The major championship portion of the 2016-17 golf wraparound season concludes this weekend at the PGA Championship outside Charlotte, N.C. This tournament generally has the best field of the year and it’s no exception in 2017 with all but two of the world’s Top 111 scheduled to play. Here’s a look at the Sports Interaction PGA favourites and odds on the Canadians.
PGA Championship Background
The PGA Championship began as a match play tournament but shifted to stroke play in 1958. Like the U.S. Open and British Open each year, the PGA Championship rotates to different venues. This year it’s held at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina, a par 71 measuring 7,600 yards. This course usually hosts the annual PGA Tour Wells Fargo Invitational in May, but with Quail Hollow getting ready to host its first major, the Wells Fargo was played at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington this year.
American James Hahn won the 2016 Wells Fargo Invitational at this course, finishing at 9-under 279 and beating Roberto Castro in a playoff. The course is going to surely play much tougher now as it has undergone major renovations. It was a project that normally would take 5-6 months but was completed in 12 weeks so Quail Hollow could reopen to its members. New Bermudagrass has been installed on all the greens, there were thousands of trees removed and there are four new holes. For example, the first and second holes were merged into a single hole, a 540-yard par 4. A new par-3 was built to replace No. 2. Holes 5 and 11 also were altered.
PGA Championship Favourites
If you believe American Jordan Spieth, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy should be the favourite this week and he is at +658 on golf odds. McIlroy was fourth at the British Open and then fifth at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Championship. He’s a two-time winner of the PGA Championship (2014, ’12) and has won the Wells Fargo event twice and lost in a playoff once. McIlroy looks to become the fourth golfer to reach five majors before turning 30 (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones). He hasn’t won a major since the 2014 PGA at Valhalla.
Spieth, meanwhile, is +900 to win the career Grand Slam. The only players to do that are Woods, Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Ben Hogan. Spieth won his first Claret Jug at the British Open last month in an epic back-nine duel with Matt Kuchar. Spieth was a runner-up at the 2015 PGA Championship to Jason Day. Spieth’s only Quail Hollow start in 2013 resulted in a T32.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is +1200 along with Hideki Matsuyama, who fired a final-round 61 on Sunday to take the WGC-Bridgestone in Ohio. It was the lowest final round in four decades at Firestone Country Club and led to a five-shot victory over Zach Johnson. Dustin Johnson has three Top 10s at the PGA Championship this decade but missed the cut last year.
Rickie Fowler (+1700) is the only other golfer under +2000. He’s looking for his first major title. He was third in the 2014 PGA and won the Wells Fargo in 2012.
Adam Hadwin is +14800 with Graham DeLaet +23800. Hadwin was struggling with three straight missed cuts before a Top 5 last week at the WGC-Bridgestone. It was his third Top 5 of 2017. Hadwin plays this event for the first time. DeLaet missed the cut at the opposite-event Barracuda Championship last week. He was a career-best 15th in the 2014 PGA Championship.
Mackenzie Hughes is +30900. He was 66th last week and plays the PGA Championship for the first time. For top Canadian, Hadwin is +110, DeLaet +162 and Hughes +275. No Canadian has won the PGA Championship.
PGA Championship Predictions
I generally don’t like leaning chalk in a golf tournament, but everything does point to McIlroy having a great shot to win here even with all the course’s changes. You can also get Rory at -164 against Fowler (+120). I do like Spieth and Henrik Stenson for Top 10s as well. Go with Hadwin as the top Canadian.