It’s the fourth and final golf major of the calendar year, and the last chance for the sport’s finest operators to create their own slice of history. For Jordan Spieth, the chance to complete the career Grand Slam of US Open, British Open, Masters and PGA Championship wins is available – not bad for a somebody who has just turned 24. But a lack of history at the host venue, Quail Hollow, may just hold him back.
This course in Charlotte, North Carolina usually plays host to the annual Wells Fargo Championship, but it has been altered slightly this week to bring it up to major spec. One of the Par 5s has been downgraded to a Par 4 (changing the track from a Par 72 to 71), with the total yardage increased up to a maximum of 7,600 yards. With rain around, this is going to play exceptionally long this week.
There are going to be lots of long irons to be played this week then, so accurate approach play will be essential for any potential winner. Reliable putting on Bermudagrass, as opposed to the former Bentgrass surfaces, will also be key.
Major winners generally show semblances of form prior to their victory, so this week our profile is for a long, straight hitter in good form.
So who make up the best bets for the PGA Championship 2017?
We’re not actually backing an outright winner in the PGA Championship, and the reason for that is quite simple: our strongest fancies are Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama, and while a strong case can be made for either they are simply too short in the market at 8/1 and 12/1 respectively. The rewards simply do not tally up with the risks!
If you are looking for a strong each way play here, perhaps Charley Hoffman (50/1) is worthy of investment. He’s been in excellent form of late, finishing inside the top-10 in four of his last six starts, and he has shown well enough at the Masters and the US Open to confirm he is comfortable playing on the major stage. Solid off the tee, he has all the attributes to finish inside the 8-10 places quoted by the bookmakers.
Top 10 Finish
There are a pair of fancies in this market we can Dutch and still return a healthy profit should one oblige.
First up is Paul Casey (9/2), who fits the bill as a serial major top-ten finisher – three of his last seven appearances in majors have yielded such a return.
The Englishman has been playing consistently good golf in 2017, and warmed up for his tilt at the title in North Carolina with a top-five finish in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week.
Casey’s long range iron game is exceptional, and as long as his putter is firing there is no reason why he can’t finish inside the first ten home.
Daniel Berger (11/2) is a player that has come of age this year, bagging his second PGA Tour title and a litany of other top-10 finishes. He could have won the recent Travelers Championship too, but lost out to Jordan Spieth’s ridiculous chip-in from off the green.
In his last visit to Quail Hollow, Berger ended up finishing 17th – but his outstanding tee-to-green stats there suggest that, with a hotter putter, he could well slide into the top ten with the minimum of fuss.
Top 20 Finish
With ties counting we can easily see up to 25 players qualifying for the top-20 market, and so there is ample scope for punters here. Zach Johnson (3/1) is playing some excellent golf at the moment, and while he lacks length off the tee he often seems to find a way to navigate that potential problem with some excellent long iron approaches. The two-time major winner finished 14th at the Open Championship a fortnight ago, and was second last time out at the WGC Bridgestone event.
Another in decent nick is Kevin Chappell (7/2), the prodigiously-long hitter who has finished inside the top 20 in his last pair of starts – eighth at the Canadian Open, thirteenth at the WGC Bridgestone – and posted two top-20 finishes in three visits to Quail Hollow.
And how about a slither of 7/1 about James Hahn, the last man to win at Quail Hollow in 2016? He’s been playing well for a while now with three top-ten finishes in his last seven starts, and a major top-20 is certainly not beyond his capabilities.