|Harold Varner III||+4000
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Ian Poulter is the outright pick at +3500 with William Hill
Padraig Harrington can land a top 10 at +500 with BetMGM
Back Brooks Koepka over Dustin Johnson in their match bet at -110 with bet365
|The Palmetto Championship Information|
|Tournament||The Palmetto Championship at Congaree|
|Location||Congaree Golf Club, Ridgeland, South Carolina|
|Time||Thursday, June 10 – Sunday, June 13|
|How to watch||Thursday 3pm & 9.30pm ET (Golf Channel), Friday 3pm & 11.30pm ET (golf Channel), Saturday & Sunday 1pm & 11pm ET (Golf Channel). And all four days on Sky Sports.|
With Covid restriction preventing the PGA Tour from making its annual trip north of the border for the RBC Canadian Open, this year’s pre-US Open preparation takes place at a new venue in a new tournament and something is immediately apparent about the 10 names which head the betting.
Take a glance at the table above. Notice a pattern?
Yes, there’s a very European feel to it. Not only is there a Swede, but there are also four Englishmen, an American called English, and another American (Harold Varner III) who is yet to win on the PGA Tour but who has won on the European Tour (albeit in Australia).
It sounds more than a little cock-eyed and yet it is also very appropriate because the Palmetto Championship at Congaree is hosted by a course designed by Tom Fazio to resemble both a Scottish heathland course and also an Australian sandbelt layout.
The fairways are wide, but miss them and the ball will descend into large sandy waste areas or become tangled in trees; those landing areas and the run-offs around the green are contoured to produce hillocks and swales; the greens will insist that players have to be at their best when lag-putting.
In theory, the course can stretch to about 7,700 yards, but it’s unlikely to play that long at any point in the week and, in any case, it will play shorter than that due to the fast-running nature of the turf. At first glance, it seems like a spot where, with wide fairways and no rough, the big-hitters can thrive.
Because those who have played it insist that approach shots need to be hit from good spots because holding the greens is difficult. So hitting from the right areas, and then lag-putting or showing great touch around the greens, is really going to matter.
Dustin Johnson leads the betting but hasn’t made a top 10 in six starts. He needs a good week to boost his confidence ahead of next week’s US Open – remember he hasn’t yet made a cut in a major this year!
This week might play like an Australian sandbelt course, but no one relayed that message to the top Australian players, who are all giving it a swerve.
But one Englishman will not be fearful of reviving memories of playing golf down under.
In fact, Ian Poulter has always adored the swift conditions of courses on Melbourne’s sandy turf.
He was a winner at Victoria GC in the 2011 Australian Masters, finished on defense at Kingston Heath in 2012 and has also landed T13th at Royal Melbourne. He is also, of course, a very fine performer on the linksland (which plays in much the same way) in the British Open.
The 45-year-old has finished second and T14th at Royal Birkdale, third at Muirfield, tied ninth at Royal Lytham and T11th on the Old Course in St Andrews. He’s also in quite a nice form, finishing T30th at last month’s PGA Championship and then following that with third in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial.
It’s only a few weeks since we were reminded that, in the right circumstances, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington remains a very good golfer.
Where is that sweet spot? Playing linksland or links-like golf.
The two-time British Open champion has finished top 15 four times in his last 17 starts and three of them were in links-like conditions: in last year’s Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, at the Scottish Championship at Fairmont St Andrews, and in last month’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
There’s every reason to believe he’ll be licking his lips at yet another opportunity to play fast-running golf and show off his excellent short game.
Don’t waste the chance to back him to land another top 20 at +500 with BetMGM.
bet365 has paired the top two in the betting and based on long-term trends it is undoubtedly a tight twosome.
Since the start of 2017 Brooks Koepka leads Dustin Johnson 27-25, since the start of 2018 that advantage is 21-19, from 1st January 2019 it is 14-13 and it’s 7-6 from the beginning of 2020.
About as narrow as it gets, really, but Koepka does just edge it every time.
Not enough to warrant a bet based on that alone, but there are two factors that make it worthwhile this week.
The first is the contrasting form. Johnson hasn’t made a top 10 in six starts, Koepka has three top-two finishes in his last half dozen efforts.
The second is that Koepka had a breakthrough week on British heathland courses back in 2013, winning on Scottish moorland to confirm graduation from the second tier to the European Tour, and then won Open Qualifying a few days later at Sunningdale (one of the greatest example of this type of golf anywhere in the world). Take Koepka to down the World No. 1 at -110.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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