Dan Box
By Dan Box

The second major of the year is upon us, and once again Rory McIlroy has ensured that plenty of headlines will be aimed at him as he returns to Valhalla, the site of his last major victory ten years ago.

Just when it looked like McIlroy was struggling, after a slow start to the year on the PGA Tour, the Northern Irishman pulled us all back in by winning two consecutive events. The first was the Zurich Classic alongside his good friend Shane Lowry, which then catapulted him on to storm past Xander Schauffele and win for the fourth time at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Whilst Scottie Scheffler is undoubtedly going to be the favourite this week (if he plays as expected), McIlroy himself said that it felt like "the stars are aligning" heading into the PGA Championship, and this is one of the best chances he has had to win that elusive fifth major in the last decade. Could this FINALLY be the week?

Last Year: Koepka the King at Oak Hill

One of the biggest challengers to both Scheffler and McIlroy this week comes in the form of Brooks Koepka, who brushed off the disappointment of being beaten by Jon Rahm at The Masters to cruise to last year's PGA title at Oak Hill, making it five majors in total for the American.

Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler finished two strokes back in a tie for second place, with McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith all finishing inside the Top 10 too.

One of the highlights of the week was club professional Michael Block, who finished T15 and made a hole-in-one whilst playing with Rory McIlroy, earning himself another invite to Valhalla this week.

The Course: Everything you need to know about Valhalla Golf Club

Valhalla Golf Club, in Louisville, Kentucky, is the venue for this year's PGA Championship and this marks the fourth time that the event has been staged here. Valhalla has also hosted two Senior PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup, so it is more than accustomed to hosting golf's biggest events and players.

Designed by Jack Nicklaus and first opened in 1986, Valhalla is a Par 71 which stretches over 7,600 yards over relatively hilly terrain. It's lush, long and will favour the big hitters with relatively large fairways, although recently the PGA Championship has often featured thick rough and tougher scoring conditions than in the past.

Water also comes into play on seven different holes via the Floyds Fork, whilst the signature hole of the course is probably the par 5 18th, with a tee shot needing to avoid the fairway bunker on the left and water to the right, before an approach up to a severely undulating green surrounded by bunkers.

Last time the PGA Championship was staged here, Rory McIlroy won his fourth major title in near-darkness by one stroke over Phil Mickelson, whilst other legends of the game including Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Hale Irwin have all been victorious on the course too.

The Field: Who is playing this week at the PGA Championship?

Scottie Scheffler has completely dominated the golfing world for the last few months, winning four of his last five events including a second major championship and The Players. The American missed last week's event as his wife was due to give birth, but all the signs point towards him teeing it up this week and he will go in as a deserving favourite.

Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are the most likely to challenge Scheffler for the Wanamaker Tophy according to the bookies, with both players having won on their last start. Koepka is defending champion and a major specialist - and you can bet that he has seen Rory and Scheffler in top-form and used it as motivation to up his game.

Tiger Woods is in the field again this week as he looks to play each of the four majors this year. Woods started well at The Masters before fading over the weekend, but he did win the PGA Championship at Valhalla in that famous playoff against Bob May back in 2000 so he should know his way around the course.

The likes of Ludvig Aberg, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith are also bound to be dangerous. Rahm hasn't quite had the impact since moving to LIV Golf that most would have expected as he is yet to pick up a win, but there's no doubting that he is one of the best players in the world when he's on his game so it would be no surprise if he contended this week.

With 156 golfers teeing it up come Thursday, the PGA Championship is often regarded as having the biggest and strongest field in golf, although there will be plenty of names that you don't recognise if you look at the tee sheet for Thursday's opening round.

That's because the event is organised by the PGA of America, and they offer a number of invites to PGA Professionals and global qualifiers who you probably won't have seen on your TV screen before. This is one the unique aspects of the event, and if it produces more great moments like Michael Block gave us last year then we're all for it!

Golfalot Tips: The best bets this week at the PGA Championship

Brooks Koepka @ 16/1

The defending champion has been the best player in the majors in the last decade, and having won the PGA Championship three times already he'll take some beating. He's healthy again these days and won on his last start on the LIV tour which makes him even more dangerous.

Koepka also played in this event the last time it was hosted at Valhalla which is a bit of a bonus, and a T15 finish was a pretty decent showing in what was just his sixth major start at the time.

He's more than double the price of both Scheffler and McIlroy which could make this pick a bit better value.

Max Homa @ 33/1

The American finally seems to be getting the hang of major championship golf and confirming that he is a world class player, with a T10 finish at The Open before finishing T3 at The Masters last month.

Homa has been in really solid form this season so far, missing just one cut, and arrives on the back of a top ten last week at a course which should suit his game. He would be a very popular winner among golf fans too!

Jason Day @ 66/1

The Australian is probably being spoken about more because of his choice of clothing this season rather than his golf, but he's also played well in patches so far with four top ten finishes in 2024.

Day is another one who played at Valhalla in 2014, sharing that tie for 15th with Koepka, and is a previous winner of this event back in 2015.

Over the last few years he's really struggled with injury problems, but this will be his 13th event of 2024 already which shows that he is healthy, and the game is sharp following a top five finish last week. At 66/1 he is a good value each-way bet.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

What's In The Bag: Scottie Scheffler

What's In The Bag: Rory McIlroy


Facebook Comments