IT seems just yesterday when we were treated to the Duel in the Gloom at Troon.
Only two weeks ago golf’s finest gathered in Scotland to tee off in a tournament that will never be forgotten thanks to the final-day heroics of Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson.
We’ve hardly had time to catch breath before the final Major of the season with the Olympics forcing the USPGA Championship forward and main contenders will be more focused on Baltusrol than Brazil.
I tipped Dustin Johnson to win at Troon and while he was battered into submission by the weather he battled back to finish tied ninth and followed up with a joint second in the Canadian Open.
The world No.2 is outright favourite at 8-1 with the likes of Ladbrokes and while I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him he let the title slip in Ontario at the weekend and length isn’t the biggest requirement on the famed Lower Course.
In his last six outings Johnson has five top fives (including two wins) and seven in 10 tournaments but Baltusrol demands accuracy and it’s about plotting your way round and staying out of trouble – and that’s not always the American’s forte as we saw in Ayrshire.
Johnson’s homing in Jason Day’s world No.1 and the Aussie and world No.3 Jordan Spieth have been off the boil.
Out of the top four I reckon Rory McIlroy has the best chance as long as he can improve his putting. Long, straight driving will be needed and the Irishman has got that in his bag.
He finished fifth at Troon despite bad draws sending him out in the worst weather and his PGA record is exceptional with wins in 2012 and 2014. McIlroy is worth a look at 9-1 at Ladbrokes while Day is 10s and Spieth 16-1 at McBookie.
Stenson is fifth favourite at 16-1 with Ladbrokes but you have to wonder how much the win and celebrations have taken out of the Swede. If the Swede plays as he did over the weekend at Troon he’ll take some stopping.
Mickelson can’t be ruled out either although he must still be hurting at shooting a final-round 65 and losing.
Lefty won when the US PGA was last staged at Baltusrol and is a big fan of the course and its designer AW Tillinghast. I like Mickelson’s chances with course form but he’s just 22-1 at Ladbrokes while he was 60-1 to win at Troon.
Sergio Garcia gave me a place at Troon but the longer he goes without a Major win the odds increase on him breaking his duck.
In the the PGA he has eight top 10s with six top sixes including runner-up three times so knows what is expected in this tournament. Back him each way at 25-1 with Ladbrokes or at 12-5 with McBookie for a top-10 finish.
It’s Europe 2, USA 1 in Majors this season and there could be a home win on Sunday – a JB Holmes win. He has had an up and down season but had a great Open finishing third in the best of the rest race behind Stenson and Mickelson.
Although he missed the cut in the US Open he had a T4 at the Masters and can handle the pressure of the Majors. Holmes looks a great eachway bet at 70-1 with boylesports.
Another America to consider is Matt Kuchar who has three third-place finishes (seven top 10) from 10 tourneys. He looks good for a place at 55-1 with Paddy Power who are one of the firms offering seven places.
I’ve added a mythical 1st rd twoball treble featuring three Americans – and the home players are expected to go well this week. It pays 7-1 but any of the three can be done as singles if you prefer.
McIlroy to win
Garcia top 10
1st Rd mythical 2balls Treble
Woodland to bt Finau
D Johnson to bt Spieth
Piercy to bt Lowry