Tuesday, 5 August 2014

PGA Championship 2014 - Valhalla GC, Kentucky

Valhalla GC will host the PGA Championship for the third time this week following Tiger Woods playoff victory over Bob May in 2000 and Mark Brooks’ playoff win in 1996 over local boy, Kenny Perry. Perry coincidently plays here this week having won the senior’s 3M Championship last Sunday. The 2008 Ryder Cup was also staged here which the Americans won with ease.

The course is a Jack Nicklaus design and following Woods' & May's 72-hole score of -18, the course has undergone some changes. It’s been lengthened for sure but contrasting reports exist as to the severity of the rough, but some players’ comments on the course layout, suggest that accuracy will be the key to success. For me, I’m keen to side with players that are in decent form recently and have the required driving distance stats that seems to be a requisite to win at Valhalla. Having said that, I am mindful that, although this major has produced so many first time major winners, significantly more than any other major, 13 of the last 15 PGA Championship winners had at least one win in their prior 20 events. 20 events can stretch back over some amount of time but I do think it’s important that a major winner these days has to be a “winner” and one that is doing well on the order of merit. Despite the three major winners in 2014 having won a major previously, 15 of the 19 major winners previously were first time winners, so I’m not afraid to look at a possible first time winner again this week. With the Bridgestone results in, it’s interesting to note that in the seven years that it has been played the week prior to the final major, the eventual winner of the Wanamaker Trophy finished no worse than 22nd in the WGC. Perhaps the sample range is too small but it lends to the notion that bringing you’re a game into this week is essential. I’ve included a couple of players who finished outside that 22, but only just!

It’ll be tough to take on Rory in the betting this week should the expected weather materialize (thunderstorms etc.) but winning three on the spin, is not an easy feat. Justin Rose can vouch for that of late, but given that length off the tee could be key here, Rory is a worthy favourite. Those recent PGA Championships also showed that Driving Distance was key, as too was GIR & obviously excellent putting stats. These all point for a Rory success. Favourite backers surely will be on, but as an Irishman, of course, I’d love to see him win it, but from a betting perspective, I think Rory has created some value for me further down the field

Patrick Reed may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s good for us golf punters as his prices are often bigger than they should be.
He produced a fast finishing performance at Firestone on Sunday and that augurs well for this week, and this very confident, two-time winner on tour this season will be relishing Valhalla as he arrives on the back of his latest efforts of 4-mc-26-11.

We’ve seen unlikely victories in this particular Major with Beem, Micheel, Toms, Brooks, and Yang all prevailing in recent years, so it can be done.

Reed is not without a chance and I’m happy to invest to see how far he can go. He's available at 75/1 with Bet365 who are paying 6 places

Just outside the Top 25 last week in the WGC was Jimmy Walker. The FedEx Cup leader has won three times on tour this season and ranks high for driving distance and GIR stats.

Two TOP10s in the Masters and US Open in 2014 suggests that Jimmy’s major form can see him contend once again here on a track that will suit.
 8 TOP10s from his 22 starts shows the level of consistency throughout the season and he’s sure to be up there throughout the week.

Jimmy Walker is available @ 60/1 with Skybet also paying 6 places

A lot of comparisons have been made between Valhalla and Muirfield Village and former champion, Rich Beem has been tweeting photos of the course on twitter declaring the back 9 holes to be a replica of sorts of Muirfield Village. I hope so, as I really think Hideki Matsuyama can go well this week. The Japanese star won the Memorial Tournament earlier this season and finished T12 at Firestone. In his last seven starts he’s won, produced one TOP10 and finished no worse than 38th.  He’s value for me on this course even though he has come in from 66/1 to 50/1 in the market over the past 24 hours and he's preferred over Charl Schwartzel who I looked long and hard at before passing up @33s.

Lastly, as this major is also affectionately called "Glory's last shot" I'm taking my last shot this week on Harris English.
Harris English is one of those on tour that could become a regular winner. His recent form is mixed, although he’s won this season and delivered a further seven TOP10s. A disappointing final round last Sunday saw him slip down to T31st but at 125/1 or better, he’s worth a look. Ranked in TOP10 for GIR and averaging around 300yds off the tee, his game should suit Valhalla and he shouldn't be that price.

Staking Plan: (8 pts/units *all paying 6 places)

1 pt e/w P. Reed @ 75/1
1 pt e/w H. Matsuyama @ 50/1
1 pt e/w J. Walker @ 60/1
1 pt e/w H. English @ 125/1

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