The 2014 PGA Championship begins on Thursday at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, and golf fans are already breaking down the latest Vegas odds to decipher the notable sleepers.
Top players such as Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott come into the week as favorites to win the final major of the season, but there are underrated players like Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter who have odds that could pay off huge.
Here are the odds for the 2014 PGA Championship and the sleepers worth a wager.
*Odds via OddsChecker.com.
Sleepers Worth a Wager
Graeme McDowell (40-1 Odds)
The first sleeper with favorable odds is Graeme McDowell at 40-1. As a past major championship winner and a veteran player on tour, the current odds make him a very appealing long-shot wager.
McDowell won the U.S. Open in 2010 but has not been able to emulate that success again. After finishing tied for ninth at the British Open a few weeks ago, though, the Irish player has momentum on his side.
Fine weekend for Graeme McDowell as he goes 66,66 and it looks like another top ten to maintain impressive and well timed momentum.— Iain Carter (@iaincartergolf) August 3, 2014
Not only has McDowell played well recently, but he also has the experience of playing in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in 2008.
When asked about returning to Valhalla, McDowell spoke to Karl MacGinty of the Belfast Telegraph regarding the changes to the course and why he enjoys it so much:
Changes have been made to the golf course and, obviously, it's going to be a different set-up from 2008. Yet from what I hear, it's not going to be the longest course in the world which makes me happy for sure.
These slug-fest Major Championships kind of get old. So nice to play what sounds like it might be a positional type golf course. I'm looking forward to it.
After finishing ninth in the British Open (he missed the cut at the Masters and finished 28th at the U.S. Open), McDowell finished ninth at the RBC Canadian Open and eighth at the Bridgestone Invitational.
The key for McDowell is consistency. While he is ranked No. 1 overall in total putting, he does not shine with the driver and he is average with the irons. Playing smart golf has always been the name of his game, and McDowell will have the chance to shine at a thinking-man’s course like Valhalla.
With the need to avoid rough and players being rewarded for remaining patient with the course, McDowell’s putting prowess will give him a chance to make birdies and stay toward the top of the leaderboard for the entire week.
Ian Poulter (66-1 Odds)
Another player not getting the attention he deserves is Ian Poulter at 66-1 odds. This may be a high risk/reward wager, but Poulter has the ability to win his first major this week at the 2014 PGA Championship.
Poulter has been inconsistent this season, and his periodic success comes in waves. After finishing sixth in the St. Jude Classic and 17th at the U.S. Open, the English player missed the cut at the British Open and finished 52nd at the Bridgestone Invitational.
After his past two tournament failures, Poulter shared an image on Twitter of his Tuesday practice round as he prepared for the final major of 2014:
While many experts are bullish on Poulter finding his rhythm at Valhalla, Martin Dempster of the Edinburgh Evening News claims the player may not be satisfied with his current swing:
Interesting watching Ian Poulter out on range with Pete Cowen. Clearly a man looking for something with his swing!— Martin Dempster (@DempsterMartin) August 4, 2014
With less than 48 hours before the start of the PGA Championship, now is not the time to lose confidence.
Poulter does not shine in any one aspect of the game, but he does everything well enough to stay in contention. The key will be hitting his marks using his accuracy and taking the round one shot at a time without making mistakes.
Valhalla rewards players for using their irons, and Poulter is one of the best at the mid-range game. His putting will have to be sharp to pull out the win, but the golf course plays to his skills and should yield several strong birdie possibilities.
*Stats via PGATour.com.