The US PGA Championship is traditionally the final chance to capture a Major title each season and the 100th US PGA Championship is being held at Bellerive Country Club, in St Louis, Missouri, from Thursday 9th August to Sunday 12th August.
2018 sees the PGA Championship being played at a course which hosted this event back in 1992, but also saw some PGA Tour action back in 2008. Winners here were Nick Price and Camilo Villegas.
2018 sees the PGA of America sticking to its mantra of testing the world’s best on a stretching golf course. Bellerive is a Trent Jones original course. Expect the traditional, tree-lined, parkland golf course which will be stretched to test the world’s very best. If the PGA of America also get their way, they will naturally set this up firm and fiery as per Quail Hollow last term. What could be slightly different though this year are the severe and extremely large greens that Bellerive possesses, plus Zoysiagrass fairways and green surrounds.
The PGA Championship in recent history has seen a plethora of long-hitters getting the job done, with many capturing their first Major titles. Whether that changes in 2018 is open for discussion at a 7,300 yard, Par 70 which screams controlled power off the tee. Indeed Nick Price won the 1992 PGA Championship hosted here when the course played as a 7,148 yard, Par 70 and ranked 18th that week for Driving Distance. A post Rees Jones renovated Bellerive in 2008 saw the course play to an extended 7,324 yard, Par 70 format for the BMW Championship.
Bellerive Country Club is undoubtedly going to be a stern test for the 2018 PGA Championship. The course will play as a very stiff Par 70. However reading too much into that particular tournament could be a mistake as that event was played in extremely soft conditions throughout
Asked about Bellerive at the recent Travelers Championship, defending PGA champion Justin Thomas commented, “It’s a good course. It’s a good, kind of old-school place. It was fairly soft when I played it, so there were a lot of doglegs where I could just hit it out and then hit it into the greens with mid irons. It’s just totally depends on the setup in terms of how firm, how fast, how firm the fairways will be because if those fairways are firm, they’re going to be hard to hit, and from the looks of it, that rough is going to be pretty healthy. I feel like it’ll be a pretty similar setup to kind of a Quail in terms of a score-wise. So easy to shoot 3- or 4-over, but you know, a good round is a couple under.”
Long-range Consistency and Accuracy is key, and the Putter Ultimately Prevails
15 of the last 18 PGA Champions (83%) had already won a tournament in the season prior to winning the PGA Championship.
With the PGA Championship in its regular August spot on the PGA Tour schedule, there are no doubts that the World Golf Championship status Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone year after year proves to be a real indicator of who will win the PGA Championship. Since the Akron-based tournament became the PGA ‘warm up’ in 2006, the winner of the PGA Championship has always been in the Bridgestone field and has always finished in the top 28 of the tournament. With Bellerive sure to place a premium on Greens in Regulation from distance, similar to Firestone, decent form in Ohio prior to tee-off in Missouri still appears a great correlation.
So what’s the key player attribute that a PGA Championship winner needs in his arsenal to get over the line? Well with the PGA Championship being played on a stretching Par 70, a premium advantage will inevitably return to longer drivers of the golf ball. In recent times that’s always been the case in this event.
So looking for a big hitter with a great putter we have to look at Jordan Speith who has won 3 majors and was second in the PGA in 2015. Fresh off a top ten finish in the Open following his 3rd place finish in the Masters. He is T5th for greens in regulation on the USPGA this year, a 300 yard average driver and to 15 for birdies per round and one of the very best putters in the world
He is available with enhanced places at 14-1 to win, Bet365 offer 8 places 1/5 the odds. I think he will be in the frame.