Irish hopes are high going into golf's final major of the season. After Shane Lowry's fantastic maiden PGA Tour victory at the WGC Bridgestone, and Rory McIlroy confirming that he'll be in the field to defend his US PGA Championship - there is an air of excitement going into this week at Whistling Straits. But who will lift the extremely large Wannamaker trophy?
It's the second time in six years that the US PGA will be hosted at Whistling Straits - which gives us a good idea of what type of golfer plays the course well. Back in 2010 - Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Jason Day all finished in the top 10 at the Wisconsin course. The common factor between all of those players is driving distance.
Length, approach play and ball-striking are the most valuable stats going into this week, as well as form. With that in mind here are the best bets to make some money at the year's final major.
I'm not ruling McIlroy out of winning the tournament - it should certainly suit him. But at 10/1, he represents a huge amount of risk after returning from injury. It just doesn't hint at value that you want to get in on. Similarly, Jordan Spieth is extremely low at 6/1, and probably isn't worth it.
There is some value around however, and here are the best bets, some middle value bets, and a long odds punt:
Bubba Watson and Jason Day will be the two golfers who I put most of my money on. Both are listed at 14/1 representing nice value, and both score very highly on all relevant stats.
Bubba Watson lost in a playoff in Whistling Straits in 2010, consistently does well at golf courses from the same designer (three wins and a T11th), and hits it a bloody mile. Watson is a significantly better golfer than he was in 2010 - now ranked third in the world and is a multiple major winner.
His form is exceptional with two second places and one victory in his last five starts, is second in driving distance on tour, and first in strokes gained:tee to green, 27th in ball striking, and 35th in scrambling.
Jason Day is a perennial Major contender who has yet to get over the finish line. His form suggests that he's playing well enough - (9th, 4th, 1st, 12th) in his last four starts - two of which were the last two majors.
Day's got the game and mental toughness to be competing at majors, and his recent win at the Canadian Open will just serve to help him.
Avoid: Dustin Johnson. He's bombed at the weekend in his last few starts. His form isn't good enough to contend on Sunday.
Two players who are just outside the market leaders who should do very well are the long hitting Brooks Koepka (45/1), and 2013 Masters champions Adam Scott (25/1).
Adam Scott's ball-striking (4th) around Whistling Straits should propel him up the leaderboard, especially with his driving (4th in distance) and strokes gained: tee to green (11th). It will be the last major that Scott will be able to use a belly putter, so he'll be under pressure to make the most of it.
His form isn't as good as Watson or Day, but it isn't bad enough to discount him.
As for Brooks Koepka, this long hitting 25-year-old is one for the future. He's having his breakout season right now. His form includes three top-20's, a top five and a sixth place finish in his last five starts. That includes an 18th at the US Open, tenth at the Open and sixth place last week at the Bridgestone.
He finished fourth in his first US Open in 2013, and his major record is improving. It's time to get on the bandwagon for Koepka, who should be suited to this course. His driving is ranked as the sixth longest on tour, and unlike most long hitters - his putting is one of his strengths.
Scrambling and his inexperience are his only weaknesses - but at 45/1 you can look past that. If you aren't overly comfortable with backing him outright, a place finish would still represent nice value. You can get him at 4/1 for a top 10, or 11/1 for a top 5 finish.
Token Long Punt
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger is currently ranked 26th in the world, has won on tour in the last six weeks and is rated as a 175/1 chance?
He ranks well in driving distance with an average drive of about 300 yards, and his results in majors have improved significantly this year.
The downside is that his record in bigger events isn't good - with a 15th and a 22nd place the only positive results from nine appearances. Both of those results were in his last four majors, and there are enough signs that he's improving.
You can find him at 12/1 for a top 10 finish, or 11/2 for a top 20.
Others: Brendan Steele (200/1), Marc Warren (250/1)
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Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE