PGA Championship Preview And Betting Tips10 min read
The year’s second major takes place this week with the PGA Championship moving to a May date for the first time since 1949. It has only been one month since Tiger Woods completed his extraordinary comeback with victory at the Masters but all the focus now turns to Bethpage Black.
The New York course is renowned as a beast and scoring will undoubtedly be difficult at the 7,432 yard par 70. Long, accurate drivers will be at a big advantage this week while players with confidence putting on Poa Annua greens will also have an edge over the rest of the field.
Woods is well rested as he makes his first start since his glorious triumph at Augusta National. The 12/1 shot goes in search of his 16th major title and has previous success at Bethpage Black after victory in the 2002 US Open.
Koepka out to defend his title
The course was also used for the 2009 rain-soaked US Open which was won by Lucas Glover while Patrick Reed was the champion three years ago, when Bethpage Black last hosted a tournament, with a score of nine-under-par at The Barclays.
Brooks Koepka is edging favouritism this week and the major-winning machine has to be backed for more success. Koepka is defending the title but this has proved no obstacle for him with the American successfully winning back-to-back US Open titles. The 29-year-old is at his best on the big stage, with three major victories from his last seven starts. Throw in a tie for second last month behind Woods at the Masters and it is clear he peaks for the most important weeks of the year.
Koepka’s confidence and mental strength in the majors is impossible to overlook and he comes in this week with even more momentum on his side. His last two individual starts have seen him finish inside the top four and his game was in excellent shape last weekend. Koepka, who shot 20-under-par for fourth place at the AT&T Byron Nelson, was delighted with the way he was playing and putting. Woods is obviously respected but the pick of the favourites has to be Koepka and he is a confident selection at 10/1 each way.
Rahm in contention for his first major
Jon Rahm has developed into one of the best players in the world and the powerful Spaniard looks ready to land his first major title this week. The 24-year-old has been exceptionally consistent this season winning the Hero Challenge in December and claiming victory in the team event alongside Ryan Palmer, on his last start, at the Zurich Classic. He started the year with five successive top tens and has since added three more, including a tie for ninth at the Masters last month.
Rahm looks increasingly comfortable competing in majors with fourth place at last year’s PGA Championship matched by his 2018 result at Augusta National. The fiery Spaniard could be difficult to beat if he controls his temperament and his first PGA Tour title came on the Poa Annua greens at a difficult Torrey Pines in 2017. Ranked second for strokes gained off the tee, his long and relatively accurate driving will be a big asset at Bethpage Black. Rahm is fancied to contend for his breakthrough major at 20/1 each way.
Xander Schauffele is another player that thrives on the big stage and he could be celebrating a first major triumph this weekend. The 25-year-old has shown immense composure in a series of nerveless performances including a tie for second at Augusta last month. The American has a superb strike rate of four top-six finishes from eight major appearances including fifth on his debut at the US Open in 2017.
Schauffele has won four times in the last three years and established himself as one of the best closers on the PGA Tour. He started this season with a superb victory at the WGC HSBC Champions in China before a closing 62 secured the win at the Tournament of Champions. Schauffele is ranked fifth for final round scoring average and if he gets into contention this weekend it would be no surprise if finished off the job. The world number nine merits support at 28/1 each way.
Sergio Garcia has a terrific track record at Bethpage Black and the Spaniard is backed to continue this with a title challenge this week in New York. His first appearance at the course resulted in fourth place at the 2002 US Open. Garcia also finished tenth in the 2009 US Open and third in the 2012 Barclays so his comfort level at the track is obvious.
The 2017 Masters champion appears to be hitting top form ahead of this week which bodes well for his chances of a second major title. Garcia flourished alongside Tommy Fleetwood as the pair finished second at the Zurich Classic last month. He took this momentum into Quail Hollow where a nine-under-par weekend saw him take fourth spot. Garcia’s mix of course and current form suggests he will be a factor this week at 45/1 each way.
Cantlay and Piercy the pick of the other outsiders
Patrick Cantlay has long been touted as one of the most talented players in the world and he could be ready to fulfil his potential at Bethpage Black. The 27-year-old enjoyed his best major finish last month after briefly taking the lead in the Masters. Cantlay slipped back to a tie for ninth but will have learned from the experience greatly and can put this to use quickly this week.
Cantlay tied for third place in his last strokeplay event at the Heritage and has finished inside the top ten seven times already this season. The Californian should be comfortable on the putting surfaces after taking fourth place on the Poa Annua greens at Riviera last season. Ranked third for scoring average and tenth for strokes gained tee to green, he has the long game class to handle this tough layout. Cantlay is also third for scrambling and a sharp short game will only strengthen his chances at 45/1 each way.
There have been plenty of shock winners of the PGA Championship over the years and Scott Piercy looks the pick of the fancy prices. Piercy has been in outstanding form over the last month with his two most recent individual tournaments resulting in top-three finishes. His performance in Dallas last weekend was remarkable, with Piercy runner-up on 21-under-par, as he did not drop a single shot all week.
Piercy, who was 22nd at Bethpage Black three years ago, contended at the 2013 PGA Championship with fifth place at Oak Hill, another challenging par 70 New York course. His best major performance came in 2016 with second place at Oakmont in the US Open. With 92.9 per cent driving accuracy and 83.3 per cent for greens in regulation on his last start, Piercy is playing superbly and in this form could easily outrun his odds at 125/1 each way.
Brooks Koepka Each Way
Jon Rahm Each Way
Xander Schauffele Each Way
Sergio Garcia Each Way
Patrick Cantlay Each Way
Scott Piercy Each Way
Join Tiger on the hunt for his SIXTEENTH major this week at the #PGAChampionship 🐯
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) May 13, 2019