The Masters is the only of golf’s four majors held at the same course, so the annual storyline isn’t generally about Augusta National, even though it’s arguably America’s most prestigious course, but simply about the tradition of the Masters and that golf season has truly begun.
The PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open all are played at different venues annually, so sometimes the course itself is the story. For example, when the U.S. Open is played at Pebble Beach or Oakmont or the British Open at St. Andrews. The 101st PGA Championship is this week, being played in May for the first time since 1949 as part of a slew of major changes on the PGA Tour schedule. It had been played in August and the last of the four majors.
With all due respect to the PGA Championship, which usually has the strongest field of any event, the story this week is likely to be Bethpage State Park’s Black Course on Long Island in New York. It’s considered one of the toughest public courses in the United States. When Bethpage Black hosted the 2002 U.S. Open, Tiger Woods won at just 3-under. When it hosted again in 2009, Lucas Glover was the winner at 4-under.
Bethpage Black, which hosts the PGA Championship for the first time, isn’t likely to play that tough this week as the U.S. Open setup is always the toughest of the majors, but it’s going to be a challenge. The winning score is likely to be somewhere between what Glover finished at in 2009 and Patrick Reed’s 9-under score in winning the Barclays FedExCup playoff event at Bethpage in 2016.
Last year, Brooks Koepka became only the fifth player to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, taking the PGA with a score of 16-under at Bellerive outside St. Louis. No chance the winner shoots 16-under this week. Koepka is +1100 to repeat on the PGA Championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The last player to do that in this tournament was Tiger Woods in 2007. He’s also +1100 this week at sports betting sites as Woods plays for the first time since his victory at the Masters.
That was Tiger’s 15th Grand Slam title, three shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record. The Golden Bear has won the PGA Championship a record five times (so has Walter Hagen, but those were all when it was match play), while Woods has claimed the Wannamaker Trophy four times. Tiger was runner-up last year.
Dustin Johnson (+1000) is the favorite on the golf odds as he tries to win the PGA for a first time, while Rory McIlroy (+1100) has won the PGA twice, back in 2014 and 2012. The tournament’s 2017 winner was Justin Thomas and he was +1200 as of Monday before withdrawing due to a wrist injury.