This course used to place a great emphasis on driving distance, but less so since the course was toughened ahead of the 2006 renewal. That feature may well return with the wet conditions favouring those with greater carry off the tee and ensuring balls don’t run off the fairways. If that’s the case, we can probably expect a vast improvement from ALVARO QUIROS, who missed the cut on his debut last year. Quiros has established himself as the biggest hitter around, and is becoming quite a prolific winner with three titles in as many seasons on the main tour. He mainly seems to thrive in low scoring conditions, so this should be perfect, and having finished runner-up on his penultimate start we know recent form is good. Even if he still lacks the global profile of some of this week’s main rivals, at the age of just 25, Quiros has plenty of time to make Ryder Cup teams and challenge in Majors.
 
Were it not for the fact that Soren Kjeldsen pulled out of the US Open with an ear infection, he may well have been considered on a course where he has six previous top-20s to his name. Equally, Thomas Levet has made the top-10 on four of his last five visits, though that is well factored into his odds and he is another to have played the long weekend at Bethpage. Home favourites Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka also have plenty of hot course form to their names, though may not be ideally served by the likely wet conditions. Colin Montgomerie is a former winner who has made the top-6 four times, but just doesn’t look capable of winning at the moment.
 
Several other obvious names were written off due to their lack of success at this venue. Peter Hanson, who played very well at Bethpage, has never made a top-10 here in seven tries, while neither Nick Dougherty or Stephen Dodd have made a top-20 from the same number of attempts. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano’s course record is equally bad, and similar stats apply to Thongchai Jaidee and Richard Green. Louis Oosthuisen, who one might expect to enjoy this target golf layout, has missed all five cuts.
 
My four other selections are all big prices, starting with THOMAS AIKEN at 66/1. The South African seems to have two gears; he either makes the top-10 or misses the cut. Indeed, that is all he has done since January, eight times achieving the former alongside four bad weeks. He seems best served by target golf, and as a long-hitter who makes plenty of birdies, looks far more likely to have a good week than a bad one.