The final major of the golf season begins on Thursday at the Bellerive Golf Course, Missouri, as the leading players in the world battle for the final honour.
Francesco Molinari notched his first major crown when he lifted The Open, with a flawless performance in the fourth day of the competition.
The Italian will be in contention once again as he looks to cap a fine campaign with his second title, although the rest of the field will be desperate to close the gap.
Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas will be aiming to end their drought at the majors – some which have lasted longer than others.
Thomas impressed the Bridgestone Invitational last week, winning the event with a polished display. He won the PGA Championship last season and will be looking to become the first man since Woods to win the tournament in back-to-back years.
Thomas won the event last season by two strokes ahead of Molinari, Patrick Reed and Louis Ooshuizen. The 25-year-old had been threatening to make a breakthrough on the major stage and got over the line with a fine performance at Quail Hollow Club. It has been an up-and-campaign for Thomas since his triumph.
He secured his first win of the new season at the CJ Cup before adding a second crown at the Honda Classic. The American placed second in the Mexico Championship before finishing fourth in the WCG Matchplay. Thomas flashed his brilliance once again with four dominant rounds of golf at the Bridgestone Invitational to win the title, including a round of 64 on day two.
Even though he has been impressive in bursts, Thomas’ performance in the majors this term have been underwhelming. The 25-year-old placed down in 17th at The Masters before finishing 25th at the US Open. His trip to Carnoustie proved to be unfruitful as he missed the cut after a struggle on the second day when he carded a 77. The Bridgestone Invitational was Thomas at his best and he could not have time a return to form better with the defence of his crown in his next outing. Back Thomas to win the event for a second time in a row at odds of +1400 with Betway.
McIlroy has been frustrating to watch at the majors this term. He has had the form, but not quite on the level to get over the line. Consistency has been his issue, boasting a fine couple of rounds at The Masters before falling away on the final day. The US Open was over before it began, leaving him to rue a disastrous first round when he carded an 80, although he was not alone in struggling.
The Northern Irishman was impressive at The Open, but his propensity to make mistakes at crucial moments was to hold him in check. Molinari was flawless and that was the difference, forcing McIlroy to settle for second place with a throng of others.
The Bridgestone Invitational was a microcosm of his season. McIlroy was brilliant on the opening three days of the competition. However, he fell apart on the final day, carding a three-over round of 73. The 29-year-old needs to find his form over four days and he has done so in the past at the PGA Championship with two wins to his name. Back him to deliver another crown at odds of +1200 with BetVictor.
Spieth is a contender more on reputation than his form this season. By his own admission the American has not been at his best this season. He has still put forward decent efforts at two of the three majors, although Spieth has not displayed the command over the rest of the field that he did on his rise to the top in 2015. The 25-year-old has yet to win on the PGA Tour this term. He was off the boil at the Bridgestone Invitational last time out, finishing down in 60th place, carding only one round under-par.
Spieth finished tied-ninth at The Open and third at The Masters, although he missed the cut at the US Open. He does have form at the majors this season, and is more than capable of raising the level of his game. Spieth finished second at the PGA Championship in 2015 in his glorious campaign. On his reputation alone back him at odds of +2000 with BetVictor.
Molinari’s solid form on the tour finally paid dividends at Carnoustie as he claimed the Claret Jug. The Italian was flawless at The Open, carding two bogeyless rounds at the weekend to move seamlessly up the leaderboard whereas his rivals around him struggled.
Molinari was able to hold his nerve when it mattered the most, sinking a birdie putt on the 18th to put the tournament beyond doubt. The 35-year-old deserved his triumph, capitalising on his good form on the tour. He previously captured the Quicken Loans National three weeks before his win at Carnoustie, while he also finished second at the John Deere Classic.
Molinari had success at the PGA Championship last season, although he could not close in on Thomas, finishing in second place. He will have to be more aggressive in Missouri, but should he retain his composure, the Italian could close out another major at odds of +2800 with 888Sport.
Johnson has proved to be the ultimate tease on the major scene this season. He has been in impressive form on the PGA Tour, but his performances have failed to translate to the slams. It began at The Masters when he paid the price for two underwhelming rounds on day one and three, finishing in tied-10th. Johnson appeared to be in control of the US Open to clinch his second major, only to put forward an awful performance on his third round to allow Brooks Koepka to snatch the crown.
The American missed the cut at The Open, but was able to bounce back with a win at the RBC Canadian Open, finishing 23 strokes under par. The 33-year-old was in contention for the Bridgestone Invitational with a brilliant round of 64 on the final day. Thomas had enough to see out the victory. Depending on which Johnson shows up in Missouri, it could be worth a punt at odds +800 with Betway, although there’s not a great deal of value.
Justin Thomas To Win PGA Championship
Thursday 9th August – Sunday 12th August 2018
Francesco Molinari To Win PGA Championship
Thursday 9th August – Sunday 12th August 2018