Jack Nicklaus must have been ecstatic when he was given this 500 acres of land to work with in Kentucky back in the 1980s, with it’s varied terrain, water and plenty of space, it was a golf course designers dream. In fact there was so much space that 40 possible course designs were considered before construction began.
Valhalla opened for play in 1986, with the front nine designed in what the Americans like to call “links-style” with fairly flat rolling fairways. There was lots of earth moving to create the visually appealing run of holes, but also to protect the fairways from storm damage. There are over 60 bunkers scattered throughout the course and water comes into play on a half dozen of the holes.
The back nine on the other hand is a much more traditional tree-lined layout, with Valhalla’s signature hole coming midway through the back nine, the 355 Yard Par 4, 13th - this dogleg left gains its status due to the island green that is supported by a wall of rocks and surrounded by water.
Who can forget Valhalla and Boo Weekley and his horse antics on the first tee at the 2008 Ryder Cup, and I am sure it will be a week that we will see a lot of the 2008 Ryder Cup players near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, especially some of the American team as they will have fond memories of winning back the Ryder Cup on this track.
My Tips to win:
Can Rory McIlroy 5/1 with PaddyPower make it three in a row after winning the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the way he is swinging the club at the moment I wouldn’t bet against him. The Irishmen is very short odds this week, but it’s hard not to consider him in this current vain of form.
It was good to hear Rickie Fowler 25/1 with PaddyPower confirm in an interview with the BBC that he had targeted the majors this year and with a record of two runners-up and a Top 5 it shows that it has been a worth while exercise already. Fowler was in contention at the WGC last weekend but a third round 72 saw his challenge slip away. But he did still make the Top 10 finish and a win here this week will be more than the icing on the cake for all his swing changes and efforts, it will be the cherry, sprinkles and syrup as well!!
This was a split between Adam Scott 12/1 and Sergio Garcia 18/1 with PaddyPower and in the form the Spaniard is in I am going with Sergio, especially as this was the event that ignited his rivalry with Tiger Woods back in 1999. Sergio led the tournament on day one and was involved in a tense battle on the final day, where Garcia missed out on taking it to a play-off by one shot. Who would have thought fifteen years later we would still be waiting for Sergio to win his first major. But after his runners-up finishes in both the Open Championship and the WGC, taking his tally of Top 10 finishes to seven from ten starts on the PGA Tour, and his win earlier in the year in Qatar, the PGA would be a fitting place to win his first major championship.
My each-way tips:
You could have gotten 125/1 on Marc Leishman 50/1 after the Open Championship when I wrote my betting guide for an American magazine, now after last week’s 3rd place finish at the WGC Bridgestone invitational his odds have been slashed. His finish at the weekend sees the lad from Warrnambool, Victoria have 4 Top 11 finishes from his last five events, could another Australian be about to announce himself on the biggest of stages?
It’s been a while since Charl Schwartzel 40/1 with Coral challenged in a major since his Masters win in 2011, but his final round 67 at the Open Championship three weeks ago, and a Top 5 finish at last week’s WGC shows the South African is getting back to playing some of his best golf. Charl followed up his eleventh place finish at the Byron Nelson Championship with an eighth place finish at the Memorial Tournament and I think he will do well here again this week.
If anyone is going to be inspired by being back at Valhalla it’s Boo Weekley 300/1 with StanJames who went on to beat Oliver Wilson in that Ryder Cup 4&2, but what gets lost in those horse antics on the first tee is that Weekley hadn’t lost a game that week, winning one four-ball match and halving another. It’s not been a great year for the lad from Milton, Florida with only one Top 10 and fifteen missed cuts, but inspiration is a funny thing.
As always good luck.