This week, all but two of the world’s top 112 players are set to complete at the iconic Bellerive Country Club in the 100th iteration of the US PGA Championship.
This St. Louis course, which is hosting a major tournament for just the third time in its history, will offer a huge and unfamiliar challenge for many of the players. Given this and the competitive nature of the field, this years US PGA Championship is set to be more keenly contested than ever.
Here, take a look at which key contenders are likely to win one of golf’s most coveted majors.
The Background Story – Who’s Arriving in Form?
The early favourite for the US PGA Championship is the world number two and defending champion Justin Thomas, who warmed up for the tournament with an outstanding victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.
Thomas was clearly in top form at the Firestone Country Club last week, as he held off the challenges from Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter to record a final-round 69 and claim the title. This could prove the ideal preparation for the one-time major winner and makes him one of the key contenders to beat this time round.
World number one Dustin Johnson also performed well at Firestone, mounting a late tilt at the title as he raced to seven under on the final day in the first 10 holes. However, the former U.S. Open champion could not maintain this form, as he settled for a 64 and tied for third with Thorbjørn Olesen.
He’s sure to mount a challenge at Bellerive, with McIlroy also performing with enough quality and consistency to end a major drought that dates all the way back to August 2014. Interestingly, McIlroy’s last major came at the Valhalla Golf Course in the US PGA Championship, while Ulsterman has also won this title twice during his career.
Who are the Remaining Contenders for the Title?
With England’s Justin Rose having sat out the tournament at Firestone due to an ongoing back injury, world number eight Jordan Spieth is likely to be heavily backed at Bellerive.
This will be the young American’s second crack at completing the career Grand slam, as he looks set to become the second-youngest player ever to achieve this feat, after Tiger Woods. While he has showcased mixed form in the majors this year to date, Spieth’s innate composure and temperament on this grand stage will place him in good stead in St. Louis.
Given the evenly-matched nature of the men’s game at present, the winner of this years US PGA Championship could well come from elsewhere in the field. After all, only three of the last major tournaments have been won by players in the top five, with Johnson, McIlroy and Rose having failed to lift any during this time.
With this in mind, the world number 26 and 90/1 shot Kyle Stanley may be one to watch in St. Louis. Not only did the 30-year old finish second at Firestone following a final-round 68 that left him 11 under, but he also performed well across a number of tournaments throughout 2018 and achieved a similar result at the Memorial championships in June.
In addition to his form and pedigree, Stanley also boasts the type of robust long game that will fare well at Bellerive, and at such exorbitant odds he is surely worth a punt.
On a similar note, the defending U.S. Open championship Brooks Koepka offers exceptional value at a price of 20/1 for the win, particularly given his knack of delivering at major tournaments.
The American is the only player to win more than one major in the last fourteen outings, for example, while his consistency on the biggest stage is unmatched over the last four years. In his last sixteen slams since the beginning of 2014, Koepka has recorded two wins, four top six finishes and achieved a place in the top 20 on a further six occasions.
When you also consider that the talented 28-year old is hitting the ball exceptionally well and placed first for GIR at Firestone, he represents outstanding value as an each way bet.
The Last Word
If recent history is anything to go by, we can expect a handful of players to remain in contention deep into the final round at golf’s latest major.
While the rankings and law of averages would seem to suggest that elite performers such as McIlroy or Spieth may be due a major win, it’s hard to ignore the value and appeal of players like Koepka from the perspective of betting customers.
The latter is certainly to be recommended as an each way bet, particularly given his consistent form at majors, while the 16/1 shot and defending champion Thoman should be seriously considered by those looking to back an outright winner.