The final major of 2017 is almost upon us. This year’s event is played at Quail Hollow, a stomping ground infamous for its status as the location of choice for Rory McIlroy’s first PGA Tour victory in 2010: he made the cut on the mark and shot a -16 weekend to storm home and win the Wells Fargo Championship in style. After a play-off loss to Rickie Fowler two years later and another win on the North Carolina track in 2015, the Northern Irishman understandably heads up the field with a 13/2 starting price.
So, same old story, McIlroy is a worthy favourite. A side note to this week and interesting for Brits at least is the failure of Sky Sports and the PGA Tour to come to an agreement over the tournament’s broadcasting rights. With the Tour wanting to ensure maximum coverage across devices, and Sky presumably unable to deliver this, the situation embarrassingly culminated in the BBC being awarded the rights in the same week Sky launched their dedicated golf channel.
Unfortunately, together with having to deal with inordinate amounts of Ken on the Course, because the World Athletics Championships is running until Sunday night, McIlroy and co. will no doubt be demoted to the lowly red button but it’s nevertheless an intriguing win for the beeb in an age where live sports coverage has been the victim of well documented budget cuts.
But back to #moxeystips. After a successful Open (with 250/1 Matthew Southgate bagging a placed finish) and a couple of tweeted only wins (Jordan Smith at the Porsche European Open and Hideki Matsuyama at the WGC last week), I’ll try to unpick this stellar field to return MORE profit for you lucky readers.
In a bid to be a bit more reactive to the various markets available, I’ve plumped for just four main picks. Alongside this are three outsiders (100/1 +) and a few other miscellaneous bets.
Rory McIlroy – 13/2
After parting ways with long time caddy JP Fitzrgerald prior to last week’s WGC, Rory is just about backable at 13/2 on Betfair, who are paying out 1/5 for EW bets down to 8th. It’s not just McIlroy’s course history which makes him so attractive this week though, it’s his very recent form.
Despite not playing any where near his best stuff at The Open he still managed to squeeze out a T4, a finish one place better than his position at the WGC. Immaculate driving and ok-putting, it was an uncharacteristically average iron game which saw him finish 8 shots behind runaway leader Matsuyama, who closed out his week with a course record tying 61.
— GolfMagic.com (@GolfMagic) August 7, 2017
Admittedly, last week’s brutal course really played to his strengths – his hitting a record number of 300+ drives in a week probably tells you all you need to know in terms of his advantage over the field. But that will only be exaggerated at Quail Hollow, where the course-record-holding 28 year old can add a third US PGA crown to his collection of four majors. Is 13/2 just too short though? #moxeystips rating: 7/10
Rickie Fowler – 16/1
Despite recent success from two of them I’m bypassing Spieth, Matsuyama and DJ because they’re simply too short at 10, 11 and 14s respectively. Instead, Fowler, who has actually won on this course and comes into the week off the back of a T8 and strong final round at the WGC, looks marginally better value at 16/1.
My main concern with Matsuyama is that, under the weight of Japanese hopes, he simply hasn’t been able to reproduce, in majors, the kind of form which has seen him rise to #3 in the world.
Fowler on the other hand has been a fairly consistent performer in game’s big four events and with this being the ugly duckling of the sport’s showpiece events, one might think the pressure is, to some extent, off.
He finished 4th at the Wells Fargo (played on this course) last year and has only been outside the top 10 twice in his last seven events so an EW 8 places bet at 16/1 represents good enough value to warrant a #moxeystips rating of 8/10.
Paul Casey – 40/1
One of my tips at Augusta, I was surprised to see Casey at 40/1. Including The Masters he’s played just eight events since March but has seen his world ranking slip just three places to 18th.
His major record this season reads: 6th-26th-11th, the latter coming at The Open despite a nightmare 2nd round of 77. A round of just 3 or 4 shots better that day would have seen him record a top-5 finish. Any 28-handicap will be quick to tell you that golf is a game of ifs but the now 40 year old has as good a case as any for feeling hard done by at Birkdale.
Since then, his T5 in a top notch field at last week’s WGC has been his only outing in what remains a relatively quick turnaround between the year’s final two majors. The lengthening of the first six holes here should suit the Englishman whose got a bit more length and power than most, with the only thing putting me off slightly being his 41st on this course last year.
But, with Garcia winning the Masters and Kuchar going close at The Open, this could be the year that another perennial also-ran finally pops his major cherry. 40/1 looks good value. #moxeystips rating: 9/10
Daniel Berger – 60/1
With the top of the market going off at such short odds, there’s some #moxeystips value to be found in one or two lesser known names. That’s particularly true for Mr. Berger. Sitting at over #1500 in the world rankings four years ago, he’s improved consistently to the point where he now occupies spot #19 – that’s a trajectory I like.
A two time winner on Tour, five top 10’s this year is a pretty good return from 18 events. Mix in to the equation three top-5s – including a win and an unfortunate second place – in his most recent six events, together with an encouraging 17th on a brutal course last week, and the 24 year old looks like a major champion waiting to happen.
He also mentioned in a Golf Channel interview earlier in the week (this is the level of #moxeystips research that is now demanded by my followers) how the course sets up for the way he likes to shape shots – the left to right cut shot.
To add to this, finishes of T28 and T17 on this track in 2015 and 2016 respectively suggest 60/1 offers pretty good bang for your buck and, as such, he receives the elusive #moxeystips rating of 10/10.
Xander Schauffele – 100/1 – Talking of upward trajectories, Schauffele started the year at 294th in the world before a T5 at the US Open and a win at the Greenbrier Classic catapulted him into the golfing MSM. But this kid isn’t fake news. A T20 at The Open with a 13th last week and 7/4 for a top-40 looks good value if you don’t fancy an EW punt. #moxeystips rating: 7/10
Adam Hadwin – 150/1 – A streaky Canadian who likes to either miss three cuts in a row or be there on Sunday. Last week’s T5 suggests he’s on a path to the latter. #moxeystips rating: 8/10
Jordan Smith – 200/1 – Young Englishman who won the Challenge Tour last year – a kind of stepping stone to the European Tour. Here he is with Tyrell Hatton and a little known Irish player.
— Jordan Smith (@Jsmithgolf) August 8, 2017
Recorded his first win on the latter two weeks ago to qualify here. Huge step up but has shown great composure all season and more than capable of springing a surprise among the game’s elite. #moxeystips rating: 7/10
McIlroy to win wire-to-wire: 33/1 – he’s won two of his four majors like this (leading after every round)
Matsuyama, McIlroy, Casey, Spieth, Fowler and Pieters all to make the cut – 2.22
First round 3-balls: Matsuyama, C. Hoffman, Hahn, Henley, Grace, Cantlay, Fitzpatrick, Levy, Lovemark: 680/1
Selected Bets – £10
Rickie Fowler – £2 EW
Paul Casey – £1 EW
Daniel Berger – £1.50 EW
McIlroy to win wire-to-wire – £0.50
First round 3-ball accumulator – £0.50