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PGA CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: WHO WILL WIN IN VALHALLA? – Golf News

By admin May5,2024

The US PGA Championship is being held at Vahalla Golf Club in Kentucky for the first time since Rory McIlroy’s victory in 2014. But can a return to happy hunting grounds provide the ingredients for the Northern Irishman to enjoy a long overdue return to the major winner’s circle or will the Scottie Scheffler trophy train rumble on?

 

With majors coming along like buses these days, no sooner has the dust settled on the Masters than all eyes are swiftly turning to the season’s next major examination, the PGA Championship.

Long regarded as the least significant of the quartet of majors, the PGA is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, following the decision to move it from its sleepy late summer date in mid-August to its new mid-May slot, when golf’s big guns are well and truly motoring and thoughts of long lazy days and beach holidays are furthest from our minds.

The 106th edition of the PGA Championship returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky from May 16-19, and represents an increasingly rare opportunity to see the world’s best golfers come together for four days over one of the toughest courses on the tournament schedule.

While the frankly tedious debate as to whether LIV golfers are able to translate their 54-hole, no-cut form to the white heat of four-round major competition will no doubt rumble on at Valhalla, but it won’t cause Brooks Koepka, last year’s PGA champion, to lose much sleep as he goes in search of a sixth major title, which would see him move alongside Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino in the pantheon of major winners.

If he were to prevail, Koepka would also become only the second player to win back-to-back PGA Championships twice. A feat only achieved by Mr T Woods, who did it in 1999-2000 and 2006-2007.

Brooks Koepka bagged his third PGA Championship in 2023

A return to the scene of his last major triumph in 2014 will also give Rory McIlroy’s legion of fans a glimmer of hope that happy memories of the Kentucky course’s will provide the necessary psychological boost that is needed to drag the 34-year-old out of his major funk.

When the then 24-year-old lifted the Wanamaker Trophy all those years ago, few would have predicted that a full decade would pass and it would remain his most recent major victory.

There have been half-a-dozen close shaves and near misses along the way, but the big ones, the ones that really seem to matter, have remained elusive for one of the most naturally gifted players of his generation.

And while all manner of reasons have been given for his failure to add to his major tally over the years, from poor putting, lack of distance control with his wedges, and now a touch of the lefts with the driver, it seems that it is between the ears, that inner belief, that his powers seem to have drained away.

He has the talent to have reached major double figures by now, but golf, at all levels, is a cruel game, and is certainly no respecter of past glories.

With distance being at a premium on this lengthy course, Scottie Scheffler’s long, straight hitting will be a major bonus for the two-time Masters champion, and he will be short odds to add to continue where he left off at Augusta, although winning back-to-back major victories comes with its own specific set of demands that few are able to deal with. For all golf betting odds please see below

 

CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE

 

Designed by Jack Nicklaus, and first opened in 1986, Valhalla – which translates as ‘Hall of the Slain’ from Norse mythology – has hosted three previous PGA Championships (’96, ‘00) two Senior PGA Championships, and, of course, the 2008 Ryder Cup, where the European team lead by the hapless Nick Faldo came unstuck in a big way.

In preparation for this year’s championship, numerous updates have been made to the course to stiffen its defences against a new generation of bombers and gougers. It will play about 100 yards longer than it did in 2014, with the championship tees taking it to 7,540 yards, with a par of 71. The first hole is 50 yards longer than a decade ago, the par-3 14th can be stretched out to 250 yards if the PGA of America feels like it, which is probably will, while the 18th has been extended by 30 yards.

13th green will provide drama at this years USPGA Championship

The easier front nine presents a more open challenge, with slightly undulating links-style fairways that pitch and roll through a low-lying valley. Along with being more difficult and having more imaginative holes, the back nine is a much more traditional tree-lined layout that also has plenty of hazards and changes in elevation.

With generous fairways, Valhalla is a typical Nicklaus design in that it places a huge premium on precise second shots. It’s also a shot makers course. Greens are firm and fast, while there are 60 bunkers to contend with, and half a dozen holes feature water.

Discussing the course’s demands, Phil Mickelson, who finished second to Rory in 2014, said: “The fairways are generous, but the biggest thing is coming into the greens, you need to hit your approaches high and land soft. There are also a lot of collection areas and a lot of bunkers to avoid, so the higher and softer you hit the ball, the more birdies at Valhalla.”

 

CURRENT ODDS FROM BETWAY.COM

 

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER 7/2

RORY MCILROY 11/1

JON RAHM 12/1

LUDVIG ABERG 14/1

BROOKS KOEPKA 16/1

 

SELECTED

 

CAM SMITH 25/1

TOMMY FLEETWOOD 40/1

JOHN DALY 1000/1

 

 

The entire course has recently been re-turfed, switching from Bentgrass to Zoysia, a warmer-season grass which allows for easier maintenance during the summer, although quite what its impact will be on playing conditions is unclear.

 

VALHALLA CARD OF THE COURSE

 

7,540 yards, Par 71

 

Hole   Par      Yardage

1          4          495

2          5          530

3          3          210

4          4          375

5          4          460

6          4          495

7          5          600

8          3          190

9          4          415

36

 

10       4          595

11       3          210

12       4          490

13       4          355

14       3          255

15       4          435

16       4          515

17       4          475

18       5          575

35

 

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By admin

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