A great week last week as one of three 66/1 sleeper tips Bradley won in Akron, while fellow sleeper Cabrero Bello took a FRL place and was a hugely profitable recommended trade for those who exited after round two (300.0 - 12.0). 125/1 John Daly and 50/1 Andres Romero placed in Reno and things are on track ahead of the final major - the US PGA Championship. Follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks for in-running tips and updates.
The players head to Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the links style monster that is The Ocean Course lies in wait. Playing almost 7,700 yards in length (and can stretch further), with many holes potentially into strong coastal winds, the players won't face such a lengthy test too often in their careers and straight away focus turns to those long off the tee. By all accounts the front nine are gettable but the back nine will be brutal
Without a lot of rough and with expansive landing areas, bombers will have some room to play with and having to fire into greens with severe run offs and collection areas, will have a big advantage using shorter irons for approaches. "Target golf" is a phrase used in relation to many Pete Dye designs - Run offs are treacherous and up and downs are extremely tough so scrambling ability will also be vital at the US PGA Championship - "Playing In the shifting winds at The Ocean Course requires a tremendous amount of ingenuity, imagination and adaptation in shot making" is a quote from the official site. If the wind blows, over par could be the winning score according to last week's hero and defending US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley.
2012 US PGA Championship Picks (many firms 6 places this week)
See my trading guide with some bigger priced fancies here
Pick #1: Rory McIlroy e/w @ 20/1 (Bet365) I've ruled out a lot of the field here due to the length of the course, and Rory, with his driving ability and off the back of a return to form last week just about sneaks into the staking plan at 20s. Rory ranks sixth in driving distance on the PGA Tour in 2012 and while he admittedly doesn't like the wind (due largely to his high ball flight), he'll have more room off the tee at Kiawah Island and will be well equipped for the US PGA Championship challenge.
Pick #2: Dustin Johnson e/w @ 33/1 (Bet365) The most obvious pick this week for me. Johnson has recovered from injury problems earlier in the season and has been lurking around contention in recent events. With some serious form at Pebble Beach Links which bears some similarities to this week's playing conditions, Johnson isn't just a bomber, he has the shots in his bag to play in the wind. Arguably the longest hitter on Tour, he is a standout for Kiawah Island and a decent price.
Pick #3: Adam Scott e/w @ 30/1 (Bet365) Again Scott fits the profile to a tee here. He didn't respond as I expected to what happened at the Open championship and finished down the leaderboard in Akron but with a clear head this week, he's worth another go. Ranks 14th on tour in driving distance, excellent from tee to green and a competent wind player. Positive after the Open he mentions, it was just the start to his "new major career".
Pick #4: Bubba Watson e/w @ 40/1 (Bet365) Ranking no. 1 in driving distance on tour this year, Bubba is very much in the mould of Dustin Johnson and he too fits the US PGA Championship Kiawah Island profile. With the ability to shape the ball and execute an array of shots, Watson also ranks 1st in GIR% on Tour. Opened with a 66 and closed with a 67 at the Bridgestone on a tree-lined track and with a lot more room this week to work with, he could be one to pay particular attention to.
Pick #5: Jim Furyk e/w @ 50/1 (general) Putting "his best all season" (if we ignore his miss on 18!) Furyk is one of the form men coming into this year's US PGA Championship. He may not fit into the theme of big hitters but as he showed at Bridgestone, he is one of the best long iron players (averaging 23rd in approaches from 200-250 yards) which can compensate for that. At 50/1, his form is too hard to ignore despite the loss to Bradley in Ohio. Ranks 3rd in scoring average and 3rd in scrambling and the tougher the course for Jim, the better.
Pick #6: Padraig Harrington e/w @ 50/1 (general) Just gets the last US PGA Championship place ahead of Schwartzel and Jason Day. It's five top 20s in his last six events now for the Dubliner who featured strongly in this year's Masters and US Open. Ranking 8th in scoring average, into the top 50 in driving distance and renowned for his scrambling skills, especially in links type conditions, Padraig ticks a lot of boxes this week and if the wind gets up at Kiawah, Harrington may be a big factor.
Please note that trading my picks can be a very profitable approach (as shown by the Cabrera Bello trade last week) - Learn more here
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