With no golf until the first week of January, Dave Tindall looks at the betting for 2022's majors. Here's the second of the quartet - the US PGA Championship.
"Hovland has two tied 12ths (2019 US Open at Pebble Beach and 2021 Open at Royal St George's) and a tied 13th (2020 US Open at Winged Foot). In fact, he's made the top 32 in seven of his eight Majors."
The 2022 US PGA Championship
Southern Hills, Tulsa, Oklahoma
All four days live on Sky Sports
With Steve Rawlings recharging the batteries, I've been given the task this year of looking into the crystal ball in search of some early bets for the Majors.
Next up after the US Masters, we have May's US PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
It's a venue I know having been there for the 2001 US Open. The abiding memory is a gigantic groan in the media tent when Retief Goosen missed a putt from two feet for victory.
Not because the press were all rooting for the South African but due to having to hastily re-write intros and, perhaps even worse, knowing that they'd have to return the following day for 18 more holes.
It certainly messed with my plans. I was on a flight home when Goosen finally got it done in a play-off against Mark Brooks 24 hours later. I recall wearily asking someone (dressed in casual golf gear) at Gatwick airport who had won.
The top five that year were Goosen (-4), Brooks (-4), Stewart Cink (-3), Rocco Mediate (-2), Paul Azinger (+1) and Tom Kite (+1). Hardly a list of big hitters.
Southern Hills also hosted the 2007 US PGA Championship and was the scene of Tiger Woods' 13th major win.
Woods, who shot a second-round 63, won with 8-under ahead of Woody Austin (-6), Ernie Els (-5), Aaron Oberholser (-1) and John Senden (-1).
Woods and Els were big hitters back then but Austin and Oberholser both ranked outside the top 120 in the 2007 Driving Distance stats.
Perhaps there is scope to look for a plotter rather than an out-and-out hitter but the game has moved on since then and there just seem to be too many ultra-talented golfers who have the additional advantage of length.
In terms of trends in the US PGA, Phil Mickelson bucked one of them big-time last year when becoming the oldest male major winner when taking the title at Kiawah Island.
But, in general, this has been a young man's major. Eight of the last 11 have been won by golfers in their 20s and, in addition, eight of the last 11 were ranked in the world's top 25. In fact, we can add another: eight of the last 11 US PGA winners hadn't won a Major before.
Hovland fits the bill for Southern Hills
This could prove a perfect storm for Viktor Hovland.
First some background. Hovland went to college in Oklahoma and still lives there so this is very much a home game with potential advantages.
Talking about why he wanted to stay in Oklahoma after completing his studies, Hovland said: "It was pretty popular for people, when they turn pro, to move to maybe Jupiter, Arizona, Dallas, other places. I just knew that kind of my world was going to change, and I didn't want to deal with moving to a different place where I don't know anyone and all that stuff. So I just kind of wanted to keep things similar as I turned pro and made my way to the PGA Tour.
"Now fast forward a couple years, I'm still there. I think it's just the convenience of it. People are awesome. I'm playing a bunch with the guys on the golf team."
It may emerge later just how much he knows about Southern Hills but there's obviously plenty of scope for him to get to know it more than most.
Southern Hills is a parkland track, so very different to 2021 venue Kiawah Island. Hovland has played well on these types of courses (to be honest, he's played well on a variety of tracks) and hopefully it's similar to others he's played in Oklahoma.
One thing he will definitely have experienced is the windy conditions always associated with golf in Oklahoma. Maybe it's no coincidence that his two PGA Tour wins have come at windy Mayakoba. Put it this way, Hovland will not mind one bit if it blows.
The downside, in theory, is that he's never had a top 10 in a Major. That's a surprising stat but it's somewhat nit-picky. Hovland has two tied 12ths (2019 US Open at Pebble Beach and 2021 Open at Royal St George's) and a tied 13th (2020 US Open at Winged Foot). In fact, he's made the top 32 in seven of his eight Majors, the record only spoiled by his WD from Kiawah when getting sand in his eye.
Let's also recall that he was Low Amateur in both the 2019 US Masters and US Open. Perhaps he hasn't lit the place up like Collin Morikawa but Hovland's early adventures in Major championship golf have been full of positives.
Hopefully he'll still be in great form by May because he's ended 2021 on a high.
Hovland made a successful defence at Mayakoba in November and in December he beat a small but elite field to lift the silverware at the Hero World Challenge.
Currently, World No.8, he's 20/1 on the Sportsbook (six places) or 23.022/1 on the exchange. The each-way terms will get better in US PGA week but I'll take the 20s now as more wins in the build-up will see his price chopped.
Burns can get hot in Tulsa
Back to the trends and let's find another 20-something in the world's top 25.
It may come as a surprise that Sam Burns is No.11 although those who've made money on him in 2021 will have plotted his sharp rise up the rankings.
The 25-year-old American was 154th at the end of 2020 so his climb has been dramatic.
It's been fuelled by two wins - the Valspar Championship and the Sanderson Farms Championship while he's racked up four more top threes.
The negative is that he couldn't bring that good form into the Majors. He didn't qualify for the US Masters, withdrew from the PGA Championship at Kiawah with a back injury, missed the cut at the US Open and was down in tied 76th on his Open debut.
But clearly the bad back didn't help and they probably weren't the ideal set of courses for him.
Currently, he's 66/1 on the Sportsbook and it's very easy to see that price crashing. Wind back to last May and he won the Valspar and was runner-up on his next start in the Byron Nelson. Hopefully, a US PGA in May will be perfectly timed.
Burns has also shown he can excel in elite company by finishing runner-up in August's WGC-Fed Ex St Jude Invitational. He lost a play-off there to Abraham Ancer.
Since that hefty pay cheque, Burns has form figures of 21-8-17-1-14-5-7. Quite simply, he's been one of the standout stars on the PGA Tour since the summer.
Perhaps ideally Southern Hills would have his preferred Bermuda putting surfaces instead of Bent but he likes tree-lined tracks and (check your US map) Oklahoma isn't far from his Louisiana base.
The World No.11 at 66/1. Yes please.
Get a £5 Free Bet on Multiples - Every Day!
Place £20 worth of Multiples or Bet Builders over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £5 bet to use on Multiples or Bet Builders. Bets must settle within 48 hours. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply.