Nobody played better from tee to green at Pebble Beach, so Ernie deserves the favourite’s tag on that basis. This week’s fare, however, is completely different to that links survival test in which he usually excels. Here, the emphasis will be on birdies, and in that regard, it doesn’t bode well that only the putter denied Els a third US Open title.
On previous course form, Casey‘s chance is obvious. He’s finished third here on three separate occasions, and made the top 15 on six out of eight visits. On the downside, his weekend performance was less than convincing, and it must be a concern that he still says he isn’t striking the ball as well as before last season’s injury lay-off.
Karlsson won on this course here way back in 1997, long before he won an Order of Merit or made any mark on the wider global stage. After finishing runner-up in the St Jude Classic, and following up with a respectable top 30 in the US Open, he rates a very strong candidate.
It is hard to imagine that Cejka wouldn’t be much bigger than 35/1, had he not made the top ten at Pebble Beach, even accounting for the fact he’s playing on home soil, at a venue where he has plenty of previous. Those positives ensure he can’t be ruled out, but several failures in contention leave me cold about the German’s prospects of a first win since 2002.
The third serious home candidate will certainly be the most popular, and despite his Senior status, made my shortlist. It is something of a miracle that Langer has never won this title, having finished runner-up three times and registering ten top 25s out of a dozen tries. He put up a good run in ninth last year, proving he remains competitive at this level.