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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Powerhouse Gary Woodland surges up the Bellerive leaderboard

Henley can fight back in round two

Thomas Pieters got off to an excellent start
1 of 1

Eleven Sports website, 1.30pm

Story so far
Pre-tournament 125-1 chance Gary Woodland led the US PGA Championship after round one, the powerhouse from Kansas enjoying playing close to home at Bellerive Country Club, St Louis.

Woodland was one over par through seven holes, but carded seven birdies from there to finish six under par, one ahead of early pacesetter Rickie Fowler.

Dustin Johnson looked set for the first-round lead when five under through 13 holes, but he was two over par to the clubhouse and finished in a tie for fifth place at three under. Jason Day and Justin Rose are also on that score, laying a strong foundation for the days ahead.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Paul Casey (75), Phil Mickelson (73), Henrik Stenson (73), Patrick Reed (72) and Jordan Spieth (71) got off to a poor start.

Leaderboard
-6 Gary Woodland
-5 Rickie Fowler
-4 Brandon Stone, Zach Johnson
-3 Austin Cook, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Day, Brian Gay, Stewart Cink, Ollie Schniederjans, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Justin Rose, Thomas Pieters

Selected others
-2 Francesco Molinari, Jon Rahm
-1 Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka
Par Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson

Best prices
5 D Johnson, 13-2 R Fowler, 10 J Day, 14 G Woodland, 16 J Rose, 22 J Thomas, J Rahm, 25 R McIlroy, F Molinari, 28 B Koepka, 33 Z Johnson, 35 T Fleetwood, 45 I Poulter, 50 P Cantlay, M Leishman, T Pieters, J Spieth, 55 bar

Day-two advice
Gary Woodland has taken a shine to Bellerive and has an early tee-time from which to build on his Thursday heroics, so there is every chance of the leader kicking on in round two, but Major record suggests he will tread water over the weekend.

Woodland, a strong ball-striker with a poor short-game, has played in 27 Majors without posting a top-ten finish.

Rickie Fowler often makes positive starts in Majors, but is yet to win one, Zach Johnson will probably be outgunned my more powerful players over the next three days, while it is almost certainly too early in the development of Brandon Stone for the South African youngster to triumph in a Stateside Major.

Jason Day (10-1), Thomas Pieters (50-1) and Jon Rahm (22-1) are the most attractive outright prices at this stage, but Dustin Johnson is a worthy favourite considering he has an early tee-time with which to attack in round two. The suspect Bellerive greens are likely to be troublesome for the late Friday starters.

Second-round threeball punters are pointed towards Russell Henley, who delivered one of the worst putting performances of his life in round one. Henley, who has been swinging superbly and arrived with plenty of self-belief this week, got frustrated with the greens from a late tee-time. He is typically one of the best putters in the world and from the first group out today, with fresh dancefloors, he can show off his skills.

Henley can beat Chesson Hadley and Danny Balin in the 12.50pm (UK and Ireland time) contest, while Pieters, who finished fourth in the Masters last year and has quickly shown his liking for Bellerive, is a world-class talent who can crush Bill Haas and Kelly Kraft for the second day running (2.34pm).

Ross Fisher loves this layout, which fits his powerful draw perfectly, and the Englishman can outscore Alexander Levy and Patton Kizzire for the second consecutive round. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods tee off at 7.48pm.

Threeballs recommendations
R Henley
2pts 11-10 general

T Pieters
2pts 4-5 bet365

R Fisher
1pt 11-8 Sky Bet


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The suspect Bellerive greens are likely to be troublesome for the late Friday starters
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