It’s the last chance this year for golf’s best to add their name to the illustrious Major-winning list.
As the final Major of the year, the PGA Championship has often been termed ‘Glory’s Last Shot’, but from next year, it will take place in May before the U.S. Open.
This week’s event takes place at Bellerive Country Club, in St Louis, Missouri. This 7,329 yard par 70 has hosted two previous Majors – the U.S. Open in 1965 and the PGA Championship in 1992. Those events don’t provide any clue regarding course form, but it did host the BMW Championship in 2008.
The leaderboard for that event still doesn’t tell us much, but it’s worth browsing, with the likes of Brandt Snedeker and Charley Hoffman struggling on that occasion.
The talk surrounding the course suggests that form off-the-tee will be essential this week. This looks to the case, with water hazards coming into play on 11 holes, and the course having large, undulating greens, so while greens-in-regulation might not be the defining factor, all round great ball striking is needed to contend here.
World number one Dustin Johnson (8/1) headlines the betting at single figures. Despite missing the cut at The Open, he went on to win the RBC Canadian Open, and is very much capable of destroying this softened course.
He’s followed by Rory McIlroy (12/1), who had his third poor final round of the year at the WGC Bridgestone last week. The previous two came at the BMW PGA Championship in Europe, and of course the Masters. This poor Sunday contention and concerns over both his irons and putting make McIlroy a risky venture at this price.
Defending champion Justin Thomas (14/1) won in style at Firestone, and despite his up-and-down form at times, he has won two big events in 2018. The correlation between good WGC Bridgestone form and PGA Championship success sees Thomas very well placed to emulate Brooks Koepka (20/1) in defending his Major title.
Koepka himself is well suited to this kind of course, and there’s nothing there for us to put you off backing him.
The always fancied Justin Rose (22/1) was forced to withdraw from last week’s event in Ohio with an injury, and though that is very much a risk to consider, it is reflected in his odds of 22s.
Tiger Woods’ (28/1) momentum has stalled after a dreadful weekend at Firestone. Two rounds of 73 derailed a fine start, and his comments about not practising on Saturday evening for need of a rest aren’t inspiring.
We’re going with three main picks, and two outsiders. Though the PGA Championship is the most fertile Major for an outside winner, the form of some of the world’s best will prove difficult for a lower contender to deal with over the course of 72 holes.
Jason Day (18/1) – Someone with a bit more meat on his odds than the DJ/JT/Rory trio is the 2015 champion.
His form in 2018 has truly been topsy-turvy, but the injury prone Aussie has won twice at the Wells Fargo and Farmers Insurance. He’s finding his form once again, having gone 10-17-12 in his last three outings, and given that the course is playing soft and said to favour those with a high ball flight, Day could easily claim his second Major somewhat under the radar.
Tommy Fleetwood (25/1) – The mercurial ball striker has been right in the mix in both the U.S. Open and The Open. It won’t be any different this time around. Some mediocre rounds have offset his magnificent mid to low 60 rounds in the Majors, but recent form of 14-6-12 suggest that his game has found more consistency since his missed cut at the difficult French Open.
Francesco Molinari (30/1) – That we disregarded a player in the form of his life for The Open still stings.
He had played at the John Deere Classic in America the week prior to his Carnoustie win, preparation which ultimately put us off. Wins at Wentworth, the Quicken Loans National where he basically lapped the field, and of course at The Open, see the Italian in the form of his life. While his ball striking ability is a positive at Bellerive, the soft conditions may work against him in terms of distance.
Xander Schauffele (60/1) – These are some odds for a player that finished runner-up at The Open and tied 6th at the U.S. Open. Another runner-up at The Players showcases his propensity for the big time tournaments, and this impressive player in only the fourth year of his professional career receives our full backing.
Aaron Wise (100/1) – After his brilliant AT&T Byron Nelson win, we backed this PGA Tour rookie to feature prominently at Shinnecock Hills. Though that didn’t come to pass, his sixth place finish last week could represent a timely return to form after five straight missed cuts following his maiden PGA Tour win.