The year’s final major, the PGA Championship, starts on Thursday, less than two weeks since Henrik Stenson won the Open Championship at Royal Troon.
That makes it the shortest turnaround in golf majors in the modern era, and with less form to analyse in between these events, it arguably becomes more difficult for us punters to figure out who’s the value play.
Baltusrol Golf Club hosts the PGA Championship for the second time (the other was back in 2005) and has hosted seven US Opens since the course was founded in 1895.
At 7,400 yards it’s a long course, but not scarily long. The guys who hit shorter off the tee but have solid longer range approach play still have a chance here.
Let’s take a look at the key statistics we should be looking at this week.
Key stats for Baltusrol
- Strokes gained off the tee
- Strokes gained around the tee
- Approach play from around 200 yards
- Par 4 performance (450-500 yards)
Strokes gained off the tee
Rory McIlroy tops the recent form for this stat, with DJ a fraction behind him in second place. Rafa Cabrera Bello comes in third, JB Holmes in fourth, and Ross Fisher fifth.
Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson also find themselves in the top 10.
Strokes gained around the green
We’ll likely see a few more bogies this week. Looking at the make-up of the course, those who can consistently get it up and down from the edge of the green to save par will surely fare well.
Bryce Molder is leading this statistic form-wise, with Webb Simpson second and Matthew Fitzpatrick third.
Other notable entries in the top ten are Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
We’ll be seeing a lot of approach shots from the 200 yard range this week. That’s good news for those backing Henrik Stenson to go back-to-back in majors as he typically does well from that range.
Jim Furyk, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar all make the top ten for strokes gained in this stat in recent events. Phil Mickleson and Jason Day also fare well.
Par 4 performance (450-500 yard range)
It will come as no surprise to anyone to find out Dustin Johnson leads the tour in 2015/2016 for this statistic. DJ’s excellent tee-play is a great asset from this distance.
Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson make up the rest of the top 5, some very big-hitters there in what could be a critical statistic this week.
Not much has changed since The Open seeing as there’s only been one tournament since. Most of the top players in world golf are in fantastic form, and it’s difficult to see a longer-shot punt winning it.
Henrik Stenson’s win at Troon gives him all the momentum, and he fits this course well but 16/1 is a too short for my liking. He has a bit more to prove before he can be considered in the same bracket at ‘the big four’. He definitely has a chance here, but I just don’t think he should be lower than 20s.
Phil Mickelson deserves a mention after his own brilliant performance at Troon. At 20/1 to win, though, I can’t get involved. I love Phil, but he’s not the golfer he was four or five years ago. You simply can’t justify that price in a field of so many in-form top golfers.
It says a lot about Dustin Johnson’s form that his ninth place finish at Troon will be seen as a disappointment. He’s followed that with a runner-up finish at the Canadian Open last week so he remains THE form player right now.
Rory McIlroy managed a top 5 at The Open despite never really threatening to win it. While he isn’t at his scintillating best, he does keep back-dooring the top tens of these majors, so in terms of form he isn’t that far away from contending.
Jason Day is also skirting in and around the edges of contention lately, with a decent T22 at The Open, followed by T14 in Canada. At a similar price to DJ, though, I’m going to have to begrudgingly cut Jason from my shortlist.
That just leaves Jordan Spieth from the big four, who’s become almost the forgotten man compared to this time last year. Spieth, interestingly, comes in at the same price as Stenson for this event. If I had to choose one I’d favour Stenson, just about, but I’ve decided to give them both a swerve as I think there’s better value out there.
PGA Championship betting picks
As always, remember to shop around using a site such as oddschecker to find the best price. The each way terms vary, too, with some bookmakers paying the top six or seven for a place, that can be the difference between making money and losing it.
Dustin Johnson: To win – 8/1 with Bet365 (bet now)
Justin Rose: Each way – 33/1 with Ladbrokes (bet now)
JB Holmes: Each way – 66/1 with Bet365 (bet now)
Dustin Johnson: To win
DJ just didn’t get going at The Open and a few punters, myself included, were left disappointed that he never really threatened.
Saying that, top ten in any major is still a good result and Dustin reinforced that with a second placed finish last week.
The course sets up well for DJ here. His driving distance can make a course like this a whole lot easier to navigate.
I was burned at Troon by backing Dustin (if you could say that about a golf bet), but that isn’t going to deter me from backing him again. He’s the stand-out selection from the top end of the list.
With the range of this course you’re going to need to hit a lot of good long iron shots and that brings Rose to the forefront of my thinking, as quite simply he’s one of the best golfers in the world at it.
Stenson and Mickleson ripped up the course at Troon in spectacular fashion and as a result much of the press attention is focused on them.
We’ve seen their prices shorten considerably coming into the PGA. That has pushed the likes of Rose into the 30s range which I believe represents good value for a player suited to this venue who’s shown he can bring it home in a major before.
JB Holmes: Each way
JB can absolutely bomb it off the tee and like Dustin that puts him at an advantage here. If he can persistently gain 20/30 yards on some of the trickier approach shots it can make a massive difference to his chances come Sunday.
A third placed finish at The Open gives him confidence and momentum coming into the final major of the year, and at 66/1 it’s good outside bet.
US PGA Championship start time
The tournament starts on Thursday, July 28, with the first tee time at noon BST.