The first round of the USPGA Championship on the Black Course at Bethpage State is upon us which means we can get the betting up and running for the individual rounds and we can do so with plenty of markets.
As ever for a major championship we have a first round leader market to have a look into and then every group out onto the golf course has been priced up too so there is a lot for us to fill our boots on for this opening 18 holes.
First Round Leader
As with last week when we bet on this market, we need to work out the schedule for the opening round. As with the British Masters we have two waves of starters off two tees and this week the morning players could be the ones hampered by a band of rain that is set to hit New York early in the day. With that in mind I’m going to go for the later wave although in America we can never rule out a suspension in play which could knacker everything up. As with all my bets this week length and good driving is a must and I’ve found two I like.
There aren’t actually that many long hitters late off on Thursday but Jon Rahm is certainly one of them. He is out alongside the other one in Dustin Johnson but I’m not convinced all is spot on with DJs game but there isn’t wrong with Rahm’s apart from his temperament denying him the chance to play all four rounds in sold shape. He has begun tournaments very well this year. He opened at Torrey Pines with a 62, shot 67 in the first round at Riviera and 69s at Sawgrass and Augusta. This course should suit him perfectly and at 30/1 he’s my main first round leader punt.
The other one is former champion Keegan Bradley. He isn’t the longest hitter of the ball but he is one of the better ball strikers on Tour and he also has some eye catching starts to his name this term. He opened with a 68 at Torrey Pines, 66 at Riviera, 67 at Bay Hill and 65 at TPC Sawgrass so he’s no stranger to going low. At 100/1 if the conditions do favour the later starters there is no reason why he can’t run into a place for us here.
Thursday 3 Balls
The field go out in threes for the opening two rounds and as you would imagine there are some really good groups among them. We knew that Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari would go out together as the last three major winners and they go off at 13.24 BST. The other really big group in the morning is the Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson group who are off at 13.02 BST. Moving into the afternoon and the Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth will be quite popular, as will the Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day one. They are off at 18.16 and 18.38 respectively.
The beauty of betting on the first couple of rounds of this tournament is that there are a number of former winners who are invited back and club professionals who have no chance of being competitive around a track as tough as this so we can effectively eliminate them and create two balls. There are four such groups we can do that with.
Ben Cook/Scott Piercy/Brian Gay
Match tees off at 11.45 BST
We have the classic big hitter against shorter hitter with a club professional mixed in between in the opening group off the tenth tee as Scott Piercy goes up alongside Brian Gay and Ben Cook over the first 18 holes of the tournament.
I’m eliminating all club professionals this week. You’ll get the odd half decent round from them but that sign that has gone viral on social media is there for a reason. I’m firmly in the Piercy camp here. He claimed after a bogey free Byron Nelson that he is playing the best golf of his career right now and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him in that. He is a monster hitter of the golf ball and that gives him a massive advantage here. Gay can putt but I don’t think that is much of an advantage here given his lack of length. Piercy for me in this one.
Byeong-Hun An/Jason Caron/Andrew Putnam
Match tees off at 12.04 BST
The same dynamic applies to another of the earlier groups off the first tee when Byeong-Hun An is out alongside the club professional Jason Caron and Andrew Putnam who is one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour.
It really doesn’t need me to keep repeating myself here but An sits in the top 15 in driving distance on the Tour and has enough of an all-round game to use that to his advantage. Putnam is only just inside the top 200 for driving distance and is better on shorter tracks rather than this one. Caron is the club professional so I like An here especially with him having posted on Twitter that his neck is much better.
Casey Russell/Luke List/Abraham Ancer
Match tees off at 13.46 BST
The third group in which I’ve identified the set of elements that I like is the penultimate one off the first tee when the club professional Casey Russell goes out alongside the established Tour professionals Luke List and Abraham Ancer.
Ancer is a decent ball striker but he sits outside the top 75 in driving distance on the Tour so while he has gone well on tough tracks in tricky conditions in the past this one could be a bit too long for him. It certainly won’t be too long for List. He is the third longest on the PGA Tour this season and was fifth last term so he hits it miles. We’ve seen on a number of occasions earlier in the campaign how he can use that to his advantage and I expect him to do that here too.
Mikko Korhonen/Craig Hocknell/Jhonattan Vegas
Match tees off at 19.22 BST
The final match off the tenth tee on the opening day delivers my final bet of the first round when recent China Open winner Mikko Korhonen goes out alongside Jhonattan Vegas and the club professional Craig Hocknell.
Korhonen has a fair bit of length himself to be fair but he is so inexperienced in American tournaments and major championships that he can’t really be for me this week. Hocknell is the club professional so he’s left out of the reckoning leaving the wonderful ball striking of Vegas to be my pick for this group. The Venezuelan stats very well for this course and being a winner at Tour level and third in The Players earlier in the season we know he can deliver the goods. I’ll pay to see him do that here.
Back J.Rahm First Round Leader (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 31.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back K.Bradley First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back J.Vegas to beat M.Korhonen & C.Hocknull for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair
Back them here:
WON – Back S.Piercy to beat B.Gay & B.Cook for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with BetVictor
Back B-H.An to beat A.Putnam & J.Caron for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Betway
WON – Back L.List to beat A.Ancer & C.Russell for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with 888sport