It doesn’t get much better than this for golf fans. The final Major of the season takes place this week at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. This is the third time that the USPGA Championship has been held at the Pete and Alice Dye designed par 72 track, with Martin Kaymer winning in 2010 and Vijay Singh victorious in 2004.
The season’s two previous Major winners Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson will tee it up together with defending champion Rory McIlroy in the standout three ball of Thursday and Friday but the galleries will also be entertained by the likes of big hitting Bubba Watson, four-time champion Tiger Woods and the always colourful John Daly.
The land that Whistling Straits sits on used to be an airfield but is now home to potentially the best links course in the whole of America. As well as hundreds and hundreds of bunkers and mounds, punishing fescue rough and tricky greens, the players will have to contend with the wind which will have a huge effect on scoring should it whip up.
What does it take to win around Whistling Straits? Well, like many of the courses that the professionals play on, driving distance certainly has its plusses. The four par fives offer good scoring opportunities should the players go for the greens in two while the shorter the clubs hit into the par fours the better. However, those without a power game have done well here before and the key stat appears to be a high percentage of greens hit in regulation. Another key is good recent form. Winners of the USPGA Championship have tended to come into the tournament in good nick and 12 of the last 14 champions had a previous victory to their name that season.
With those criteria, Jason Day stands out from the crowd. The 27-year-old was in contention at both the US Open and Open Championships which were played around links courses and he has won twice this season, most recently at the RBC Canadian Open. His driving stats are impressive and although he doesn’t rank at the top of the field in terms of greens in regulation, he more than makes up for that with his scrambling. At 14/1 with Betfred, Day could finally make his Major breakthrough this week.
It is also tempting to back the defending champion. McIlroy’s price has understandably lengthened due to his injury lay off but the world number one’s game is very well suited to Whistling Straits. The Northern Irishman is all about the Majors so wouldn’t have made the trip if he didn’t feel he could compete towards the top of the leaderboard and at 11/1 with Bet365, he offers a decent amount of value.
For an outside bet this week, how about Francesco Molinari. The Italian has had a steady if unspectacular season on the PGA and European Tours this season where he tops the driving accuracy stats. He is able to convert that high number of fairways hit into impressive greens in regulation stats. If he can covert the chances he will undoubtedly give himself this week, he could make the 150/1 that Ladbrokes are offering look a silly price indeed.