USPGA Championship Golf 2024 – Round 1 Tips and Betting Preview

The opening round of the USPGA Championship takes place on Thursday with the huge field seeing Valhalla in competitive conditions for the first time this week as everyone looks to position themselves for a title charge.

With pretty much full TV coverage of the day and some excellent groups over the course of the two waves of play we should be treated to some wonderful golf on a track which is expected to play quite scorable with the soft conditions.

First Round Leader

Whenever a major comes along the first market I take a look at is the first round leader one. As ever when we bet on this market we have to look at the format of the day. Here we have two waves of tee times with the players teeing off on the first and tenth tees. Then we need to look at the weather forecast which isn’t really expected to change too much over the course of the day so there doesn’t look to be much of an advantage anywhere.

The problem with betting on this market this year is that it is so very unlikely that the opening round is going to finish on Thursday. This is an extended field on a monster golf course which is a brute of a walk with a drivable par 4 and a beast of a par 3. It is set up for delays and there isn’t really much leeway to allow for that. Conditions on Friday could change and I don’t really want to tie cash up in the hunt for a speculative bet to win so I’ll save the leader bets for the weekend when the field is reduced in size.

Thursday 3 Balls

The field go out in three balls on Thursday with a morning and afternoon wave off the first and tenth tees. There are three headline groups in the morning wave with the 12.53 BST group of Ludvig Aberg, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas getting the big action going ahead of the 13.04 BST tee time for Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and the former winner Keegan Bradley. The other marquee group tees off at 13.15 BST as Rory McIlroy goes out with Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. There are three big groups in the afternoon wave as well with Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson and Matt Fitzpatrick teeing off at 18.51 BST before Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Cameron Young go off at 19.02 BST. The champions of the other three majors are in a group at 19.13 BST as Scottie Scheffler is out alongside Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman. I’ve had a look through the card and I like two bets.

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Byeong Hun An/Alexander Bjork/Eric Cole

Group tees off at 13.10 BST

I am looking for groups where there is a significant length advantage on Thursday with the course expected to play soft and the first of those groups comes in the early tee off for Byeong Hun An, Alexander Bjork and Eric Cole.

I like Bjork but he is a short hitter and isn’t going to be naturally competitive on a brute of a course like this and Eric Cole isn’t the longest either. Cole sits at 101 for driving distance on the PGA Tour and only has one top 10 on the season. He comes in here having gone 80-77 over the weekend at Quail Hollow last week so he looks there for the taking. An is fourth for driving distance and has five top 10 finishes on the year including finishes of T4-3 in the last couple of weeks. He is in good form and the course sets up best of the three for him so he feels an obvious bet at even money.

Jake Knapp/Jason Dufner/Francesco Molinari

Match tees off at 18.35 BST

The other group that I like the look of on Thursday is the later tee time of the American pair of Jake Knapp and the former champion Jason Dufner and the man who has won The Open in the past in Francesco Molinari.

Dufner looks out of his depth here. He has never been the longest hitter of all time and that isn’t going to change now. He has played three events this season and missed the cut in all of them so I think we can overlook him. Molinari has played in seven events this season, missed the cut in five of them and is yet to break the top 50 this term. The Italian isn’t a long hitter either and doesn’t look like he is going much right at the minute. That isn’t the case with Knapp who has won the Mexico Open this year, picked up top 10 finishes at Torrey Pines and PGA National and nearly won the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks ago. Unlike his playing partners, Knapp can get it out there and he is in the top 25 for driving distance this season. This looks like a great chance for him to come out on top in this three ball.


Back B-H.An to beat A.Bjork & E.Cole for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Boylesports

Back him here:

Back J.Knapp to beat J.Dufner & F.Molinari for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral

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