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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Power-packed Finau poised to make fast start at Quail Hollow

Spieth looking to make early headway

Tony Finau is consistently producing the goods
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Starts 12.25pm Thursday
BBC red button & iPlayer from 6pm

Jordan Spieth is scheduled to start his quest for a record-breaking career Grand Slam of Majors at 1.25pm UK and Ireland time, with Masters hero Sergio Garcia and US Open champion Brooks Koepka for company.

Spieth, who needs to win the USPGA Championship this week to complete a Slam at a younger age than anyone in the history of golf, will have an eye on the weather forecast when he wakes up at Quail Hollow, North Carolina. A constant thunderstorm threat means tee times could change.

Rory McIlroy, the undisputed King of Quail, who has two comfortable victories and a playoff defeat to his name there, is due to start his campaign for a Hollow hat-trick at 6.35pm, alongside Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm.

All the best USPGA threeball value is in the first half of starters, with five attractively priced favourites who can be put in doubles, trebles and upwards by punters looking for healthier returns.

Tony Finau has become one of the most consistent ball-strikers on the US Tour, harnessing his effortless power to churn out greens in regulation, and a long, soft Quail Hollow looks like excellent terrain for the Utah giant to perform to his best.

Finau is up against Fabrizio Zanotti and Adam Rainaud in the 12.30pm contest, and should butcher his opponents. Zanotti is one of the shortest drivers in the field, an enormous handicap on this layout, while Rainaud is a club-pro qualifier who missed the cut by six shots in his only previous USPGA start.

Finau has finished in the top 30 in his last five tournaments, sharing fifth place in the Canadian Open last time out, and his Quail Hollow form figures are a solid 16-28. He has played in only six Majors, but already has a top-20 finish in the US Open, Open and USPGA. The ever-improving 27-year-old is still awaiting a Masters debut.

Vijay Singh also looks a day-one banker against John Daly and Rich Beem (1.20pm). Singh is by far the most focused and professional of this trio of veterans, and the flexible Fijian was Quail Hollow champion in 2005. He warmed up nicely with 14th place in the Canadian Open.

Hideki Matsuyama looks a linchpin for threeball multiples (12.45pm). The world number three produced something close to golfing perfection in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday and is in a different league these days to his veteran playing partners Ernie Els and Ian Poulter.

Complete a five-pronged day-one attack with American duo Patrick Rodgers and James Hahn. Rodgers finished runner-up to McIlroy in the 2015 Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow and the power-packed youngster should relish the course conditions this week. Kelly Kraft and Brian Smock provide weak opposition (2.25pm).

Hahn is the last man to have won a tournament at this venue – the Californian jester beat Roberto Castro in a playoff for the Wells Fargo last year. Hahn should know too much brittle Korean Kyung-tae Kim and club-pro qualifier Greg Gregory.

T Finau
4pts 4-6 Coral, Ladbrokes
V Singh
3pts 4-5 general
H Matsuyama
3pts 5-6 general
P Rodgers
2pts Evs Coral, Ladbrokes
J Hahn
2pts 4-5 Coral, Ladbrokes

Vijay Singh also looks a day-one banker against John Daly and Rich Beem
E.W. Terms
Sky bet