The second major of the year will be concluded on Sunday night with the last 18 holes of the USPGA Championship expected to be something of a victory parade for the defending champion Brooks Koepka, who has tamed Bethpage Black in some style.
There is a right bunfight on for second spot though with some big names gathering hoping that Koepka fails to get over the finishing line but in reality all knowing that the likelihood is the best they can do is come second to him.
Round 3 Recap
Koepka went into the second round with a seven shot lead and he has come out of it with the same leading margin after a level par 70 saw him remain on 12 under par. He now leads from a quartet of players who include the world number one Dustin Johnson. Harold Varner, Jazz Janewattananond and Luke List make up that group. Hideki Matsuyama and Matt Wallace are on four under and then comes our pre-tournament pick Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth on three under.
It was a good day for us betting wise on Saturday with both two ball bets winning. Scott Piercy comfortably saw off the challenge of Mike Lorenzo-Vera while Luke List produced a decent burst on the back nine to get the better of Matt Wallace by a shot to land that bet at a tasty price, as we thought it was. That puts us nicely in profit for the week for the match bets.
We have a couple of larger markets to go at here. Obviously there is the outright one but I’m not interested in that given that Koepka has this thing in the bag. I will just hope that Schauffele can remain in the top 10 and land a place for us. There is also a betting without Koepka market which has much more interest for me.
Dustin Johnson is the obvious favourite here but he doesn’t have a great record in final rounds this season and I can’t think playing for second place is going to entice him much. He is a winner who plays for the number one spot only each week. Hideki Matsuyama is a fair challenger but if DJ goes all cockeyed then he could be brought down with him. I fancy Harold Varner III might be the one to go to. He’s out alongside Koepka but I can’t see him pushing to try and catch him. Second place will work nicely for him. He is long, relatively accurate and gave off a good game plan in his interview on Saturday evening. I think the American will be quite relaxed with no chance of winning and that can see him come through at 11/1.
Sunday 2 Balls
Once again the field are out in twos for the final round with the last group of Brooks Koepka and Harold Varner III out at 19.35 BST and the penultimate one of Luke List and Jazz Janewattananond out 10 minutes earlier at 19.25 BST. Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama are out at 19.15 BST. Earlier in the day there are a couple of decent groups for the crowds to enjoy. Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau will get the bombs away at 16.55 while Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson is a decent group at 14.15. I’ll take one bet on Sunday.
Dustin Johnson vs Hideki Matsuyama
Match tees off at 19.15 BST
Two men who are no strangers to being out late on Sunday go out alongside each other in the final round when Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama partner one another in the final round of the tournament and I fancy the Japanese star could be a shade of value.
I’ve already mentioned above that Johnson has had trouble finishing tournaments off at times this year and that gives me encouragement to take Matsuyama in this one but also as I’ve also said I believe Johnson doesn’t really play for second place and there was elements of that on Saturday where his game visibly weakened down the back nine when all hope of winning had disappeared. Hideki is the sort of player who will just plod on. He has decent tee to green stats for the last two rounds and another 68 here could easily get the job done.
Back H.Varner III to win USPGA Championship (w/o Koepka) (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 with Coral (1/4 1-3)
Back H.Matsuyama to beat D.Johnson for a 4/10 stake at 2.80 with Betfair
Back him here: