Who Wins This Weeks USPGA Championship?

This week is a special one in golf as not only will the weekend see the fourth and final Major of the season contested, but this week’s USPGA Championship is the 100th time that the tournament will be contested.

The best players in the world will gather at the Bellerive Country Club in Missouri, the second time the course has hosted the USPGA Championship, the first being back in 1992 when Zimbabwean Nick Price won the trophy.

This will be the final time that the USPGA is the final Major of the year, for the next few years at least, as from 2019, it will move in the golf calendar to May and will be played in the week that the Players Championship at Sawgrass is usually played. To facilitate this move in the calendar, the event at Sawgrass will now be moved back to March.

Let’s now take a quick look at the history of this event over the past century, as well as checking out some of the more recent winners of the tournament and a bit about the Bellerive course, before we then check out the major challengers for the tournament from around the world.

USPGA Championship History and Stats

The first USPGA Championship was contested in October 1916 and was won by Jim Barnes, who earned himself a $500 prize as well as a diamond-studded gold medal. The prize money has increased since then somewhat with this year’s winner pocketing $1,890,000 as well as the coveted Wanamaker Trophy for winning the event.

Over the years, the USPGA has been played at different times of the year including late May and June and more recently in August, but from 2019, it will move in the calendar to May and will be the second Major of the year after The Masters.

American players have dominated the tournament over the years but since 2000 in particular, there have been a few more winners from other countries as this list of winners will show:

USPGA Champions Since 2000

  • 2000 – Tiger Woods US (-18) – Valhalla
  • 2001 – David Toms US (-15) – Atlanta Athletic Club
  • 2002 – Rich Beem US (-10) – Haseltine
  • 2003 – Shaun Micheel US (-4) – Oak Hill Country Club
  • 2004 – Vijay Singh FIJ (-8) – Whistling Straits
  • 2005 – Phil Mickelson US (-4) – Baltusrol
  • 2006 – Tiger Woods US (-18) – Medinha Country Club
  • 2007 – Tiger Woods US (-8) – Southern Hills Country Club
  • 2008 – Padraig Harrington IRE (-3) – Oakland Hills
  • 2009 – Yang Yong-eun S.KOR (-8) – Hazeltine
  • 2010 – Martin Kaymer GER (-11) – Whistling Straits
  • 2011 – Keegan Bradley US (-8) – Atlanta Athletic Club
  • 2012 – Rory McIlroy N.IR (-13) – Kiawah Island
  • 2013 – Jason Dufner US (-10) – Oak Hill Country Club
  • 2014 – Rory McIlroy N.IR (-16) – Valhalla
  • 2015 – Jason Day AUS (-20) – Whistling Straits
  • 2016 – Jimmy Walker US (-14) – Baltusrol
  • 2017 – Justin Thomas US (-8) – Quail Hollow Golf Club

Since 2000, there have been 11 wins for US-based players in the tournament with Tiger Woods the only multiple winner of the event in that time (winning three of his four USPGA titles since 2000). There have been seven wins from players outside of the US, one from Fiji, one from Australia, one from Germany, one from South Korea, two wins for Northern Ireland and one for the Republic of Ireland. No player from England, Spain or Scotland has ever won the USPGA title in the modern era.

The Bellerive Course

Bellerive is a long course, which boasts two par five holes that are over 600 yards in length, plus several long par fours, including one over 500 yards in length. A par of 71 means that shooting a very low score is unlikely as there are just three par five holes on the course, with the majority being some very tough par fours.

Located in Missouri, the course has hosted the 1965 US Open as well as the 1992 USPGA Championship and both were won by African-based players, South Africa’s Gary Player in 1965 and Nick Price of Zimbabwe in 1992.

The length of the course is 7,547 yards and it has been extensively redesigned with the addition of bunkers on most holes, over the years, but particularly in the 1990s.

A tough course that will penalise wayward tee shots and which has numerous hazards to negotiate, let’s take a look at the players that will be in contention this weekend.

American Challengers

The American challenge will begin with the likes of current World Number one Dustin Johnson (9/1), Jordan Spieth (16/1), Brooks Koepka (16/1) and last year’s Champion Justin Thomas (18/1). However you cannot discount the likes of Rickie Fowler (20/1), Bubba Watson (40/1), Bryson DeChambeau (40/1) and the long hitting Tony Finau (55/1).

If you think experience is key around here then both Tiger Woods (28/1) and Phil Mickelson (45/1) could be of interest to you, while the consistency of Matt Kuchar (60/1) is also worth considering. With the likes of Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Jimmy Walker also in the field, one thing is for sure and that the American challenge this year will be very strong indeed.

European Challengers

While the American challenge looks strong, it is also fair to say that the European players will be looking for a strong performance, perhaps to cement a Ryder Cup place as much as earning a Major title. Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose (14/1 and 16/1 respectively) will likely lead the European charge but there is great depth beyond those two with Jon Rahm (22/1) and Tommy Fleetwood (25/1), not to mention Henrik Stenson (28/1) all rated as standing a solid chance.

You cannot discount the experienced Sergio Garcia (40/1) even though his record in this tournament isn’t great while Paul Casey (also 40/1) has enjoyed a very good season. The same can be said of other European challengers like Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Daniel Berger and Rafael Cabrera Bello.  Keep an eye out too for Thomas Pieters, he may be an 80/1 outsider but if he hits form he could surprise a few people over the weekend.

Rest of the World Challengers

Champion of 2016 Jason Day will likely be the top challenger from outside of the US and Europe. Although the Aussie can expect the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace and Adam Scott to be pushing hard too. One to watch here is Argentinean Emiliano Grillo who is overdue a breakout performance and who has the game to be surprise contender if he can find his best form.

Our Pick for the Win

With so many outstanding players it is hard to pick a winner but my gut feeling is that an American will land the win on home soil, and while I have a feeling for Rickie Fowler doing well, I think Jordan Spieth will just about do enough to claim the win here.

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