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PGA Championship tips: Best first-round leader bets

15 May | BY Jack Ogalbe | MIN READ TIME |
PGA Championship tips: Best first-round leader bets

Jack Ogalbe offers his top tips for Thursday's opening round at Valhalla this week.

The second Major of the season begins on Thursday with a star-studded line-up set to descend upon Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky for the 106th edition of the PGA Championship.

American Brooks Koepka lifted the Wanamaker Trophy for the third time last year and he is 14/1 to become just the fourth player to win the tournament four times.

World number one Scottie Scheffler will be competing after he and his wife, Meredith, welcomed their first child and the reigning Masters champion is 4/1 to claim the spoils, ahead of 13/2 Rory McIlroy and 12/1 Xander Schauffele.

Our attention turns to the first round on Thursday and which player could be leading the way after the opening 18 holes at Valhalla Golf Club, which is staging the PGA Championship for the fourth time.

First-round leader selections

Rory McIlroy each-way @ 18/1
Alex Noren each-way @ 80/1
Bryson DeChambeau each-way @ 33/1

McIlroy to set the tone 

While Scheffler has been the player of the season to date, the American hasn’t played since the RBC Heritage and it remains to be seen how focused he will be having recently welcomed his first child.

It would be a surprise if the world number one wasn’t in the mix at the business end, but he may be slow out of the gates and, therefore, preference is for Rory McIlroy to set the early pace.

Champion the last time Valhalla hosted this event in 2014, the Northern Irishman knows what it takes to get around this layout and he was just one shot off the pace here after round one 10 years ago.

The 35-year-old is in sparkling form going into Thursday’s opening round, having triumphed at the Zurich Classic alongside Shane Lowry before then landing a record-extending fourth Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

Everything is pointing towards a successful week for McIlroy and he should get out of the blocks quickly.

Noren to continue consistent form

A player enjoying a resurgence is 41-year-old Alex Noren, who has shown superb consistency this season and is close to getting back inside the world’s top 50 for the first time since April 2023.

The Swede was recently third at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson before ending up in a share of 24th at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, his seventh top-25 finish in a row.

Noren is third in round one scoring average on the PGA Tour this season, leaving just Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay ahead of him, and he can make a quick start in Kentucky.

DeChambeau to make another strong start

Bryson DeChambeau looks a fitter and healthier golfer these days after making changes to his physique and he can lead the early charge for the LIV Golf contingent, with 16 players from the Saudi-backed tour competing this week.

The American led after the opening round of the 2023 PGA Championship, shooting a 66 that day, while he was also top of the tree after day one of the 2024 Masters.

DeChambeau has been in the mix after the opening 18 holes in a couple of LIV tournaments this year. He was one off the pace in Jeddah and two behind in Hong Kong and another bold early showing could be on the cards in Valhalla.

Visit Betway’s golf betting page.