The 2019 PGA Championship marks the second major on the golfing calendar and will kick off this Thursday night (AEST) from the famous Bethpage Black Course in Long Island, New York.
Tiger Woods won the first major of the year, The Masters, in thrilling fashion last month and he’ll enter the PGA Championship as favourite. We take a look at the tournament in full and give our betting tips below.
The top golfers in the world will descend on New York this weekend to battle it out for the second major of the season, the PGA Championship. Defending champion, Brooks Koepka, will be and hunting a fourth major championship in the span of three years while Tiger Woods will be looking to solidify one of the most famous comebacks in all of sport after winning The Masters just last month.
The Bethpage Black Course is famous for a few things, most notably; it’s unrelenting nature and ridiculous conditions. Finding the fairways at Bethpage Black is extremely difficult due simply to how thing they are and if you do miss them, it’s a death sentence for a few reasons. First of all, there are hundreds of bunkers lining the fairways and the greens throughout the course. You won’t find any water hazards on Bethpage Black but missing the fairways by the barest of margins will have you playing off a variety of different surfaces which can feature some of the trickiest and downright unplayable lies in all of golf.
If you think you can just play 3-wood and long irons throughout the course to boost your fairway numbers, think again. At 7,432 yards, this Par 70 is a monster for most professional golfers on tour at the famous sign that greets golfers on the first tee reads true “WARNING: The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers”.
Accuracy off the tee is what we’ll be targeting this week. Players who hit fairways more than anyone else will no doubt give themselves the best chance to win. Putting is not a massive issue this week, generally, the greens play fairly consistent and easy, hitting GIR is the key.
As you’d expect with a major championship, the field is absolutely stacked. Anyone who you’d expect to be on the tee with over $10 million USD on the line, is. Defending champion Brooks Koepka had a good outing at the AT&T Byron Nelson on the weekend and will come into the tournament in good form looking to go back to back.
All of the top 30 golfers in the world will be present at the tournament, headlined by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Tony Finau.
Bethpage hasn’t hosted a PGA Tour event since ‘The Barclays’ back in 2016, which was won by former Masters champion Patrick Reed with a score of just nine under par. Other players to finish highly in that tournament who will be in contention this weekend included Aussie pair Jason Day and Adam Scott, who finished T4 alongside Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who all had top 10 finishes.
Key statistics we’ll be targeting this week:
- Shots gained: Off the tee
- Shots gained: Tee-to-green
- Driving accuracy
- Driving distance
When factoring in those key stats, two players standout above the rest heading into the PGA Championship this week, the first of which is Spaniard Jon Rahm ($21). Rahm rankings on PGA Tour are 13th in SG: tee-green, 2nd in SG: off the tee, 20th in driving distance and 80th in driving accuracy at over 63%. He is arguably one of the straightest of the known long hitters and has been in great form of late. Rahm is just a week removed from a fantastic win in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event alongside teammate Ryan Palmer and finished T9 in The Masters a few weeks prior to that. He has played 12 PGA Tour events this season and already boasts eight top 10 finishes and is yet to miss the cut. Statistically, Bethpage seems to suit Rahm perfectly.
The other player who stands out and who is extremely hard to look past regardless of the course in his current form is Rory McIlroy ($13). Rory has started in 10 GA Tour events so far this year and boats top ten finishes in eight of them including the impressive win at The Players Championship back in March. He was T21 at The Masters but Bethpage suits him a lot more than Augusta. Bounced back in the Wells Fargo Championship a few weeks ago, finishing T8 at Quail Hollow which is famously one of the toughest tests on the tour. Ranks #1 on tour in SG: tee to green, #1 in SG: off the tee, #2 in driving distance and while his accuracy has been off, he still finds the fairway almost 60% of the time, which is higher than other notable long drivers in the likes of Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau and Cameron Champ.
For value, we love the look of veteran pair Henrik Stenson ($51) and Matt Kuchar ($51). We are looking for consistent players who hit the fairways and greens more than anyone else this weekend and there aren’t many that do that better than this pair. Kuchar ranks No.8 in driving accuracy on tour while Stenson is at No.7, both hitting the fairways at over 70%. Stenson is one of the best long iron players on tour which allows him to hit his favourite 3-wood off the tee consistently while Kuchar is arguably one of the best tee-to-green players on tour, ranking No.11 in shots gained in that category. ‘Kuch’ has made the cut in all 13 of his PGA Tour events this season and has finished in the top 25 in nine of those events, is ridiculous value to finish in the top 20 this weekend after finishing T7 (Valero Texas), T12 (Masters) and 2nd (RBC Heritage) in his last three tournaments.
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