2017 US PGA Championship Preview
With the fourth and final golf major of the year just days away, the Quail Hollow Club green-keepers will be adding the last touches to this year’s course and trying to ensure that, as well as making it look as impeccable as ever, it will provide the players with a challenge worthy of a major. Whenever a new course makes its debut in a major there are a lot of unknowns, and it’s no different this year with the Charlotte based venue keen to impress the watching eyes of the golfing world.
Will the course be set up the same way as it usually is for the PGA Tour’s Well Fargo Championship, also hosted at Quail Hollow? The answer is probably not. The organizers will no doubt want a few surprises to be included, so, whilst looking at previous Wells Fargo leader-boards could be helpful in determining the likely winner, the course is not guaranteed to be the same animal when the players get out there on the morning of Thursday 10th August. It’s also well worth noting that the 2017 Well Fargo, won by Brian Harman, was switched to Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington to allow for the preparation required to host an event as prestigious as the PGA Tour Championship. So basically, don’t look at this year’s Wells Fargo leader-board for a guide as to who may play well next week, start in 2016 and go backwards instead.
The first bit of form that stands out like a beacon is the quality of performances that former World number one, Rory McIlroy, has achieved when visiting the South Carolina course, coupled with the fact that he’s already won two US PGA Championship, in 2012 and 2014. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2010, by four shots, and then again in 2015, by a ridiculous seven shots, there’s something about the Fargo Well Championship that makes the Northern Irishman find his best form. He’ll be hoping that’s the case again this time around and he heads the betting in most places off the back of a solid, if unspectacular, performance at the British Open behind Jordan Spieth. At time of writing on 04/08/17 both players are available to back at +700 with betting site Betway and most would agree that they deservedly hold the position of joint favorites. Spieth showed his class to overcome a final round wobble and win The British Open a few weeks back and he now needs just a US PGA Championship trophy to complete the career Grand Slam at the tender age of just 24! On the negative side he’s only played at Quail Hollow once previously and could only manage a tie for 32nd back in 2013.
Dustin Johnston is next best at +900 according to the bookmakers and he’s not far behind his two younger rivals in terms of current form, especially when you consider that he’s still nursing his way back from the bizarre domestic injury that occurred on the eve of The Masters and which, ultimately, kept him out of Augusta. The big hitting South Carolinan broke his major duck with victory at the US Open last year and will be keen to add another big one in what’s been a stop-start 2017.
There’s a big gap then back to the fourth player in the list, the consistent but unclinical Hideki Matusyama, at +2000. Wherever he plays, the man from Japan is rarely far away from the first page of the leaderboard, but there’s a nagging doubt these days about his abilty to convert winning opportunities into actual wins.
Other notable names at bigger odds include Ricky Fowler who is still battling to become part of the major winners club that Brooks Koepka joined a few months back, and Jason Day and Adam Scott who are both struggling to find the form that made them so successful in recent years.
Home grown talent further down the list includes Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed and good old Phil Mickleson still has the talent, even if it has been a while since his last tour win. The man they call Lefty is a tasty looking +5000 to win USPGA for a second time (won in 2005).
Whatever happens, with fair weather and a new course hitting the big time, we’re in for another world-class four days of major golf.