THE final major of the year begins on Thursday. Louis Ross (@louisross67) shares his thoughts.
US PGA Championship | Thursday – Sunday | Sky Sports
We’re back on the Major trail this week for the final and least regarded (at least by fans) of the four annual championships. The PGA has always been seen as the weakest event, but I think that has more to do with the amount of coverage it has received in the UK.
Certainly it does not compare with Augusta, the US Open or the Wimbledon of Golf, The Open. It’s position in the calendar does not help, but for me this week normally gives us the most competitive of all the Majors. Players are normally in form by this point and the 2015 renewal looks like a classic. The first 10 in the betting (with the exception of Rory) are all in top form.
This year’s event is held for the third time at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. 2004 saw a victory for Vijay Singh, whilst Martin Kaymer’s win here in 2010 saw the first (of many) collapses by Dustin Johnson.
You cannot help feel that DJ’s career could have been oh so different had he not grounded his club in a bunker (that he did not know was a bunker). History has seen that moment as costing him his first Major, but in fact it cost him a play-off.
The reason DJ did not realise he was in a bunker is worth looking at as it is relevant today. There are nearly 1000 (yes a thousand) areas here designated as bunkers. Those ‘sandy waste areas’ and traditional sand traps have specific rules governing what you can do. Johnson was in an area full of spectators and had no clue he was in a ‘hazard’. That tells you a little of what to expect here.
Whistling Straits is a links course in all but name. On the shores of Lake Michigan, with water in play on a number of holes. The Par 72 will play all of its 7512 yards this week. In 2010, Johnson and Bubba Watson contended throughout. This place is set up perfectly for the bombers in the field.
The four Par 5s will be easily reachable for the long hitters. I think you will see the Top 5 off the Tee this week representing most of the Top 5 on Sunday night. Of course, iron play and a hot putter will be what the winner needs, but length is going to prove a massive advantage this week. At this moment, weather does not look to be a factor, but if the wind does get up you may need to adjust betting strategy accordingly.
On that note (I will get to the picks I promise) betting strategy in golf tournaments is something I want to mention briefly. I hope you find these previews useful, but making an ante post bet in any sport is risky.
My selections have often been on the wrong side of the draw when weather has been a factor. I’m sure we have benefited also, but views on Tuesday can always change by Thursday.
I’m personally most successful on in-play betting. Six 25/1 plus winners this season including a 90/1 and 100/1. I am not telling you that to impress you all (hey, go me) but because I want to tweet a few in-play selections on a regular basis on Saturday mornings. I had a nice punt on Shane Lowry last Saturday morning at Firestone at 28/1. Check my selections on the @welovebettinguk account.
Ok, on to the picks. I have two really strong fancies this week. I’ve been sweet on Jason Day for some weeks now. How has the Aussie not won a Major yet? So unlucky in so many. Jason just has to win one soon.
His form this season has been only bettered by Jordan Spieth. I took odds of 25/1 and 22/1 just after St Andrews. The value has gone now but we would all take a 14/1 winner anytime.
Such a strong field starts here, that I cannot see this being won by anyone outside the world Top 20 or so. Jason Day pretty much ticks every box and the way he battled on in the US Open after collapsing with vertigo was admirable. Pretty much the only likeable Aussie in the world. Hope he wins.
Pick two has changed this week. I was so impressed with the way Bubba Watson played last week at the Bridgestone. That tournament is a great indicator for this one. Each of the last 10 PGA winners has done well at Firestone the week before. In fact three winners have gone on to triumph here.
Bubba was pretty much top of every stat that matters both last week and in the season overall. He leads the entire PGA Tour in Par 5 scoring (THE key stat for me) and has two wins and three runner-ups slots under his belt this season.
When runner-up here in 2010, he had just won the Travellers as he did this year. Second on Tour in overall driving, Bubba was hitting the ball 400 yards off the tee last weekend. If anything, Bubba would be my main choice here.
But I was speaking to someone last night and we both initially said ‘Yes it’s Bubba, but then he doesn’t always close out so well when leading eh’. There’s truth in that certainly, but then you remember he has two Green Jackets. Bubba (real name Gerry!) can go close. Come On Gerry Watson!
I came across an amazing stat (courtesy of Twitter of course) Adam Scott is -38 in Majors since 2011. The next best is Rory, an incredible 32 shots worse on -6. Good one that eh? I am not a fan of Scott. Nothing to do with him just the fact that he putts with what I childishly refer to as a ‘Cheaty Big Stick’.
I don’t like backing Cheaty Big Stick players but needs must. When it comes to the Major Championships, you will not be too far away backing this guy. That -38 has brought 14 x Top 15 finishes in the last 19 Majors. 9th in Total Driving and a 9th place here when Vijay won in 04. All you want to justify a pick really.
Just a couple of nice outsiders to finish. Robert Streb is a name that just keeps coming upon a Sunday on the PGA Tour. Streb is one of the best of the new young Americans and his position in the FedEx Cup tells you he is an elite level golfer. I like him a lot especially in 1st Round Leader markets.
Bernd Weisberger is way way overpriced. His performances in Majors, particularly Chambers Bay, have been excellent. The Austrian has done me a few favours on the European Tour, although his loss in a play off at 66/1 in May was heartbreaking. I think he will give you a great run for your money and is along the same lines as Branden Grace who looked anything but a 100/1 shot at Chambers Bay.
There will be some huge value in-play on Saturday, with most odds makers going a quarter of the odds first four places at that point. Hopefully Bubba, Day or Scott will have it in the bag by then but we can find some worthy 50/1, 100/1 shots with live place chances on what is traditionally known as Moving Day.
US PGA Championship – Jason Day each way (14/1 Bet365)
US PGA Championship – Bubba Watson each way (16/1 Bet365)
US PGA Championship – Adam Scott each way (33/1 Ladbrokes)
US PGA Championship – Robert Streb each way (90/1 Coral)
US PGA Championship – Bernd Weisberger each way (200/1 888 Sport)
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