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12D AGO

PGA Professional offers insight on which club could be deciding factor at Valhalla

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    Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Can you guess what the most impactful strokes gained category was at the 2014 PGA Championship?

    Endless amounts of entertaining content have been written, spoken and delivered about the 106th PGA Championship. Most of that theater in the betting world surrounds distance and off-the-tee acumen. In 2014, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee ranked fourth of the four primary strokes gained categories when you look at the top 10 of that leaderboard. Those who had the most success along with Rory McIlroy got it done with their putter!

    Back in 2014, seven of the top 10 found themselves inside the top 12 of the SG: Putting list after the final round. In fact, when you compare all four categories, those same twelve guys (ties) who gained an average 4.6 strokes against the field outgained the next category (SG:APP) by a full stroke. When we see a 7,600+ yard golf course it’s easy to overlook the greens, but my PGA-trained eyes are here to tell you, don’t.


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    Watching the reaction of the field as they practice with their putter this week has been enlightening. Green speeds have been held in check by the wet weather. I watched Tiger Woods roll a few practice putts and they all came up short. He wasn’t the only competitor with a similar experience. No course characteristic changes more than green speed when weather is in play. Looking at the PGA TOUR SG: Putting season-long standings and comparing that to the BetMGM board, I see some real value. It seems as if the boards are also fixated on the long ball.

    My first flatstick feature is Wyndham Clark (+4000). Clark ranks 17th on TOUR in SG: Putting. His success in six Signature Events is well-documented. He has a win, a runner-up and a third place. Not to mention a runner-up finish at THE PLAYERS! Clark can wind up and launch it with the best of them off the tee, but the real chalk with shorter odds can’t keep up with him on the greens. At 40-to-1 he’s once again mispriced when you consider how valuable green skills are at Valhalla.


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    Further down the odds board, but below Clark in the rankings, Sahith Theegala (+6600) rests at ninth in SG: Putting. The talented Theegala has two runners-up and a sixth place in those same Signature Events. Sahith showed up at THE PLAYERS as well finishing ninth. With Theegala’s much improved ball-striking, he becomes a real threat this week. With so many stars sitting at lower odds many sharp bettors love Pepperdine’s powerhouse player.

    Denny McCarthy (+12500) is ranked third on the season-long putting list. McCarthy has been masterful at Muirfield Village Golf Club the past two years, finishing fifth and runner-up. What a comparison course for this week in Louisville; two signature Jack Nicklaus designs. Sixth on Sunday at Quail Hollow was also a nice preview for the PGA. He might not win, but a proper placement for one of the TOUR’s best putters makes perfect sense.

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    Keith Stewart is a five-time award winning PGA Professional who covers the PGA TOUR and LPGA from a betting perspective. Founder of Read The Line, he is also published by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. Follow Keith Stewart on Twitter.

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