The last major of the season is upon us, with the final US PGA Championship to be staged in August taking place at Bellerive Country Club, Phil Casey writes.
From next year, the US PGA will be staged in May as part of a radical shake-up of the golf calendar which will also see the Players Championship revert to its old March date.
It crucially allows the PGA Tour to complete the lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs before the start of the NFL and college football seasons, with the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship moving from May to September to avoid a clash of dates.
What effect the schedule change has on the status of the US PGA remains to be seen, but the task of identifying a winner remains the same and there are plenty of contenders to consider.
World number one Dustin Johnson is a worthy favourite after his win in Canada and a closing 64 at Firestone on Sunday, with Rory McIlroy and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner Justin Thomas next in the betting market ahead of double US Open champion Brooks Koepka.
And with the last 27 majors all being won by players ranked inside the world’s top 50 – with only Ernie Els (2012 Open) and Jimmy Walker (2016 US PGA) outside the top 30 at the time of their win – there is no need to stray too far from the top of the market.
Before pulling out of last week’s event with back spasms, I had intended to back Justin Rose, but with the doubt over his health we’ll reluctantly leave him out of the staking plan and opt for Koepka instead at 18/1 as the first of our US PGA Championship betting tips.
As well as retaining his US Open title this season, Koepka has also compiled a consistent record in the other majors, his tie for 39th in the Open marking the first major since the 2016 Masters that he had not finished 13th or better.
The big-hitting American has also been 15th or better in the last four US PGA Championships, including top fives at Whistling Straits (2015) and Baltusrol (2016), and his length off the tee will be a huge plus on a 7,300-yard par 70.
Finau can continue good form in majors
Sticking with big-hitting Americans, our next choice is 40/1 chance Tony Finau, who is the only player with top 10 finishes in all three majors this season.
The 28-year-old was 10th in the Masters despite injuring his ankle in the par-three contest, fifth in the US Open and ninth in the Open. Finau was also 10th at Firestone and a good performance at Bellerive could secure a Ryder Cup debut.
Francesco Molinari is already assured of his Ryder Cup place after a brilliant summer and the Open champion is worth sticking with at 33/1 despite a poor week by his standards in Akron.
Molinari could only finish 39th but that was entirely understandable in his first appearance since winning at Carnoustie and it should not be forgotten that the Italian was joint second in the US PGA last year.
Fleetwood is eighth and Stenson 12th in strokes gained off the tee on the PGA Tour this season.
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