PGA Championship: Strong Field for Golf’s Final Major
There is still plenty of golf left to be played in 2018 and we’re particularly looking forward to the Ryder Cup at the end of September but in terms of Major Championships, the curtain comes down on the season this week.
We’re heading off to Missouri for the US PGA Championship and the Bellerive Course which will play host to most of the world’s best golfers over four days, starting this Thursday, August 9. With form from last week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational to take into account, let’s see if we can identify who will be picking up the trophy on Sunday evening.
Out in Front
Dustin Johnson is the number one golfer in the world going into this event and as such he is a natural favourite for the outright win at best odds of 10/1 with BetFred. DJ missed the cut at the Open Championship on the Scottish links of Carnoustie but is far more at home in North America and he followed up that disappointment with a comfortable victory in the Canadian Open the following week.
Johnson is a former US PGA Champion and a tie for third at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday tells us that he is the man to beat at Bellerive.
Rory McIlroy has enjoyed more consistency this season after a difficult 2017 and he will attract plenty of interest at his top price of 14/1 with BetFred. Rory has found it hard to close out wins from recent strong positions but he is a two-time winner of the US PGA and is a strong option this week.
Next up is our defending champion and most recent winner on Tour. Justin Thomas is available at a best of 16/1, also with BetFred, and after a slow period by his high standards, he is bang in form after securing a comfortable victory at Firestone on Sunday.
These three are clear in the markets but as with any Major, there is a competitive field and plenty of other options as we work our way through it.
In atrocious conditions at the US Open in June, Brooks Koepka retained his trophy and is available for his second Major of 2018 at best odds of 20/1 with Ladbrokes and BetBright. Koepka finished fifth at the Bridgestone Invitational where he ranked first in Driving Distance and that could be a key stat this week.
Jason Day is a former PGA Champion and available at a top price of 22/1 with MarathonBet and 188Bet while former US Open winner Justin Rose can also be picked up at 22/1 with Boylesports and Royal Panda.
Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are on offer at those same best odds of 22/1 with BetFred and then we move out to Tommy Fleetwood who is at a top price of 28/1 with Unibet and 888Sport. Fleetwood is a man showing good form coming into Thursday and is one to consider for the Top Ten markets at the very least.
Other names in the chasing pack include Tiger Woods at 28/1 and Open Champion Francesco Molinari at 30/1, both with SportingBet, and then we start to move into the higher priced options.
Tony Finau is a renowned big hitter who may just have the credentials to perform at Bellerive and he can be claimed at a best of 40/1 with Ladbrokes and Betway while current US Masters Champion Patrick Reed is also at 40/1, this time with Black Type and 10Bet.
Europe’s challenge is continued by Paul Casey at 50/1 with BetBright, Alexander Noren at 55/1 with SportingBet and Thorbjorn Olesen who was impressive over four days at Firestone last week. Olesen is available at a top industry price of 80/1 with MarathonBet.
It’s such a wide and strong field that it would be impossible to name all of the likely contenders so let’s move on and see what it will take to produce the 2018 PGA Champion.
Course, Trends and Indicators
The Bellerive Course in Missouri is one of the longer par 70s on Tour and there are less Eagle chances here than there are on most circuits. It involves many genuine Par 5s and Par 4s so distance from the tee will be a genuine asset here.
Accuracy is, as always, important too with fairly narrow fairways and punishing rough and there is a large creek which comes into play at key times. The greens are quite large but fast and form with the flatstick will be another indicator so, taking all of that into account, who is in the frame for the outright win?
Based on form it would be tough to look beyond Justin Thomas but back to back wins are tough and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational champion looked emotionally drained on Sunday evening.
Dustin Johnson makes a strong case but he’s disappointed in recent Majors while Jordan Spieth is talked up in some areas despite his woeful putting.
Based on those key stats of distance and accuracy from the tee, we’re interested in that price of 20/1 next to the name of Brooks Koepka. The two-time US Open Champion clearly has the temperament to win Majors and the perfect game for this course so, if he can maintain that form, he will be a real threat this week.
In such a strong field we will, however, play safer this time and back Koepka as an Each Way pick. You could go with Coral here at 16/1 as they are paying down to 10 E / W places but we’ll stick with Ladbrokes and that higher 20/1 figure.
Coupled with these Top Ten tips, we’ll look forward to a dramatic, and hopefully profitable four days.