Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: PGA Tour 2020: US PGA Championship

PGA Tour 2020: US PGA Championship

There have been some eerie spectacles thus far in the era of post-lockdown sporting theatre. The test cricket in England was strange (cracking cover drives were followed by near sepulchral silence).  Football was accompanied by poorly synchronized crowd effects, all of which was strangely reminiscent of canned-laughter from the mid 90’s (Fresh Prince, anyone?). I wonder how golf’s first Major is going to fare during this epoch of uncanny solemnity. Colin Morikawa’s playoff victory over Justin Thomas at the Workday Charity Open was encouraging in terms of generating excitement.  But Major Championship golf is a different animal, one which requires a greater degree of theatrical razzmatazz. In keeping with the topsy-turvy state of things, the US PGA Championship- traditionally the final Major of the year- will be the opening salvo in this year’s Major roster. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The US PGA Tour
The 102nd US PGA Championship
TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California
06th - 09th August

The Professional Golfers Association of America was formed in 1916 by wealthy store owner Rodney Wanamaker (thus the eponymously named trophy). The first PGA Championship was staged in October that year, played in match-play format. The event had lost some lustre in recent years due to the meteoric rise of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. This prompted a change in scheduling last year, with the event moved to May. This was roundly applauded, though this year has wreaked havoc on any idea of a plan. Brooks Koepka is looking to become the first man in the modern era to win three consecutive PGA Championship titles (Walter Hagen won four consecutive titles between 1924 and 1927). Tiger Woods also looks to win his 16th Major and surpass Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour win record. Justin Thomas looks to fend off a bevy of contenders for World Number One status in what is set to be a cracking weekend.

Amazingly enough, this will only be the 2nd time in history that California has hosted Major Championships in consecutive years (Gary Woodland won the US Open at Pebble Beach last season). TPC Harding Park will host a Major Championship for the first time- though it has previously hosted both the President’s Cup and two WGC events. Originally designed in 1925 by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, the course was extensively remodelled prior to the 2005 WGC American Express Championship. It is a public golf course that is situated near the Pacific Ocean.  It is a parkland-style affair that is surrounded by the tree-lined Lake Merced. The bentgrass greens are large and undulating (almost resembling a links course). The last six PGA Champions have all been big-hitters.  That trend should continue at Harding Park. Rory McIlroy beat Gary Woodland in the final of the 2015 Match-Play. Added to that, Tiger Woods and John Daly were locked in a duel during the 2005 WGC American Express Championship.

Brooks Koepka is not only the two-time defending champion, he has also won four of the last six Major Championships. And his return to form last week was an ominous sign ahead of this week’s event. Justin Thomas won his 3rd PGA Tour event of the season at TPC Southwind: he also lost in a playoff at the Workday Charity Open. The battle for the World Number One spot is wide open, with European heavyweights Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy smarting after poor showings at TPC Southwind. Bryson DeChambeau is fast becoming a parodic figure in the media: his recent musings about his long-life expectancy even had Justin Thomas rolling his eyes (albeit on social media).  Yet to pick up a top 10 in a Major, DeChambeau needs to show that he can translate that huge body mass into Major success.

Past Winners 
2019: Brooks Koepka (-8)
2018: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2017: Justin Thomas (-8)
2016: Jimmy Walker (-14)
2015: Jason Day (-20)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Brooks Koepka (10/1)
Justin Thomas (10/1)
Rory McIlroy (12/1)
Jon Rahm (14/1)
Bryson DeChambeau (16/1) 

Value Bets

Tyrell Hatton
To Win (50/1), To Place (10/1)

Tyrell Hatton’s price has almost doubled this week after a poor showing at TPC Southwind.  This despite the fact that the fields are almost identical. Lest we forget that Hatton has two international victories and three other top 10’s in six starts since November. This included victory at this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Prior to last week’s WGC event, he was 1st in Strokes Gained: Putting.  You have to putt well to win Majors. But he more importantly sat 5th in Shots Gained: Tee-to-Green.  This will prove hugely important at this test of driving prowess.

Louis Oosthuizen
To Win (75/1), To Place (15/1)

Louis Oosthuizen is always game for a Major Championship surge.  Ten years on from his victory at St Andrews, it is almost miraculous that the South African hasn’t added to his Major Championship tally. Owning the unenviable Grand Slam of runner-up Major finishes, Oosthuizen has missed the cut on two occasions in his last 23 Major Championships. He was placed well at both Memorial and the WGC event. But he just failed to string four consistent rounds together. A tie for 6th at TPC Southwind was slightly more encouraging all-round.  Oosthuizen looks a great option in the place markets.

The Man to Beat

Patrick Cantlay
To Win (28/1), To Place (56/10)

I’m going for a guy who has been in slightly underwhelming post-lockdown form.  His post-lockdown form figures read T11-T7-T32-T35.  Weekend rounds of 67 and 65 at TPC Southwind bode well for Cantlay.  Patrick Cantlay has looked like a Major Championship winner in waiting for some time now.  He tied for 9th at last year’s Masters and finished 3rd in this event.  He actually imploded at Augusta after being in a potentially winning situation.  The 28-year-old Long Island native is a pure ball-striker who should thrive on this relatively long par 70.  How fitting it would be for a Californian native to capture this title.  

The choice for 1st Round Leader
Tony Finau

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