Time after time the Major Championships produce long-priced contenders and the odd winner - the US PGA Championship possibly being the most likely of all 4 to produce a 3-figure winner and almost certainly some outsiders in the mix come Sunday afternoon - last year's win by Jimmy Walker at 150/1 was another case in point. The last few years have produced the following unfancied players, each of whom finished in the top 6 at least and rewarded each-way backers:
The list goes on: Shaun Micheel won at 300/1 in 2003; Rich Beem was 200/1 in 2002, David Toms 100/1 in 2001 - all in all, it's Majors like this where it can often pay to look a little further down the field in terms of the betting. Most of the mainstream bookmakers have extended their EW places this week to give us an extra chance of grabbing that long-priced payout - however do check your bet very carefully before placing.
Five bookmakers stand out though when it comes to extra each-way places and it's well worth checking their prices before placing your bets. All offers listed are for bets placed pre-event:
Sky Bet have also extended to 8 places at 1/5 odds, however their new account offer has been withdrawn with the start of the football season. Each-way terms will inevitably change as soon as the event starts of course so check any in-play bet terms very carefully.
In terms of 3-figure outsiders, the following quartet take my fancy this week:
With so many each-way places on offer this week, the top-10 and top-20 markets become far less appealing in my view and as such I'll focus on 4 outsiders who have a decent chance of making the paying places and, given what we've seen from the winners in recent times, perhaps a squeak of actually taking the title outright. A full place from any of these 4 will more than cover the overall 10 points outlaid on this page and give us a nice profit.
First up, Xander Schauffele who's rapidly rising up the world rankings and sits at a career-best 72nd in the OWGR right now following his 13th place finish at Firestone last week. The 23 year-old Californian is playing his rookie season on the PGA Tour having earned his card through last year's Web.com Finals, however given what we've seen this year there's far more to come from him. A tie for 5th on the Champion Bermuda greens at the Sanderson Farms Championship at the start of the wraparound season showed some promise from this 306 yard (17th on Tour) driver of the golf ball, however it wasn't until he finished 5th at the US Open that the golfing world really sat up and took notice. A maiden title soon followed at the Greenbrier Classic and with consecutive top-20 finishes at The Open and WGC Bridgestone, both on debut, this boy clearly has something about him. 20th for GIR on Tour and 23rd for Stroke Gained Putting to add to his length off the tee all add up to a very competent all-round game and despite this being his first competitive effort at Quail Hollow, with his length he can take care of the par-5s and with a par-4 birdie-or-better raking of 4th on Tour he's also well capable of compiling a competitive score here. Coral are offering 100/1 with 10 places each way, 1/5 odds if you prefer at the time of writing - details here.
From the relative inexperience of Schauffele to the Major winning experience of Keegan Bradley next. It's been six years since Vermont-born Bradley beat Jason Dufner in a play-off at Atlanta Athletic Club on his Major debut, largely by mixing a sublime week with his irons (2nd for GIR) with an exceptional performance on the Champion Bermuda greens where he also ranked 2nd for putts per GIR. A win at Akron followed a year later against another world-class field, however since then golf has largely been a struggle for the 31 year-old, compounded by the enforced move away from anchoring of the putter which he'd used so successfully to win this title back in 2011. This year has shown some promise though with top-8 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open, Travelers Championship and Quicken Loans National, fuelled predominantly by an improving long game and some welcome accuracy which now sees him sit 6th on Tour for strokes gained from off the tee. 2nd for driving accuracy in Canada on his last start and 2nd for scrambling also bodes well and given that he's been driving the ball poorly the two times he's attempted Quail Hollow - missing the cut on both occasions - with that element of his game in seemingly good order and confidence increasing in the putter, he's an interesting outsider here this week. Coral are offering 150/1 with 10 places each way, 1/5 odds if you prefer at the time of writing - details here.
The last player to win at Quail Hollow was James Hahn at the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship and whilst it's fair to say that the course has changed a little since then, there's still plenty of encouragement to back the 35 year-old who was born in South Korea. Twice a winner now on stretching, classical tests - the other win coming at Riviera in 2015 - Hahn is perennially overpriced in my opinion and whilst not the most consistent of players, can certainly contend and win when the mood suits him which makes him perfect for a longshot here. Having said all of that, Hahn has been showing some more consistent form of late with 3rd at the Byron Nelson, 6th at Memorial and 10th last time out in Canada where he ranked 3rd for Driving Accuracy and 1st in the All-Round category despite tinkering with his swing throughout the week. He sounded massively confident in his game that week during interview and returning to the scene of his most recent triumph on the PGA Tour may well help produce another contending performance. Coral are offering 150/1 with 10 places each way, 1/5 odds if you prefer at the time of writing - details here.
"I'm going to hold my head high and move forward and expect to win soon." Those were the words of Patrick Rodgers after his playoff defeat to Bryson DeChambeau at the John Deere Classic on his penultimate start and whilst it's a big ask to get your first PGA Tour win at a Major championship, an each-way place certainly isn't out of the question having already finished 2nd here at Quail Hollow back in 2015 behind Rory McIlroy. With the course likely to play softer than the organisers will have hoped, that will play into the hands of the 25 year-old who's at his best in those conditions, aided by his 307 yards driving average (13th on Tour). A quality player from Stanford University where he was awarded the Ben Hogan Award and reached World Number 1 amateur, as well as his aforemented effort here, 6th at Silverado in 2015 and 4th at Torrey Pines this season also stand out in his record from a classical tree-lined perspective. A missed cut in Canada on his reappearance following his play-off disappointment may have seen an excessive over-reaction from the bookmakers and, at the price on offer, I'm more than happy to take a chance on him here this week. Coral are offering 150/1 with 10 places each way, 1/5 odds if you prefer at the time of writing - details here.
First Round Leader Market
Generally with first round leader betting I'd favour backing outsiders for a couple of reasons. Firstly, players with little or no chance of winning outright can still produce a good first round and reward punters before drifting away as the event progresses and secondly, there's far more scope for reductions to odds due to ties with the field often very bunched after day 1. I'll make an exception for last week's massively impressive winner Hideki Matsuyama though who could well go wire-to-wire if he gets off to a quick start. Sunday's round of 61 was impressive in the extreme as he took the WGC Bridgestone Invitational by the scruff of the neck and turned a 2-shot overnight deficit into a 5-shot victory and if he begins this week in the same vein of form then the rest of the field needs to watch out. A 7.45am tee time on Thursday will give the Japanese sensation virtually first use of the greens and with an inclement weather forecast for most of the day, he may just manage to get his round in the bag before the risk of incoming storms and the potential for disruption gets a grip.
One player I often look out for in First Round Leader markets on the European Tour is Peter Uihlein and with his firepower and an early tee time (out first at 7.20am), a fast start isn't beyond the realms of possibility. The American, like Brooks Koepka and a few other up-and-coming compatriots, has followed the European path to advancing through the OWGR rankings whilst getting the wide and varied experience that life outside of the PGA Tour offers. Whilst he's not achieved anywhere near that of his good friend Brooks, he's still a winner in his own right on the European Tour and is certainly capable of a low first round as he demonstrated on three consecutive events last year opening with rounds of 65, 65 and 64 at the Maybank Championship, Perth International and Thailand Classic respectively. Recent form of 2nd at the Open de France and 14th at the Irish Open where he was -13 for the par 5s suggests that his game is in pretty good shape right now and he may well be fired up on his first visit back to the United States since his best buddy won the US Open.
It's with a little trepidation that I put Charles Howell III up for any type of bet given how often he flatters to deceive, however if there's one market that I'm more comfortable than most backing the 38 year-old in it's the First Round Leader market. Twice a winner on the PGA Tour is a better return than many will achieve in their career, that I grant you, however with 4 play-off defeats and countless other opportunities spurned over the years, backing him outright in any event is dangerous. Backing him in the first round - particularly when he's out early - can bear a little more fruit though and early round 1 rankings of 4th for the full 2016 season and 7th for the 2017 season-to-date back that assertion up statistically. 63 to begin his John Deere Classic campaign on his penultimate start was good enough to tie the lead after 18 holes and having lost a play-off to Kyle Stanley at the Quicken Loans National a fortnight before that it's clear that his game is in a great place generally. A 7.40am tee time alongside Younghan Song and David McNabb is perfect as there'll be little pressure on his performance and another fast start is quite possible.