I'm no writer but I do enjoy writing on my day off about golf which conveniently is on Wednesday's, the day before golf tournaments start. I also find it helpful for working through my research and breaking down players. Follow me on Twitter (@TheFav_orite) and instagram (@Advantage_U) for more content. - M.Luke Flagg
The second golf major of the year is here. The PGA Championship which is normally the 4th and final major of the year and played in August will be played in May for the first time since 1948. Although the time of year is different the course itself is one that should be familiar to the players and fans alike. The brutally long Bethpage Black course will be the setting for this years 2019 PGA Championship. Bethpage has previously played host to the 2002 and 2009 US Opens.
The world’s top 100 ranked players are all in attendance, minus Justin Thomas who withdrew due to a wrist injury. Joining the world’s top 100 ranked players will be 20 of the countries PGA tour club pros, 6 of which are from local golf courses in New York and New Jersey. So if you see some names out there you’ve never seen before it’s likely to be one of the club pros that qualified. Also, Past PGA Championship winners have lifetime exemptions to play, so we will see John Daly tee it up this week who has been granted special permission to use a golf cart. Tiger Woods jokingly protested Daly being allowed to use a golf cart by saying “I walked with a broken leg”, referring to his 2008 US Open win at Torrey Pines.
The players competing this week may not be the main storyline, the star this week will be every bit of the 7,459 yards on the Bethpage Black course. It’s relatively flat green complexes that are surrounded by deep, punishing bunkers with thick rough will be discussed far more than any player will be. The Black course proved its worth in the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens, holding players to 74.901 and 72.928 scoring averages, scores that ranked as the highest on tour in each of those seasons. What’s important to remember is those numbers are related to the course setup of the US Open and the USGA which can differ from that of the PGA. The PGA prides itself on showcasing the players rather than the course as is often the case for US Opens. Since 2002, the average
winning score in relation to par at the PGA Championship is 10.52 under. Thats seven strokes higher than the average winning score at the U.S. Open (3.35). So the players can expect some type of leniency from the Opens and how the course sets up, the rough is not expected to be as long as it was in 2002 and 2009. Although the fairway widths are almost the exact same as they were in 2009 when Lucas Glover won with a 4 under par.
Past winners at Bethpage Hit it long, hit it straight and hit the greens. Tiger Woods, en route to winning the 2002 U.S. Open, hit a tournament-best 73.61 greens in regulation versus the event average of 50.64, he found 73.21 fairways against the field's 59.13 percentage, and had an average driving distance of 280.5 yards to the field's 265.5 mark. Same deal for Lucas Glover, winner of the 2009 U.S. Open, 291.1 yards off the tee to the competition's 273-yard average, 72.22 GIR versus the field's 58.52 figure, and a 71.3 fairway percentage compared to the field's 63.57 performance. So really it’s simple, out drive everyone, put the ball in the fairway and hit it on the green and go collect the Wanamaker trophy. Who will do all these things is the real question.
I’m taking a different approach this week, no matchup bets, no to-win bets, I’m betting on the players against Bethpage. I'm not sold on Bethpage this week, this isn’t the US Open Bethpage we have seen in the past. The USGA loves to take courses and make them unfair. The PGA on the other hand will set the course up fair but challenging. I'm expecting the course layout similar to past Fedex cup events that were held at Bethpage. The 2012 Barclays winner Nick Watney shot 10 under and Patrick Reed shot 9 under at Bethpage 3 years ago as the 2016 Barclays winner. Bethpage saw a lot of rain so far this week which can be good or bad, the greens will be more acceptable to approach shots but players won’t get much roll out in the fairways. The weather is supposed to be ideal this weekend and shouldn’t play a major factor. I’ll admit
this week is tough, I don’t know who is going to win but I am confident that the scores will be better than the oddsmakers expect.
~ PGA Championship/Total Players Under Par 8.5 - OVER 8.5
~ PGA Championship Winning 72 Hole/Score 273 - UNDER 273