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28th Jul 2016

Forget McIlroy, Spieth and Johnson – Here’s who to back at the PGA Championship

Andrew Pierse

Nooooo, it’s finally here. The final major of the year has slowly crept up on us, meaning a bittersweet weekend lies ahead for golf fans around the world.

The PGA Championship has lost its usual mid-August slot in the calendar as a result of the Olympics, so we’ve barely had time to recover from Henrik Stenson’s heroics at Troon 10 days ago. However, despite the uncharacteristic lack of hype and build-up over the last few days, one thing is for sure; we have one hell of an exciting four days ahead of us.

The seasons closing major makes its return to Baltusrol this year for the first time since Phil Mickleson stole the show in 2005, and it’s the perfect venue for the championship that’s been arguably the most exciting of the four majors over the last five-years.

The iconic New Jersey course has hosted some of the most exciting Sunday finishes in golf and if we’ve learned anything from the championships held here in the past, it’s that this is a ball strikers golf course. Whoever wins here must be long and straight off the tee, and an excellent lag-putter due to the sheer size of the greens.

Obviously this week there are some clear favourites when it comes to choosing a winner, however finding value for money among the world’s elite will be slightly more difficult.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson are the obvious frontrunners as a result of their length and accuracy off the tee, but at 9/1, neither is too appealing for the punter. The same applies to Henrik Stenson whose odds have dropped dramatically since his maiden major win. If you’re looking to make money this week, you’re going to have to look elsewhere, but lucky for you, there are some great odds on offer.

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - JULY 26: Sergio Garcia of Spain hits a shot during a practice round prior to the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on July 26, 2016 in Springfield, New Jersey. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia (26/1): I really fancy Sergio to make a real go at it this week. He’s been in great form recently with top-5 finishes at both the Open two weeks ago and at the US Open back in June. A huge win at the Byron Nelson in May seemed to do wonders for his confidence and I’ve no doubt he’s been given a new lease on life since his good friend Henrik Stenson finally ended his quest for major glory at Troon. Sergio is one of the best ball strikers the game has ever seen and has been knocking on the door for so long. If his putter is any way hot this week he’s my favourite to go all the way.

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - JULY 25: Branden Grace of South Africa hits a shot on the practice range during a practice round prior to the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on July 25, 2016 in Springfield, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Branden Grace (51/1): I had him as my favourite to win at Troon a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately he got shafted with wrong side of the draw weather-wise. This guy is a hugely underrated talent though. He finished 5th at the US Open last month, had a great win at the RBC Heritage in April, has had a string of top-10 finishes since the start of the year and he finished 3rd in this same event in 2015. Grace’s beautiful low ball flight, accuracy off the tee and world-class short-game make him a top prospect heading into this week, and considering he was as short as 22/1 to win the Open a couple of weeks ago, 51/1 is an absolute steal.

JB Holmes (61/1): He’s long. He’s straight. He can putt. He knows how to win. He’s hungry for a major. JB Holmes is another man who’s been there or there abouts for so long now. He’s had some amazing finishes this year including a 3rd place finish at the Open, 4th place at the Masters in April and 5 other top 10s on the PGA tour since the turn of the year. Baltusrol suits this guy so expect him to be near the top by the conclusion of this week.

TROON, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Kevin Chappell of the United States hits his tee shot on the 6th during the first round on day one of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 14, 2016 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kevin Chappell (101/1): As an each-way bet this week, this is as good a bet as you’re going to find. Kev Chappell has had three 2nd place finishes and a 3rd place finish so far this year, including an amazing run at the Players Championship back in May. He’s been competing at the top level and is in fantastic form. Again his driving and putting stats seem to suit Baltusrol as a golf course and although he might not go all the way this week, he’s more than capable of a top-5 finish.

Those to Avoid:

Jordan Spieth (15/1): He just hasn’t had a good enough year to justify those short odds. If Jordan can get his putting going he’ll win. But Jordan hasn’t putted well for 8 or 9 months now. He’s a one-dimensional player and I just don’t think his ball striking and in particular his driving is good enough to see him through here.

Jason Day (12/1): He’s the defending champion and the world’s number 1 golfer. He’s also got the flu, again. Talk about a crap run of luck. I feel bad for Jason to be honest. He’s played well lately but health problems have put a stop to any momentum he’s been picking up in the run-up to majors this year. Both him and his wife were sick earlier in the week meaning he missed the practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday. Although he got out to play a round yesterday that was his first look at Baltusrol. Not the sort of preparation you want going into a major. Of course anything can happen but I don’t think 12/1 presents much value considering the situation. 

Best of the Specials:

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson is 10/1 to finish in the top-20. He finished 8th at Troon a couple of weeks ago. Value for money? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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