PGA Championship betting preview: World’s best head to Baltusrol

Updated: July 27, 2016


PGA Tour featured betting preview: PGA Championship; Baltusrol Golf Club, Lower Course; par 70 (7400 yards); Springfield, NJ, July 29-Aug 1 (AET) – selections by Will Chen



With the return of golf to the Olympic Games in 2016 for the first time since 1904, the PGA Tour schedule has been chopped and changed quite a bit in recent weeks. That means just two weeks separate the final two majors of the year – the Open Championship and this week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey.  The PGA Championship may not share the prestige of the Masters, US Open or Open Championship, but the rewards for victory (including the USD $10 million prizepool) stretch well into the future.

PGA champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors for the next five years, and have lifetime exemption for the PGA Championship. They also receive membership on the PGA and European Tours for the following five seasons and invitations. The PGA Championship has been held at a large number of venues, some of the early ones now quite obscure, but it is now usually staged by one of a small group of celebrated courses, each of which has also hosted several other leading events (as is the case with Baltusrol). In February 1916 the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) was established in New York City.



One month earlier, the wealthy department store owner Rodman Wanamaker hosted a luncheon with the leading golf professionals of the day at the Wykagyl Country Club in nearby New Rochelle. Later that year, the first PGA Championship was held at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. The winner, Jim Barnes, received $500 and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Wanamaker. The PGA Championship was played under match play conditions until 1957. Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen each won the event five times, with Tiger Woods one back.

Venue for the PGA Championship in 2005 along with seven editions of the US Open, Baltusrol dates back to 1895 and comprises 36 holes spread across the Upper and Lower courses. It’s the latter that’s in use for this event. It’s a very long par 70 with average width fairways, difficult rough and reasonably small, tricky greens. Since 2005, the course has undergone several changes by renowned designer Rees Jones with some bunkers deepened and others moved to give them more relevance off the tee. The three signature holes of the Lower Course include the fourth, a par three of 194 yards where the player must hit the ball over the pond to a two-tiered green.



The 17th is a par five of 650 yards where John Daly is the only player to ever reach the green in two strokes (later, Tiger Woods fired his second shot over the green in two shots at the 2005 PGA Championship); while the 18th, a par five of 533 yards along which the pond has been expanded and fairway bunkers deepened. Don’t expect a score of -20 winning here, as was the case at Whistling Straits last year. Phil Mickelson’s total back in 2005 was -4, and the field may struggle to match that number. As is the case with most majors on a rotating schedule, the stats are hard to match up year-to-year.

But Diving Accuracy is far preferable to Driving Distance while a low number for Greens-In-Regulation also looks telling at Baltusrol. Previous form at other courses designed by A.W. Tillinghast is worth considering while a win earlier in the season looks a strong pointer – 13 of the past 15 winners had already won an event prior to success in the PGA Championship.  Nine of the top-10 in 2005 had won at least one major while six of the top-10 at the 1993 US Open were major winners. Six of the past eight winners hailed from outside the United States.



Confirmed bets (card finalised, E/W = top 6)

There’s a case to be made for swerving most of the top picks. Jason Day’s form has tapered ever so slightly, Rory McIlroy hasn’t won on the PGA Tour in more than a year and Jordan Spieth hasn’t shown his best form since the Masters. It might even be too soon for Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson to contend after their memorable race to the wire in the Open Championship. But we just can’t leave Dustin Johnson off the top of our betting card. He arrives in New Jersey at the top of his game following a tie for second at the Canadian Open last weekend. That result follows back-to-back wins at the US Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a top 10 finish in the Open Championship. He finished third in the 2012 Barclays at Tillinghast’s Bethpage Black and he’s been inside the top 10 in four of his past six USPGA Championship appearances.

Dustin Johnson WIN-E/W (one unit @ $9.00)
Sergio Garcia WIN-E/W (one unit @ $26.00)
Justin Rose WIN-E/W (one unit @ $34.00)
Branden Grace top 10 (one unit @ $5.00)
JB Holmes top 10 (one unit @ $5.50)
Jason Dufner top 10 (one unit @ $6.50)
Marc Leishman top 25 (one unit @ $3.75)
Thomas Pieters top 25 (one unit @ $5.00)


Last week’s results: 2-0-6, -2.75 units; overall record: 45-3-155, +68.3 units

Dustin Johnson WIN-E/W (one unit @ $6.00) WIN (T2)
Emiliano Grillo WIN-E/W (one unit @ $34.00) LOSE (T43)
Tony Finau top 6 (one unit @ $7.00) LOSE (T70)
Graham DeLaet top 6 (one unit @ $8.00) LOSE (CUT)
William McGirt top 10 (one unit @ $5.00) LOSE (T59)
Kevin Streelman top 10 (one unit @ $5.00) LOSE (CUT)
Daniel Summerhays top 25 (one unit @ $3.00) LOSE (CUT)
Jhonattan Vegas top 25 (one unit @ $3.25) WIN (1st)

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to CrownBet (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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