This week it is the second golf Major of the season as the USPGA Championship, now in its new place in the calendar of mid-May, as opposed to the middle of August, takes place at the famous Bethpage Black public course in New York State. The course, twice a US Open venue and the host course for the 2024 Ryder Cup, promises to be a stern test of golf for the top players in the world.
This is the 101st USPGA Championship to be contested and the current holder is Brooks Koepka, who is going for an unusual double in landing back to back Major titles. He has already won the US Open back to back and after landing this trophy last year, the American is now attempting to win the USPGA in back to back years too.
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USPGA Championship – A Brief History
Jim Barnes from England was the first winner of the USPGA Championship in 1916 before it was on a break for two years during the First World War. Barnes won again in 1919 but that would be the last foreign winner for many years as US players then began to dominate the tournament notably Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen. In later years, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead would be one of many American players to add their names to an impressive roll of honour.
By 1958, the tournament had become a stroke play event having previously been Match Play for many years and this was the era we saw the first non-American winner for many years when Gary Player of South Africa won in 1962. Player would win again ten years later in 1972 but Jack Nicklaus was the king of this era winning five tournaments in total between 1963 and 1980.
By the 1990s the tournament had a more international flavour and this has been reflected in a growing number of winners from outside the US with Nick Price, Vijay Singh, Wayne Grady and Steve Elkington landing wins. Then came the Tiger Woods era, with the American ace landing four victories in total. Other more recent winners of the event include Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley and Justin Thomas.
The tournament will feature 156 players competing this year for a prize pool of $11,000,000. American players have won five of the last eight tournaments, including all of the last three, so will their dominance continue in 2019, or will a player from elsewhere in the world land the prize.
Bethpage Black Course
This year’s USPGA tournament will be contested at Bethpage Black, a publicly owned course in New York state that was ranked as one of the 50 toughest courses in the US back in 2008 (where it ranked 6th) and which is likely to play even tougher 11 years later. The course is famous for hosting the 2002 and 2009 US Open tournaments and has been selected as a venue for the 2024 Ryder Cup tournament.
It was also home to The Barclays tournament in 2012 and 2016 but this will be the first time that it has been selected to host the USPGA Championship. Opened in 1938, the course has been lengthened by 222 yards since the 2002 US Open and at 7,436 yards, it includes a couple of very long par fours and a 608-yard part five. The par for the course is 70.
Bethpage Black Course Layout
- Hole 1 – 430 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 2 – 389 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 3 – 230 Yards (Par 3)
- Hole 4 – 517 Yards (Par 5)
- Hole 5 – 478 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 6 – 408 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 7 – 524 Yards (Par 5)
- Hole 8 – 210 Yards (Par 3)
- Hole 9 – 460 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 10 – 502 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 11 – 435 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 12 – 517 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 13 – 608 Yards (Par 5)
- Hole 14 – 161 Yards (Par 3)
- Hole 15 – 459 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 16 – 490 Yards (Par 4)
- Hole 17 – 207 Yards (Par 3)
- Hole 18 – 411 Yards (Par 4)
It is a course which does tend to favour longer hitters, especially those who are solid at performing on long par three and par four holes. The 608 Par 5 13th gets a lot of attention but many long-hitting players, with the right wind conditions, may even be able to reach the green in two here without too much of a problem.
Players to Watch
After his superb win at The Masters in April, all eyes this week will be on Tiger Woods and whether his astonishing revival can continue at another Major championship. Woods is the favourite with bet365 at the moment at 10/1 to win the event but it would take a monumental effort from the Florida-based native to land his second Major of 2019 barely a month after the first.
Woods will also be facing a stellar field which includes a total of 15 other past winners of this event, as well as all members of both US and European Ryder Cup teams of 2018. In addition, the field will also feature all the top players including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and the current holder of the trophy Brooks Koepka.
One thing to note is that of the four US Tour events held on this course between 2002 and 2016, every winner has been an American with Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover, Nick Watney and Patrick Reed all being the players to taste victory here.
Our Tips for the USPGA Championship
To Win – Dustin Johnson – 10/1
American players have tended to do well on this course in recent years, which is ostensibly why it has been chosen as a US Ryder Cup venue for 2024, and of the American players, if Tiger Woods is going to find it tough to win then I feel Dustin Johnson is overdue another big tournament victory. He is a huge hitter, his iron play is amongst the best in the world and if his putter can run hot then I think at 10/1 he is a very good option to back.
Each Way – Bryson DeChambeau – 40/1
DeChambeau has been performing well in several Major tournaments of late and was on song again at the Masters in April finishing tied 29th. He hasn’t quite managed to sustain his good starts in these events into a final finishing place inside the top ten but I feel he has the talent to do that sooner rather than later and at odds of 40/1, and rested after missing the cut last weekend, I feel he should be in with a shout here.