The US PGA Championship can often feel like the forgotten major. While the Masters has the bright green splendour of Augusta National, the US Open is known for being one of the toughest tournaments of the year and the Open is always played at historic links courses, the US PGA Championship has struggled to differentiate itself amongst the majors.
For years, the US PGA used the slogan, “Glory’s Last Shot” but that simply drew ridicule. Why, the critics asked, should a major championship have to rely on a marketing ploy? So, the US PGA have worked very hard to keep the prestige as high as possible but there is one way they can increase interest in their event – keep holding it at fantastic golf courses.
That’s the route they took last year at Whistling Straits and it’s the route they’ve taken this year with a return to Baltusrol Golf Club. The 2016 US PGA Championship will be held at the club’s Lower Course, a very difficult par 70 that measures over 7,400 yards from the championship tees. That will test the players’ power but the main challenge is keeping the ball out of trouble. Baltusrol always has penal rough but the bunkers have been recently made deeper and manoeuvred to bring them into play more often from the tee.
All the players in the field know that they have to be at the top of their game to have any chance of success this week. It is vital to have a plan to keep bogeys off the card and make the most of the few birdie chances and then to stick to it. Anybody who tries to cut corners or push their luck will likely find themselves moving backwards relative to the competition.
Rory McIlroy has had a frustrating time of it so far this season. At various times he’s had issues with his full swing, his pitching and his putting but he might be about to put all those concerns behind him. A bad week for McIlroy is a good week for most other golfers and he only needs a few small things to go his way in order to win the US PGA Championship for the third time. He’s 9/1 with Ladbrokes and could well increase his major tally.
Phil Mickelson has improved dramatically this season after changing his swing coach and the only thing that’s been lacking is a win. ‘Lefty’ has six top five finishes to his name already this year including that valiant second place at the Open. He’s clearly still got the game to win at the top level and won the US PGA Championship in 2005 when it was last held at Baltusrol. At 22/1 with Coral, Mickelson looks well worth an each way bet.
Another previous winner of this championship who could well go well this week is Jason Dufner. The 2013 champion has put some very tough years behind him and won on the PGA Tour at this season’s CareerBuilder Challenge. He’ll have to be at the very top of his game but at tasty odds of 100/1 with BetVictor, Dufner looks like a very good each way option.