This weekend sees the first of the Irish Classics from the Curragh, as well as the second golfing major of the year with the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. With both events sure to be popular with punters, we have an each-way selection in each that combine for a 288/1 double.
Jordan Spieth (PGA Championship)
In two events since the Masters, JORDAN SPIETH has been beaten by a grand total of one golfer. That is some way to warm up for his sixth attempt at a career Grand Slam.
Since an unexpected unravelling at Augusta, at which he missed the cut for the first time in his career, Spieth has looked an entirely different player. Many questions had been raised about his game, as despite coming back to form last season, a number of changes appeared to be happening with his swing.
Perhaps we should never have doubted him, though his results were giving critics reason to. Between that Masters missed cut and a battling runner-up finish to Collin Morrikawa at last year’s Open, he had recorded just one top ten, when second in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The tide has turned however. A week after Augusta, Spieth stunned us all by winning the RBC Heritage in a playoff with Patrick Cantlay in a packed leaderboard. That clearly gave him a confidence boost, as he was only beaten by one shot at last week’s Byron Nelson Championship, losing out only to defending champion K.H.Lee.
Notably, Spieth’s game has been strong from tee to green recently, which may be crucial at Southern Hills’ set up. He topped the Strokes Gained (SG): Tee-To-Green list during his RBC Heritage victory and was second by that metric last time out. He has been in the top ten on both SG: Approach/Off-The-Tee in those tournaments too.
His former strength, putting, remains cool on the statistics and he would have to iron out consistent misses from short range. However, his game looks to be peaking at the right time and certainly more than any of the others within the world’s top ten.
His Grand Slam would be the most efficient in history, with one of every trophy. Not that Spieth would mind if he could join the immortals this weekend.
Angel Bleu (Irish 2000 Guineas)
It looks likely that 2000 Guineas runner-up Native Trail will look for redemption at the Curragh. Despite being a warm favourite at Newmarket, he was surprisingly downed by stablemate Coroebus, who probably had the best of the draw, in the opening Classic of the season.
He is currently an odds-on shot and no wonder. Before the Guineas he had won two Group 1s and the Craven Stakes in impeccable fashion. His lengthy stride ensures he possesses unenviable power, so it will take a very good one to beat him.
There is another two-time Group 1 winner in the field though and perhaps ANGEL BLEU could give him a run for his money. Ralph Beckett’s colt is clearly better on soft ground, but there does look likely to be some rain in the Curragh’s vicinity throughout the week.
If that happens, he is suddenly thrown right in with a chance, as both of his top tier successes came on very deep surfaces in France. They came over 7f and 1m, so he will stay the trip and his reappearance was satisfactory in the circumstances.
On good ground, he was third to the very useful Perfect Power in the Greenham having played up in the preliminaries. He has sweated up badly in the past too, but usually keeps it together, so a combination of factors could easily swing to see him improve and make a race of it.