The second major of the year is upon us. Steve Carroll picks out a quartet of players in line to lift the Wanamaker Trophy
Below is a rundown of my outright PGA Tour betting tips – you can see which outsiders I am backing here. But first…
The venue: Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York, USA
Date: May 16-19, 2019
Course stats: Par 70, 7,459 yards
Course summary: The sign warning players of its extreme difficulty isn’t just for show. It’s the hardest on the PGA Tour – long with ball grabbing rough and some tricky small greens. Hitting the fairway is imperative.
Purse: $11 million
Defending champion: Brooks Koepka (-16)
Thursday: Featured groups, Sky Sports Golf and Main Event, 1pm; Sky Sports Golf, 6pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 10pm
Friday: Featured groups, Sky Sports Golf, 1pm; Sky Sports Golf, 6pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 10pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf, 4pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 5.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf, 4pm; Sky Sports Main Event, 7pm
PGA Championship betting tips: Steve’s leading contenders
Brooks Koepka (11/1)
Probably should be going into this week on the back of a win but Sung Kang claimed the Byron Nelson and it might be a concern for some – at this short a price – that he’s put himself in position a couple of times to win without doing it.
Who knows what would have happened at the Masters had he not dunked his ball in the drink at 12 but, of more importance to me, is that he was bang in the frame at another major championship.
Something happens to Koepka during one of the big four week’s and so I look at his Byron Nelson form as a huge positive.
Well down the leaderboard the only time he has played Bethpage Black (he was 70th at the 2016 Barclays), the three-time major winner is a very different player now.
You need to be very long and strong to have a chance of taming this track and, fortunately, Koepka is both.
Paul Casey (50/1)
I’m going to forgive the Englishman his Masters aberration. He’d publicly said Augusta was his best chance to win a major and, on the back of defending the Valspar Championship, probably put a bit too much pressure on himself. Cue 81 and 73 and a weekend on the couch.
But that shouldn’t deflect from what has been a very consistent few months for Casey and he bounced back well when finishing inside the top five at Wells Fargo.
That was the 41-year-old’s fifth top 10 in 13 PGA Tour events and I can’t see any reason – at the price – why he wouldn’t contend for each-way money at least.
Casey missed the cut when Bethpage Black staged the US Open in 2002 and didn’t play when it returned seven years later.
But even though 31st at the 2016 Barclays is his best display on the Tillinghast classic I think he has a better chance of contending then his price suggests.
Sergio Garcia (40/1)
It’s no surprise that the likes of Tiger, Brooks and Rory are sucking the oxygen out of the prices at the top of the betting market but, even so, I am thrilled to get 40/1 on the Spaniard.
The 2017 Masters champion is principally known this season for throwing his toys out of the pram – and digging his putter into the greens – at Saudi Arabia but there has been good golf.
Top 10 at the WGC-Mexico Championship and a quarter-finalist at the Dell Match Play, he missed the cut at Augusta National but has a love-hate relationship with that course despite the fact it’s the site of his only major win.
He teamed up with Tommy Fleetwood to find only Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer better at the Zurich Classic and then finished 65, 68 on the weekend at Wells Fargo to break into the top 5.
There’s few better from tee to green than Garcia and you’d hope that would hold him in good stead on a course where you need to put the ball in the right spots.
He didn’t play the Black at The Barclays in 2016 but was third in 2012, 10th at the 2009 US Open and 4th at the 2002 US Open. It’s a course where he has performed consistently and I think he’s big at the price.
Rickie Fowler (20/1)
One of these days Rickie is going to get over the major hump and maybe this is the year. Seventh at Bethpage in 2016 and 24th at the Barclays four years earlier, the course clearly suits the 30-year-old.
I’d want him to be coming off the pace on Sunday – we all know how he can squirm when leading a PGA Tour event so the last thing you want is him sleeping again on an overnight lead for his maiden major.
But he comes here in form that is as good as any of the leading contenders, having finished tied 9th at Augusta and tied 4th at the Wells Fargo.
A winner in Phoenix, although not without some mishaps, the best putter on the PGA Tour could get some traction on Bethpage’s relatively straightforward greens.
And Tiger Woods?
The GOAT won the US Open here in 2002 and was sixth when the national championship returned to Farmingdale seven years later.
After his fifth Masters, and 15th major, last month we have returned to pre-2013 normality where Tiger is pretty much favourite for everything but, at 12/1, his price is short enough for me.
For the latest outright PGA Championship prices, visit bet365