Brought forward this year from its traditional spot as the final major championship of the season, the USPGA is held this year at the Long Island Public Curse, Bethpage Black, which is renowned as a severe test. My aim once again here is to identify a value outsider.
Bethpage is a parkland course that is both long and narrow. At the last US Open, the PGA set up was really tough with long rough really penalising wayward striking. Unlike the Masters where you obviously need a long hitter and a good scrambler/putter this is less of a putting test and more of a test of tee to green accuracy.
At his peak in 2002 Tiger Woods won the US Open here, at a time when he was a longer hitter than most of the field but most of the winners at the course since fall into the “good ball strikers” category such as Glover at the 2019 US Open and Reed in the 20165 Barclays. Long enough to carry the fairway bunkers that are found on a lot of holes but straight and accurate onto fairways and greens.
The key stats I am looking at are Strokes gained off the tee and tee to green, with a secondary eye on driving distance and less of a focus on the short game.
My search for value alighted on Gary Woodland who led the USPGA going into the final round last year and eventually finished tied for 6th at Bellerive.
Woodland is long (tied 9th on tour for driving distance) but more importantly shows up in the strokes gained stats: Ranked 6th in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained: tee to green and furthermore 7th in greens in regulation over the USPGA season to date. As a counterpoint, he’s way down on the putting stats which probably accounts for that whilst 2018-19 form is ok with two second places, he hasn’t won. His overall consistency means he is 8th in the Fed Cup standings.
Best of all he’s up in plenty of places at 66-1. A more fancied player, Bryson De Chambeau has a similar profile, and is listed at 25-1. I don’t see too much between them.
Of course once again I am writing before the marketing departments kick into gear and we (hopefully) get offered extra places and in this case I would take 8-10 places at around 50-1 over the 66-1 if it was on offer.