My Head Says… Tiger.
Let’s just get this out of the way now, Tiger Woods will win the PGA Championship later this week.
Having won 5 of the 11 events he’s played the year, plus a T4th at the Masters and T6th at The Open, anyone thinking he won’t win this week is delusional. His swing appears to be flowing naturally once more and his putting stroke, which has evaded him on the big stage recently, is back.
On average this season, Tiger has gained 0.835 shots per round in putting.
What does that mean?
It means that at the end of four days, Tiger has gained more than three shots on the field (average), just on the greens. The 0.835 number is his best over the last four seasons, and the second best number in the field this week (behind Sergio Garcia, 0.918 strokes gained).
In addition to leading the PGA Tour in All-Round Ranking, Scoring Average and Total Putting, he ranks a career-best 53rd in driving accuracy, hitting 3% more fairways than the average on Tour.
Having changed his equipment, Tiger is now favouring his 3 or 5 wood off the tee more than his driver, leading to more fairways, more greens, more birdies and thus, more wins.
Oakhill, the site of this year’s PGA Championship, is a long par-70 layout that bends around the thick tree-lined, thick roughed terrain. Tiger has proven his ability to play this type of course with wins this year at TPC Sawgrass, Firestone, Torrey Pines, Bayhill and Doral.
Whilst he hasn’t won a major in 17 attempts, he does have nine top-6 finishes in that time, with his closest opportunity resulting in a 2nd place finish at the PGA Championship in 2009. He has won 4 of the 15 PGA Championship he has played, his best winning percentage of any of the majors.
He will end his major drought, but at 4/1 the value of betting on him is not really there. So, who else may win (i.e. finish high enough for a payout each-way).
My Numbers Say… Henrik.
“Who are you and what have you done with Henrik Stenson?”
That is what I would be asking the man pictured above. The fiery Swede is known for his inconsistent play and his even more inconsistent temperament and mental strength. Yet this year, he has been making headlines for his game rather than his ability to throw or break a club, or swing with no pants on.
He’s improved from 50th in the world rankings at the start of the year, to the border of the top-10 where he sits now at No.11. His last three starts worldwide have seen him finish 3rd, 2nd and 2nd, losing out to Tiger this past weekend and Phil Mickelson on both outings in Scotland (Scottish Open and The Open Championship).
Adding to that recent run of form are solid performances at some of the more demanding courses on the PGA Tour Schedule: 8th at Bayhill, 2nd at the Shell Houston Open, 18th at The Masters, 5th at The Players and 21st at the US Open.
If he holes putts, he contends.
Stenson ranks 2nd in greens in regulation and 6th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this year.
Of all the 156 players in the field at this week’s PGA Championship, Stenson is one of only two players who rank inside the top-30 in both GIRs and fairways (other: Boo Weekley). That kind of accuracy means Stenson, barring any putting disasters, should be high on the leaderboard (again) on Sunday.
Along with Stenson’s charge down the world ranking, take a look at his odds entering the majors this season:
US Open: 66/1
My Heart Says… Brandt.
Consider this: 12 months ago, Brandt Snedeker missed the cut at the PGA Championship for the second straight time and 3rd time in four years. Since then, he has played 25 events, winning 3 times, finishing inside the top-25 17 times and banking $17,883,631.
Forget football salaries, that’s over $350,000 a week.
Other than that missed cut last year at Kiawah Island, Snedeker has finished inside the top-20 in each of the last 5 majors he’s played. He was in the final group at The Masters, made a good charge over the weekend at the US Open and finished 11th at The Open despite a second round 79.
He ranks second on Tour in All-Round Ranking behind Tiger, and remains one of the best putters in golf.
He picked up his first win of the season last weekend in Canada, and comes into the PGA Championship 100% healthy and on a rich run of form. My heart says that this run Brandt is on will end with a major, and I have a feeling he will be in with a chance on Sunday.
He is currently 33/1.
My Wallet Says… Steve, Bill, Jimmy and Kevin.
This foursome have 24 top-10s this season and more than $10,000,000 in the bank. The key number is zero however. None of the four have a major title yet, hence the inflated odds. Whilst they may not win, their game and their form offer good value.
Steve Stricker 50/1
Bill Haas 66/1
Jimmy Walker 250/1
Kevin Streelman 300/1
For all the best odds for the PGA Championship, visit OddsChecker.