Nick Bonfield gives his five USPGA Championship bets to avoid ahead of the year's second Major at Bethpage Black
USPGA Championship bets to avoid
There’s a case to be made for most of the top 20 in the betting, along with the several others further down the pecking order.
So who should you back and who should you leave alone? Below, I’ve listed five players I’d steer clear of…
I normally back Justin Rose for almost all the Majors, but I have a feeling he’s not going to make an impact at the 2019 USPGA Championship. Why? Well, while he’s long enough to contend, he’s comfortably outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy. With tough green complexes, Bethpage Black is a course you need to play from the fairway. What’s more, Rose, considered one of the best iron players in the game, ranks 141st on the PGA Tour in Greens in Regulation. He’s also missed the cut in two of his last five starts, including The Masters.
This may seem controversial, but Woods hasn’t played since The Masters and he can’t afford any rust at a course as difficult as Bethpage Black. I’m still not convinced by Woods off the tee and Bethpage is a course where he’ll have to hit driver more often that he’d like. For all the talk of Woods’ driving prowess at Augusta, he still ranked 53rd out of 87 in Driving Accuracy.
I also think the winner will be someone from inside the top 20 on the PGA Tour’s Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee statistical category, and Woods ranks 66th. He’s outside the top 50 in Carry Distance, too.
Tommy Fleetwood gets a lot of attention before Majors nowadays – no surprise given his stellar recent run of form and his incredible showing in the 2018 Ryder Cup. The fact remains, though, that he’s never won a tournament on American soil. His best finish to date in the USPGA Championship is a tie for 35th, he’s never played Bethpage Black in a professional tournament and he’s outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting.
Who is going to win at Bethpage Black?
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Matt Kuchar has enjoyed an excellent season on the PGA Tour, but I think his best chance to win a Major has come and gone (the 2017 Open Championship at Birkdale). Kuchar is a steady performer, but in today’s professional game I feel he lacks the ‘X factor’ needed to get over the line in the biggest events.
Kuchar hasn’t finished better than a tie for 7th in his ten trips to the USPGA Championship and Bethpage Black isn’t a course suited to his skill set. It’s a bomber’s layout and Kuchar averages just 291 yards off the tee – 120th on the PGA Tour. He’s also 170th on the PGA Tour in approaches from 200-225 yards, and he’ll have a lot of second shots in this range on a par-70 track that’s almost 7,500 yards long.
I’m afraid I have serious concerns about Paul Casey in the biggest events. He’s never been in genuine contention on the back nine during a Major Sunday, despite being one of the highest-ranked players in the world for a number of years.
While he’s won on the PGA Tour this season, he’s finished outside the top ten in his last eight Major appearances, including an inauspicious display at this year’s Masters, where he opened with an 80. He’s only registered one top ten in 16 USPGA Championship appearances – a tie for 10th in 2016. His putting often lets him down on the biggest stage and he hasn’t proved over his long career that he has was it takes to win golf’s biggest events.
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