Looking for an outsider punt at the USPGA? Paul Krishnamurty makes the case for his best three bets at 99-1 or better, along with thoughts on a few alternatives...
"Knox hits fairways and greens for fun, averaging well over 70% for both in the last three months, ranking fifth and sixth among these for driving accuracy and greens in regulation respectively."
Back Russell Knox 1u each-way @ 140/1 (1/5 odds, eight places)
After Francesco Molinari's victory at the Open Championship, it is now seven majors since an outsider last won - defined here as being available to back at 99-1 or higher. The most recent upset came exactly two years ago when Jimmy Walker won the USPGA Championship.
That run, however, should necessarily deter us from taking a chance at huge odds, especially if betting each-way or planning to cash out. Xander Schauffele, Kevin Chappell and Kevin Kisner were in contention throughout at the Open and all traded in single figures, having started the tournament ranging between [200.0] and [700.0]. This column even bagged a profit from laying back [250.0] chance Eddie Pepperell when he took the clubhouse lead.
Plus all sorts of outsiders have won this particular major in the not too distant past. In his comprehensive tournament preview, Steve Rawlings runs through the massive odds that were available about recent champions Walker, Keegan Bradley and Y.E. Yang. Go back a little further to the start of the century and we find Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel. The latter still ranks for me as the biggest upset of all-time.
Accurate types should thrive around Bellerive
Furthermore, in Bellerive I reckon we have a venue that could act as a leveller. Hitting a high percentage of fairways, and the right part of them, is a likely to be a pre-requisite of success here. The bombers will be laying up on a lot of holes, thus negating their principal advantage.
Previous leaderboards here include numerous short, straight-hitting types, for whom most major venues would be out of reach. When Bellerive hosted the 2008 BMW Championship, Dudley Hart, Jim Furyk, KJ Choi and Tim Clark all finished top-eight. Brian Gay was third through 54 holes. That surely speaks volumes.
With eight places on offer, there is much incentive to back these types each-way and therefore guard against the prospect of a market leader running away with it. I've already put up Russell Henley at 100/1 in our each-way column and he's got plenty of win only trading potential at [210.0] on the exchange but, in the interests of variety, here's three more good outside bets.
Moore overdue a big run in a major
I have long been interested in Moore as an outsider in majors, particularly because he is such a fine scrambler. However most of these courses are too long for him and the upshot tends to be decent finishes, slightly off the pace. 12th place at the Open, ninth in the 2017 Masters and 13th in this last year illustrate the point.
Bellerive should present less of a problem and, with hitting fairways so important, the most accurate driver among this field over the last six months, (second throughout 2018 and third over the past year) must surely come into the argument. As a five-time PGA Tour winner, he's precisely the type of American that breaks through in this major.
Knox cracking value to reproduce recent excellence
Very similar comments apply here. Knox hits fairways and greens for fun, averaging well over 70% for both in the last three months, ranking fifth and sixth among these for driving accuracy and greens in regulation respectively. Again, the lack of power that may be ruinous elsewhere, won't be at Bellerive. I see Steve shrewdly took [320.0] earlier on the exchange and the each-way route also strongly appeals, because of the place part of the bet.
His odds this week are the perfect illustration of how markets over-react. Seven rounds ago he was regarded as one of the hottest golfers on the planet, heading into the final round of the Scottish Open bang in contention, following victory in Ireland and finishing runner-up in the Open de France. All he has done wrong is struggled around penal Carnoustie in the Open and the very long Firestone in a WGC event.
Fitzpatrick should be well-suited to this test
With over-reactions in mind, one should always be careful of reading too much into recent performances, and remember just how different course challenges can be. A run of three straight links events was not to everyone's liking, so relative failures in those events can easily be overlooked in some cases. Fitzpatrick is one.
He has never produced anything like his best on links golf. Rather, an ideal set-up would emphasise his tee-to-green accuracy whilst not penalising lack of power. On song, there are few better iron players. Prior to his mini bad-run, Matthew had finished 12th in the US Open and eighth in the elite BMW PGA. He's also finished seventh in the Masters before and his best European Tour form, winning four times including the DP World Tour Championship, show he can compete at the very highest level.
Besides Henley, two more outsiders came in for serious consideration. I like the [410.0] about Brian Harman. His last few results have been disappointing but again there were mitigating circumstances and he perfectly fits the 'short, straight, steady' bill. And given that 2008 performance here, why not try Brian Gay at [500.0]? This veteran remains competitive, finishing top-20 on five of his last eight starts, including the US Open.