Tiger became the first player to win three tour tournaments this season so far at the AT&T National last week, bringing up his 74th on the US tour (and 100th worldwide?) which puts him second in the all-time list behind the majestic Sam Snead. I am firmly in the camp that say “Tiger is great for the game” but at the same time I would prefer him not to dominate in the way he did at the peak of his powers. I am near 99% certain that won’t happen for two reasons: firstly, Tiger’s past dominance of the game set new standards for others to try attain and methods for them to follow – and follow they have. The current – and next – generation of players are just too good not to be competitive; and second, Tiger’s greatness was such that when he won almost 50% of every event he entered!! He – and quite frankly nobody – is going to reach that level again. Take Rory McIlroy as a good example. He was junior golfer trying to emulate Tiger Woods and by the age of 12, everyone knew he was going to be a bigtime player. He duly wins in his rookie year and adds the US Open by the age of 21. But even Rory has learned that raw talent and ability isn’t enough to compete – let alone win – on the tour these days. How many players could effectively be out of the game for two years, undergo serious surgery, fundamentally rebuild their swing, and return to the world’s top five as quickly as Woods? Westwood is the only player who’s ressurection comes close – and his slump was down to a loss of form and self-belief.
Woods must top any short-list this week, but the odds are going to be prohibitive. The days of double-digit prices about Tiger in the outright winner market may have vanished for a while.
The bad storms of the past week have thankfully past, but the weather forecast is for more rain over the four days but there isn’t expected to be windy conditions to contend with.
I am looking for players in decent form coming into the tournament and strong on the key stats of total driving, G.I.R, and above all Putting from within 10ft and 10-20ft. Course form is always beneficial, but there have been a number of rookie winners in this event so past experience is no barrier to success. Taking TW out of the equation, there aren’t too many standout candidates this week so I have opted for a few bigger priced players with a good track record here and the right fit to the stats.
Chief amongst the group is Jimmy Walker. He has finished inside the top five on both his previous visits and has shown can score really low around this course, and at 60/1 is good value.
Now to add a touch of class in the form of the US Open champion Webb Simpson. He Led after two rounds in 2011 before fading a little to a top-10 finish. Has all the ticks in the right boxes and 16/1 is four times the price of Tiger.
I was disappointed by Dustin Johnson‘s performance last week – not least because he was carrying my cash – but he’s just the type of player to bounce back the following week. DJ hasn’t played this course before, but that shouldn’t inconvenience a player of his calibre. His style of game and strengths are suited to the course and, in a disrupted year, the stats make him a great fit. He’s plenty short enough at 22/1 but worthy of his place in the lie up.
At 125/1 (255/1 on Betfair), Stuart Appleby is sqaurely in the speculative choice box but he has great history in this tournament. The aussie has has a torid couple of years but posted his highest finish (18th) of the year just last week at the AT&T National so his confidence should be higher now than at any time as he comes into an event he likes and course he has played some of his best golf at. He won this event, when last held at The Old White TPC, in 2010. Stuart is my latest 100/1 prospect.
I can’t fathom why this is the first time I have backed Seung-Yul Noh as he’s certainly a player with strong credential and consistently high levels of play. He has made ten straight cuts and achieved his best finish – tied 4th- last week at the AT&T National. His price of 45/1 is fair but I’ll be seeking a bit more value on the exchanges.
I regularly backed Brendon de Jonge last year as he impressed in his breakthrough year and he hasn’t exactly gone backwards this season. However, he was a tad disappointing when leading last week only to fade badly on the Sunday and finished 11th. But his record here is excellent, finishing 3rd and 4th in the first two years. A repeat of his overall scoring average here would be enough to make the place money. A decent wager at 40/1.
Top amongst those that didn’t make the staking plan is Marc Leishman, who secured his first tour win in the Travelers championship two weeks ago and followed up with a solid 32nd place finish at the AT&T last week. Its never easy to come out and play your best after any win, never mind your tour first, but Marc is a player I’ve been impressed with this year and he looks the type to win again. At 95s on Betfair, he looks to have quickly drifted off the radar of most punters but he’s very visible on mine.