PGA Championship - Golf: Five Players to Follow

17 May 2022 00:00:32 GMTPlus10
Jordan Spieth looking to impress at Southern Hills

Golf's elite head to Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week for the second Major of the year, the PGA Championship and, as always seems the case these days, it looks a wide-open tournament.

Masters winner Scottie Scheffler is eyeing his fifth title of the season and is 11/1 and the man he deposed as world number one Jon Rahm is 12/1 after he won his last tournament, the Mexico Open, at the beginning of the month.

But this week's test is one unfamiliar to many players. It was last used for a Major in 2007 when Tiger Woods won the most recent of his four PGA titles and the track has undergone quite a renovation since, with fairways being widened, bunkers inserted and the grass being cut around the greens that will lead to some hefty runoffs.

Spieth one to look out for

Skills in the many facets of the game will be required for glory and one player who looks set for an excellent week is Jordan Spieth, who is 20/1 in the outright market where a fifth of the odds will be paid on the first eight places. You can follow the action via bet365's Live Golf Tracker.

Victory for the 28-year-old from Dallas would truly be a historic occasion this week as it would mean he joined the true legends of the game and become only the sixth player to have won all four Majors - the others are Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Second spot behind Jason Day at Whistling Straits in 2015 has been the Texan's best PGA performance, but he heads into this week's test in excellent form.

He was disappointed to have missed the cut at Augusta, but he went some way towards making up for that the following week when he claimed victory at the RBC Heritage.

Spieth was then just one shot behind AT & T Byron Nelson winner KH Lee at TPC Craig Ranch last week and proclaimed his game was in excellent shape, so it would not be a great surprise if he made a strong push to have his name mentioned alongside those golfing greats.

McIlroy eyeing third title

Rory McIlroy missed his latest opportunity to join that group when he was second to Scheffler at Augusta, but his Sunday 64 was a storming finish and he will have plenty of backers at 14/1.

The Northern Irishman has already won this tournament twice in 2012 and 2014 and will be looking to improve his recent record as he has posted just one top-ten finish on the last seven occasions he has played in this Major.

There are solid grounds to suggest he could do so. His desire to complete the Grand Slam can sometimes work against McIlroy when he tees up at Augusta, but he should feel no such pressure at Southern Hills, where his driving ability should prove a big asset.

He had to settle for fifth in his last outing at the Wells Fargo Championship, when a second-round 73 left him with a bit of a mountain to climb, but his game is in decent nick so he is likely to put up a decent challenge, eight years since he won one of the game's biggest prizes.

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Lowry can cope with conditions

There looks a decent chance that there will be some windy conditions in Tulsa, which should not worry McIlroy too much and should allow Irishman Shane Lowry to flourish.

The 2019 Open champion put up his best Augusta performance when he finished third in April's showdown and he demonstrated that was no fluke by attaining a similar effort at the RBC Heritage the following week.

He has demonstrated he is capable of living within elite company and the undulating fairways on this week's track should not be a huge concern. It could be like home from home for the man from County Offaly.

Consistency has been key this year as Lowry has finished in the top 15 in eight of his last 10 tournaments, which will come as great encouragement to those who fancy backing him at 30/1 to win his second Major.

While this week's test is unfamiliar, Lowry should also take confidence from a couple of strong recent PGA performances.

He was tied for eighth when Brooks Koepka won at Bethpage Back and he was fourth last year at Kiawah Island, four shots behind Phil Mickelson, who will not be defending his title this week.

Smith making progress in 2022

Cameron Smith was also third at Augusta and should be confident that he can be a force too.

The Australian has probably already exceeded his expectations for 2022 after winning the Tournament of Champions at the turn of the year and then claiming his biggest prize to date when he won the Players Championship in March.

The quality of his approach play can prove to be an asset and punters contemplating an investment at 22/1 should not be discouraged by the fact he missed the cut at the RBC Heritage the week after Augusta as that effort probably took its toll and he should be well refreshed for this effort.

His PGA record is unspectacular with 25th on debut in 2015 his best effort, but he has flown up the world rankings since then and we can anticipate a big improvement.

Bradley offers value

A little further down the market at 90/1, we should not ignore the claims of 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley.

His playoff victory over Jason Dufner 11 years ago came in Bradley's first Major and, although he hasn’t been in the winner's circle since the 2018 BMW Championship, there has been plenty to like about his recent performances.

He was 17th in last year's tournaments but his latest showings have been even more encouraging. He was 11th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, fifth at the Players Championship, eighth at the Valero Texas Open and was then second behind Max Homa in his last outing at the Wells Fargo Championship when he allowed a good chance to slip away by carding a closing 72.

With eight places available, he could reward each-way punters at what look generous odds.

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