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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Joaquin Niemann could fail to live up to his special status

Danny Willett woe set to continue Stateside

Jon Rahm can lead the Spanish challenge at Bellerive
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The US PGA Championship appearance of Joaquin Niemann is controversial – the Chilean teenager has been handed a 'special invite' by the PGA of America – and justice may be done in some people's eyes by him missing the cut on Friday.

It makes a mockery of a Major if places are dished out in such a fashion – players should earn their right to compete – but Niemann may fail to take advantage of his surprise opportunity. The 2-1 available about the US Tour rookie missing the Bellerive cut is worth an interest.

Niemann has done his best work on easier courses in his brief Tour career. His Major record consists of missed cuts in last year's US Open and this year's Masters, both by four-shot margins, and missed cuts at Quail Hollow and TPC Southwind underline his vulnerability on tough, tree-lined tee-to-green layouts.

That St Jude Classic failure – he finished two shots shy of the cut-line on the zoysia-grass fairways of Southwind in June – came when he was in terrific form. Another challenging par-70 layout with zoysia grass may again halt the youngster's progress.

In the same market, Danny Willett also looks full of juice at 11-8. The Englishman has shown glimpses of his old ability on links terrain in Ireland and Scotland this summer, but he has not made a cut in the States since the 2016 US PGA, when he finished 79th.

That two-year failure to make a cut across the pond highlights how deep a slump Willett suffered soon after winning the Masters and three decent links spins at home are not enough to restore faith.

He has missed the cut in his last five Majors in the States, where the galleries still have ill feeling towards him because of inflammatory comments made by his brother during the 2016 Ryder Cup.

With Sergio Garcia in dismal nick, Jon Rahm has weak opposition in the top Spaniard market, and should oblige at a shade of odds-on.

J Niemann to miss cut
2pts 2-1 bet365
D Willett to miss cut
2pts 11-8 bet365
J Rahm top Spaniard
2pts 10-11 general

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That two-year failure to make a cut across the pond highlights how deep a slump Willett suffered
E.W. Terms
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