Working on the theory that two heads are better than one, former European Tour pro and now Sky Sports golf analyst and Mirror tipster Gary Murphy and myself teamed up to run the rule over who to back in the final Major of the year, the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

We think we've found some excellent each way opportunities in the middle order of the betting.




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And here's the written preview below.  (I will update this post again following the WGC Bridgestone.)

2014 US PGA Championship Betting Preview and Tips,
Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky.
Purse: $10,000,000

The Course


Valhalla in Louisville Kentucky has seen its fair share of drama down the years.  My first memory of it is from 1996 when Mark Brooks beat Kenny Perry in a playoff for the PGA Championship. Perry stayed in the commentary booth when Brooks was playing the final holes when he should have been on the range practicing!  In 2000 Tiger Woods went head to head with an on-fire Bob May.  May held his own all day with Woods and canned an epic downhiller on the 72nd hole for birdie only to watch Woods do the same to force a three hole playoff which Woods went on to win.  Tiger birdied seven of his last 12 holes that day.  The 2008 Ryder Cup came to Valhalla with Woods absent from Team USA.  It didn’t seem to bother the Americans who went on to win easy after Nick Faldo made a right royal cock-up of his final day singles order. I recall Poults and Rose had a good week for Europe while Furyk played well for the USA.

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Favourites


Rory McIlroy now 11/2 from  15/2 is highly fancied to recreate the glory of Kiawah Island in 2012.  The price is a little below my 10/1 betting ceiling however, and after all the physical and emotional exertions of winning the Open Championship and WGC it will take a monumental effort for Rory to pull of a threepeat.  More enticing to punters may be second favourite Adam Scott at 12/1. Still incredibly lightly raced this year, since winning the Crowne Plaza in May, Scott has T4 at Memorial, T9 at the US Open and T5 at the British where he lead the field in greens hit in regulation for the tournament. Also notched a T8 at Firestone. Combine all that with a T5 at Oakhill in 2013 and indeed a worst place of T11 in the last three PGA Championships and it all adds up to a decent bet, even to pay out each way.

Doc’s Top 5 To Watch


Henrik Stenson 25/1

You could see that Henrik was busting a gut to do well at Hoylake and in trying to force the issue the frustration showed.  He was highly fancied then after a great run in with top 10’s at Wentworth and in Sweden, a T4 in Pinehurst and T2 in Munich but it just didn’t happen in Liverpool.  This time Henrik will enjoy going a little more under the radar and with three top-6 finishes since 2008 including a solo third at Oakhill in 2013, I give him a great chance.  Lead the field in greens hit at this year’s US Open, a stat that speaks volumes in my book.

Rickie Fowler 25/1

I think Butch Harman is getting a lot of the credit for Rickie Fowler’s incredible form since the St Jude Classic but I’d argue it’s his putting as much as his new swing that’s contributing here.  Since that T13 in Memphis, Fowler has a T2 at Pinehurst, T8 in Aberdeen and T2 at Hoylake.  In all four tournaments Fowler finished in the top-12 in total putting. T19 at Oakhill last year but is a different animal this time around. Cut through the field with a 67 to climb to T8 at Firestone Rickie deserves his Major.


Jim Furyk 33/1

Jim Furyk has been pilloried lately as the guy who always comes second, but the great news for golf punters is that second, third, fourth and fifth can all be winners on each way bets.  Jim added Canada to his seconds at Wells Fargo and The Players but his T12 performance at Pinehurst and solo fourth at Hoylake were also highly creditable.  What is making Furyk dangerous on just about every course is his ability to get the ball in play off the tee and work from there.  Just a few stats for Jim to show what I mean: T2 in driving at the US Open, 2nd in driving and T2 in putting at The Open and first in greens hit in Canada.  Yes Valhalla is a different test to the par 70 Oakhill where he finished second to Dufner last year, but I still think Furyk will stay out of the Kentucky bluegrass rough and make us money this week. Shot four rounds in the 60's at the WGC also.

Justin Rose 25/1

Justin Rose may have been on the losing European Ryder Cup Team in 2008 but I’m thinking he’ll be relishing a return to Valhalla.  Together with Ian Poulter, Rose played great back then and coming off recent wins in Scotland and Congressional he’s sure to be still very confident of his chances.  Critics will say he didn’t show up at the US or British Opens, but I would argue that a T12 and T23 finishes are by no means a disgrace. Furthermore Rose finished in the top-20 in both driving and greens hit stats in all four events mentioned and when he putted well he won.  Valhalla won’t be a million times different from that stiff Congressional test so Rose makes my five. T4 at Bridgestone in the warm up and best PGA Championship finish of T3 in 2012 when Rory won.

Keegan Bradley 33/1

It has been a mixed bag for Keegan this season so far with a second at Arnie’s event and T4 at Pinehurst the highlights.  Finished T4 also at Greenbrier a few weeks back and I thought his T19 at The Open was pretty good given his game is not best suited to links. But it looks now that Keegs is hitting form with another excellent T4 in the WGC last week.  He's a fan of is PGA layouts after winning at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011 and tying 3rd behind McIlroy the following year. Not to be discounted if he gets that putter to behave.

Long Odds Glory Shots


Angel Cabrera 80/1 plays his golf off the cuff and as such you are going to have good and bad weeks.  But when El Pato is on, he is amazing like we saw at The Greenbrier. Funny enough I thought he putted much better at the Travelers and Quicken Loans before that win and something tells me he could be a great each way bet this week.  Big Argentinian lumbering around in 30 degrees heat, what’s not to like?!
Paul Casey 100/1 just needs to bump into some magical putting guru on the practice green at Valhalla because I’m telling you NOBODY is hitting as many greens in reg then mucking it all up with the short stick as him!  The week he finds his touch he scores big.
Marc Leishman now 60/1 from 100/1 is a good putter and really caught my eye in finishing T5 at Hoylake.  Looked comfortable in exalted company too at Firestone in finishing solo third.





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