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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Rahm and Day lurking with intent on tail of pacesetting Koepka

Charl Schwartzel worthy of twoball support

Jon Rahm is only three shots off the lead
1 of 1

Eleven Sports website, 7pm Sunday

Story so far
Brooks Koepka is on course for his second Major title of the season and the third of his career, the assured Floridian having taken the US PGA Championship by the scruff of the neck in round three.

Koepka started Saturday two shots behind halfway pacesetter Gary Woodland, but a five-under-par front nine blasted the two-time US Open champion to the head of affairs. Koepka combined effortless power with a silky putting touch to destroy Bellerive Country Club.

A one-over-par back-nine gave the chasing pack some hope, but pre-tournament 20-1 chance Koepka is two shots clear and no bigger than 7-5 with 18 holes to play.

Ante-post and halfway favourite, Dustin Johnson, slumped to a 72 to drop seven shots off the pace, while the likes of Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood have also left themselves a mountain to climb in the final round if they are to threaten the Wanamaker Trophy.

Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, is alone in second place, while the high-class trio of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Jason Day are tied for sixth place, four behind Koepka.

-12 Brooks Koepka
-10 Adam Scott
-9 Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland
-8 Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry, Charl Schwartzel
-7 Julian Suri, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Kisner
-6 Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Pat Perez, Thomas Pieters, Brandon Stone

Selected others
-5 Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson
-4 Jordan Spieth
-2 Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood

Best prices
7-5 B Koepka, 8 A Scott, 9 J Rahm, R Fowler, 14 J Thomas, 16 J Day, 18 T Woods, 20 G Woodland, 45 C Schwartzel, 50 F Molinari, S Lowry, 80 S Cink, 100 bar

Final-day advice
Brooks Koepka looked to be taking total charge of the final Major of the season when moving six shots clear of Gary Woodland after ten holes of round three, but loose drives from the leader at the 14th and 15th breathed life into the event.

Koepka is probably going to be extremely difficult to shift from the top of the board – he is oozing confidence in the wake of back-to-back US Open triumphs and was draining testing par putts for fun in round three – but there are a host of world-class pursuers who are close enough to pressure the frontrunner.

Adam Scott has been swinging well and talking a good game this week, but his well documented putting frailty makes it difficult to see him overcoming a two-shot deficit on Koepka, while Woodland also lacks short-game polish and Rickie Fowler has been carrying an injury.

The main threats to Koepka are arguably Jon Rahm, who produced an immaculate three-under-par back-nine on Saturday at the same time as most of his rivals were finding that stretch too tough, Jason Day and Justin Thomas.

Rahm will be relishing the chance to go Koepka-hunting from three shots behind, while Day and Thomas, former US PGA champions in possession of their A-game, are still very much in with a shout from four back.

Koepka (7-5) is the safest bet, but Rahm (9-1), Thomas (14-1) and Day (16-1) are fair-price alternatives for outright punters wanting more juice in their odds. Racing Post Sport followers are on Day ante-post, so fingers crossed the Aussie ace conjures final-round fireworks to give Koepka something to think about.

Final-round twoball punters are pointed towards Charl Schwartzel and Rahm. Schwartzel is a character who can lose interest and get impatient on the course, but being in the thick of things in a Major should guarantee complete focus and determination in the final round at Bellerive. The South African is a Major champion who feels entirely comfortable in the final few groups of a US PGA.

Schwartzel can outclass the inexperienced Julian Suri, who is playing in his first Stateside Major, in the 7.05pm (UK and Ireland time) match, while Rahm can be more fancied to throw down the gauntlet to Koepka from the penultimate match than playing partner Fowler. Rahm is fully fit and firing, while Fowler has got an oblique strain and came home in one over par in round three.

Twoballs recommendations
J Rahm
3pts 11-10 general

C Schwartzel
3pts Evens bet365

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There are a host of world-class pursuers who are close enough to pressure the frontrunner
E.W. Terms
Sky bet