While the Olympians are still busy battling over gold, silver, and bronze in London, the USPGA Championship kicks off next weekend at Kiawah Island hot on the heels of the dramatic British Open finale a couple of weeks back. It’s expected to be hot and sticky in South Carolina, with temperatures in the 30’s so let’s hope the thunderstorms don’t cause too much disruption to play.
The grueling 7,676 yard course will be a real test for the players. There are 3 par 5’s in the 600 yard region, with a few par 4’s touching 500 yards. If Tiger wants to be in with a shot in this one, he can’t shy away from using the driver like he was doing at Royal Lytham. The stroke index of 79 makes it the toughest course in the entire United States and it’s going to be an attritional weekend for sure.
Taking a look at the USPGA Championship betting, despite Woods’ hot-and-cold play in recent tournaments, he’s installed (as ever) as the ante-post favourite at 7/1, with his nearest rivals being Lee Westood and Luke Donald at 16/1 and Rory McIlroy at 18/1. British Open champion Ernie Els isn’t fancied to make it back to back majors priced up at 40/1 in the early going.
Given the length of the course and the thick Bermuda grass off the fairways, it would make sense to take a look at the driving stats as a good place to start for picking people who might be likely to do well. Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland are three of the longest hitters on the tour, and when you look at the accuracy stats for long drives, Watson, Johnson, and JB Holmes seem to be the picks.
Tiger on the other hand is way down the list in driving accuracy at 31.89%. Watson has also been extremely effective at scoring when he finds himself >150 yards away with his tee off. The only real stat in Tiger’s favour is the fact that he’s been very accurate with hitting the green when he finds the rough with his tee shot and is with 150 yards of the green. If Bubba can putt well, though that’s something of a big ask for him, then he should have a great chance. He’s currently at 40/1 with most bookmakers. Beyond him there doesn’t seem to be too much value, but check back again when the ‘Top 10’ market is published on the bookmakers sites and you might some more value in the likes of Dustin Johnson and JB Holmes.