Last month, Hideki Matsuyama claimed the first Major championship of the golf season when he donned the Green Jacket awarded each year to the winner of The Masters at Augusta National. A few weeks later, it is now time for the second Major of the year, the USPGA Championship.

After making a relatively rare trip to the east coast last year, the event was held at Harding Park in San Francisco, the tournament returns to its more usual home in the west, with this year’s event taking place at the beautiful Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Routinely ranked as one of the best, and toughest, courses in the world today,

Collin Morikawa will be attempting to follow Brooks Koepka’s lead in becoming a back-to-back winner of the tournament. Koepka won in 2018 and 2019, before Morikawa’s win last year but he will face a stern test with several top players in the world in good form. They make up part of what will be one of the strongest fields of golfers of the year.

If you would like to have a bet on the outcome of this week’s USPGA Championship, perhaps by backing one of my selections below, then check out the different odds on offer across a wide range of pre-tournament and In Play markets at bet365 Sport this week.

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Let’s now look ahead to the tournament which starts on Thursday at the famous Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island golf resort in South Carolina.

USPGA Championship 2021

After moving to its new place in the golfing calendar in 2019, moving from September to May, with The Players Championship moving from May to March to facilitate the move, the USPGA Championship is now the second Major of the season, rather than the last.

In truth, it is a tournament that in its 103-year history, has been moved around a great deal in the calendar for a wide variety of reasons. However, with it now being the second of the four Majors, with all four Majors being played across successive months from April through to July, it is a nice slot on the calendar.

The tournament has a history of being one of the toughest to win, regularly attracting the most talented field of golfers over the year. With $11 million in prize money up for grabs, with just shy of $2m going to the winner, it is also one of the most lucrative tournaments of the year too.

Like the US Open and the British Open, the USPGA Championship is played at a variety of courses around the United States each year. Kiawah Island first hosted the tournament back in 2012, when Rory McIlroy landed his first win in the event by a record-breaking eight strokes.

In total, 16 previous winners of the tournament have confirmed that they will be in the field that tees off on Thursday this week. Had Tiger Woods been fit from his injuries, that number would have been swelled by another.

Kiawah Islands Famous Ocean Course

It is strange to think, especially for a course that is so esteemed by so many golfers, that Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course is relatively young, first opening only in 1991. That year, it was the scene for the dramatic “Desert Storm” Ryder Cup, where US Players wore army camouflage in a narrow victory over Europe in dramatic, and sometimes unsavoury, scenes.

The course has hosted a number of US Open tournaments and has hosted the USPGA once before, in the aforementioned 2012 when Rory McIlroy landed the win.

The course is a par 72, 7849 yard test that is unusual on the PGA Tour in that it is situated very close to the Atlantic Ocean, which gives it more of a links characteristic, rather than the usual parkland course American players are more used to. As such, with many holes skirting the ocean, the wind and prevailing conditions of the water can have a big influence on the tournament.

Who Are The Successful USPGA Championship Players?

In its 103-year history, the most successful players in the USPGA Championship history are Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus, who both managed five victories between them. Tiger Woods is second on that list with four, one ahead of Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead.

However, a number of players, including two competing this week (Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka) have been two-time winners. One-time winners include Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer.

When it comes to nationalities, the United States has seen its players win the event 85 times out of the 102 years it has been competed for. Australia is next a long way back with 5 wins, followed by a host of country with two wins, England, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Fiji and Northern Ireland.

English golf fans have not had much to cheer about in this tournament of late as the last winner to hail from England to win the event was Jim Barnes, who won the first and second tournaments in 1916 and 1919.

Current World Golf Rankings – Top 10

  1. Dustin Johnson (US)
  2. Justin Thomas (US)
  3. Jon Rahm (Spa)
  4. Xander Schauffele (US)
  5. Bryson DeChambeau (US)
  6. Collin Morikawa (US)
  7. Rory McIlroy (N.Ir)
  8. Patrick Reed (US)
  9. Tyrell Hatton (Eng)
  10. Webb Simpson (US)

Who Are The Players To Watch This Week?

History shows that American players have done very well in this tournament of late and they have won all the last five tournaments, as well as seven of the last ten events. The only players to have stopped an American winning in that time have been Jason Day (in 2015) and Rory McIlroy (in 2012 and 2014).

When you see the top ten ranked players in the world having seven American players in then you can expect many of these players to be genuine contenders over the weekend. While the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth,  Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Billy Horschel can also not be ruled out of contention.

So we know the challenge from America will be strong, but what about the rest of the world? Well, Lee Westwood has been in eye-catching form in the big tournaments this year and he has moved up to 23 in the world already this season. Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama should all be in with a chance, as well as the three non-US players inside the golf rankings top ten.

I do think that Kiawah Island does offer more hope for European players, especially those that are used to Links courses and that does influence who my tips are for this event.

Who To Back To Win The Tournament And An Each Way Pick Too!

Kiawah Island is a course where biggest influence on a round is usually the wind. A lack of it and I think it favours American players, if the wind blows, then I think European players especially have a better chance, especially those used to Links conditions.

There’s a good reason why Rory McIlroy landed the biggest ever margin of victory here in 2012 and his return to form with a win at the Wells Fargo Championship a couple of weeks back, was very timely. However, he is the favourite to win here and I think winning twice in three weeks is going to be a tall order.

As such, my pick here would be Dustin Johnson, the world number 1, who can play links golf well and who has been the most consistent player in the world over the last 18 months or so. Jordan Spieth would be my pick for a good each way bet too.