El Nino Ready To Rock At Valhalla
The US PGA Championship, the fourth of the season’s Majors, was established as a professionals-only tournament in 1916, at a time when the game was run by amateurs, and it retains that professionals-only ethos today.
Amateurs can, in theory, qualify, but only by winning one of the other Majors, and they receive no explicit invitation, whereas twenty places are reserved for club professionals.
Valhalla Golf Course opened in 1986 and within ten years was hosting its first PGA Championship, followed by another in 2000 and the Ryder Cup in 2008. Since then the greens have been dug up and rebuilt, replacing the previous dramatic undulations with slighter contours that are harder to read. The fairways at Valhalla are generous and length off the tee is less important than accurate iron play.
In The Bunker
The new world number one Rory McIlroy won this tournament in 2012, and the course at Valhalla should suit him perfectly.
I opposed him at the Bridgestone Invitational and paid the price, so surely it’s time to jump on the McIlroy bandwagon? Given his current form, many punters will do just that, but odds of 9/2 in such a deep, competitive field just don’t appeal and
…it’s worth remembering only two men have won the British Open and US PGA title in the same season.
At Hoylake in the British Open, Sergio Garcia chased McIlroy but failed to catch him, and then last week he was blown away by McIlroy’s start to his final round, but I don’t think we should read too much into those results.
Garcia finished two shots back on both occasions, but that hardly counts as a thrashing and the Spaniard has been playing some superb golf of late. Along with the British Open, this is his best Major and in his current form, he offers more value than McIlroy at 18/1.
Rickie Fowler finished tied for second with Garcia at the British Open and he was bang in contention at the Bridgestone Invitational, only to be let down by a poor third round. Fowler has improved considerably in recent months, particularly in the top events, recording top five finishes in all three Majors this year. He could be poised for another big showing this week and is worth a look at 20/1.
The final name to add to your short-list is Australian Marc Leishman. His last tournament win came two years ago, but he’s in grand form at the moment, scoring three top ten finishes in his last four outings, including a fifth at the British Open and a strong performance at Firestone last week, where he led after the first round and fought hard to finish third, three shots clear of the rest. Back him each way at 50/1.