PGA Championship 2019: Latest Expectations for Golf's Top Favorites and Sleepers

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 14, 2019

BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - MAY 14: Tiger Woods of the United States speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 14, 2019 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The 2019 PGA Championship tees off at the Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, New York, on Thursday and features a lineup of the world's top talent competing for the second major of the year.

Tiger Woods returns to the field for the first time since winning the 2019 Masters and will go in search of a fifth PGA Championship 12 years after winning the last of his four trophies.

The veteran is one of the favourites alongside the likes of Dustin Johnson and 2018 winner Brooks Koepka, but a string of sleepers could challenge for the throne.

Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter, for example, can each be found at big odds while bringing some value, with either possessing the potential to go far against golf's elite.

Odds via Oddschecker.

       

Favourites

Woods is motivated to maintain his major success as he sits just one away from Sam Snead's all-time record of 82 PGA Tour wins, a total he can match with a victory at Bethpage come Sunday:

Joining him from the first tee will be defending champion Koepka and Francesco Molinari, who will look to become the first European winner of this contest since Rory McIlroy in 2014:

McIlroy won the second of his two PGA Championships that year. Australian Jason Day took the following year's trophy, but the last three champions to emerge have each been American (Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Koepka).

The Northern Irishman tied for 21st at the Masters and finished joint-eighth at the Wells Fargo Championship in early May. That form suggests he's far from weak as he seeks a third PGA crown, and the European Tour illustrated how his driving off the tee is the least of his concerns based on recent results:

Johnson is a perennial contender in major competitions at this point, while Justin Rose and Jon Rahm may also be among the leaders out of the gate as they're priced 18-1.

        

Sleepers

A great deal of interest at these competitions lies in which players could offer more value than their billing suggests, and at 50-1, Watson would require a big turn in PGA Championship form if he's to flourish.

Watson has missed the cut at the last two PGA Championships but will hope for better fortune at Bethpage. He came second in this competition in 2010 but has otherwise finished inside the top 20 only once.

The 40-year-old has succeeded from a laid-back approach during his career and recently shared a story of what was going right for his golf around the period he was winning majors, per sportswriter Alex Myers:

Watson is yet to win a competition this season but has two top-10 finishes to his name and has experience winning major championships (the Masters in 2012 and 2014).

Little-known Rob Labritz could surprise despite sitting around the 2000-1 mark. There's every chance the 47-year-old could fall out of his depth in his sixth PGA Championship appearance, but as a three-time winner of the New York State Open on the Black Course, he boasts useful wisdom against a stacked field:

The fact that this is Bethpage's first time hosting the tournament could throw up some shocks as the minnows look to surprise their more favoured opponents.

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