VINCE BLISSETT (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on the 2017 USPGA Championship from Quail Hollows.
US PGA Championship | 10th-14th August 2017 | BBC
Quail Hollow is the host of the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship. I always see it as the other less attractive major, a bit like the Australian Open in tennis…
In a bid to make golf more accessible, the BBC have been given the coverage although they aren’t actually showing very much action. A bit like the Australian Open again, there’s no proper televised action until the very end.
You’ll find live action on the red button each evening and some late night highlights for the first three days before showing the last two hours on Sunday night live.
Quail Hollow background
Anyway, Quail Hollow has been used on the PGA Tour every year since 2003, under a couple of different names (in recent times the Wells Fargo Championship). Since the last time we saw the course there have been a few modifications but it should produce the same kind of winner.
The US PGA tends to suit big hitters and once again it looks that way. Over the last seven years the winner at Quail Hollow has had an average driving distance of 308 yards. Over the same period, greens in regulation and putting average have also ticked the requirement boxes.
The course is there to be attacked and I’d be surprised if one of the aggressive bigger names doesn’t win this week.
There are couple of interesting trends to consider this week too. Firstly, the winner of the US PGA has always placed in the top 22 of the WGC Bridgestone in all 10 times it has been played the week prior.
Secondly, 14 of the 17 last winners of the PGA already had a win under their belt that season. Although, only two of the last four had a win so that could be an outgoing stat in the next few years…
If we were going to solely go on those trends, the winner will be one of Jordan Spieth, Justin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Adam Hadwin, Ricky Fowler, Hudson Swafford, Kevin Chappell, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Burger or Jhonathon Vegas.
I already had my two of those in mind so good hopefully some good omens.
Rory McIlory (8/1 Betfred)
Firstly though, Rory McIlory can’t be ignored this week.
I’m not normally one to pick out the favourite but his course form alone is almost too good to overlook, let alone adding in his current form.
Rory has played Quail Hollow seven times – he’s won twice, lost in a play-off once, had three other top-10s and missed the cut once. He’ll have had this marked down for a long time I’m sure and it looks like he’s been building towards it well.
Fourth at The Open after a disastrous start followed by fifth last week is a pretty good base to come into this on. He hits the ball miles and with a lot of rain around the Charlotte area forecasted all week, it’ll play right into his hands.
Jon Rahm (28/1 William Hill)
He’s never played Quail Hollow before but this could suit Jon Rahm.
Not playing a course beforehand certainly hasn’t stopped him so far in his short career having won on both the PGA and European Tours this year. He’s also got six top-10’s to his name this year stateside in PGA/WGC tournaments.
The Spaniard ranks 16th in driving distance and 30th in GIR on the PGA Tour so boxes are ticked there. He’s maybe a little short price-wise but if you were to take away any knowledge of his odds I’d say he has a good chance providing his heads in the game.
Kevin Chappell (80/1 888)
Someone who’s odds were very big at the start of the week but look about right in most places is Kevin Chappell, though as of the time of writing he’s available at a nice 80/1.
He finally got his breakthrough win at the Texas Open back in April and since then has carried his form on pretty well. In the last two weeks he’s had an eighth at the Canadian Open followed by a 13th last week at the Bridgestone.
He’s another big hitter who fits the bill nicely and when everything clicks for him, he can be very good.
A mixed bag at Quail Hollow in his career but two top 20’s previously when not at the level he is now proves it may well be a course that suits him.
Xander Schauffele (125/1 Bet365)
Finally, a youngster with a name I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce in Xander Schauffele. He was a relatively surprising winner of the Greenbrier Classic a month ago although if you look back at his results building up to that, it wasn’t really a shock.
That win gained him at place at The Open the following week and he finished in a very impressive 20th. Not only was that his first time playing a course such as Birkdale, it was only his second major appearance – the first being The US Open in June where he was an even more impressive fifth.
Over the last three months Xander ranks seventh in Driving Distance, 15th in GIR and sixth in Scrambling, though that does only cover the PGA tour players.
If the Californian continues in that vein, it would be no surprise to see him go well again this week.
USPGA Championship – Rory McIlory (8/1 each-way Betfred)
USPGA Championship – Jon Rahm (28/1 each-way William Hill)
USPGA Championship – Kevin Chappell (80/1 each-way 888)
USPGA Championship – Xander Schauffele (125/1 each-way Bet365)