USPGA Championship 2019: key contenders as Tiger Woods chases second major of the year

Ross Clarke
Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Masters at Augusta - REUTERS

Tiger Woods’ attempt to nail down the best sporting comeback in history after winning the Masters might have lasted less than a month thanks to Liverpool’s thrashing of Barcelona in the Champions League but golf’s one true superstar is on the prowl for more major glory this week.

Woods has not played a tournament since that stunning win at Augusta but the eyes of the world will again be upon him as he makes his return to Bethpage Black, where he won the US Open 17 years ago.

Woods is now 150/1 to complete the Grand Slam this year having been available at 1000/1 to complete that historic feat before the Masters and he can be backed at 12/1 to win this week.

For those looking to find a bet, Bethpage Black rewards long hitters and accurate approaches. Woods came out on top for hitting greens in regulation when winning the 2002 US Open at the course, found 73.21 per cent of fairways (the average was 59.13 per cent) and boasted an average driving distance of just over 280 yards compared with the field’s 265.5 yards.

Lucas Glover’s statistics when winning the 2009 US Open here were remarkably similar to Woods’s seven years earlier, so with that in mind let’s have a look at some players who might be overpriced to win the second major of the year.

Ian Poulter could be celebrating a major win at Bethpage Black Credit: Sportsfile

Longshots to consider

Corey Conners 250/1

Canadian Corey Conners will not be getting disqualified for failing to tally his scorecard correctly as he studied maths at college and was a two-time academic all-american. His numbers on the course also stack up pretty well as he is fourth-best at hitting greens in regulation on the PGA Tour this year and he won his first tournament at the Texas Open just last month. High on confidence, he made the cut in the Masters to finish 46th but will need his putting to be at its best.

Charles Howell III 200/1

A three-time winner on the PGA tour, Howell (it never feels right to write Howell III) won his first PGA tour event since 2007 when landing the RSM Classic in November. Started this year well with seven top-25 finishes in his first nine starts before finishing a decent 32nd in the Masters. Worryingly, he has missed the cut in his two tournaments since Augusta and withdrew after the first round of the Byron Nelson Classic last week. However, he ranks highly when it comes to driving distance and accuracy and is third in hitting greens in regulation this year. Could go well if he is fully fit.

Mid-range fancies

Ian Poulter 80/1

Finished a fine 12th at the Masters last month and has since followed it up with top-ten finishes in the US at the RBC Heritage and the Zurich Classic. Supremely accurate from tee to green. Has added consistency to his game and Poulter has a fine chance of breaking his major tag.

Matt Kuchar 50/1

It’s hard to find a player who has been more consistent over the last few months than Kuchar, who has finished in the top 20 in nine of his last 13 tournaments. Has played just once since finishing 12th in the Masters, when finishing runner-up in the Heritage a few weeks ago, so he is entering the tournament relatively fresh. One of the best from tee to green in the field, he is likely to be towards the top of the leaderboard early.

Pick of the favourites

Brooks Koepka 12/1

What’s not to like about Koepka? A major specialist having won three of the last seven, he has finished out of the top 20 just four times in the last 16 majors and is sure to give you a run for your money. Has only played this course once in competition and didn’t set the world alight but he’s already proved himself worthy of another chance.