The second major of the season kicks off at Bethpage’s Black Course on Thursday and Henrik Stenson looks in good shape to mount a serious challenge for the US PGA Championship.
It will be a different feeling for this year’s US PGA Championship, which has been moved from its usual August spot to May, with wet and cool conditions predicted for the first couple of rounds.
Bethpage is already a beast of a course at 7,459 yards, making it one of the toughest tracks around, and it looks like it will be playing even longer judging by Billy Horschel’s comments after his practice round on Monday.
The American, as quoted by azcentral.com, said: “Hole seven is playing as a par 4 and we played from where the 520 tee is. I hit a really good drive and I still had 255 to 260 yards to the centre of the green.
“And that distance doesn’t even account for the wind and the cold weather, so that shot was probably playing 280 or 290.”
It seems like the big hitters could have a distinct advantage this week, which brings up the names of Dustin Johnson and defending champion Brooks Koepka, although accuracy off the tee will be a crucial factor in determining the winner.
Outright Winner – Henrik Stenson @ 50/1
Although 43 years of age, Henrik Stenson can still rip the ball off the tee and he averages just under 290 yards in driving distance this season, around 25 yards shorter than Cameron Champ.
More importantly, the Swedish star is supremely accurate off the tee and his 71.67 percentage on the American circuit leaves him seventh in this department, having hit 258 fairways from a possible 360.
The 2016 Open champion is also second in strokes gained: approach-to-the-green while he has previous at Bethpage, having finished ninth when the course held the 2009 US Open.
World number 40 Stenson showed some positive form last week when ending up in a share of 20th at the AT&T Byron Nelson – his third top-20 of 2019 – and he looks well worth a punt at 50/1 to land his second major title.
Top Englishman – Paul Casey @ 5/1
As well as tipping up Paul Casey to break his major duck at 50/1, the top Englishman market provides some great value with the 41-year-old generous odds of 5/1 to outscore his compatriots.
The Cheltenham-born star is still chasing that elusive first major but he is enjoying one of his best seasons on tour, having landed his third PGA Tour title in March when successfully defending his Valspar Championship crown.
Casey narrowly missed out on the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am when finishing second earlier this year while he produced a solid effort when T3 at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Surprisingly, the world number 12 missed the cut at the Masters last month when he was tipped to challenge for the coveted Green Jacket, but he bounced back to form when finished tied-fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship last time out.
Casey’s PGA Tour stats also make for good reading this season. He is ninth in strokes gained: tee-to-green, 15th in strokes gained: off-the-tee and 17th in driving accuracy.
Like Stenson, the Englishman also give it a good rip off the tee despite being in his 40’s and he averages just under 300 yards for driving distance in this campaign.
Justin Rose is the 47/20 favourite to be top Englishman, with Tommy Fleetwood just behind at 7/2, but Casey looks like a solid bet and can’t be ignored at a price of 5/1.
Top-10 Finish – Lucas Glover @ 37/4
Although tempted by Lucas Glover’s 100/1 price to win the tournament, the American has not triumphed since landing the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship and a safer bet would be to stick with the top-10 market.
The 39-year-old won the 2009 US Open on this course in what was a weather-affected tournament and the prospect of rain this week could play massively into his hands.
Having endured issues on-and-off the course over the years, the Greenville-born star appears to have rediscovered some of his better form this season and he has three top-10 finishes in 2019 (T7 at Pebble Beach, T10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational & T4 at The Honda Classic)
World number 83 Glover has a further three top-20 results to his name this year and he looks well set to put together another strong showing at a course he clearly enjoys playing at.
Outright Winner – Ross Fisher @ 300/1
This is an outside shot in the outright winner market but with ComeOn! offering seven places for each-way bets, Ross Fisher looks far too tempting at 300/1 to overlook.
It seems to be a running theme through this article to tip up players either side of the 40-year-old mark, but the 38-year-old Englishman arrives in good form and could be a real dark horse for the tournament.
The world number 105 finished T15 at the British Masters last week and that result could have been a lot better had he not faltered during his third round, which gave him too much ground to make up over the final 18 holes.
That was Fisher’s third top-15 finish of the year and he is another player in the field that has fond memories of Bethpage, having ended up fifth at the 2009 US Open, four strokes behind champion Glover.
Knowledge of the course could potentially be massive this week, especially with tricky conditions expected, and Fisher looks well worth an each-way punt at a massive 300/1.
Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods is next in the betting at 12/1 to land his 16th major.
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