IT’S the final Major of the season and having tipped the last two I’m going for a hat-trick.
There have been three first-time Major winners this year – Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson – so can Baltusrol produce a fourth?
Baltusrol hosts its second USPGA since it was redesigned in 1922. The course has also staged four US Opens (two of which were won by Jack Nicklaus), a US Women’s Open and two US Amateurs. It’s highly regarded and while bombers can do well it’s more about plotting your way round and staying out of trouble.
Will Stenson have the momentum after winning The Open in sensational style to carry on and double up with the USPGA? Or is it is so soon after Royal Troon? Will he still be mentally and physically drained from that epic final day?
I reckon he’ll take som many positives from his win in Scotland that he could compete with world No.1 Johnson for the glory. They are the form horses and if they continue in that vein of form this could be another Duel in the Sun on Sunday.
In his last six outings Johnson has five top fives (two wins including US Open) and a T9 at Troon. In fact if you go back to the beginning of April he has seven top fives from 10 tournaments.
If that isn’t form I don’t know what is. Driving distance isn’t going to be that important on the Lower Course. What could be a deciding factor is greens in regulation and putting. Johnson is 29th (67.88%) in GIR and 48th in Total Putting. To be honest even although he is single figures in the betting market I can’t see past him.
The win in The Open will have been a great confidence booster for Stenson and he’ll be looking to strike again. Since withdrawing from the US Open Stenson has really hit some form with two wins and a T13.
His stat for GIR is 71.62% (2nd) and he’s 84th in Total Putting. I loved the way Stenson didn’t wilt under the Phil Mickelson pressure at Royal Troon and think he will be there at the finish.
Since winning the AT&T Byron Nelson last May Sergio Garcia has hit a rich run with three T5s including the US Open and The Open. He is the perennial selection in Majors as we are always expecting him to get that elusive win.
In the USPGA he has eight top 10s with six top sixes including runner-up three times so he knows what is expected in this tournament. He is third in GIR stats 70.46% (3rd) but if there is anything that will let him down it will be putting where he he is 114th. Having said that it’s not been a problem over the past few months.
With three third-place finishes (seven top 10) from 10 tourneys Matt Kuchar is another who has been doing well recently. His GIR stat is 67.72% (34th) and he’s 13th in Total Putting so ticks the boxes.
He’s had an up and down season and has done no better than T24 in the Majors this season but has got back to top form. Looks good for a place.
One guy I think will fly under the radar is American JB Holmes. He has had an up and down season but had a great Open finishing third. Although missing the cut in the US Open he had a T4 at the Masters and can handle the pressure of the Majors. He looks a great eachway bet.