We have had three first time Major winners in golf so far this season. Will we get yet another in the year's final Major? Get ready for the 98th edition of The PGA Championship and find out.
Sports fans around the world are getting a double-shot of Major Championship golf this season as The PGA Championship gets underway just eleven days after the conclusion of the epic battle between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at The British Open. The schedule has been tweaked due to golf being contested in The Olympic Games this year, so for that we get two Majors in the span of just two weeks.
The PGA Championship is golf's final Major of the season. It is the 98th edition and it will be held at one of golf's classic venues, an A.W. Tillinghast design, The Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The 2016 PGA Championship marks the 9th time Baltusrol has hosted a Men's professional Major and just the 2nd time it has held a PGA, with the last coming in 2005 when Phil Mickelson captured his 2nd Major Championship with a winning score of 4-under par.
In many ways, the modern PGA Championship is like a kinder, gentler U.S. Open and that appears to be the case again this season as Baltusrol will test the players to keep their ball in the fairway and out of the nasty rough. The greens will be very fast, so hitting them in regulation and scrambling when missed, will both be vital for success this week. In handicapping the event, one needs to look at a player's current form and also form on other Tillinghast courses, which are prolific in the recent history of The PGA Tour.
Dustin Johnson (8-1 at 32Red) The U.S. Open champion and number 2-ranked player in the world has overtaken Jason Day for the top spot in the betting market for The PGA. Johnson just finished 2nd at The RBC Canadian Open last week and has finished in the Top-10 at all three Majors this year.
Jason Day (9-1 at BoyleSports) The defending PGA Champion set the course on fire last year with a record breaking 20-under par victory at Whistling Straights. He is coming off of a 14th place in Canada last week and a 22nd at The British Open - but does have Top-10 finishes in both The U.S. Open and The Masters earlier this season.
Rory McIlroy (9-1 at Ladbrokes) The Northern Irishman has yet to win on The PGA Tour this year but has finished in the Top-10 at The PGA Championship five times, including two wins in 2012 and 2014. McIlroy was cut at The U.S. Open back in June but managed to finish 5th at The British Open despite being on the wrong side of the weather influenced draw.
Jordan Spieth (12-1 at Betfred) Of the "Big Four," Spieth is getting the least amount of attention with some recent struggles but after winning two Majors in 2015, he has come incredibly close to winning three more. Spieth has two wins on Tour this season and did finish 3rd at Firestone less than four weeks ago, another course in which A.W. Tillinghast played a part in the design.
Henrik Stenson (15-1 at Bet365) After breaking through for his first Major victory at The British Open less than two weeks ago, Stenson could still be running hot rather than due for a letdown. Now ranked number 5 in the world, Stenson has recorded four Top-10 finishes in prior PGA Championships.
Phil Mickelson (20-1 at PaddyPower) Lefty was on the short end of that battle with Stenson at Royal Troon but is obviously in good form. He has missed the cut this year at both The Masters and The U.S. Open but won The PGA Championship at Baltusrol back in 2005. At 46-years old, he would be the 2nd oldest PGA Championship winner ever.
The Long Shots
Patrick Reed (40-1 at StanJames) Like Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed was also on the wrong end of the weather draw in Scotland at The British, and still managed to finish 12th. He does not have a Top-10 finish in a Major this year but is second on Tour with nine Top-10 finishes this season.
J.B. Holmes (60-1 at Betfred) The long hitting American has two Top-5 finishes in Majors this year with a 4th at The Masters and a 3rd at The British Open. If he can get his putter going this week, he may very well find himself in contention again in New Jersey.
Steve Stricker (80-1) At 49-years old, steady Steve Stricker continues to impress. He has two Top-10 finishes in his last two starts, including a 4th at The British Open - which was the 21st time in a row that he has made the cut in a Major.
Branden Grace (40-1 at SkyBet) The 12th ranked player in the world is really beginning to assert himself in The Majors. He finished 4th at The U.S. Open and 3rd at The PGA last season. He just finished 5th at The U.S.Open this year at Oakmont. He won earlier this season at Harbour Town, finished 10th at Firestone, and has very few flaws in his game. I believe this Major is best suited for his game making him my betting pick - and that we will get our fourth 1st time Major winner of the year.