FARMINGDALE – With a Par 70 course measuring 7,459 yards and featuring gnarly rough, the winner of the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week will need to drive the ball long — and straight.
He will also have to cope with a partisan New York crowd expected to number around 60,000 fans daily.
Five good bets to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday:
Lucas Bjerregaard, Denmark (150/1 by Bovada.com): We’ll go straight to our longshot pick. The 44th-ranked player in the world still isn’t a household name, but Bjerregaard’s game is well respected by his peers. He has also been playing more in the States this year, including knocking off Tiger Woods en route to the semifinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. Great odds on an emerging player, with the downsides being two missed cuts in his past three events and little Sunday experience on the game’s grandest stages.
Tiger Woods, United States (11/1): Woods will have the crowd behind him and can’t be counted out, but he also hasn’t played a competitive round since winning the Masters last month. Few players understand the nuances of how to get around the Black Course better than the 2002 U.S. Open champion on the difficult track, and his course management is second to none. To be in contention on Sunday, Woods must drive the ball well and convert the short putts that have nagged him at times as he has aged. Tiger still gets our nod over world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (10/1), who is tied for 74th on the PGA Tour in final-round scoring (70.22) this season, including several notable Sunday implosions.
Tommy Fleetwood, England (28/1): Fleetwood is going to earn his major breakthrough sooner than later. One of the world’s elite ball-strikers, the Englishman hasn’t cracked the top 35 in his past two majors but did finish second at last year’s U.S. Open and has spent plenty of time on the first page of major leaderboards. He also earned a T-5 at this year’s Players Championship and is coming off a T-8 at the British Masters.
Brooks Koepka, United States: (10/1): Koepka has won three of the past eight majors and is a combined 47-under par in his past five PGA appearances — including a record-setting 72-hole score of 264 at Bellerive last year. He lives for the major stage, has more than enough firepower and is coming off a solid solo fourth at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Rory McIlroy (11/1): A two-time PGA Championship winner (2012, 2014) seeking his first major in five years, no one has been more consistent in 2019 than the recently turned 30-year-old Northern Irishman. He has top-10 finishes in all but one of his nine starts this year, and most important, he is the best all-around driver of the golf ball in the world. If he can get even warm with his inconsistent putter this week, McIlroy should be in line to capture his fifth career major.
–Field Level Media