US PGA Championship

The Punter's US PGA Championship: Thrilling finale in store at Valhalla

Golfer Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa holes out for birdie on 18th in round three

There's just one round to go at the US PGA Championship and just three strokes separate the top-eight. Steve Rawlings gives his final in-running thoughts for the week ahead of today's final round here...

  • Two tied at the top with a round to go

  • Resurgent Norwegian the Valhalla value

  • Hometown hero seeks second off the pace PGA title

9:15 - May 19, 2024

Having begun the third round trailing by just three and trading at 4.67/2, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, tumbled down the leaderboard with a two-over par 73 in round three of the US PGA Championship yesterday.

That broke an incredible run of 41 straight rounds under-par, but it was totally understandable after his chaotic Friday.

Brooks Koepka was a surprising casualty in round three. He shot a three-over-par 74 to fall to tied 47th and Rory McIlroy looks to be out of the reckoning with a round to go too.

The world number two was matched at single figures after four birdies in-a-row from the seventh hole yesterday, but he played the final eight holes in one-over par. Trailing by seven, and with 18 men ahead of him, his race looks to be over.

The biggest move on Moving Day came from Shane Lowry, who had a putt on the 18th green to become the first man in history to shoot 61 in a major championship. After the missed birdie putt, the Irishman had to settle for and nine-under-par 62 and that was only two strokes better than his playing partner, Justin Rose. Both men have been matched at 1000.0999/1.

After a brilliant birdie at the par three 14th, the first and second round leader, Xander Schauffele, was matched at a low of 2.35/4 when he led by two yesterday, but it was all change at the 15th when he lost three strokes to his playing partners, Collin Morikawa and Sahith Theegala.

Schauffele double bogeyed the hole after a terrible approach with a nine iron, Theegala chipped in for birdie, and Morikawa holed out for his own three and it was all change.

To his credit, Schauffele rallied with back-to-back birdies to end the round and he and Morikawa enter round four tied at the top. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:00.

Xander Schauffele -15 3.8514/5
Collin Morikawa -15 3.8514/5
Sahith Theegala -14 8.88/1
Bryson DeChambeau -13 9.08/1
Viktor Hovland -13 9.89/1
Shane Lowry -13 14.013/1
Justin Rose -12 42.041/1
Robert MacIntyre -12 50.049/1
Dean Burmester -11 85.084/1
Justin Thomas -10 90.089/1
-10 and 170.0169/1 bar

Only one of the last 41 major championships have been won by someone trailing by more than four strokes so it's highly likely that the winner is listed above.

The only exception is Justin Thomas, who won this event two years ago having trailed by seven! Playing in his hometown this week and trailing by five, if you want to back an outsider this morning, he's your man.

In addition to his off the pace victory at Southern Hills in 2022, Thomas shot 64 to defend the CIMB Classic title back in 2015, having trailed by four with a round to go and he also won the St Jude Classic in 2020 by three strokes having trailed by four with a round to go, thanks to a final round 65. And he shot 64 at the WGC Mexico Championship in round four back in 2018 before losing a playoff, having trailed by four through 54 holes.

If the leaders flap around today, with the hometown crowd behind him, Thomas could be a threat and he's my only in-play bet with a round to go.

Lowry and Rose may struggle to back up yesterday's low rounds and they're fairly priced at 14.013/1 and 42.041/1 respectively but a strong case can be made about any of the five men ahead of them in the market.

Schauffele has converted three of his last five 54-hole leads but he put in disappointing efforts when leading last week at the Wells Fargo and back in March at the Players Championship and he makes no appeal at around 11/43.75.

He never convinces in contention and winning wire-to-wire is always tough. He's also in search of his first win in almost two years and his first major title.

Alongside the world number three at the top of the leaderboard, my pre-event pick, Collin Morikawa, is vying for favouritism but he too needs to step up on recent efforts in-contention.

Having looked bombproof when winning the second of his two majors, the Open Championship in 2021, Morikawa hasn't impressed in-the-mix.

He let a five-stroke 54-hole lead slip at the Hero World Challenge in December 2021, and he threw away a six-stroke lead at The Sentry in January last year.

Morikawa did win the ZOZO Championship in Japan in October, having trailed by two through 54 holes but he was a well-beaten third at the US Masters after a 74 on Sunday saw him fall from one back to seven adrift and a final round 72 at Harbour Town the following week saw him fall from two back in third to ninth. Beaten by six.

With two majors already in the bank, he should arguably be the clear favourite but that recent record in-contention is a worry.

Sahith Theegala recovered brilliantly yesterday after a slow start and a case can certainly be made for him winning.

He was matched at a high of 160.0159/1 after back-to-back bogeys at five and six appeared to put him out of the argument but he played his last ten holes in six-under-par and with less battle scars than the front two, he may just have had his wobble and he could kick on today.

Theegala has shortened up fractionally since the end of round three and I can see why.

An eagle at the 18th in round three has put Bryson DeChambeau firmly in the frame and his insane length is a huge asset here and it's impossible to dismiss Viktor Hovland, who birdied three of his last four holes yesterday to get to within two.

Back working with swing coach, Joe Mayo, Hovland's game has improved immensely given he came into this week's major with 2024 form figures reading 22-58-19-36-62-MC-24, which explains why the world number seven and reigning FedEx Cup champion was generally a 60.059/1 chance before the off.

Sat on the same score and just two off the lead, the Norwegian is almost a point bigger than DeChambeau and I'm not convinced that's correct.

Viktor Hovland on 18 at Valhalla.jpg

If forced to put up one of the top-six, at almost 9/110.00, Hovland would be the one but for now, other than backing Thomas at 90.089/1, I'm going to sit on my hands, cheer on Morikawa, and see how the final round pans out.

11:45 - May 18, 2024

Following the tragic death of 69-year-old volunteer, John Mills, there was a delay to the start of the second round of US PGA Championship yesterday morning of an hour and 20 minutes and as a result, when play was eventually stopped due to darkness, there are 18 players yet to finish up their second rounds.

The big hitting South African, Dean Burmester, who has two holes to play, is the only player inside the top-21. He sits tied for 16th and six off the lead so here's the leaderboard with prices to back at 11:30.

Xander Schauffele -12 3.7511/4
Collin Morikawa -11 6.611/2
Sahith Theegala -10 16.5
Scottie Scheffler -9 4.67/2
Bryson DeChambeau -9 12.011/1
Thomas Detry -9 55.054/1
Mark Hubbard -9 110.0109/1
Viktor Hovland -8 27.026/1
Tony Finau -8 48.047/1
Austin Eckroat -8 130.0129/1
Brooks Koepka -7 19.5
Hideki Matsuyama -7 55.054/1
Harris English -7 170.0169/1
Robert MacIntyre -7 220.0219/1
Matt Wallace -7 310.0309/1
Justin Thomas -6 120.0119/1
Rory McIlroy -5 36.035/1
-6 and 220.0219/1 bar

Xander Schauffele still leads but having led by two strokes with eight holes of his second round to play and having been matched at a low of 2.68/5, yesterday feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

The world number three, who's yet to win a major, and who's in search of his first win in nearly two years, bogeyed the 11th and parred his way in after back-to-back birdies around the turn and he looks opposable.

Alone in second is my pre-event pick, Collin Morikawa, who bogeyed his final hole of the second round (the ninth) after five straight birdies.

Ranking only 103rd for Driving Distance so far this week, Morikawa is in-the-mix thanks in the main to his putter and there's always a risk that the flatstick may cool off.

I'm happy to be onboard but he looks fairly priced at best at around 11/26.50.

Sahith Theegala is alone in third and two off the lead, but I'm not convinced he's quite ready to win a major championship.

The 26-year-old won the Fortinet Championship in style in September and he's the 12th best player in the world according to the Official World Rankings but I'm happy to swerve him.

The biggest danger to the frontrunner is the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, who is one of four players tied for fourth and three off the lead, but after his arrest yesterday, it's impossible to know how he'll play today.

He composed himself brilliantly to shoot a five-under-par 66 - a round he started less than an hour and half after his release - but quite how he'll feel today is very hard to gauge.

After the round he said he 'felt like his head was still spinning' and it's conceivable that the stress and shock of the situation all comes out today.

Adrenaline and supreme focus will have helped him to get through yesterday and going straight form the incident to the course may well have aided him too but more than 24 hours later and having more time to start processing the incredible occurrence, a downturn in his performance would be totally understandable.

Scheffler's regular caddie, Ted Scott, will be back on the bag tomorrow but he's attending his daughter's graduation today and that might be a slight negative too.

Matching Morikawa's six-under-par 65, Bryson DeChambeau made a huge move yesterday afternoon, climbing 10 places to sit alongside Scheffler.

The 2020 US Open winner ranks number one for Driving Distance so far this week and his length off the tee is clearly a big plus at Valhalla but I'm happy to leave him alone at around 11/112.00.

He's been in only ordinary form on the LIV Golf Tour this year and that may have been one of the reasons he was unable to maintain his challenge at the US Masters last month.

DeChambeau lead by a stroke after round one at Augusta and he was tied for the lead at halfway but rounds of 75 and 73 saw him slip to six, nine strokes adrift of the winner, Scheffler.

Bryson DeChambeau day one US masters 24.jpg

Appearing to be close to his best now back with his old coach, Viktor Hovland is back in-contention and Hideki Matsuyama looks a big price at 55.054/1 and above.

Like fellow contenders, Morikawa, DeChambeau and Hovland, Matsuyama is a winner at Muirfield Village, the Jack Nicklaus design that I felt would correlate best with Valhalla, and he came from off the pace to win the Genesis Invitational back in February.

I've added him to the portfolio but the one I think represents the value at halfway is yesterday's in-play fancy, Brooks Koepka.

The defending champ played nicely enough yesterday, and he was a bit unlucky to double-bogey the 10th hole after a mud ball caused his second shot to fly out of bounds.

If I wasn't already onboard, I'd be playing him this morning at 20.019/1.

Rory McIlroy's level-par second round was a huge disappointment. He needs a super-low third round to get back into contention and looks short enough at 36.035/1.

10:50 - May 17, 2024

The world number one, Scottie Scheffler, is looking to win his fifth event in six starts but bizarrely, a very strong argument could be made that he isn't the most in-form player in the field at present.

After leading the Wells Fargo Championship by three strokes after round one eight days ago, Xander Schauffele has kicked off the US PGA Championship with a sensational nine-under-par 62 around Valhalla to lead by three. Here's the first-round leaderboard with prices to back at 10:40.

Xander Schauffele -9 3.55
Sahith Theegala -6 27.026/1
Tony Finau -6 30.029/1
Mark Hubbard -6 150.0149/1
Rory McIlroy -5 6.411/2
Collin Morikawa -5 19.5
Tom Kim -5 70.069/1
Tom Hoge -5 120.0119/1
Thomas Detry -5 140.0139/1
Robert MacIntyre -5 170.0169/1
Maverick McNealy -5 170.0169/1
Scottie Scheffler -4 5.79/2
Brooks Koepka -4 17.5
-4 and 46.045/1 bar

Up until last week, Xander had never held a clear lead on the PGA Tour after the opening round and now he's achieved the feat twice in two weeks! And in some style too.

Schauffele round one US PGA 2024.jpg

He was the 53rd player to hold a three-stroke lead after round one on the PGA Tour this century when he led the Wells Fargo last week but he was the 40th to fail to win after a lacklustre level par final round.

There's a chance he may move clear today and the change to the weather forecast will give him a boost.

It looks likely that the heavy rain predicted will move in much earlier than previously projected and what looked likely to be an advantage to today's early starters appears to have been lost.

Forecasts originally predicted a dry start to the day before heavy rain moved in in the afternoon, but it now looks like the rain will move in early and stop late in the day.

It's never easy to gauge the affect of the weather but if Xander does miss the worst of it when he tees off in the afternoon, he must be considered a value bet in the 2nd Round Leader market at odds-against given seven of the last eight three-stroke leaders (including Xander last week) were still in front at halfway.

Schauffele isn't one to go to war and he looks short enough at around 5/23.50 in the outright market with so many big names lurking and today will be key.

He was four clear at halfway last week on -11 but shot one-under-par on Saturday and level-par on Sunday to eventually lose by five, suggesting he'll need to keep the pedal down today.

With Schauffele trading as short as he is, there's value elsewhere and having backed both Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa before the off, the two I've added this morning are the defending champ, Brooks Koepka, and Tom Kim.

Sitting on -4 and five off the lead, Scheffler is the second favourite, but having started the championship with this remarkable two on the first, he missed a number of short putts coming in and he looked a little rusty.

Rory's game wasn't razor sharp either and if I hadn't already backed him, I'd definitely be getting Morikawa onside.

Having backed him at 30.029/1 last week, I topped up modestly yesterday morning when he drifted all the way out to 50.049/1 before he'd hit a ball!

He then hit a high of 190.0189/1 after playing his first five holes in two-over-par so he's done remarkably well to shoot -5 and he looks a very fair price this morning at around 20.019/1.

Koepka is alongside Scheffler and five off the lead and he was matched at a high of 55.054/1 before he eagled the seventh and birdied the eighth (his 16th and 17th holes of the round) to smarten up his card and if history is anything to go by, he's a huge danger to the leaders.

Koepka won his first major, the 2017 US Open, having trailed by two after round one and he won his fourth (his second of three US PGA Championships) wire-to-wire in 2019 but he won't be panicking from this position.

He defended the US Open in 2018 having trailed by six after round one (tied 46th) and five at halfway (sat fourth), he won his first US PGA title having sat tied for 33rd and six back and he was tied for 38th and six adrift after the opening round 12 months ago.

Sitting five adrift in a tie for 12th will certainly not faze him and given he's no bigger than 14/115.00 on the High Street, he's a very fair price this morning at 17.5.

Yesterday's five-under-par 66 by Tom Kim came somewhat out of the blue and he may well slip back into the pack today but he's straight out of the top drawer and a major winner in waiting so I was happy to take a small chance on him at 75.074/1.

Pre-Event Selections:

Rory McIlroy @ 9.617/2
Collin Morikawa @ 30.029/1
Joakim Niemann @ 50.049/1

In-Play Picks:

Brooks Koepka @ 17.5
Tom Kim @ 75.074/1
Hideki Matsuyama @ 60.059/1
Justin Thomas @ 90.089/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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