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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Maturing Yank powerhouses appear set to bank millions

Brooks Koepka has established himself in the elite
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Palmer's top tip
Brooks Koepka 66-1
Dustin Johnson won the US Money List with a total of $9,365,185 last season and the American powerhouse should go close to matching that yield in the year to come.

Johnson, a reformed character in his early 30s, is enjoying the fruits of a settled family life and is working harder then ever to make sure he fulfils his potential. A golf game which is the envy of his peers has been married to a much improved attitude to create an absolute beast.

Johnson, who at 6ft 4in oozes natural power, has added control off the tee since switching from a draw to a fade for most of his drives. Grinding on the practice ground has resulted in much improved distance control with his wedges, leaving DJ without tee-to-green weakness.

Punters happy to take short US Money List prices are pointed towards the 4-1 about Johnson and Rory McIlroy, who seem likely to be the duo banking most of the 2017 money. McIlroy, who is getting married next year, is also full of good karma away from the course and hungry for Major glory having gone two seasons without winning one.

Johnson and McIlroy are fit and healthy Florida residents who are almost certain to complete a full schedule of all the most prestigious Stateside shootouts. Jason Day, last seen clutching his back in agony at the Tour Championship in September, seems less certain to get through the season without injury drama.

Jordan Spieth has much to prove, having gone almost a year without winning a top-class event. He beat precious little in a weak US Tour gathering at Colonial in May, and a playoff success in the low-grade Australian Open is certainly nothing to write home about.

Hideki Matsuyama tops the standings and has been slashed in price, having won the WGC-HSBC Champions amid a barnstorming finish to this year, but bookmakers appear to have overreacted to the Japanese success. Johnson and McIlroy can assert superiority after Christmas.

The most attractive of the bigger prices for a market where four each-way places are available with many firms are cocksure Yank duo Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

Koepka has fully established himself as one of the best players in the world, the rough edges he had when plying his trade in Europe being smoothed over after two seasons on the US Tour. The 26-year-old looks ready for a multi-victory 2017 which could threaten the money-list favourites.

Like McIlroy, Koepka has enjoyed the freedom afforded by Nike's decision to stop making golf equipment, meaning he has put a TaylorMade driver in his bag. The switch was made at the Ryder Cup, where Koepka won three points from four matches in a brilliant debut performance.

A month later, big-hitting Brooks was runner-up in the Shriners Open in Las Vegas, then he jetted to Japan to produce a record-smashing 21-under-par 72-hole total en route to winning the Dunlop Phoenix Open. Ladbrokes are offering 66-1 Koepka for the money list, but with only three each-way places. Taking 40-1 with four places is the alternative.

Next best
Daniel Berger 80-1
The 2015 US Tour Rookie of the Year should be relishing 2017. Berger narrowly missed out on a wildcard spot in the American Ryder Cup team, but future combat against Europe seems almost certain for a youngster who is bursting with potential.

Berger, who turns 24 in April, won the St Jude Classic in June to get off the mark on the US Tour after a few near-misses. A share of second place behind Matsuyama in the HSBC Champions underlined how comfortable the Floridian is becoming among the elite.

From a world ranking of 33, expect Berger to win more than once next year, threatening for significant silverware. Berger is easy to back at 80-1, but Coral, who are offering each-way terms of a quarter the four, is the firm with whom to support him.

Other notables
Paddy Power go just 20-1 about Tiger Woods, but they are surely letting their imagination run away with them. Even at the freely available 50-1 Woods, more progressive sorts like Koepka and Berger are much preferred.

Staking plan
B Koepka
1pt each-way 66-1 Ladbrokes
D Berger
1pt each-way 80-1 general

The 26-year-old looks ready for a multi-victory 2017 which could threaten the money-list favourites
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