Of the rest, Aussies Aaron Baddeley and Stuart Appleby have never looked ideally suited to Torrey Pines, with best finishes of 13th and 8th respectively. Their vastly inferior compatriot Nathan Green does have some top-class previous here, finishing 2nd in 2006 and 11th last year. However, Green has shown time and again that he is one of the game’s worst ‘bottlers’, and one to take on at all costs when in contention. If I were to pick an Aussie here, it would be rock-solid long-game exponent John Senden.
Brian Gay is in cracking form, with seventeen consecutive rounds of par or better so far this season, but has a miserable best of 68th from four tries on this unsuitably long course. Recent winner Pat Perez did manage 6th here in 2005, though the rest of his Torrey Pines form doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. Brandt Snedeker, 3rd here as a rookie and 9th in the US Open, would have been a strong fancy if he hadn’t been so badly out of form since the last mentioned effort.
Those just missing out on selection include last year’s runner-up Ryuji Imada, who can also boast a couple of other top-20s here. Aaron Oberholser, with two top-6 finishes among three top-15s at Torrey Pines, has massive course form credentials but just can’t be relied upon having seen his career blighted by injury. Three of last week’s big-priced selections; Bubba Watson, Troy Matteson and Scott Piercy; none of whom disgraced themselves, could easily have been picked again. So could have Piercy’s equally promising Nationwide Tour recruit Webb Simpson.
All were squeezed out though by JOHN MERRICK, whose 80/1 odds simply don’t accurately reflect either his course or recent form. Merrick is usually near the top of the greens in regulation stats, and also drives the ball long distances. These are the ideal attributes for Torrey Pines, so it wasn’t the biggest surprise ever to see him finish 6th in the US Open here at an enormous price. And having finished runner-up on his penultimate start in the Bob Hope Classic, its safe to assume he is relishing this return visit.
2.5pts ew LUKE DONALD @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
2pts ew CHARLES HOWELL @ 28/1 (GENERAL)
2pts ew DAVIS LOVE @ 30/1 (BET365, BOYLESPORTS, 33/1 EXPEKT)
1.5pts ew HUNTER MAHAN @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
1pt ew JOHN MERRICK @ 80/1 (GENERAL)
2008/2009 STATS: -167pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts
More betting: Long-term bets from Paul Krishnamurty
Tour news: Butch Harmon expecting a “ready” Tiger Woods
Golf news: Rewards4golf in £1 million equipment giveaway
Industry news: The Butch Harmon School of Golf launched in Dubai
Office opinion: Fergus Bisset: Shifting focus
Equipment news: TaylorMade R9 fairway wood and 2009 Rescue pictures