So heading into the last day of the PGA Championship has seen Jim Furyk shoot a cool -2 to take the lead at -9, 1 shot clear of my man Jason Dufner. I still have 2 players in serious contention (Dufner and Stricker) which isn’t too great but then again they are both in the top 5.
As is the way of golf the complexion of the tournament, and those who are in contention changes from round to round. You can find some of the best value by betting on the 4thround of a tournament, because realistically there are fewer people who could potentially win the tournament.
The men that I am touting to bet on are based upon their chances of winning, their play this week and their odds (from Bet365). So it is not going to be a list of favourites, rather a list of value bets. At this stage of the tournament you are still able to receive 3 places if you bet each way and that is recommended.
Oak Hill is playing much easier than everyone was expecting and because of that the winning score is going to be quite low. I’d imagine the winner will be on around -8, so anyone within 5 shots has a very good chance of winning or at least getting a play-off. Furyk Is currently sitting on-9 and I am positive (hope this doesn’t come back and bite me on the ass) that he will not win this. So we are looking at one of the other men who are sitting at worst -2 (10 players, excluding Furyk). There are a lot of top golfers fighting for the title going into the last round and I think the winner has a great chance of coming from behind to win. Oak Hill has shown that this week it is a course which you can score very well on but also score very poorly on if you are playing badly.
Steve Stricker 12/1
I liked Stricker before the 3rd round and I still like him going into the 4th, he played a solid 3rd round but only shot E keeping him at -5 (T-5th). One thing Stricker isn’t going to do is play himself out of it (a la Rose or Kuchar); the bigger question is whether or not he is going to play himself into it. I think he will need to shoot at worst -2 to be in contention, and that will be a test under pressure on the last day of a major; Stricker is good enough and maybe this is his time, he certainly is playing well enough and at only 4 shots (and 4 spots) off the lead 12/1 is good odds.
Lee Westwood 25/1
I thought Westwood would need to shoot a 65 in the 3rd round to still be in contention going into the final day, and that was a big if. Instead he shot a 68 and has somehow found himself in 7th position. I’m not shocked that he is 6 shots off the lead, more so that I’m shocked that he has found himself only 6 places off the lead. I thought anyone under -2 didn’t have a chance because there were too many players between them and the leader and the shot difference was too much to realistically make up. However the opposite of this happened and a large number of the leaders found themselves throwing their chances away and allowing guys like Westwood to get back into the championship.
Don’t get me wrong Westwood is still going to have to go out and score at worst a 66 to have a realistic chance, but he has actually played better this weekend than his -3 score indicates. All it will take is Westwood to get on a roll and to post a score and he could find himself the PGA champion. The biggest issue with Westwood is that he has shown that he is unable to go out and win a major when put under pressure; however he is far enough back that he will be able to post a score and potentially watch the leaders crumble under the pressure. He is also playing with McIlroy, which I imagine will egg him onto shooting a better score and this can only help Westwood in his hunt for the elusive first major. At 25/1 he is an outsider, but at 25/1 you are getting one of the world’s best golfers who is only 6 places off of 1st and those are great odds.
Dustin Johnson 66/1
This was a tough third pick, because I also liked McIlroy (25/1, -3), who I thought was in a very similar position to Westwood and as he has shown in the past he can run away with major championships on the last day; but because of his dreadful form this year (his play has been worse than his score) I can’t see it.
So I decided to plump for Dustin Johnson who managed to shoot the round of the day in the 3rd round with a 65, leaving him at -2 and in T-9th. At the start of the day I would have laughed at you if you had told me that Dustin Johnson would’ve been in the top 10, let alone in contention but with a great round he has managed to prove me wrong. Much like Westwood it isn’t the fact he is 7 shots behind that is making me think he has a chance, rather that he is only 8 places behind. In all likelihood Johnson probably won’t shoot another 65, but he has shown that he is able to score on this course and at 66/1 it is worth a go (especially with an each way bet).
Another 65 would put him on -7 and at that he would very much be in the hunt, and more so than Westwood he would be able to post a relatively early score and watch as the leaders potentially fell away. Johnson has already shown that he is capable of scoring, and it is unlikely (because of how far back he is) that his bottle will come into question. Johnson will be looking to post a score early and back into it and that is why he is worth a punt on the last day.
I’ve already said that I really don’t like Furyk, and I’m pretty sure he won’t win. The same could be said about Adam Scott (who putted terribly in the 3rd round) because only a handful of players have ever won one of the next 3 majors after winning their first one (last four being O’Meara, Seve, Jacklin & Nicklaus). Blixt also is unlikely to win (only his 2nd major).
The big question is what Dufner, Stenson and Stricker are going to do; all three are a bit of an anomaly because they have never won a major before, and there are genuine and legitimate questions over if the players will have the bottle to win a major. If the answer is yes they have the bottle, then I think one of these three will win.
If the answer is no they don’t have the bottle, then that is when players like Johnson, Westwood and McIlroy will come into it; these three either have to shoot a fantastic round or have the other players above them play so poorly that they come back to them. Realistically a bit of both is the most likely scenario. I think that the winner of the PGA will be one of these 6 players, and if I were to go out on a limb and choose one I think it is most likely going to be Dufner (I also want Dufner to win because he is the man who I personally bet).
It is an interesting scenario that we have found ourselves in going into the final day of the PGA Championship, and it looks like Sunday is stepping up to be a very exciting day of golf. Hopefully we get a deserving winner, rather than someone who has just played well over the week (a la Blixt, not that I have anything against him, I’d just rather see someone who is one of the best golfers in the world win).
So leave a comment on how well you think that the PGA Championship is going so far and on who you think is in pole position heading into the last day to be crowned the final major champion of the year.