Golf betting at the Major Championships is a complex subject. Mistakes can be costly; however select the right player or player portfolio and the rewards can be excellent. Golf Betting System’s goal is to provide you with informed US PGA Championship tips, free tournament research guides and insight and information that will help you make educated decisions about what players to back at the 2019 US PGA Championship.
In recent history, the PGA Championship has seen a plethora of long-hitters getting the job done, with many capturing their first Major titles as a result of their efforts. The PGA of America’s choice of Oak Hill in 2013 raised eyebrows as the classical, claustrophobic nature of the course was totally alien to its mantra of testing through course length; as it transpired, the neat and tidy Jason Dufner won his first Major. Either side of Oak Hill, Y.E. Yang (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Keegan Bradley (2012), Jason Day (2015), Jimmy Walker (2016) and Justin Thomas (2017) have, like Dufner, all captured first-time Majors. All can hit the ball along way, as can Rory McIlroy (winner at both Kiawah Island in 2012 and Valhalla in 2014) and defending champion Brooks Koepka who drove the field into submission last year at Bellerive. Whether that changes in 2019 is open for discussion at a 7,400+ yard, Par 70 which screams controlled power off the tee from the rooftops. What’s for sure is that the Bethpage Black Course will frame more of a challenge than we saw back in August as this classical masterpiece undoubtedly has teeth.
Bethpage State Park – Black Course, Farmingdale, New York: Designer: Joseph H Burbeck with A.W Tillinghast, 1936, with Rees Jones renovation 1997, 2018; Course Type: Up-State, Technical; Par: 70; Length: 7,459 yards; Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Kentucky Bluegrass; Rough: Bentgrass, Perennial Ryegrass with tall fescue +3.5″; Greens: 5,500 sq.ft average featuring Poa Annua with Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 12ft; Course Scoring Average 2009 U.S. Open: 72.93 (+2.93), Rank 1 of 51 courses. 2012 The Barclays: 71.72 (+0.72), Rank 15 of 49 courses. 2016 The Barclays: 71.75 (+0.75), Rank 12 of 50 courses.
Bethpage State Park is located at the west end of Long Island. A public golf course, its Black Course is famous when it comes to stern golfing tests. The course hosted the 2002 (won by Tiger Woods) and 2009 (won by Lucas Glover) U.S. Opens and we have also seen PGA Tour action here at The Barclays tournaments in 2012 (won by Nick Watney) and 2016 (won by Patrick Reed). The 2019 PGA Championship will see the course return to its stretching 35-35, par 70 Major format.
The tree-lined, parkland course features wide enough fairways with long forced carries over massive bunkers and challenging approach shots to numerous elevated greens. Green complexes themselves are small (5,500 sq.ft average) for the length of the course, featuring Poa Annua. As we know Poa Annua is a not a friend of many players. The course is an original A.W. Tillinghast classic, which has received a number of Rees Jones renovations, the latest which was finished in 2018. A list of A.W Tillinghast and Rees Jones designs/renovations are listed below:
- Baltusrol GC – 2005 & 2016 PGA Championship
- Winged Foot – West Course – 2006 U.S. Open
- Ridgewood Country Club – 2010 & 2014 The Barclays – 2018 Northern Trust.
- 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)
- Dubsdread, Cog Hill GCC – 2009,2010,2011 BMW Championship (re-design)
- East Lake GC – Tour Championship (re-design)
- Bellerive CC – 2018 PGA Championship (re-design)
Courses are often measured by their difficulty. Few golf courses are more difficult than the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York. ‘The People’s Country Club’ – unbelievably it’s a public golf course – has hosted two US Open Championships (2002, 2009) and will host both the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup. The course is best described as a fair test which is very much in front of you. No tricks, no deception, but at over 7,400 yards with long forced carries, massive bunkers and brutal rough (if the PGA of America go along this route),the Black Course will again this week be a test, even if conditions are on the soft side.
Since the 2002 U.S. Open, Bethpage has used graduated rough – something the PGA of America have used for an number of the last PGA Championships. The first cut of rough gives players a shot at the greens. The second cut of rough (3.5″) makes it difficult to get any substantial length on the ball, but as Dustin Johnson highlighted in 2012 at The Barclays tournament, those whose skill set is to hit greens from off the fairway can still contend.
If we look at The Barclays renewals here in both 2012 and 2016, statistically both sets of par-3s (9th and 16th most difficult on Tour) and par-4s (5th and 5th most difficult) yielded very few birdies or better. Yes the par-4s are brutish. Scoring opportunities though really only presented themselves across the 3 par-5s , which both years were within the easiest half in terms of Birdie or Better conversion on the PGA Tour. Breaking par is also made more difficult by greens which yielded a particularly low One-Putt Percentage across both tournaments. However the Black Course will revert to Major Championship par 70 configuration for the PGA with the par-5 524 yard 7th hole, which was the 2nd easiest hole at the 2016 Barclays, converted to a tremendously stretching par-4. In essence, Bethpage won’t give the players much respite.
Rees Jones renovation work has taken place recently and was unveiled last year. The most telling of which is a new, larger green on the 11th hole. Trees have been removed from the 1st hole, enhancing the dogleg aspect of the hole more. The closing 18th will also look different, with the infamously tight fairway landing area widened by moving fairway bunkers outwards. Elsewhere the 6th and the 9th have had full bunker renovations.
To all intents and purposes though, Bethpage Black is one of the toughest golf courses in the United States. Tillinghast designed the original layout with the goal of creating his ultimate “Championship course”. Huge bunkering is a Tillinghast hallmark, as is the fact that fairway bunkers feature pretty severe contouring, which force those who are inaccurate enough to play from them, with little option but to lay up. The bunkering is the main defence of the course, especially around the greens which in the main are elevated. Only the 8th hole features water and the course plays very much as a sandbelt layout, with native grasses surrounding fairways which will swallow flagrant drives. Fast if conditions allow, all greens are accessed with aerial approaches over bunkers. Green contours are very subtle and are difficult to read as a result.
Below are some revealing comments from the PGA Championship Media Day:
Patrick Reed: “When I first got there and I saw how the first hole was and I saw that sign, I thought is the sign for real, or is it just there to intimidate. Getting out there and playing it, the course will bring out every little weakness of your golf game. Its one of the first golf courses that I have played where one part of your game is not as important as any other. At Bethpage every part of your golf game is very important and you have to every one of them at a very high-level to win there.”
Jim Furyk: “It’s long. It’s very difficult and I would say it gives you some awkward angles. If you go out to a lot of the holes, rarely is the fairway straight out in front of you. It’s always twisting to an angle or you feel like you are hitting across a fairway, rather than down a fairway.”
Jordan Spieth: “ If the bombers are hitting it straight, obviously any course plays into their favour. The way the rough is, you need to hit it a certain length here because these par-4s are so challenging, so demanding. So you’ve got to be able to carry the ball, in my opinion, a good 275 or more off the tee. But again, premium on the fairways. The shots into the greens, the greens are very flat surfaces. There’s not a whole lot going on in them. So we’ll have to keep track of how they start to dry out. They are soft right now, where a 5-iron hit, if you striped a 5-iron solid, it will stop within five, ten feet of where it lands. There’s a lot of those kind of shots into these holes.
If it starts to dry out, hitting the fairways becomes that much harder. But if you do, you’re obviously hitting a shorter iron in. It’s hard to tell how the course is going to play. It got dumped on Saturday and then Sunday it got quite a bit of rain, too. Yesterday and today were softer .But I know the last time it was year four years ago, it started to get very, very firm, and the forecast looks like that could become a reality again. So it’s hard to tell who it plays into right now. I like it personally. Just got to make sure you’re hitting that driver straight.”
Rickie Fowler: “ You can’t push, you can’t get ahead of yourself and you can’t try and step on the gas at any time really. You have to hit fairways out here. You can’t try and hit the ball harder than you should. You can’t try and get any extra out of it. You’ve just got to stick to the game plan. You’ve got to stick to hitting just quality golf shots and not try to get any extra out of anything. It is a long golf course and it kind of tempts you to try and push a little bit. The first hole today, my first hole, the 10th hole, it’s a little over 500 and it’s into the wind. I had to hit driver, 5-wood. You can’t try to swing hard off the tee and get anything extra out of it. You have to accept it and play the course.”
Jason Day: “ Well, I played back in I think 2012. It’s just a brutal course. I was talking to Scotty actually back when he played the U.S. Open I think 2001 or 2002. He was talking about the fifth hole. And he goes, there was probably only two guys in the field that could actually cut the bunker on the right. Now most of the field can do that. So just goes to show what technology has done for us. But also, with that said, I mean, you look at the scores, it’s only going to get tougher on the weekend. Everything is going to get a lot more condensed. I don’t really see it going too much lower than what it is. I still think single digits is a pretty good score. But we’ll see how it goes.
On 18, I hit 3-iron yesterday. I hit 4-iron today. Some guys, Adam and Dustin hit driver. Dustin unfortunately made bogey. That’s the thing, you can get some sticky lies out here; the rough is so thick. You get it on the fairway, gave myself a good opportunity. Hit it to 11 feet and unfortunately just missed the putt. You’ve got to go with what you feel like you can get off the fairway, and unfortunately that was a 4-iron for me today.”
Bethpage: A tough, tree-lined, Tillinghast design, with a recent makeover from the “Open Doctor”