Tiger Wood’s capturing his 15th major and completing the ultimate sporting comeback has put golf back on the map as anticipation builds for the second major of the year!
The trials and tribulations of Woods have been compelling to watch but one thing is for sure, the game of golf is better for Tiger’s return to the top of the game.
With the sport re-energized, there is a real buzz around the PGA Championship and we are faced with some fascinating storylines this week: Can Tiger back up his Major breakthrough? Will Rory end his major drought? Is Spieth destined to complete the career Grand Slam?
This iconic course plays host to the PGA Championship. Historically, it has provided a stern examination for the players – in 2002, Bethpage hosted the US Open and it was the longest course in US Open history at just over 7200 yards.
Fast forward to 2019, the course has been lengthened to over 7400 yards and it will play its true distance due to the wet and chilly conditions.
A key feature of this tough layout is the huge bunkers. They are well positioned and well contoured to punish errant tee shots and force players to lay up. The bunkers are traditional hazards and strategy off the tee is of paramount importance.
Statistically, looking at figures from The Barclays here in 2012 and 2016, Bethpage limited scoring opportunities for the field. The three Par 5’s were the only source of respite and are the key to compiling a good score at this difficult venue.
Defending champion Koepka is a worthy favorite given his remarkable major record. For many, backing Brooks in majors is a given. He has won three of his last seven majors and came second to Tiger at the Masters last month.
He is a “major player” and peaks for the sports biggest events. That said, he was around 20/1 last year and is too short for me this week at 10/1.
Tiger has been absent from the Tour since his Masters win in April. Although we have become accustomed to Tiger picking and choosing his schedule, not playing a warm-up event raises alarm bells.
He was expected to play the Wells Fargo but pulled out nursing his ongoing back problems. With his fitness in question on a course that demands accuracy and power, 12/1 is too short and I feel we can find value elsewhere.
However, it is a bold claim to completely discount Tiger and perhaps backing him inplay could be an option over the weekend.
Major Glory for Rory at the PGA! 12/1
By Rory’s high standards, his career has stuttered in recent years on the major scene. However, in 2019 there is a different feel about the Northern Irishman.
He has adopted a refreshing attitude towards his golf and it has contributed to an impressive season. Rory leads the Tour in strokes gained and has posted Top 10 finishes for fun!
Rory’s talent demands victories and he was able to pick up the Players Championship to highlight that he was getting back to his best.
At the age of 30, I believe we are looking at the second chapter of his career. He has shown a greater level of maturity and is in a great place both mentally and with his game. Rory has a great chance to capture his third PGA Championship this week.
The Silent Assassin: Francesco Molinari 28/1
Golf’s silent assassin has made rapid strides to the top of the game. The Italian is the consummate professional and is a model of consistency. He remains underestimated by the market and he could defy the odds over the weekend.
Don’t be fooled by his calm on-course demeanour, he has a competitive fire within and is eager to capitalise on his major form this week. Francesco will be hurting from the Masters in April where he had a golden opportunity to take the Championship. He played flawless golf until the Sunday where alongside Tiger, he never really got started.
That said, it illustrates how far he has come to perform at a venue that he has struggled with in the past. His Ryder Cup exploits prove he has the bottle to cope with huge pressure, this was evident in his British Open victory. It was his maiden major and he went toe to toe with Tiger coming out on top.
He represents good each way value this week given his solid nature and the fact he has twice as many top 10’s in majors in his last six as he had in his first 32. Don’t be surprised with an Italian challenge over the weekend.
Xander’s American Dream: 28/1 EW
The Californian Xander Schauffele major record makes for impressive reading. In only his third full PGA Tour season, he has posted two-second places at major championships and several top 10’s. Is he ready to break free from his bridesmaid tag?
The answer is yes, Xander is in the mould of Brooks Koepka. A talented player who somehow flies under the radar and puts in big performances. He, like Brooks, has a knack of peaking for the big occasion on tough courses. This is ideal with Bethpage Black on the horizon.
At 25, he has already amassed four PGA Tour wins. To put that in context, Fowler has five wins to his name and is arguably the best player in history not to win a major.
Winning at East Lake in 2017 was a statement of intent that Schauffele was capable of competing and winning against the best. A first major Championship win this week would be a dream come true for Xander!
Sergio’s Spanish Excellence: 40/1 EW
Sergio Garcia is a player that will relish the challenge of Bethpage Black. He is widely accepted as one of the best ball strikers in the world; the blend of consistency off the tee and towering iron shots will be a key recipe for success at Bethpage Black.
It is no surprise that his record here is superb. He came 4th at the US Open in 2002, 10th in 2009 and 3rd at the Barclays in 2012. He knows his way around this track and will be quietly confident coming into this week with good form in 2019.
Fancy a bet on the golf? Have a look at our odds on Toalsbet.com