Golf: 2019 USPGA Championship betting preview

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WLB debutant Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the 2019 USPGA Championship from Bethpage Black Course in Farringdale.

USPGA Championship | 16th-19th May 2019 | Sky Sports

One year past the century mark and the USPGA Championship has reverted to the second major on the golf calendar.

As you’d expect, an illustrious field of golfers will tee it up for a chance to win the Wanamaker Trophy and of course take a piece of the $11-million on offer in prize money – in fact, all of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings will be competing.

The full-field is 156 golfers deep and they will abide by the usual cut-line rule that top-70 and ties make it to the weekend.

The Course

  • Bethpage State Park – Black Course
  • A par 70 that can stretch to 7,459 yards.
  • Designed by AW Tillinghast when it first opened 83 years ago but it has since undertaken a number of redesigns which were at the hands of Rees Jones.
  • It has hosted the 2002 US Open (Tiger Woods), the 2009 US Open (Lucas Glover), the 2012 Barclays (Nick Watney) and the 2016 Barclays (Patrick Reed).
    The course will host the 2024 Ryder Cup.
  • Bethpage is one of the most challenging courses on the circuit, it is a long parklands set-up with thick, penal rough and a heavy dose of green-side bunkering.
  • The weather may well dictate some of the conditions this week as wind can play a factor and if there’s any rain then expect it to favour the longer hitters.

Key Pointers

  • The winner is likely to be strong in all aspects of their game, not only because it is a major but too because the course dictates that – big hitting ball-strikers, a long and accurate iron game with the ability to minimise mistakes and either hit a lot of greens or be able to miss them in the right areas.
  • Big-hitting will only be further emphasised if the course continues to be hit by rain.
  • Form in majors and on USPGA style courses.
  • Experience on AW Tillinghast designed courses (Ridgewood, Baltusrol) and Rees Jones redesigns (Bellerive, Torrey Pines).
  • Other correlated courses (Quail Hollow, Pebble Beach, Doral, Copperhead, TPC Boston).
  • WGC-Bridgestone form.

Jon Rahm (18/1 Paddy Power)

Rahm is a major winner in waiting and this could be the perfect fit for him.

He’s won seven times already in his short career on both the PGA and the European Tour, including just two weeks ago when he teamed up with Ryan Palmer to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans by three strokes.

In 2019, excluding matchplay, the world number 11 has finished outside the top-12 of an event just once – that’s seven top-10s in 12 events this calendar year, which is stellar form.

His form in majors since the start of 2018 reads 4th-MC-MC-T4th-T9th; two fourth-placed finishes at Augusta shows the level of his skill and his mettle. I think he can be forgiven for a few missed cuts, the Spaniard has been working hard on his temperament on the course and I think it is going to pay off in a big event sooner rather than later.

One of Rahm’s victories was at the Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines) – a Jones redesign which has POA Annua greens just like this week’s destination. He’s recorded a fourth at Quail Hollow – where Woods and Glover have both also won, Watney has too showed form at this event (all three winners at Bethpage). In addition, Rahm has shown form at Congressional (2017, T3), at TPC Boston (2017, T4) and at Copperhead this year (T6).

If we delve into his season so far statistically, we see he ranks seventh in Total Driving on the PGA Tour, which is a key statistic here as it will be important to be accurate yet long off the tee. The 24-year-old is also 13th in Bogey Avoidance whilst ranking in the top-60 on tour for SG: Approach, GIR and Proximity from >200.

He has the pedigree, form and skillset to thrive around Bethpage Black.

Take the 18/1 each-way with Paddy Power to ensure 10 paid places.

Jason Day (22/1 Paddy Power)

A man who is often criminally underrated by the bookies in major championships is Jason Day.

There’s always a risk to playing a man who always seems to be injured – but his career speaks for itself. He’s missed the cut just twice in his last 25 major appearances, this includes a win in this very tournament in 2015 at Whistling Straights as well as 11 top-10 finishes.

The former world number one has endured a pretty decent 2019 to date but is still without a win. A T5 at Torrey Pines followed by a T4 at Pebble Beach earlier in the year is a good link to this venue. He also shook off a potential injury during the first round at The Masters to only go and finish two shots off of the winner, Tiger Woods.

His iron play has been particularly poor but with an elite player like Day this can be ignored. He is simply one of the best on and around the greens and this is where he will contend this week. The Aussie ranks fifth in SG: Off-the-tee and inside the top-40 on tour this season for SG: Around-the-green, Total Driving, Bogey Avoidance and GIR.

In addition, Day is probably the best player in the field on AW Tillinghast designs – he actually gains 0.7 more strokes than the next best on his courses (futureoffantasy.com). He’s won at Torrey Pines twice, he’s won at Quail Hollow once, he’s come second to Jimmy Walker in defending his Wanamaker Trophy in 2016 at Baltusrol and has a handful of top-10s at Pebble Beach, Congressional and Ridgewood.

Day should at the very least be competitive this week and his record shows that if that’s the case, he will likely be in contention come Sunday afternoon.

Take the 22/1 each-way with Paddy Power to ensure 10 paid places.

Patrick Cantlay (45/1 Bet365)

This 27-year-old is destined for a big win sometime soon.

Patrick Cantlay has mounted an impressive comeback from the dark days of dealing with a fractured spine and the loss of his best friend. Touted for big things being the former World Amateur number one for 54 consecutive weeks, in 2017, he regained his tour card with a second-placed finish at the Valspar (Copperhead) – he also popped up with a T10th at the Northern Trust (Glen Oaks), a T13th at TPC Boston all of which correlate well to this week.

This season he comes into the second major having managed a T9 at The Masters which is sandwiched between a T6 at WGC-Mexico, a T9 at the Desert Classic and a T3 at RBC Heritage. He ranks inside the top-30 for SG: Approach (29th), SG: Off-the-tee (21st) and SG: Around-the-green (19th) whilst also being 3rd in the field for Bogey Avoidance.

He has a fantastic chance this week.

Take the 45/1 each-way with Bet365 to ensure eight paid places.

Gary Woodland (66/1 SkyBet)

Gary Woodland’s game right now is better than ever. He has the all-round game to compete here and his price only reflects his win equity over his career. However, he managed to break the five-year drought last year with a victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

2019 has seen the 34-year-old reach a career high 22nd in the Official Golf World Rankings. He started the year very strongly with a second in the Tournament of Champions, a T9 at Torrey Pines and a T7 defending his WMPO title. He hasn’t gone completely off the boil since picking up a handful of top 20 finishes.

He was last seen withdrawing from the Wells Fargo Championship at the start of the month but that shouldn’t be a worry citing illness as the issue. Woodland’s form over the last 12 months might take more emphasis when looking at his record in majors – it is particularly poor but it may be beginning to trend upwards slightly.

His T6 in this very tournament at Bellerive in the 2018 edition is encouraging as is the top-40 finish at the Masters, a course that doesn’t naturally suit him.

Woodland ranks first in this field for Total Driving, 17th on Tour for GIR and sixth on Tour for Proximity >200. His Approach game and Around-the-green game are more than adequate for this test.

Take the 66/1 each-way with SkyBet to ensure 10 paid places.

Julian Suri (200/1 Paddy Power)

It would be some achievement for your second professional win to be the USPGA Championship but nonetheless this American who plys his trade on the European Tour is a little overpriced.

All four of Julian Suri’s appearances in 2019 have resulted in a top-20, showing he has recovered well from a hernia operation. In that sample was a T2 at the Trophee Hassan and a T4 at a tough course in the Hero Indian Open. He’s made the cut in his last two major appearances, including a T19 at Bellerive where Brooks Koepka was victorious.

Suri can follow a similar career trajectory to Brooks by starting out on the European Tour. He ranks solidly for Total Driving, GIR, SG: T2G and Bogey Avoidance. If he can continue his form on the big stage then I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name up there and the 8/1 (William Hill) on a top 20 finish is too very appealing.

Take the 200/1 each-way with Paddy Power to ensure 10 paid places.

Best Bets

2019 USPGA Championship: Jon Rahm each-way (18/1 Paddy Power)

2019 USPGA Championship: Jason Day each-way (22/1 Paddy Power

2019 USPGA Championship: Patrick Cantlay each-way (45/1 Bet365)

2019 USPGA Championship: Gary Woodland each-way (66/1 SkyBet)

2019 USPGA Championship: Julian Suri each-way (200/1 Paddy Power)

2019 USPGA Championship: Julian Suri top 20 finish (8/1 William Hill)

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