The 2012 PGA Championship tees off from Kiawah Island Golf Resort Thursday morning. There is a total purse of $8 Mil and the winner garners nearly 1.5 Mil of that. Last year, Keegan Bradley took it home and he’ll battle off against a rich field on a 7676 yard course of record length. Bradley, despite winning last year, is not a favorite this year and is listed by Bookmaker at +3300, so we’ll take a look at some of the more popular picks and some of the less popular ones, too, as we size up the possible winner of this elite event.
TIGER WOODS (+825)
Tiger finished top 10 at Firestone last week and shot a nice 66 on Sunday afternoon. He’s been hitting the ball hard and ranks 4th in ball striking, but his putting has been subpar of late. He’s the odds on favorite, but I don’t see a lot of value in this bet, despite the fact he has three wins on the tour and shows up in major events. The odds just aren’t that favorable in an event of this nature with such a competitive field.
LUKE DONALD (+1800)
Donald played well last week, tying for 8th at Firestone. This course’s length may give Donald some problems, though. He is 18th on the tour in fairways hit, but accuracy might not matter on this course as much as just hammering the ball and praying for the best.
LEE WESTWOOD (+2000)
Westwood may win his first major here. He’s a very versatile golfer and will be able to cope with the length. His desire to win is high and he has the skill set to make it happen. At +2000, it’s a very attractive pick.
RORY MCILROY (+1800)
McIlroy finished tied for 5th last week at Firestone and has three top 10s in his last five starts. He’s good with long courses like this, but his short range game is going to have to be better. I don’t like him at these odds at all despite strong recent play.
Some other popular picks will be…
JASON DUFNER (+1600)
Dufner is a great value pick here because his game is great for a long course like this one. He’s very good off the tee and also has a stellar iron game. He finished in the top 10 for the seventh time last week and has been consistent as they come of late. His composure could play a key role in his play on this, as many other golfers will be frustrated with the length of the fairways.
BUBBA WATSON (+2200)
Bubba has led the tour in distance and greens hit, which will obviously bode well for him here. He lost a playoff at this event two years ago, showing the precedence for success on this course. He’s been decent since the US Open, but may be due for a big win here. Nice value pick to be sure.
MATT KUCHAR (+2500)
Kuchar seems to be a popular pick by a lot of golf handicappers, week in and week out. I see Kuchar more as a guy who is always close but never close enough. This is substantiated by the fact he has eight top 10s this year yet still has yet to net a big win. He’s fourth in bogey avoidance though, which will be a nice stat to keep in mind on this course. He’ll obviously be in the hunt; he always is, but I just am not as high on Kuchar as other handicappers on the net.
STEVE STRICKER (+3000)
Sticker has been in the top 5 in two of his last three starts. He’s good with long irons and pretty solid with his putts, too, so he makes a nice bet here. I think Stricker’s consistency and patented game are perfect for this event.
DUSTIN JOHNSON (+2300)
Johnson has finished in the top 20 in his last tow starts and finished tied for 9th at the British open. This may be his time as two years ago he was robbed on a bunker and it cost him the event. +2300 is pretty solid odds for a guy that has always been in his element on courses like this one.
Some good longshots…
CHARL SCHWARTZEL (+6000)
Schwartzel shot a 63 on Sunday and finished tied for 24th but he hasn’t been so hot in majors this year, as his best finish was 38th at the US Open. Still, he is good with his iron game and that should enable him to stay amongst the leaders, or at the minimum make the cut — but hey, can you ask for better odds on a guy with a game like Charl’s?
KEEGAN BRADLEY (+3300)
The repeating champ at these long shot odds, huh? I’ll take it. He’s the best value pick and not just because he won this event last year. He’s broken out of his slump in a major way, and either PGA oddsmakers know something we don’t, or +3300 is a huge value on a past winner.