Making a US PGA champion: Our top tips for Quail Hollow
Using eight criteria from the last 17 years, we establish the players likeliest to win golf's fourth major.
Back the young guns
More than any other major, the US PGA has favoured the younger players on tour in recent years.
While those in their 30s dominated the 2000s, five of the last seven champions have been aged between 23 and 27, so don’t expect old heads like Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson to dominate this week.
The courses that host this event often lack the kind of penal test that the Masters, the US Open and the Open provide, and instead it is the long bombers – who tend to be under 30 – that are rewarded.
As a result, the US PGA also tends to be the place where emerging players win their first major.
Keegan Bradley, Jason Day and last year’s winner Jimmy Walker are among those to have done so in the past few years, and Rory McIlroy is the only US PGA Champion since 2008 who had already won a major prior to his triumph.
That’s good news for Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm, the only players currently priced under 25/1 who are yet to win their first major.
Top of the class
The majority of recent US PGA champions might be young, but they are generally also established top-level players.
Of the last 17 winners, 11 were ranked inside the world top 20 at the time of their success, and nine were inside the top five.
A decent number of career wins is an important criteria in identifying a winner, given that only three in the last 13 years had won fewer than 4 times on the PGA Tour when they lifted the trophy.
So while young players like Thomas Pieters and Tommy Fleetwood have impressed this year, they perhaps lack the experience to win a major on this occasion.
None of the last 17 US PGA champions have come into the tournament on the back of a missed cut, largely because at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational – the event that precedes the fourth major – there isn’t one.
History suggests that it is hugely important, however, to have put in a good showing at Firestone if a player wants a shot at winning the US PGA.
The last six winners here all finished in the top 15 in their previous start, and the same can be said of 12 of the last 13 champions.
Day, Rahm and Rose all placed outside of the top 20 at Firestone last week, and that suggests they perhaps aren’t playing well enough to contend this weekend.
There are encouraging signs for WGC Invitational champion Matsuyama, though, as Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have all gone back-to-back to lift the Wanamaker Trophy in the past 13 years.
Picking a winner
Only two members of the field fit every one of our criteria this weekend.
To see why Matsuyama has a huge chance, all you have to do is watch his round of 61 at the WGC Invitational on Sunday.
The 25-year-old is playing as well as anyone at the moment, he finished a respectable 11th at the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow last year, and he fits the bill for a US PGA winner in terms of his age, form and class.
He’s a great bet at .
Fowler is the other player who looks primed to finally win his first major.
The American finished ninth at the WGC Invitational last week and really enjoys playing at Quail Hollow, having won the Wells Fargo in 2012 and placed fourth last year.
The world No. 10 has already won one event this year and finished fifth at the US Open, and is worth backing at .
Rory McIlroy’s price of is short for a player who is yet to win on the PGA Tour this season, but the Northern Irishman just has to be backed this weekend.
He’s won twice at Quail Hollow in the past, and has finished outside of the top 10 just once in his seven starts at the course.
Top fives at the Open and last week’s WGC International suggest he is back in form, and his driving – the longest on the PGA Tour this year – gives him a massive advantage.
At , Berger is the best each-way bet in the field this week.
The American won the St Jude Classic in June for the second successive year, and is in fine form, having landed three top fives in his last six starts and a decent T17 at the WGC Invitational last week.
He followed up a T28 in his first start at Quail Hollow in 2015 by finishing 17th a year later, and looks a fine bet to contend at the US PGA, given that he currently ranks 26th in shots gained putting, sixth in approach to the green and 11th in total shots gained.
2017 progress report:
AT&T Pebble Beach - Jordan Spieth WIN (8/1)
Genesis Open - Dustin Johnson WIN (15/2)
Arnold Palmer Invitational - Tyrell Hatton PLACE (40/1)
Houston Open - Russell Henley WIN (28/1)
Texas Open - Tony Finau PLACE (33/1)
Players Championship - Francesco Molinari PLACE (50/1)
St Jude Classic - Billy Horschel PLACE (33/1)
The Open - Matt Kuchar PLACE (50/1)
Canadian Open - Ian Poulter PLACE (40/1)
WGC Invitational - Zach Johnson PLACE (50/1)