US PGA Championship outright betting preview and tips from Ben Coley

Find out who we're backing for the second major of the season
Find out who we're backing for the second major of the season

Ben Coley has six selections for the 101st US PGA Championship at Bethpage, where Jason Day can land a second major championship.

Recommended bets: US PGA outright

2pts e.w. Jason Day at 25/1 (1/5 1-7)

2pts e.w. Justin Rose at 20/1 (1-5 1-7)

1pt e.w. Paul Casey at 50/1 (1/5 1-7)

1pt e.w. Aaron Wise at 125/1 (1/5 1-10)

1pt e.w. Jhonattan Vegas at 150/1 (1/5 1-10)

1pt e.w. Jason Kokrak at 150/1 (1/5 1-10)

At the 101st attempt, the United States PGA Championship might finally have everyone convinced and *dies of shock* it was events on the golf course and not inside the brainstorm session which made the difference.

Tiger Woods' victory in The Masters was transcendental. Everyone with a passing interest in sport, or so it seemed, stopped what they were doing to witness history; the completion of the ultimate sporting comeback from the ultimate sportsman on the ultimate golf course.

Finally, nobody needs telling that This Is Major. Instead, the fact that this is absolutely not Glory's Last Shot is one more cloud in a perfect storm gathering in the skies above Farmingdale, New York, where Woods will look for his 16th major at Bethpage Black.

When the PGA of America hatched a plan to move this tournament, previously cut adrift in August, undermined somehow by the World Golf Championship which preceded it, they could not have dreamed up this scenario. When they got their wish, in August 2017, it was more likely that Woods would be here in a ceremonial role than a playing one, let alone here as favourite.

Yet here we are, nine months on from Brooks Koepka beating Tiger Woods, one month on from Tiger Woods beating Brooks Koepka, ready to go again.

Brooks Koepka celebrates winning the PGA Championship
Brooks Koepka celebrates winning the PGA Championship

Without Woods' Augusta heroics, there's a risk that this might have felt like just another PGA Tour event - albeit one with a hyper-strong field, padded out by club professionals.

That's in part because Bethpage has been seen hosting The Barclays in 2012 and 2016, and also because scoring in the PGA Championship has been easier than many would like for one of the four most important events in the men's game.

Bethpage should take care of that, even if it will be more Kerry Haigh than Mike Davis - that is to say it will be set up to allow for birdies rather than actively discouraging them.

Haigh, chief championships officer of the PGA of America and a man whose job it is to set up the course, said recently that he'd "expect and hope that everyone will score well." While he's going to be disappointed, the fact remains that with patchy rough no longer than four inches, fairways left alone and rain having hit the area hard, the primary defence of the course is likely to be its length.

Back in 2002, when Bethpage became the first municipal to host the US Open, it was also the longest course in the history of the event at 7,214 yards. Seventeen years later, it's set to play to 7,432 and as we reach the end of a thoroughly wet and now chilly spring, it's a very short price that the leaderboard is populated by the most powerful players in the sport.

That was the case in 2016, when Reed won The Barclays, as five of the top six averaged over 300 yards from the tee, and it was equally true in the same tournament four years earlier. The top eight in the 2009 US Open, to a man, ranked inside the top 30 for distance, and the game has changed significantly since Woods' 2002 win.

Indeed it's changed so significantly that there isn't a short hitter at a short price, with Matt Kuchar probably the pick of them but by no means among the favourites. Still, if you are looking to him or Kevin Kisner or Ian Poulter or Webb Simpson for something of an upset, then you're looking in the opposite direction to me.

Every player towards the top of the betting is of course respected, and it serves little purpose to go through each of them and argue the toss over whether Woods or Koepka or Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy ought to be favourite. There are clear cut cases in each and every direction.

Top price on Tiger Woods in the US PGA
Top price on Tiger Woods in the US PGA

Instead, I'll focus on the reasons to believe that Jason Day can double up having won this title in 2015.

The Australian hasn't been as consistent as he'd like this year, but despite another injury fairytale he managed to get things just about right at Augusta, closing with a best-of-the-day 67 to share fifth.

Of the various ways to bridge the gap from The Masters to the PGA, it's his route which makes most sense to me with the major-like test of Quail Hollow far more useful than either Harbour Town or Trinity Forest. All things considered, 24th there as defending champion was a decent enough effort - especially as he played very well on three of the four days.

After that, Day set his sights on Bethpage, where he was fourth in 2016 and 24th in 2012, and it's those performances which confirm my suspicion that this test really is perfect for his game.

Before winning his first major, it was in the US Open that Day had appeared most threatening and tougher scoring conditions have been a constant feature of his biggest successes, including at Torrey Pines - a course which should prove a decent guide to Bethpage despite being on the other side of the country.

When fourth here in 2016, he hit just 35.7 per cent of fairways and told reporters he had no clue where the ball was going off the tee, which tells us how useful his sky-high approach shots and arguably world-leading touch around the greens proved to be. Just a handful more fairways and he'd likely have won.

Jason Day in action at Quail Hollow
Jason Day in action at Quail Hollow

Few players in the field can argue that they're anywhere near as comfortable on poa annua greens, and it's also worth noting that the last major played at a Tillinghast design saw him finish second to Jimmy Walker when defending his PGA title at Baltsurol.

Second and fifth at Ridgewood add to that Tillinghast record and having always gone well in The Barclays, held in New York and New Jersey, he simply looks to have everything in his favour at a course he said last week will be "fun to play."

There's of course a chance that he drops a flower on his toe and breaks it, or ruptures his spleen while changing a nappy (great guy), but all things considered I can't get away from him.

Justin Rose is the other I like and he goes alongside Day in a two-pronged attack on the very top of the market.

The primary concern with Rose would be his course record, which is modest on the face of it, but closer inspection reveals that there's a little more to it.

In 2009, he was simply not playing well, missing the cut before and the cut after, and in 2016 he was teeing it up for the first time since becoming an Olympic champion. There's no denying that he struggled for the remainder of the year after Rio, before getting back on the bike for 2017.

In 2012, an opening 67 had him inside the top 10 and he closed with a solid 68, so there have been enough glimpses of what he can do at a course where his accurate, high hitting can take him a heck of a long way.

Rose was of course disappointed to slump to a rare missed cut at Augusta, the first of his career there, but he put that down to a change in his preparation and says he's learned his lesson.

Just as was the case ahead of his 2013 US Open triumph at Merion, the plan here is to spend plenty of time at home in the Bahamas before heading to New York and combined with the fact that caddie Mark Fulcher has another tournament under his belt, Rose will arrive at Bethpage in a much better place.

Again, he's played only once since Augusta, putting that failure behind him with third place at Quail Hollow, and with a poa annua win at Torrey Pines to his name earlier this year he looks to hold outstanding claims.

April's aberration aside, Rose has been a regular threat at major championships since winning one and this looks an excellent chance to move into an even more prestigious club of multiple winners, particularly so given that he's always thrived in this corner of the United States.

Paul Casey would dearly love to join Rose on one major and having talked up his chances before flopping at Augusta, a more level-headed approach could pay off in spades here.

With long, straight driving sure to be a major weapon, the 41-year-old is another who fits the profile of Bethpage contenders and while there would be concerns around his ability to see things through, with bumper place terms the 50/1 has to be worth taking after a top-10 in the Wells Fargo.

Casey has a win, two seconds, a third and a fourth from just 11 starts this year and although shooting 81-73 at Augusta National cannot be called ideal, remember that he bounced back from a missed cut at the PLAYERS to win the Valspar, and had previously followed a missed cut in Hawaii with second in Singapore.

Paul Casey
Paul Casey

As with Rose, his Bethpage form is not obviously impressive but Casey did strike it well when mid-pack in 2016. Of greater significance is the fact that he loves poa annua greens and thrives on tough golf courses where poor putters are not out of the conversation.

Tenth at Baltusrol, seventh at Ridgewood and 15th at Winged Foot is strong Tillinghast form and he's preferred to Sergio Garcia, who has course form in spades but has missed his last six major championship cuts.

Patrick Cantlay earns the dubious seventh-man spot in a team of six, having looked like he might win The Masters last month before the situation clearly got to him from 16 onward.

As regular readers will know I'm a huge fan of the quiet Californian, who is perfectly at home on poa annua greens and looks sure to follow Day's lead and graduate from habitual nearly-man to collector of titles in the very near future.

Cantlay has some Tillinghast form, now boasts some experience contending for majors, and really impressed in getting back on the bike in the RBC Heritage, but ultimately the last of the 66/1 has gone and that was my bottom line.

Instead, there's room in the staking plan for three darts in a tournament which has been vulnerable to outsiders upsetting the odds, and I'll start with Jhonattan Vegas.

Another long, high driver, Vegas is playing as well as he ever has at the moment, gaining strokes in every key department which is something he's yet to achieve over the course of the season.

He played well for 22nd at Baltusrol in 2016, especially so given that he'd only qualified with victory in Canada seven days earlier, and he fell for Bethpage when filling the same spot a couple of weeks later.

"I love it to be honest," he declared. "It's a super challenging golf course.

"No matter where you are, you get really hard shots around here. It tests you mentally, which is the biggest thing here. I love it. It's my type of course."

Vegas has gone close at Torrey Pines in the past and with seven top-30 finishes in his last eight starts, including eighth at Quail Hollow and third at Sawgrass, he's thriving when faced with a tough test.

The Venezuelan is desperate not only to qualify for the Presidents Cup but to give supporters back home something to cheer, and whatever happens here we should expect him to keep on performing well throughout the summer.

Watch for him in the first-round leader market, one in which he's always dangerous, but don't discount the possibility of this tenacious character contending all the way to Sunday evening.

While it would be quite something for a maiden to win this event, it wouldn't be without precedent and Jason Kokrak would surely be considerably shorter than 150/1 were this for any other kind of trophy.

Without a missed cut since last summer, Kokrak has been among the most consistent players on the PGA Tour for quite some time and his long, right-to-left ball-striking is just ideal for Bethpage Black.

He showed as much in 2016, finishing seventh despite an awful putting display, and the closest he's come elsewhere was probably what's now the Genesis Open on the poa annua greens of former major venue Riviera.

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak

Form at other tough courses with testing rough like Copperhead and Congressional further underlines that this is an ideal test, and of those who've played in The Barclays here Kokrak ranks fifth in strokes-gained approach.

With his confidence on the greens much improved and a modest performance at Quail Hollow easily forgiven, Kokrak is fancied to keep up his trend of improvement in this event with results reading 49-33-19 since 2016.

Any slight improvement from last year's performance under lower-than-ideal scoring conditions and he could be bang in the mix. If that is the case then we'll take our chances on Sunday, though it should be noted that he did hold it together really well when second to Casey in the spring.

Finally, Aaron Wise has returned to form recently, flushing his way to a pair of top-20 finishes at Augusta and Quail Hollow before a solid title defence in Texas.

One of the most talented under-25s on the planet, Wise has the cocksure attitude to go ahead and contend for a major this early in his career and I like the fact we saw some high-class Tillinghast form at Ridgewood last year.

Sixth at the Bridgestone Invitational further confirmed that he's ready to mix it with the best and despite a disinterested final round in Dallas, this powerhouse built further confidence from tee-to-green and can show the benefits of a state-hopping childhood which got him used to poa annua.

Related links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Today's Racing Tips1

Friday's racing preview

Fifth Position is Keith Hamer's best Friday bet and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Michael van Gerwen lifts the Premier League Darts title for a fifth time2

Premier League Finals Night: Recap

Leg-by-leg recap of the Premier League Darts Play-Offs, as Michael van Gerwen defeated Rob Cross in the final to win the title for a fifth time.

Skardu wins the Craven3

Irish 2000 Guineas preview

David Ord feels Skardu rates the value bet in a fascinating Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

4

10th Brigadier Gerard for Stoute

Regal Reality put his quirks aside and showed his class to give trainer Sir Michael Stoute a 10th victory in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

Check out our latest racing Nap5

Daily Nap: Haggas on the hunt

David Ord heads to Haydock for his bet of the day on Friday and picks out a likely improver for William Haggas.

Most Read

Today's Racing Tips1

Friday's racing preview

Fifth Position is Keith Hamer's best Friday bet and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Michael van Gerwen lifts the Premier League Darts title for a fifth time2

Premier League Finals Night: Recap

Leg-by-leg recap of the Premier League Darts Play-Offs, as Michael van Gerwen defeated Rob Cross in the final to win the title for a fifth time.

Skardu wins the Craven3

Irish 2000 Guineas preview

David Ord feels Skardu rates the value bet in a fascinating Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

4

10th Brigadier Gerard for Stoute

Regal Reality put his quirks aside and showed his class to give trainer Sir Michael Stoute a 10th victory in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

Check out our latest racing Nap5

Daily Nap: Haggas on the hunt

David Ord heads to Haydock for his bet of the day on Friday and picks out a likely improver for William Haggas.

Racing Tips

Today's Racing Tips

Friday's racing preview

Fifth Position is Keith Hamer's best Friday bet and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Check out our latest racing Nap

Daily Nap: Haggas on the hunt

David Ord heads to Haydock for his bet of the day on Friday and picks out a likely improver for William Haggas.

Skardu wins the Craven

Irish 2000 Guineas preview

David Ord feels Skardu rates the value bet in a fascinating Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

Next Race Off

01:52 Penn National
7
(7)
Bluegrass Posse
J: Inoel Beato
4
(4)
Hasta Ahora
J: Tyler Conner

Football Tips

Newport v Tranmere in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final at Wembley

Rovers to secure promotion

The first of the games on the Sky Bet EFL play-off weekends final comes from League Two, where Tom Carnduff is backing Tranmere to go up.

Charlton v Sunderland final guide

Extra-time needed on Sunday

Charlton take on Sunderland in the Sky Bet League One play-off final and Tom Carnduff thinks more than 90 minutes will be required.

John Higgins

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in May 2019.