Welcome to our 2018 PGA Championship coverage. Bellerive Country Club in St Louis, Missouri, welcomes 156 players this week for the 100th PGA Championship. Naturally after his win in Ohio last week, Justin Thomas will be incredibly popular at 14/1 this week; World Number 1 Dustin Johnson heads the betting at 10/1, but as is the norm these days at the highest level of golf, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods are all 25/1 or shorter in what looks to be a very open affair.

The PGA Championship traditionally has the strongest and deepest field of all Major Championships and 2018 is no exception. We’re also in for a real treat as the PGA of America takes their Major Championship to the historic Bellerive course, which has seen Major Championship action across the 1965 U.S. Open and the 1992 PGA Championship. Those titles were won by Gary Player and World Number 1 Nick Price, highlighting that quality wins around here.

For new visitors, Golf Betting System is now into its 10th season and we provide free tournament statistics, predictor models and previews across every Major Championship, PGA and European Tour event. We also have a thriving 4,300+ member golf betting community with constant betting chat and insight from golf punters 7 days a week on our Facebook Group. Welcome and don’t hesitate to get involved!

2018 Key Bookmaker PGA Championship Promotions

It has to be said that for golf punter value, when it comes to each-way betting we’ve never seen such excellent terms as we have this season. The bookmaker industry is so competitive these days that bookmakers are offering record amount of places to try and win new customers and to retain those they already have. So the 2018 PGA Championship sees a massive opportunity for you to extend the amount of each-way places available.

Golf industry standard is set at 5 places each-way with the places paid at 1/4 odds for full field events. However for the first time in PGA Championship history we see 10 places each-way at 1/5 odds openly available this week. Both Coral and Paddy Power have gone a record-breaking 10 places each way at 1/5 odds for both new and existing customers. Tie that in with the fact that across 2018 to date both of these bookmakers are virtually inseparable at the top of the golf each-way places league table across both PGA and European Tours and you can see that having both of these sportbooks within your bookmaker portfolio is essential for any golf punter.

It’s well worth noting with Coral that new customers who open an account via Golf Betting System receive a boosted £30 or €30 in free bets promotion, which is £10 or €10 more than Coral offer directly:

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  • New account offer – significant terms: 18+. New customers only. 18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £10 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £30 credited as 3 x £10 free bets. Not valid with CashOut. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. T&Cs apply.
  • 10 places each way – significant terms: 18+, UK + IRE only. Applies to bets placed on the outright market of the PGA Championship from 8AM Friday 3/8/18. Each way bets paid to 10 places at 1/5 odds. T&Cs apply.

Paddy Power have a history of providing extended each-way places on golf week-to-week and at the Major Championships historically. Over the course of May, June and July, they have provided 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at The Players Championship, U.S. Open and the Open Championship and have done so again this week, offering 10 places each way at 1/5 odds for the PGA Championship. Their £/€20 risk-free bet, returned in cash for new customers, is available below:

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  • Paddy Power £/€20 risk-free offer: New customers only. Limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses Paddy Power will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using cards or PayPal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply – claim your offer here using promo code YSKA01 during registration.
  • 10 places significant terms: Applies to bets placed from 1pm Friday 3/8/2018 to before the tournament starts on the “Winner” market only. 1/5 odds for E/W bets. Applies to all Online, Mobile, Phone, Text and Retail bets. Dead heat rules apply. T&Cs apply.

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Course Guide: Bellerive Country Club is located in the Mid-West of the United States, in St Louis, Missouri. An established Country Club with heritage going back to the 19th Century, we are talking a traditional, old-style, tree-lined golf course. This particular course was built in 1951 and is the original design of the master course architect Trent Jones. It’s also seen a couple of recent re-designs from his son Rees Jones, lengthening and naturally toughening the course. What else would you expect from the ‘Open Doctor.’

Bellerive is a parkland, tree-lined, classic, which in its current guise is plenty long enough. It also has some particularly quirky aspects, including very severe contoured greens and Zoysiagrass fairways, the likes of which you find in the south-east of the United States.

Bellerive Country Club, St Louis, Missouri: Designer: Trent Jones with 2005 & 2013 Rees Jones renovations; Course Type: Classical; Par: 70; Length: 7,316 yards; Water Hazards: 16; Fairways: Meyer Zoysiagrass; Rough: Winning Colours Fescues 3″; Greens: 7,600 sq.ft average featuring A4 Creeping Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 11-11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 1992 PGA Championship: 73.92 (+2.92), Difficulty Rank 2 of 54 courses. 2008 BMW Championship: 69.37 (-0.63), Difficulty Rank 35 of 54 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Bellerive and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Bellerive CC: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:29; 300:26; 325:27; 350:29.
  • Firestone South: 250 yards from the tee: 25 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:25; 350:24.
  • Montreux G&CC : 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:41; 300:42; 325:40; 350:38.
  • Glen Abbey: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:31; 300:29; 325:29; 350:30.
  • Carnoustie: Average 28 yards.
  • TPC Deere Run: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:37; 325:33; 350:30.
  • Old White TPC: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:35; 350:32.
  • TPC Potomac: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:27; 325:23; 350:27.
  • TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:35; 300:28; 325:28; 350:27.
  • Shinnecock Hills: Average 42 yards with 8th hole widest at 64 yards wide.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.
  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:35; 300:31; 325:26; 350:30.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Trent Jones & Rees Jones designs /re-designs include:

Trent Jones

  • Hazeltine – 2009 PGA Championship
  • Firestone South – WGC Bridgestone Invitational
  • Robert Trent Jones Golf Club – 2015 Congressional Loans National
  • Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club – 2011 PGA Championship
  • Valderrama – 2002 – 2008 Volvo Masters, 2010-11 Andalucía Masters, 2016 Open de Espana, 2017
  • Andalucía Valderrama Masters

Rees Jones

  • Torrey Pines South Course – Farmers Insurance Open + 2008 U.S. Open (re-design)
  • GC of Houston – Houston Open
  • Aronimink GC – 2010,2011 A&T National (re-design)
  • Blue Course, Congressional CC – 2011 U.S. Open + 2012-2014 & 2016 National (re-design)
  • Blue Course, Royal Montreal GC – 2014 RBC Canadian Open (re-design)
  • Hazeltine – 2009 PGA Championship (re-design)
  • Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club – 2011 PGA Championship (re-design)
  • Baltusrol – 2016 PGA Championship (re-design)
  • Bethpage Black – 2009 U.S Open + 2012/2016 The Barclays (re-design)
  • Dubsdread, Cog Hill GCC – 2009,2010,2011 BMW Championship (re-design)
  • East Lake GC – Tour Championship (re-design)

Course Overview: Bellerive Country Club is undoubtedly going to be a stern test for the 2018 PGA Championship. The course will play as a very stiff Par 70 at over 7,300 yards, featuring only 2 par-5s. An old-style, parkland course set in the West of St Louis, Missouri, the course is a Trent Jones original. The last time the PGA Tour visited Bellerive was back in 2008 when it hosted the BMW Championship – tournament 3 of the inaugural 4 event FedEx Cup Playoffs. The tournament that week was awash with precipitation, so with soft conditions likely this week, it’s an angle to pursue in terms of research.

Off the tee fairways are of moderate width, with 300 yard landing areas pinched at 26 yards wide. Not too thin, but rough is sure to be penal. However two real features that stand out about the course are the rare Zoysiagrass fairways and the extremely contoured greens. Zoysiagrass is a rarity on the PGA Tour with only TPC Southwind, Trinity Forest and East Lake featuring this kind of grass, which is renowned for its springy nature. Plenty of professionals claim it promotes flyers, whilst others like the way the ball tends to sit up on it. Either way, it’s another research angle to attack. Secondly, there was plenty of comment back in 2008 that the greens were very severe. It never really mattered back then as constant deluges during the tournament made them extremely receptive, but it’s worth recognising that with such serious green contouring, stimpmeter ratings of around 11 with be the maximum we’ll see this week – that’s quite slow for a Major Championship. New green complexes sculptured by Rees Jones created small target areas within each huge green complex, where approach accuracy is rewarded with a birdie opportunity. Stray away from those, and 3-putt territory is a real reality.

All-in-all, a 7,300+ yard, Par 70 screams controlled power off the tee from the rooftops. There will certainly be a view this week that Bellerive will offer all in the field a chance of success and I can see that. Much will depend on turf conditions, but for me it’s worth recognising that Nick Price won the 1992 PGA Championship here when the course played as a 7,148 yard, Par 70. He ranked 18th that week for Driving Distance. A post Rees Jones renovated Bellerive in 2008 saw the course play to an extended 7,324 yard, Par 70 format for the BMW Championship – very similar to what we’ll see this week. Camilo Villegas was the victor that week – who across 2008 ranked in the top 50 for Driving Distance on the PGA Tour and was the 18th longest driver on the week. So a level of power off the tee, again would seem to be an advantage in my view. What we should potentially be looking for though in-general are players, who can be accurate with their approaches, and who are comfortable in soft conditions.

It’s also worth recognising on a course where greens are described by Jim Furyk as having, “a lot of slope, there’s a lot going on, a lot of ridges, a lot of swales, huge humps and bumps,” that strong putters came to the fore here at the 2008 BMW. Villegas across that year ranked 15th for Putts per GIR on the PGA Tour, whereas his closest pursuers – namely, Dudley Hart, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim – all ranked in the top 40 for Strokes Gained Putting that season.

Winners: 2017: Justin Thomas (-8); 2016: Jimmy Walker (-14); 2015: Jason Day (-20); 2014: Rory McIlroy (-16); 2013: Jason Dufner (-10); 2012: Rory McIlroy (-13); 2011: Keegan Bradley (-8); 2010: Martin Kaymer (-11); 2009: Y.E. Yang (-8).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes. NEW! Combined Current and Course Form is now available here.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Tony Finau.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Memorial Tournament & Italian Open and includes both PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Emiliano Grillo; 2) Russell Henley; 3) J.J. Spaun; 4) Henrik Stenson; 5) Jason Dufner; 6) Justin Rose; 7) Brian Gay; 8) Ryan Moore; 9) Ryan Armour / Russell Knox / Louis Oosthuizen; 12) Austin Cook / James Hahn; 14) Daniel Berger; 15) Ross Fisher; 16) Kyle Stanley; 17) Jim Furyk; 18) Ted Potter Jnr; 19) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Rickie Fowler / Matt Kuchar / Andy Sullivan.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Henrik Stenson; 3) Louis Oosthuizen; 4) Tony Finau / Francesco Molinari; 6) Joaquin Niemann / Gary Woodland; 8) Paul Casey; 9) Justin Rose; 10) Dustin Johnson; 11) Rickie Fowler / Jon Rahm; 13) Vijay Singh; 14) Tommy Fleetwood / Rory McIlroy / Thorbjorn Olesen; 17) Shane Lowry / Andy Sullivan; 19) Brendan Steele; 20) Russell Henley / Russell Knox.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1)Francesco Molinari; 2) Rickie Fowler; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Jordan Spieth; 5) Brian Gay; 6) Dustin Johnson; 7) Tiger Woods; 8) Patrick Reed; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) Jason Day; 11) Whee Kim / Phil Mickelson / Ted potter Jnr; 14) Thomas Pieters; 15) Joaquin Niemann; 16) Xander Schauffele; 17) Justin Rose; 18) Paul Dunne; 19) Bryson DeChambeau / Ian Poulter / Webb Simpson.

Winners & Prices: 2017: Thomas 45/1; : 2016: Jimmy Walker 150/1; 2015: Day 14/1; 2014: McIlroy 5/1F; 2013: Dufner 40/1; 2012: McIlroy 20/1; 2011: Bradley 175/1; 2010: Kaymer 50/1. Average: 62/1.

Weather Forecast: Latest PGA Tour weather forecast for St Louis, Missouri is here. Ground conditions allied to strength of wind always affect the target score greatly, especially at a Major Championship. In total 53mm of rain fell on St Louis late into last week and that must have had an affect on the speed of the course. With a 60% chance of further rain across Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, we could see a course which is receptive on Thursday at least. Wind across the whole tournament will be light so I’m expecting a tournament where a low double-digit under par score is required for victory, on a course which will continue to dry.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 8 winners of the US PGA Championship since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this type of test:

  • 2017, Justin Thomas (-8). 330 yards (1st), 50.0% fairways (62nd), 62.5% greens in regulation (17th), 55.6 % scrambling (30th), 1.60 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2016, Jimmy Walker (-14). 284 yards (63rd), 60.7% fairways (43rd), 76.4% greens in regulation (12th), 82.4 % scrambling (1st), 1.76 putts per GIR (9th).
  • 2015, Jason Day (-20). 307 yards (5th), 73.2% fairways (5th), 76.4% greens in regulation (2nd), 58.8 % scrambling (40th), 1.62 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2014, Rory McIlroy (-16). 316 yards (1st), 73.2% fairways (10th), 69.4% greens in regulation (16th), 72.7% scrambling (9th), 1.64 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2013, Jason Dufner (-10). 284 yards (23rd), 60.7% fairways (22nd), 75.0% greens in regulation (3rd), 72.2% scrambling (1st), 1.70 putts per GIR (16th).
  • 2012, Rory McIlroy (-13). 313 yards (1st), 66.1% fairways (44th), 66.7% greens in regulation (13th), 75.0% scrambling (1st), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2011, Keegan Bradley (-8). 302 yards (21st), 62.5% fairways (22nd), 77.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 50.0% scrambling (40th), 1.68 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2010, Martin Kaymer (-11). 286 yards (32nd), 62.5% fairways (51st), 72.2% greens in regulation (6th), 75.0% scrambling (3rd), 1.73 putts per GIR (23rd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 18th, Driving Accuracy: 32nd, Greens in Regulation: 9th, Scrambling: 16th, Putting Average: 9th.

Here’s some recent comments on the Bellerive course and how it sets up:

Justin Thomas (2018): “It’s a great course. You can tell – it’s a great driving golf course. Driving is going to be premium. The holes are – have great shape to them. A lot of them kind of go out and then dogleg and then kind of are still aware if you’re going to want to challenge it to go farther up you’re going to really need to be precise, so it’s like, I’m going to need to hit 3-wood here or – a great example would be like, I felt like 10 or like 18 where you kind of want to hit it out to the dogleg, but then if you get a little help or you get a little downwind, if I want to challenge that, my area to hit it in is going to be a lot smaller, where I’m going to have the reward of having maybe a wedge or 9-iron as opposed to a 7- or 6-iron, but coming into greens this severe and with this many tears and slopes, shorter putts are going to be a big advantage. It’s definitely going to be a lot of practice on the drivers and 3-woods.”

Jim Furyk (2008): “When we got here, to be honest with you, it wasn’t firm. It was quite soft when we arrived, and then with all that rain, it’s got no chance of drying up I don’t think for tomorrow. The greens were definitely a little quicker today than they were yesterday. They were a little sticky yesterday. I thought they had a little bit more speed to them today. I could see them getting a little firmer, a little faster, but I think with all that rain, we’re going to be dealing with soft conditions. You know, the penalty here on this golf course is the greens are severe. There’s a lot of slope, there’s a lot going on, a lot of ridges, a lot of swales, huge humps and bumps. The greens are sectioned off into little areas, and being this soft, we can fire at the flags and stop the ball. If the conditions were – to be quite honest with you, you can’t get the conditions very firm and fast or the greens wouldn’t be playable in spots to be honest with you. This isn’t a place where you’re ever going to have the greens rolling 13 and firm because you honestly wouldn’t be able to play them. So they’re very, very severe to be honest with you.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 US PGA Championship winners:

  • 2017 – Justin Thomas: Round 1: 44th, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2016 – Jimmy Walker: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2014 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2012 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2011 – Keegan Bradley: Round 1: 36th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2010 – Martin Kaymer: Round 1: 44th, Round 2: 15th, Round 3: 4th.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Justin Thomas: 28th Bridgestone/MC Open Champ/MC Quicken/MC Travelers.
  • Jimmy Walker: 14th Canada/MC Open Champ/16th Bridgestone/MC US Open.
  • Jason Day: 12th Bridgestone/1st Canada/4th Open Champ/9th US Open.
  • Rory McIlroy: 1st Bridgestone/1st Open Champ/14th Scottish Open/MC Irish Open.
  • Jason Dufner: 4th Bridgestone/26th Open Champ/MC Travelers/4th US Open.
  • Rory McIlroy: 5th Bridgestone/60th Open Champ/ 10th Irish Open/MC US Open.
  • Keegan Bradley: 15th Bridgestone/43rd Greenbier/22nd Canada/MC AT&T National.
  • Martin Kaymer: 22nd Bridgestone/7th Open Championship/MC Scottish Open/6th Open de France

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2017 – Kisner/Olesen – AM/PM Split -4/67 – 80/1 & 125/1.
  • 2016 – Walker – AM -6/65.
  • 2015 – D Johnson – AM -6/66.
  • 2014 – Chappell/Palmer/Westwood – 1AM/2PM -6/65.
  • 2013 – Furyk/Scott – AM/PM Split -5/65.
  • 2012 – Pettersson – AM -6/66.
  • 2011 – Stricker – AM -7/63.
  • 2010 – Kuchar – PM -5/67.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 7 – Justin Rose.
  • 6 – Rory McIlroy.
  • 5 – Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods.
  • 3 – Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Na, Justin Thomas, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney.
  • 1 – Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Michael Kim, Kevin Kisner, Russell Knox, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Ted Potter Jnr, Chez Reavie, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Y.E. Yang.

Winning prices in the PGA Championship vary significantly. Short prices such as Rory McIlroy – who’s won this title twice at 20/1 (2012) and 5/1 (2014) – and Jason Day at 14/1 (2015) have had much recent success. Throw in defending champion Justin Thomas at 45/1 and Jason Dufner at 40/1 in 2013 and 5 of the last 6 PGA Championships have been won at 45/1 or less. The exception is Jimmy Walker who played brilliantly at Baltusrol in 2016 to lead from start to finish and capture his first Major title at an unbelievable (after the tournament) 150/1. He joined Keegan Bradley (2011) and Y.E. Yang (2009) who won at 175/1 and 150/1 respectively.

It’s also hard to ignore some key facts: 14 of the last 17 PGA Champions (82%) had already won a tournament in the same season prior to winning the PGA Championship. On top of that, the Bridgestone Invitational cannot be overlooked. Since the Akron-based tournament became the PGA ‘warm up’ event in 2006, the winner of the PGA Championship has always been in the Bridgestone field and has always finished in the top 28 of the tournament. With a disturbed schedule in 2016 due to the Olympics, Jimmy Walker also finished 16th at Firestone South and 15th the week before at the RBC Canadian Open hosted at Glen Abbey.

For more detail on the historical trends for the US PGA Championship you can read my earlier preview here.

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My final PGA Championship tips for 2018 are as follows:

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas captured his first WGC title last week with consummate ease and I think he’ll be a huge factor again this week at Bellerive. Naturally it’s exceptionally close at the top of the betting between World Number 1 Dustin Johnson, 2-time PGA Championship Champion Rory McIlroy and World Number 2 Thomas, but I’m siding with Justin. Yes there are downsides: he’s the defending champion – often perceived as a negative; he’s also grouped with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy across Thursday/Friday. But for me Thomas is the real deal who, like Brooks Koepka at the U.S.Open, can certainly defend his title this week.

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With no adverse weather forecast for the week, Bellerive in my eyes will suit a player with power off the tee, razor sharp-approach play and a naturally confident putter who can tackle the intricate green complexes. 11th for Fairways Hit, 3rd for Total Driving, 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Proximity to Hole, 4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 4th for Strokes Gained Putting last week at Firestone unsurprisingly amounted to a 4-stroke victory over the world’s best. And there are other plus points which make him a must-back this week. Thomas defended his first ever PGA Tour title back in 2016 when he won the CIMB Classic. He’s also gone back-to-back with wins when taking the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open in January 2017. In effect, when JT is hot he’s worth following – especially when he’s hitting greens with aplomb, another example of which was his playoff defeat to Phil Mickelson at the WGC Mexico Championship, the week after winning the Honda Classic in February this year.

With 9 main Tour wins since November 2015 – only Dustin Johnson beats that with 10 – Justin is the sort who will arrive in St Louis, relishing the challenge and I get the feeling he’ll think the job is only half done. I love his correlating course form with 3rd at TPC Sawgrass (2016) and 2nd at East Lake (2017) fitting in well with Camilo Villegas who won the 2008 BMW Championship here. And Thomas clearly has no issues with Zoysiagrass fairways, finishing 6th and 2nd at East Lake on his only 2 appearances on the surface.

Tony Finau

Justin Thomas captured his first WGC title last week with consummate ease and I think he’ll be a huge factor again this week at Bellerive. Naturally it’s exceptionally close at the top of the betting between World Number 1 Dustin Johnson, 2-time PGA Championship Champion Rory McIlroy and World Number 2 Thomas, but I’m siding with Justin. Yes there are downsides: he’s the defending champion – often perceived as a negative; he’s also grouped with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy across Thursday/Friday. But for me Thomas is the real deal who, like Brooks Koepka at the U.S.Open, can certainly defend his title this week.

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With no adverse weather forecast for the week, Bellerive in my eyes will suit a player with power off the tee, razor sharp-approach play and a naturally confident putter who can tackle the intricate green complexes. 11th for Fairways Hit, 3rd for Total Driving, 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Proximity to Hole, 4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 4th for Strokes Gained Putting last week at Firestone unsurprisingly amounted to a 4-stroke victory over the world’s best. And there are other plus points which make him a must-back this week.