In Review

The intelligent punter's guide to the USPGA golf odds

Can Jordan Spieth win his third major of the year or will Rory McIlroy make a winning return to the fairways?

By Neil Clark

The fourth and final golfing Major of 2015, the USPGA, tees off at Whistling Straits on Thursday. It's the third time the tournament has been held at the Wisconsin course, by the shores of Lake Michigan.

There's a huge field as ever, but if we bear in mind certain key factors we can  increase the chances of our beating the bookies.

Focus on golfers who have won a tournament this season

Of the past 16 winners of the USPGA 14 had won an event on the US or European tour that same season. Current form is very important and a top 20 finish in the Bridgestone, the tournament held in the US the week before the USPGA, is a big positive, as seven of the last eight winners fitted that criteria.

Rank outsiders have a good record

While favourites do win this - Rory McIlroy was only 11-2 last year - there have been some big-priced winners too and long-shots have regularly made the frame. Shaun Micheel was 300-1 when he won in 2003, in 2011 Keegan Bradley at 150-1 beat two 250-1 shots. In 2012 a 500-1 shot, David Lynn, finished runner-up. The average SP of the winner over the last five years is 53.1, indicating that it makes sense to include at least one golfer priced at 50-1 or higher in your portfolio.

Pay attention to previous course form

The USPGA has been held at Whistling Straits twice before, in 2010, when won by 50-1 shot Martin Kaymer, and in 2004, when won by Vijay Singh. It's a long course, which give big hitters an advantage but accuracy is very important too as there are 957 bunkers and plenty of water hazards.

Europeans have a good recent record

It pays to be a Europhile in the USPGA. European golfers have won four of the last seven Championships and there's only been one occasion since 2004 when a European did not finish in one of the first three places. So including at least one European in your portfolio looks very wise.

Now, bearing in mind these key factors, let's take a closer look at some of the leading contenders plus some outsiders who could repay support.

JORDAN SPIETH. Best odds: 8-1.

The undoubted player of the year, the 22-year-old Texan is chasing his third Major win of 2015. He missed the British Open play-off by one shot and, although he failed to make the cut in his previous two USPGA appearances, can't be left off our short-list despite his short price.

RORY MCILROY. Best odds: 12-1.

A double winner of this event, he also finished third the last time the tournament was held at Whistling Straits in 2010 and came third in 2009. It's his first tournament back after rupturing ankle ligaments while playing football, and although fitness could be a concern, you could say that it has been factored into his odds (he was 11-2 winning favourite twelve months ago).

JASON DAY. Best odds: 14-1.

The likeable Aussie has become the nearly man of golfing Majors, having finished second, third or fourth in six Majors since 2011. He again went very close at the British Open last month and he's likely to be in shake-up here too, as he finished just four shots off the lead at Whistling Straits in 2010.

BUBBA WATSON. Best odds: 14-1.

In the 2010 USPGA at Whistling Straits he  lost in a playoff and that, together with his excellent recent form (he finished runner-up at -9 in the Firestone on Sunday), makes this dual Major winner a strong contender.

DUSTIN JOHNSON. Best odds: 16-1.

Would have made the playoff in the 2010 championship had he not incurred a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. Has come agonisingly close to Major success on other occasions too, but has developed a reputation  as a 'bottler' when the pressure's on. Sure to go well on a course that suits, but if you back him, make sure it's each-way.

JUSTIN ROSE. Best odds: 20-1.

Has won a tournament this year-so he meets that important criteria, but the concern is that he's missed the cut the last two occasions the USPGA was held at Whistling Straits, indicating that the course does not really play to his strengths.

RICKIE FOWLER. Best odds: 22-1.

Has become a really consistent Majors performer and came third in this event last year. Has won a tournament (the Players Championship) already this year and the Californian, who finished tied for tenth in last week's Bridgestone, has to go on the each-way shortlist.

HENRIK STENSON. Best odds: 28-1.

The Swede is still chasing his first Major success at the age of 39, but he has finished third in this tournament two years running at odds of 30-1 and 25-1. Given the good record of Europeans in making the frame, he is of definite each-way interest again.

ADAM SCOTT. Best odds: 33-1.

Always there or thereabouts in Majors, but still only has the one Major win to his name, the 2013 Masters. He made the cut in both previous tournaments held here, finishing 8th and 39th, but will need his putting to hold up under pressure if he's to win, which it did not do at last month‘s British Open.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN. Best odds: 40-1.

The South African has finished runner-up in the last two Majors so given that level of form, he has to be considered here; however the negatives are that this is the only Major where he hasn't posted a top two finish and he did miss the cut at the course in 2010.

SERGIO GARCIA. Best odds: 45-1.

He's twice finished runner-up in this event but didn't play well on either occasion the tournament was held at Whistling Straits. All things considered it looks unlikely that he'll be breaking his Majors duck this week.

BROOKS KOEPKA. Best odds: 45-1.

Big-hitter who posted top ten finishes in both the US and British Open this week. He tied for sixth at the Bridgestone last week and could prove to be good each-way value on a course that is likely to suit.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA. Best odds; 45-1.

The 23-year-old Japanese has performed consistently well in Majors over the past couple of years without winning, and while he could go well again, it's a concern that he could only finish 37th in the Bridgestone last week.

JIM FURYK. Best odds: 50-1.

The veteran has finished second and fifth in this tournament the past two years, and did okay when it was last held at Whistling Springs in 2010. He'd be an unlikely winner but could outperform his odds and make the frame again.

ZACH JOHNSON. Best odds 50-1.

Won the British Open in a play-off and although back-to-back Majors are hard to pull off, he could be overpriced considering his good form and the fact that he tied for third at odds of 125-1 the last time the USPGA was held at Whistling Springs in 2010.

SHANE LOWRY. Best odds: 60-1.

Comes here in great form having won last week's Bridgestone, but while his confidence will be sky high, the fact that he missed the cut at Whistling Springs in 2010 is a concern.

PATRICK REED. Best odds: 60-1.

The 25-year-old Texan has finished in the top 22 in all three Majors this year and warmed up for this nicely with a top 15 finish in the Bridgestone. He could go well.

PHIL MICKELSON. Best odds: 66-1

The 2005 winner was runner-up last year and also posted top 12 finishes on both previous occasions the USPGA was held at Whistling Springs. While his each-way chances can't be dismissed given his past record, 'Leftie' has not been in great form since finishing runner-up in the Masters in April, and he finished on +11 in the Bridgestone last week.

MARTIN KAYMER. Best odds: 66-1.

The German won in 2010 at Whistling Springs in a play-off and so can't be ruled out, despite a poor showing at the Bridgestone. Last month's British Open showed how important previous course form is, as the last person to win at St Andrews, Louis Oosthuizen, came agonisingly close to repeating the feat.

PAUL CASEY. Best odds: 80-1.

Played well at the course in 2010 when he finished 12th and has been in fair form this year. A top-20 finish in the Bridgestone is another positive - against that though he has missed the cut in this tournament in two of the last four years.

DAVID LINGMERTH. Best odds: 100-1.

The Swede won his first PGA Tour event in July and comes into this in excellent form, having finished tied for sixth in the Bridgestone. Another dark-horse European who could outperform his long odds.

MARC LEISHMAN. Best odds: 100-1.

Played brilliantly in the last two rounds of the British Open to make the play-off. If he gets close to that kind of form then obviously he'd be a contender, but 12th place is the best he's managed in this event up to now.

KEEGAN BRADLEY. Best odds: 100-1.

The 150-1 winner of 2011 (who was also third in 2012) did post a top 20 finish in the Bridgestone and the course should suit him. No surprise to see him outperform his long odds.

DANNY WILLETT. Best odds: 100-1.

The 27-year-old from Sheffield has been in cracking form in 2015 and finished tied for sixth in the British Open last month. He also posted a top 20 Bridgestone finish and so given his current form, he has to enter each-way calculations.

JB HOLMES. Best odds: 125-1

Tied for 24th at Whistling Springs in 2010, the big-hitter won't find the course 'elementary', but he could still give supporters a good run for their money on a course which will suit. His very moderate showing in the Bridgestone is a concern though.

JASON  DUFNER. Best odds: 150-1.

The American loves this tournament - he won it in 2013, was second in 2011 and fifth at Whistling Springs a year earlier. Given that record you could say at current odds he's worth an each-way flutter, however he does needs to step up on the form he has shown in Majors so far this year.

TONY FINAU. Best odds: 200-1.

PGA tour rookie, eighth in the driving distances, whose game should be suited to the course. Rank outsiders have made the frame in this before and Finau, who tied for 14th on his only previous start in a Major, the 2015 US Open, could be one of the better long-shots.

STEVE STRICKER. Best odds: 200-1.

The 48-year-old has finished in the top 12 for the past four years in this tournament and six times overall. He'll also feel at home as he's from Wisconsin. The negative though is that he's not been in good form this year, and while he could go well again, it‘s hard to see him becoming the oldest man ever to win a Major.

ERNIE ELS. Best odds: 250-1.

Fourth and 18th the last two occasions the USPGA was held at Whistling Springs, but while you could give him an each-way squeak on that record, his form in Majors this year has been disappointing and it looks like age has finally caught up with 'The Big Easy'.

SOREN KJEDSEN. Best odds: 350-1.

Long-priced Europeans have hit the frame in recent years, and the 40-year-old Dane could be this year's surprise European. He finished sixth in the tournament in 2009 and has been enjoying something of a renaissance of late, winning the Irish Open in late May and finishing 12th in the Bridgestone.


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