The second major of the golf season takes place this week as the US PGA Championship gets underway at the famed Bethpage Black course.
The 2019 hosting of the PGA is an historic event, as it lines up as the second major of the golfing calendar for the first time.
A rejig of the golfs world order has seen the PGA – the only all professional major – moved from its August slot to May – meaning it now slots in between the Masters and US Open, also meaning from April to July, there is now a golfing major every month
The major talking point is again Tiger Woods after he returned to winning ways at a major after his success at The Masters last month.
No gentleman’s handshake awaits the players at the PGA Championship: Bethpage Black’s opener is more of a slap in the face. A 430 yard par-4 from an elevated tee above a minuscule fairway doglegging 45 degrees to a narrow, two-tiered green. Welcome to major championship golf. pic.twitter.com/00taUIbhZK
— Cavalier Golf Photos (@LinksGems) May 13, 2019
Woods is again one of the favourites, and Bethpage is a place he knows and likes, having won one of his US Open titles at the course.
He has prepared for the PGA by not playing another tournament since winning at Augusta. His victory in Georgia was his 15th major title and he admits his next target is the 18 of Jack Nicklaus.
“I always thought it was possible, if I had everything go my way. It took [Nicklaus] an entire career to get to 18, so now that I’ve had another extension to my career, one that I didn’t think I had a couple of years ago, if I do things correctly and everything falls my way, yeah, it’s a possibility,” he said.
The other major talking point is whether Jordan Spieth could become only the sixth golfer of all time to claim a career Grand Slam – winning all four majors.
Nobody has achieved the feat since Woods in 2000, and Rory McIroy missed the chance to complete the set at Augusta.
As it stands that means only Spieth and Mickelson are left needing one, and Spieth admits he would love to complete the Grand Slam at Bethpage, and get one over on Mickelson.
Mickelson will go into next month’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach have already won at that course earlier this season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“It would be pretty cool bragging rights to try to complete the Slam before Phil,” Spieth said. “Not many people get bragging rights on Phil Mickelson. It would be pretty awesome to do.”
US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
- Bethpage Black Course, Georgia
- First staged in 1916
- Current champion is Brooks Koepka
OVERVIEW: The moving of the US PGA looks to be a master-stoke, and the anticipation is a great as anyone can remember.
Brooks Koepka is the defending champion and is one of the favourites to retain his crown, along with world number one Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
TOP TEN BETTING:
The Bookies point of view…
32Red’s Sponsorship manager Jack Milner delivers a weekly verdict on each tournament.
The USPGA Championship has a history of throwing up the odd surprise result, with YE Yang a huge shock when besting Tiger in 2008, and Americans Keegan Bradley, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner all very healthy prices when successful thereafter. With that in mind, it is difficult to fancy the trio of Tiger, World Number One Dustin Johnson and defending champion Brooks Koepka, who would be my favoured of the three.
Instead, I fancy a few of his compatriots with Xander Schaufele top of my shortlist after an excellent performance at last month’s US Masters. Schaufele scores well in both necessary department around Bethpage Black (T33 in Driving Distance and T28 in GIR respectively) and will have learned a lot last year at Carnoustie when contending in a major for the first time. A winner of the Tour Championship and a multiple winner on tour already, he looks poised to claim a first major success.
Bryson Dechambeau is another of a similar ilk, who is almost double the price he was for the first major of the year, has been ‘The Scientist’ fluffed his lines after leading The Masters on Thursday but is surely a major winning in waiting and is too big at around the 40/1 mark.
Of the European challengers, there was a lot to like about the performances of the Swedish pair of Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren last week and both remain very good tee-to-green, whilst they don’t come much better in that field than Louis Oosthuizen.
The South African squandered his chance from a promising position in the Zurich Classic with compatriot Charl Schwartzel. The pair made a ‘9’ at the opening hole during the second-round foursomes, ultimately missing the cut, but the break could have done Louis the world of good with the Saffer plagued with back injuries. He is one of the best players tee-to-green in the world and is chanced to add a second major to his collection.
At massive odds, I’d be willing to take a punt on the likes of recent winners Kurt Kitayama, Miko Korhonen and Adam Long all doing better than their current odds of 400/1 suggest.
Xander Schaufele @28/1 with 32Red
Bryson Dechambeau @40/1 with 32Red
Patrick Cantlay @45/1 with 32Red
Henrik Stenson @66/1 with 32Red
Louis Oosthuizen @66/1 with 32Red
Alex Noren @125/1 with 32Red
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
Am really pleased to see the US PGA moving, it looks a great slot for it and to have it at Bethpage Black, what is not to like?
Of the favourites, I think Tiger Woods will go well, but after having a month off, I am not sure he will be able to pick it up again and I can see Brooks Koepka putting up a fabulous defence and it would not surprise me to see him come away with the Wanamaker Trophy again.
Looking at the British invasion and I think that Ian Poulter looks a good price, I think he will enjoy Bethpage and he could very well be in the running come Sunday.
However, the one player I will really be cheering on is Jordan Spieth – a golfing Grand Slam is a historical, and to see him achieve that would be phenomenal.