The quaint town of St. Louis will wake up to celebrate the 100th PGA Championship from August 9th-12th 2018, at the iconic Bellerive Golf Course. It will be a watershed event for golfers as they try to master their shots under the Missouri sun. In a major break from tradition, the PGA Championship 2019 will be shifted to May, just after the Masters and before the U.S. Open. It will also be the first major tournament to be held at Bellerive Golf Course, which underwent a $10 million renovation in 2006.
In its new avatar, the golf course opens up new challenges that make the 100th PGA Championship quite interesting. The stakes are high with the fund touching $10.5 million, and the winner’s share is pegged at $1.89 million.
The 18 holes of the lush Bellerive Country Club offer a range of terrains to test different skill sets of each player. The golf course has plenty of bunkers and trees but only a few water bodies. However, there will be mid-low water hindrance in 11 of the 18 holes.
There are a few tough holes at par 3 and par 4 (200-400 yards). The litmus test of the field is holes 14 through 17, which form the iconic “Ridge.” Factors like the prevailing southerly winds would definitely test the adaptability of each player in these holes. Hole 17, measuring at 597 yards par 5, with two teeing grounds, will be the ultimate proving grounds. It has trees and a creek to the right of the green, with two frontal bunkers that can come in handy for run-up shots. It will also be advantageous for eagle or birdie hits.
Going by the beauty and visual aesthetics, the 12th hole of Bellerive Country Club is a golfer’s heaven on earth. It is a dog-leg with bunkers on both sides of the green. Long-hitters can find their comfort zone in this hole. The overall rough is strong and high, so players with good accuracy will have an edge over players with a great approach.
The players’ list of the 100th PGA Championship consists of notable golfers from all around the world. The 100th PGA Championship will test the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Patton Kizzire, Jordan Spieth, and the defending champion, Justin Thomas.
The most defining factor would be off-the-tee shots, making golfers like Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, and Tommy Fleetwood the current bookie favorites.
The final list includes former champions, as well as new faces. Bookies have also released early odds on most players, with prized golfers fetching odds as high as +1000. As the practice sessions start from the 6th of August, we take a look at the top picks of the season.
Dustin Johnson +1000
Dustin Johnson is the current heartthrob in the world of golf. The 34-year-old American is currently number 1 in the official PGA Tour World Ranking, with an average point of 10.34 over the last 43 events. He appears to be in top form, creating a record win in all four events of the 2017 WGC. He won the entire game against Jon Rahm with much confidence, never coming second in any of the seven matches.
More recently, Johnson hit a masterstroke in Sentry Tournament of Champions 2018, held in January, nearly holing the ball from 430 yards on a par 4. This victory is the 11th straight season win for Johnson, putting him in the league of Tiger Woods (14) and Jack Nicklaus (17). In May, Johnson briefly lost the World Number 1 ranking to Justin Thomas but regained the title by winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June by five strokes. He remains a top pick for the 100th PGA Championship.
Justin Thomas +1200
This former World Number One is another hot pick for the PGA Championship. He has plenty of wins to prove his track record and is currently at the peak of his career. He trails Dustin Johnson in the World Leaderboard and has nine professional wins, including the last year’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The defending champion is a master of PGA and has concentrated on the PGA for the most of this career. He also happens to be the son of Mike Thomas, making him the 8th son of a PGA American Professional to win the Championship. At 25 years, he is also one of the youngest members on board.
Rory McIlroy +1200
Rory McIlroy is on fire, and there seems to be no stop to his blitzkrieg. He has performed amazingly well at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he shared the spotlight with Tiger Woods. His tee shots seemed perfect for Bellerive, and bookmakers have reserved the top odds for him. His flawless five-under-par 65 and eight-under-par 62 have put special focus on his newfound skills.
McIlroy will be the man to watch out for in difficult terrains of holes 14-17. He is currently ranked at number 7 in the World Ranking, but his recent performance streak surely puts him ahead of most professional golfers.
Jordan Spieth +1200
Jordan Spieth is an all-timer and an all-rounder in the world of golf. After winning in the 2018 British Open, he has cliched his number 8th world rank. He is in good form, and bookmakers have put him in the list of potential champions. The taste of victory for the 25-year-old is not too old, as he won the 2015 Tour Championship and then the 2017 Open Championship, which was his third major win. However, he did perform poorly in the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. His latest pitch in the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions and the 2018 Masters Tournament saw a lot of improvement.
However, he has to face Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler in Bellerive, who finished ahead of him in the first major championship of 2018.
Justin Rose +1500
Justin Rose is a rising star. He joined professional golf in 2013 and has already climbed up to the number-two position in the World Ranking. He had an eventful year in 2017, bagging his second World Golf Championship in October 2017.
The English player has crossed the Atlantic since then, unveiling the 2018 British Masters as the host. His most recent win was the 2018 Open Championship in Scotland, where he shared second place with Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele. The Missouri heat will be a bit hot for Justin Rose, but the Bellerive Golf Course has plenty of advantages for the 38-year-old golfer.
Tiger Woods +1600
The poster boy of golf will find it hard to master his strokes in the PGA Championship. His track record of 2018 is a mixed bag of expectations. His performance at the 2018 Open Championship began well, but he soon dropped off to the sixth place following some basic blunders.
However, the king of golf made some pretty decent scores in the Honda Classic, Valspar Championship, and the Wells Fargo Championship before suffering a humiliating defeat in the Memorial Tournament held in June 2018. The U.S. Open 2018, the second major of the year, is the latest wound for Woods, which could have a demoralizing effect on him in the PGA Championship.
Some bookmakers have downgraded Woods to odds near +2000.
Hideki Matsuyama +1600
Hideki Matsuyama is a rollercoaster ride of expectations. He impressed his fans with his runner-up finish in June 2017 at the U.S. Open, which helped him bag the 2nd position in the World Ranking. He also won the 2017 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone South.
However, things went south from there, and Matsuyama has failed to put up any noticeable performance. The 26-year-old admitted that his tee to green has deteriorated in recent times, which will be a key factor in the fields of Bellerive.
Tommy Fleetwood +2000
Tommy Fleetwood is an English professional golf player who is a four-time champion of the European Tour. Most recently, he won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January 2018. He has won the U.S. Open twice and has set a course record at Carnoustie with his impressive 63 during the Dunhill Links Championship. Recently, he has shown some early sparks of golfing genius at the 2018 U.S. Open, where he finished second.
He is great at adapting to new environments, and all eyes will be glued on him during the test matches to see if he still has some magic left.
Jason Day +2500
Jason Day is from Down Under and currently holds the 10th rank in the World Ranking. Recently, he shot to fame in the 2018 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, when he pulled off a 200-yard tee, 5-under 65, without a bogey.
This makes him one of the top picks when it comes to approach. He has steady hands, which helped him to the World Number 1 ranking in September 2015. He is also the winner of 2015 PGA Championship, where he scored a record 20 strokes under par.
Recently, he won the Wells Fargo Championship in May of 2018.
Jon Rahm +2500
Golf commentators and critics have considered Jon Rahm to be a tough contender who knows the game all too well. The Spanish professional golfer has been in the backbenches of pro-level golf for quite some time but has held the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a record 60 weeks.
In January 2018, we saw Jon Rahm climb up to the 5th place in the World Ranking with the help of his win in the CareerBuilder Challenge. He also was the finishing runner-up in Sentry Tournament of Champions 2018. Though he has had a short career in professional golf, he is well known for his ability to perform under stress. If he survives during the initial stages, there are high chances he could make his debut in PGA Championship.
That does it for my early look at the odds and a few of the top contenders we’ll get to see at Bellerive starting on August 9th. As the event draws closer, more and more odds will be available online, and some of them will be well worth a closer look. Make sure you’re hunting for the best betting value – player matchups are always a great way to go about exploiting discrepancies in the bookies’ lines.
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Thanks for taking a look at this preview of the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club. Best of luck as you select and place your wagers!