Brooks Koepka as the two walked the final nine.
At times, he was imperfect. He found the water and walked a tightrope that has become his calling card since his pro career began. But the blowup never happened despite some close calls. And Mickelson, despite his age and the assumption that his sixth major might never come, delivered on a golf course that was easy on the eyes and far less beautiful on most scorecards.
For the rare few that had this ticket, what a score.
Let’s be honest; you didn’t see this coming. You saw “Mickelson” and odds that you will likely never get on the golfer, no matter his age, ever again. And regardless of why you made that wager, you made it and what a decision that was.
For Mickelson, no matter how many times he wins from this point forward, it almost feels insignificant compared to what we just witnessed. Woods’ most recent Masters’ triumph might never be touched, but this was awfully close. And you could make an argument that it was far more unlikely than the win.
I might be #TeamTiger, but I am firmly #TeamPhil as well. For the tournaments he’s won, the ones he gave away and the excitement that followed him all along. It was never perfect—as was the case this weekend—and it was never boring.
Also, if you are one of the select few who bet Mickelson, I have only one other thing to say: Beers on you.
Phil Mickelson PGA Championship Win & 2021 College Football Week 1 Bets Look-Ahead
At the Window: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
THE GOOD: College Football’s Week 1 Bets Are In
I don’t have the results for these. In fact, they might ultimately all end up losers. But the fact that the college football schedule is coming together is worth celebrating by its lonesome. Seriously, remember last year? It felt like at this point in the calendar we wouldn’t have a season. Now, we have a Clemson-Georgia line, a few others and many more to come. The greatest sport on the planet is coming back, and I cannot wait. Oh, picks below.
THE BAD: 2021 NBA Play-in Picks
While I love the format and hope it stays, I can’t say I fared well betting on the NBA’s pre-playoffs bracket. My picks last week? The Wizards (+105) against the Celtics and the Lakers (-5) vs. the Warriors. While the Lakers ultimately prevailed and I was able to recoup some losses with a money line-play, those outcomes were not kind to the bankroll. Also, while we’re at it, can we talk about how good that Golden State-Los Angeles game was? You can’t draw up a new format much better.
THE UGLY: The New York Knicks fall to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1
Note: Don’t bet with your heart. It’s easier said than done, especially when you like a game and team like I did. But still…don’t bet with your heart. I did that on Sunday with my New York Knicks, and they fell to a brilliant shot by Trae Young. The Hawks were victorious, and my bet (-1.5) was not. On the plus side, the atmosphere was incredible. Hearing the Madison Square Garden crowd care for the first time in a long time was amazing. It hurt, but it feels good to feel things again with the Knicks.
What I’m Watching: NBA Playoffs, French Open, and More Golf
Memorial Day week and weekend is always a heavy golf weekend. Not in terms of watching. No, I try to get out and play as much as possible bad golf as I can, which will be the case once again.
That said, still plenty to consume despite the holiday.
2021 NBA Playoffs
If you like betting on basketball, the first round of the NBA Playoffs really is quite delightful. Now, we are destined to get some clunker games over the next seven days, but we’ll also get some absolute doozies and having multiple high-stakes game on the docket each day is a wonderful sight.
2021 French Open
You’ll have to wait until the end of the week, but the French Open will kick into gear for both the men and the women. Unsurprisingly, Rafael Nadal is a heavy favorite to win his 14th French Open. It would also be his fifth in a row. Iga Swiatek is the favorite on the women’s side to win the event. While I am admittedly not a tennis guru, I will be tuning in. I’m not sure how many more of these Nadal has in him—or if I like him at something less than even money—but I’ll tune in to see how it shakes out.
(We’ll have full French Open Men’s and Women’s picks articles later this week on The Game Day.)
PGA Charles Schwab Challenge
It won’t have the same field or course allure from what we just witnessed, but I’ll pull up a chair and a beverage for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Colonial CC is a wonderful course, and I suppose I just need more golf in my life after what we just witnessed. Plus, this field still has plenty to like.
What I’m Betting: Let’s Pick Some College Football Games Against the Spread
As I mentioned above, we have some Week 1 college football lines. As such, I am jumping into action by making some early selections.
Disclaimer: While these are bets I am making now, official Week 1 picks will not be made until the season starts. Injuries and rosters will certainly change opinions. That said, I feel pretty good about the information I have. Let’s get to it.
2021 College Football Week 1 Picks (Courtesy of DraftKings)
Georgia +3 (-110) vs. Clemson
Georgia could very well Georgia this thing, but I am not sure people grasp just how much talent there is on this roster. And they might just have finally found a game-changing QB in JT Daniels.
Alabama -14.5 (-110) vs. Miami (Fla.)
Nick Saban lost a ton of talent, but Bryce Young is going to be a star at QB. Plus, this Alabama defense should be excellent.
Wisconsin -3.5 (-110) vs. Penn State
I absolutely love this opener, and I also like the chalk. Penn State will be improved from last season, but I’m not sure how improved.
Ole Miss -7.5 (-110) vs. Louisville
Even without Elijah Moore, this Ole Miss offense should absolutely cook. This could get ugly.
Florida State +10 (-110) vs. Notre Dame
The Seminoles have a long way to go, but the results should be better. It wouldn’t shock me to see this game closer than some think it will be.
All odds and lines courtesy of BetMGM. BetMGM has a welcome offer for a Risk-Free Bet of up to $600. Use promo code THEGAMEDAY or click here to sign up for a new account.