MX23RW : Saturday, August 18 22:43:03

Former Major winners to challenge Dustin Johnson at US PGA Championship

World number one Dustin Johnson will start as favourite at the US PGA Championship, but a whole host of former Major winners are well placed to challenge the American.

The golfing world has been treated during the opening seven months of 2018 with each of the Masters, US Open and Open Championship being fiercely-contested at a time when the return of Tiger Woods has resulted in fans repopulating courses in their droves. The Fedex Cup and Ryder Cup are still to come before the end of September, but the final Major tournament of the year is just around the corner as the US PGA Championship is contested at Bellerive Country Club in Missouri.

The PGA Championship betting odds will have you believe that world number one Dustin Johnson is favourite to emerge victorious, and it is difficult to disagree with the 34-year-old having just won the Canadian Open. Some will point to the fact that Johnson missed the cut at The Open, but it was a minor blip for a player who had recorded a phenomenal nine top-10 finishes in 14 starts during 2018 before the beginning of the Bridgestone Invitational. Johnson's failure at Carnoustie is his only missed cut in 13 months, and that would have only whetted the appetite ahead of his efforts at this tournament. Johnson holds a clear lead at the top of the World Golf Rankings, but there is still only one Major - the 2016 US Open - to his name and that will irk him. The best you will get is 10/1, but there is still value in that bet.

Dustin Johnson celebrates winning the St Jude's Classic on June 10, 2018© Reuters

Golf has never been more competitive, but that is not to say that there is necessarily value in placing an each-way bet on any of Johnson's nearest challengers. Rory McIlroy has rediscovered some form but remains without a Major in 14 attempts, while Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka are currently not consistent enough to justify odds of 12/1 and 20/1 respectively. Justin Thomas won this tournament 12 months ago - at a different course - and the American is due another big victory on the PGA Tour, but the world number three has not finished above eighth in his last eight outings so going with the 16/1 on offer would represent a bold move.

The same could be said regarding showing faith in Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard has missed six of his last nine cuts - a drop in form which has coincided with the birth of his child - but his recent performances throws up an opportunity for punters. The 2017 Masters champion is available at 35/1 and that has to be considered as value with Garcia one of the few players in the field who has experience of this golf course in a competitive tournament. The last PGA Tour event at Bellerive came in 2008 and Garcia produced four consistent rounds to claim a share of 17th place. We are taking the same approach with Bubba Watson, who finished narrowly behind Garcia but ended the event with rounds of 66 and 65 respectively. Those scores suggest that Watson likes this course and with three tournament triumphs to his name already this year, going with the 40/1 which is available is a no-brainer.

If you look further down the list, you will find Webb Simpson at 50/1. The American won his only Major in 2012, but there are signs that he has rediscovered his clinical touch with victory at the Players Championship and 10th and 12th respectively at the US Open and Open Championship. Simpson finds himself at world number 20 with minimal points to defend for the remainder of the year, and that should tell you that Simpson is performing above his ranking. The 32-year-old is without a top 10 at the US PGA, but rarely will you get odds of 50/1 for a player in such form, especially at high-profile events.

The British players will hope to launch a bid at Bellerive with the Ryder Cup around the corner, and Tommy Fleetwood is there to be had at 25/1. However, the 80/1 available on Russell Knox is the bet which appeals more. The Scot had endured an indifferent period which resulted in dropping down to 137th in the world standings, but a purple-patch during the middle part of 2018 has seen Knox move to the brink of a return to the top 50. It was a run which started with a share of 12th spot at the US Open and we believe that Knox has the game to go close in another Major. The 33-year-old is further motivated by the opportunity to try to sneak into the European team for the Ryder Cup - two years after narrowly missing out - and as a former winner of a World Golf Championship event, Knox has shown that he is capable of handling the pressure.

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