From the moment Brooks Koepka rolled in a 40ft putt from the edge of the green for birdie on Thursday morning our 11/1 pre-tournament headline fancy has had a vicelike grip on the 101st PGA Championship.
The way over the first two days he overpowered Bethpage Black, supposedly one of the toughest courses on the US major circuit rota, is something that has rarely if ever been seen before, and certainly not around this layout.
His two round record breaking total of -12 was enough to build a seven shot halfway lead. Basically, Brooks appeared to be playing a different course to everyone else.
With the breeze picking up during Saturdays third round even Koepka looked mortal at times, most noticeably when making back to back bogey’s on the ninth and tenth holes.
Still, Brooks was able to manage his way round in a level par 70 and with none of the chasing pack able to make serious inroads in the tough conditions his seven shot lead remains intact heading in to Sunday’s final round.
The way Koepka has played over the opening three days makes it nigh on impossible to see anything other a victory for him now, and all things being equal when the dust settles this evening we should hopefully be celebrating a nice winner.
The question that faces us this morning though is can we boost the coffers further and to me the way to do this is to turn to the ‘Betting without Koepka’ market – if we take Brooks out of the equation there is a fascinating race going on for second place.
At present four players are tied for second at -5, the unheralded trio of Luke List, Jazz Janewattananond and Harold Varner III, and world number one Dustin Johnson.
A further shot back at -4 we then have Hideki Matsuyama and Englishman Matt Wallace, while at -3 we have Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
Of these, world number one DJ is the obvious candidate to chase Koepka home, but the man who has caught my eye, and with whom I am going to side, is Japanese star Matsuyama, available at 13/2.
Hideki has proved a frustrating man to follow recently as he has been clearly very close to a great week, however a dodgy putter has been holding him back from a really big finish. This week, though, the putter is on song and his tee to green game has been excellent.
On any other week the Japanese star would be right in the hunt for his first major – this week he will most likely have to settle for runners up honours and with the course set to play tough again on Sunday this is something he can achieve.
Looking at today’s final round two balls and there are a couple I am keen to get involved in. Firstly, teeing off at 6.55pm UK time we have the pair of Adam Scott and Patrick Cantlay. Scott has built his score this week around an excellent day two 64.
The basis of this was an amazing day with the putter where he holed everything and outside of this he has struggled tee to green over the week and failed to break 70 on Thursday or Saturday. Cantlay, meanwhile, has been solid all week, has not shot over par yet and is fancied to get the better of the Aussie today.
Finally in keeping with my thoughts that Matsuyama can take the silver medal today I will chance him at odds against versus Dustin Johnson in the 7.15pm UK tee time.
As world number one DJ is not interested in finishing second, there is a good chance he will look to force the issue in an attempt to put some kind of pressure on Brooks. He is of course good enough to do this on his day, however Bethpage is getting tougher by the hour and if he tries to get too aggressive things could easily go south for him.
Hideki, by contrast, is looking solid and even if he doesn’t do what we hope and pinch second spot another steady 70 may well be enough to take the honours here and I am happy to side with him in this two ball.