Justin Rose is fancied to make a strong start
Justin Rose is fancied to make a strong start

Golf betting tips: US PGA Championship first-round three-balls and match bets

Two major champions can boss their three-balls on day one of the PGA Championship, including England's Justin Rose.

  • Tee-times for round one delayed by 1hr50m

Golf betting tips: PGA Championship three-balls

2pts Hughes to beat Noren and Poston at 15/8 (Sky Bet)

1pt double Reed and Rose at 4.34/1 (bet365, Sky Bet)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

It's become increasingly common for bookmakers to avoid troubling themselves with the 20 PGA professionals who pad out the field for the PGA Championship, and whether you think that's a symptom of the modern game or simply makes sense, the fact is it limits betting opportunities for the first round.

Last year, Jesse Mueller's 72 was the pick of the scores from the club pros who earned themselves a dream ticket and while Tyler Collet's 71 on day two no doubt spoiled the odd wager, every single one of the 20 missed the cut. Fifteen had shot 77 or higher on Thursday and we'll see something very similar this week.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this is useful for only those who have bet365 or some more obscure accounts and they all seem pretty alive to the reality that the spread of three-balls won by PGA pros should be set at 0.5.

For those who can, Maverick McNealy (1355) rates the best bet in these effective head-to-heads and there are others you can explore, with Paddy Power also having priced up a couple involving the better-known, ex-tour professionals.

Choose your place terms in the US PGA

Who is the best first-round bet?

As far as the main three-balls go, the draw was more than a little frustrating. For example it makes sense to take on Jordan Spieth, yet I wouldn't want to be against Viktor Hovland or Shane Lowry in that group. Gary Woodland is a player I'd love to put up against various others, but he's in with Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka. Ockie Strydom is begging to be opposed and plays with Joaquin Niemann, but Corey Conners is rock solid.

Kevin Kisner's woeful driving made him another name to look out for but Jimmy Walker's recent resurgence and my belief that Padraig Harrington will have a decent week made choosing between them difficult, while I found it hard to determine which wild driver would fare best among Kurt Kitayama and Sahith Theegala, despite confidence that one or both will outscore Zach Johnson.

The closest I came to a selection among the high-profile morning groups was Rory McIlroy, given his course knowledge and propensity to start fast as he did when leading this event last year. But while I would give him the edge over defending champion Justin Thomas and 2020 winner Collin Morikawa, the fact is McIlroy has to answer questions over the state of his game, too.

MACKENZIE HUGHES (1328 BST) therefore earns the Nap vote from the early tee-times.

A winner this season, Hughes was back to form last time out when contending in the Byron Nelson Championship and it's encouraging that he's improved off the tee throughout each start since the Masters.

His second-round 69 to make the cut at Augusta will have been a boost to confidence and Hughes has developed a tidy record in majors. Last year he made the cut in two of them, faring best in the US Open when 24th, while in 2021 he'd contended for that title at a long, lush, difficult course in Torrey Pines.

After that he again popped up in the mix at the Open and he's been runner-up in the difficult Honda Classic, as well as producing some quality golf under the gun for 10th place in the BMW Championship later that year. It was one of the more serious tests of the campaign and, thanks largely to a killer short-game, Hughes passed it.

As ever, selecting him is as much about his playing partners and Alex Noren in particular. The Swede has been in miserable form for months now, losing strokes off the tee every week, and if we consider this to be a PGA Championship disguised as a US Open, his record in that reads 51-MC-MC-MC-MC-25-MC-17-MC.

JT Poston's is no better (MC-MC-40) and this short driver is struggling at the moment, so Hughes has the best skillset, the best recent form, and the best record in stateside majors. It's a compelling formula and he's favourite for this in my eyes despite being the outsider of three in places.

I could see Hughes making an early run at the first-round lead but it's a very difficult market to get to grips with this week. Usually, early starters have the edge, yet rising temperatures in the afternoon ought to help. Bethpage in 2019 was very even, those out in the morning just shading things, and without a clear draw bias it looks a minefield.

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Major champions worth the wait

Into the evening and it's tempting to side with Seamus Power against a relatively quiet Chris Kirk and favourite Sungjae Im, who flew into New York from Korea having gone home last week to win over there.

Im is just so solid that I can't bring myself to oppose him but if he does suffer for the travel then Power, whose long-game has turned a corner and whose record in majors is impressive, has the edge over Kirk.

Instead I'll recommend a double on PATRICK REED (1803) and JUSTIN ROSE (1931), both of whom have stacks of form in this part of the US.

Reed won at Liberty National in New Jersey as well as at Bethpage in The Barclays during his PGA Tour days, while the two US Opens he played in New York resulted in finishes of fourth and 13th.

Yes, he missed the cut in the PGA back at Bethpage but all-in-all he boasts an excellent record in majors and has shown time and again that he can defy a theoretical distance handicap, right from when he conquered Doral and made the infamous 'top-five' comment to his final win at Torrey Pines.

Fourth in the Masters last month and in good form on the LIV Golf circuit, where he signed off last week's event with a round of 64, he can add to a strong PGA Championship record which shows eight rounds of 70 or better in his last 12.

Doing so would make him hard for Nick Taylor or Rasmus Hojgaard to beat, the latter struggling a little since returning from injury and Taylor having gone 68-43-29-MC-MC in five majors as a professional.

Rose, whose US Open win came in Pennsylvania and who has won at the Donald Ross-designed Aronimink, has enjoyed an excellent year so far including victory at Pebble Beach to propel himself into the Ryder Cup conversation.

Remarkably, 10 of his last 11 starts in this have ended in finishes between third and 33rd, one of the most consistent and impressive records in the entire field, and just once in his last dozen has he failed to shoot 72 or better in round one.

He's been a real friend to round-one punters throughout his career, leading the Masters on four separate occasions. Don't be surprised if another below-par round sets him up for another high finish.

And again, he's in with beatable opponents. Francesco Molinari's record in US majors since his Masters meltdown reads 48-16-MC-52-13-MC-MC-55-MC-MC and while his form the last twice looks better, he simply putted well in Mexico and then took comfort in a return to Quail Hollow, where he had been runner-up in this six years earlier.

Billy Horschel has struggled to bed in swing changes and his best individual result in 2023 is 32nd back in February. More recently he's gone 42-MC-MC-52-MC since the Tour landed on the east coast, where he's at his most comfortable. Only when edging through his Match Play group has he shown anything worthwhile.

Rose leads their overall PGA Championship head-to-head 8-2 and in round one it's 8-0 to Rose, the pair twice having carded the same score but Rose best on every other occasion. There's no reason for that to change on Thursday.

Posted at 1020 BST on 17/05/23

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