The latest installment on the lottery otherwise known as the PGA Tour Fall Series is this long established pro-am. Under various guises, this event has proved a good opportunity for players looking for their first win on the main tour and a bookies? benefit. Of the last five winners, four started at 100/1 or more and two were that very rare animal, a 500/1 winner.
Played on two easy, resort courses at Summerlin and The Canyons, this is target golf at its purest. Penalties for inaccuracy are minimal and a good week with the putter essential in order to keep pace with very low scoring. Under the previous schedule, at least the odd elite player such as Jim Furyk normally turned up, but this year there is no representative from the world?s top-20. In fact infrequent winner Scott Verplank is the only player in the top-40.
Once again then, I suggest keeping stakes to a minimum and have selected a batch of outsiders in the knowledge that just one place will yield a profit on the event. Former Presidents Cup hero SHIGEKI MARUYAMA hinted at a return to form with three sub-70 rounds to finish 11th at the weekend. The Japanese star has won three times previously on the PGA Tour and remains a class act on his day. He has also shown a liking for this event in the past, finishing 6th and 16th in two attempts, so could well contend if the putter remains hot.
Maruyama?s compatriot RYUJI IMADA rates the best outside bet in my view. Imada, a former pro-am winner on the Nationwide Tour, looks perfectly suited by this sort of target golf test. Consistently one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Imada?s main asset could be invaluable this week.
Speaking of putting, the only player in this week?s field to rank higher in that department than Imada is CHRIS RILEY. I?ve mentioned the former Ryder Cup star a few times recently, and he continues to look resurgent and well capable of adding to a Nationwide Tour victory earlier in the year. Again, he took the eye in Texas over the weekend with four sub-70 rounds. That sort of scoring is reminiscent of form Riley showed in this event between 2001 and 2003, when registering 13 out of 15 rounds under 70.
Back in Nevada, the scene of his sole PGA Tour triumph, the promising WILL MACKENZIE could be worth a punt at 66/1. He looked in reasonable form three starts ago, finishing 7th. Since then he?s had a month off following Fedex Cup play-offs so hopefully will arrive fresh. More evidence that Mackenzie likes this part of the world comes in the form of 8th place here two years ago.
Finally, the key statistics to focus on here are putting and birdie average, in which TIM PETROVIC has scored consistently well lately. Petrovic finished 65-67-68 on Sunday in not dissimilar low scoring conditions for his best position since finishing runner-up at August?s Wyndham Championship. Four of his five cracks at this event have produced top-30 finishes, including a best of 7th in 2004.