Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places
Weather forecast for Olympia Fields: The first groups out tee off at 11:30 local so bare that in mind when looking at weather predictions. By then, temps should be in the high 80s, with winds around 11mph. It peaks at around 91mph in mid-afternoon while the very last groups (1.30pm) may get a tiny bit more wind but nothing significant.
First-round leader history at Olympia Fields:
2003 – 65 Brett Quigley, Tom Watson
Strategy: It’s Illinois so wind is the norm and blows steadily all day. Handling that is worth taking into account but, in terms of timings, there’s no obvious bias. Tee-times are cramped into a narrow slot anyway so let’s just pick freely.
Wade in for Wolff
With just 70 players teeing it up this week, our task is certainly a little easier.
A new course isn’t ideal but there’s some recent collegiate form available from Olympia Fields and one notable result came in 2018 when Matthew Wolff won the Fighting Illini Invitational here when beating newly-crowned US PGA champ, Collin Morikawa, by a shot.
Wolff’s strong driving in recent weeks (2nd Strokes Gained: Off The Tee at the PGA and 7th OTT at The Northern Trust) suggests his game is in great shape to thrive at Olympia Fields again.
In terms of this market, he has obvious appeal due to several recent fast starts.
Twice in his last four events he’s opened with a 65 and they helped him lie in the top five after 18 holes at both the 3M Open and last week’s Northern Trust.
He’s been throwing in low rounds all over the place in other events – a pair of middle 64s at the Rocket Mortgage and a closing 65 at the US PGA – so Wolff’s ability to get hot on any given day makes him a danger in this market.
A 40/1 shot, he starts out at 12.47pm.
Get with Gooch
Talor Gooch is a decent first-round scorer (41st on the rankings) and has been showing that in recent outings.
His last four openers include a 65 at the Wyndham Championship and a pair of 66s at the 3M Open and The Northern Trust.
Those strong starts helped him finish in the top 25 in all three so his game is in good shape.
The 28-year-old, who is 52nd in the FedEx Cup rankings, grew up and went to college in Oklahoma so knows all about playing in wind.
Gooch was the first-round leader at October’s Houston Open after a 64 and third following the opening lap at Bay Hill in March.
Sixth after 18 holes at the Wyndham where he held the halfway lead, I’ll take him at 85/1 here.
He tees off at 1.20pm.
Champ can cash in
I put up Cameron Champ in my outright preview and will play him in this market too.
One of the reasons was that he won a collegiate event here in 2016 so, like Wolff, has a leg up in terms of knowing the course.
Heading into the week, driving the ball well was considered important and Louis Oosthuizen backed that theory up in his press conference on Tuesday.
The South African said: “Really good golf course, long. Can’t afford to miss the fairways around here.
“I think I’ll be hitting a lot of drivers again this week and probably taking on a few bunkers.”
Champ ranks 2nd this season in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee so those skills and extra course knowledge will hopefully power him to a fast start.
He’s certainly in a good place after contending heavily at the US PGA where he fired a Friday 64 at Harding Park (like this, a long par 70) and I’ll play him at 60/1.
Champ tees off at 12.58pm.