Jake Knapp
Jake Knapp

PGA Championship: Round one three-balls preview and best bets

Two power hitters can take care of business in their respective three-balls on day one of the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.

Golf betting tips: PGA Championship round one

2pts Byeong Hun An and Jake Knapp to win their three-balls at 3/1 (bet365, Paddy Power)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Thursday's forecast for Louisville is excellent but that's no guarantee the first round of the PGA Championship will finish on time.

A massive field including several who will struggle to break 80, a big golf course with long walks between tees, a driveable par-four and a driveable par-three all add up to slow play and first-round leader punters may have to sleep on it.

That market usually interests me but I can see no hint of a bias and no shortage of candidates. Corey Conners and Keegan Bradley would be on the shortlist but I'm content to sit it out.

An to beat Cole and Bjork (1310 BST)

BYEONG HUN AN arrives at the PGA Championship in peak form and should be too good for two shorter hitters on Thursday.

An putted the lights out at Quail Hollow to make it back-to-back top-five finishes, while he was 16th at the Masters last month, underlining why he’s one of the very best maidens on the PGA Tour.

No wonder he’s priced as a viable winner of this, especially given comparisons to Muirfield Village where he came so very close when losing a play-off once. Long off the tee, the former amateur star and BMW PGA champion is the complete package when he’s putting well.

Both opponents concede a big distance gap off the tee. Eric Cole could overcome it as his best and his own near-miss came at another Jack Nicklaus-designed course, but he’s out of sorts and finished last of 68 players at Quail Hollow, 35 shots behind the winner, 27 behind An.

Alex Bjork meanwhile is one of the very shortest drivers in the field. As expected, he’s been exposed out on the PGA Tour following an excellent 2023 in Europe, and the only real worry is that he does have the potential to hole everything he looks at.

Around here, however, I doubt even that would add up to a competitive score as he’ll be scrambling for par far too often. An should win if he keeps out of bother.


Knapp to beat Dufner and Molinari (1835 BST)

There are plenty of three-balls involving PGA club professionals which I’d usually seek to target, but many of them feature two more established players who I find hard to split, such as Grayson Murray and Lucas Herbert for instance, or Ryan Fox and Matt Wallace.

Of those, Alex Smalley would get the vote over Ben Kohles in their group, while Erik van Rooyen should land the money at odds-on, but these three-balls aren’t universally priced up and it makes sense to look elsewhere for now.

The angle for me is to side with power imbalances where possible and there are few more stark examples than this one, where JAKE KNAPP can take care of two former major champions.

Jason Dufner has barely played in 2024 and shot 76-75 in Puerto Rico when last teeing it up on his own, before a wide missed cut in the pairs event in New Orleans. He’s a past winner who shouldn’t be around for the weekend.

Francesco Molinari played well on his first start of the year but has done nothing since, missing six cuts and finishing 54th and 73rd on his other appearances. He’s not always been far away from making weekends but this course ought to expose him.

Knapp, a winner in Mexico who almost doubled up in the Byron Nelson, could be a live outsider. He was poor last week but still drove the ball superbly and that club alone should make all the difference.

Posted at 0735 BST on 15/05/24

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