The final major of the year is here and I'm going to start with a paragraph from a piece I did for a recent issue of Golf World Magazine with my headline PGA championship tip. By all accounts, driving will be once again of high importance and recent pictures courtesy of Graeme McDowell suggest rough is very thick around the Oak Hill course:
There's one man with strong memories of Oak Hill country club and he won't even be playing; that man is Steve Williams and he will, however, be caddying for Masters winner Adam Scott. Williams was on the bag of Tiger Woods at Oak Hill in 2003 as the world no.1 endured one of his poorer tournaments. Since Steve made the switch he has been a huge help to Adam Scott and is sure to be again at the PGA Championship as he'll be very aware of where the trouble lies after Tiger's 2003 exploits....
Couple this with Scott's new big event orientated playing schedule and the test that awaits at Oak Hill, I'd expect the Aussie will have a big chance of bagging major number two. "You have to drive the ball very, very well" was a recent quote from Rory McIlroy after firing a practice round 67 at the 2013 US PGA Championship venue and with it's narrow undulating fairways and slopey greens placing the emphasis very much on strategic play and ball striking ability, Scott could be your man.
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All reports coming from the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill this week are confirming that the rough is a no go area and I've finalised narrowing down my shortlist largely on this basis. Bill Haas is the one to just miss out and in come three, and two in particular that were towards the top of the driving accuracy and GIR stats last week at Bridgestone.
Jim Furyk comes into the PGA Championship fresh off the back of two top 10s. Furyk was third in both driving accuracy and GIR% at Bridgestone and despite his lack of length he is renowned as one of the best long iron players in the game as well as his ability to plot his away around a tough golf course. He is largely under the radar this week and 66s seven places with Betfred looks a good bet.
Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood are the other two to fit this profile. Kaymer seems to have his driving in order since reverting back to his old fade and indeed ranked 5th last week in this category en route to a top 10 finish. He also ranked 7th in GIR% and of course the German won the PGA Championship for us in 2010 at a similar price and will have good vibes entering into the week.
Lee Westwood at 33/1 6 places with Stanjames is again another tee to green specialist and with bogey avoidance rather than making birdie putts the brief at Oak Hill, I'd expect Lee to be a factor at the USPGA Championship. Again, top ten last week in both the fairways and greens hit stats, Lee went close to that elusive maiden major success once again at the Open Championship 2 weeks ago when holding the third round lead, and maybe this will finally be his week.
For all my USPGA championship bets (including top 10 longshots) and staking plan, see my P&L spreadsheet and follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks for updates and insight
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