JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP

Despite the bounty on offer at the Fedex Cup, its refreshing to see at least three European stars opting to play their home tour. PAUL CASEY, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie all made little attempt to qualify for the Stateside bonanza, heading for Gleneagles this week instead. That?s not to suggest the 343,000 Euro first prize up for grabs in Scotland is anything to sniff at. In fact this offers a good opportunity for Monty and Casey to make some headway into Padraig Harrington?s Order of Merit lead.

The OOM is far from a done deal yet. I advised Harrington at 7/1 way back at

the beginning of the season and he now looks strong with a 300,000 Euro

lead. A best price of 8/11 seems awfully short though given the number of

lucrative tournaments remaining, and considering recent late turnarounds in

the money list during those final few decisive events. Remember last year

Harrington could be backed in double figures on the final nine holes of the

season before he stole the award from under Casey?s nose on the final green.

Much can change in the next few weeks, especially if any of the chasing pack

can win either the Dunhill Links, HSBC World Matchplay or Volvo Masters.

Casey starts this week in 12th place just under 1M Euros behind the leader,

but could still be a value bet at 80/1.

Casey really must be backed this week in his favourite tournament. He won

for the second time at Gleneagles last year, a course that suits his power

game down to the ground. A striking feature of Gleneagles is its five

par-5s, which are always the key to scoring here. Though the four tough

par-3s are also pivotal, there?s no doubt the longer hitters have an

advantage round here, as long as they can cope with windy conditions on this

exposed course. The wind has tended to be more of a factor in recent years,

favouring those with an early R1 tee-time.

All of my five selections therefore have what I hope will prove to be a

favourable early start. Alongside a win bet on Casey, BRADLEY DREDGE and

GRAEME MCDOWELL both represent decent each-way value around the 28/1 mark.

Dredge has seen his summer tail off with some predictably disappointing

efforts in the Majors, but is well capable of bouncing back in less exalted

company after a few weeks break since the USPGA. The Welshman finished

runner-up on this course in 2005 and would have very strong claims if he can

return to the form shown in two second placings in Ireland and Wales earlier

this year.

As for McDowell, it surely won?t be too long before this fiery competitor

lands his third win. He too has had a break after a couple of missed cuts in

good company, and should be refreshed for a test that suits his game. Few

players are expected to fare better in windy UK conditions than McDowell,

who finished runner-up on his last Gleneagles event three years ago.

My strongest fancy this week is emerging star MARTIN KAYMER. The brilliant

young German blew a golden opportunity to notch his maiden European Tour win

on his last outing a fortnight ago. Nobody who saw his final round in Sweden

could disagree that on an average putting day he?d have won that event by

several shots. Even though this wasn?t the first time Kaymer has putted

poorly in contention, its no reason to reach for the panic button. I?m more

concerned with his towering long game that could make mincemeat of the

par-5s at Gleneagles. An encouraging fact is that this event and course have

previously proved a good launching pad for youngsters on their way up.

Casey?s first win came at a very early stage in his career, and Adam Scott?s

win here was well before his arrival amongst golf?s elite.

Another interesting prospect, though perhaps not in Kaymer?s league, to have

sprung to prominence lately is ZANE SCOTLAND. I?d almost forgotten about

Scotland, highly rated as a teenager, until he twice popped up in contention

recently. Apparently injury took its toll and derailed his progress, though

he?s still only 25. Scotland will have learnt a lot from being in contention

on the final day last month in Germany, and could well pop up soon at a big

price. Gleneagles should bring the best out in him as he consistently

features high up the par-5 rankings.

DEUTSCHE BANK CHAMPIONSHIP

This second leg of the play-offs kicks off a day later than usual on Friday

to coincide with the Labor Day national holiday in the US, giving TIGER

WOODS another day?s rest and recuperation. It did come as a massive surprise

to see him pull out of last week?s inaugaral play-off event at Westchester

citing tiredness, especially as he?d criticised his fellow pros for their

lack of fitness only a few days earlier. With hindsight, it wasn?t so

surprising as this wasn?t the first time in recent years that Woods has

refused to extend his light schedule to play in prestigious events. Only

last season, he chose to avoid the lucrative Tour Championship even though

it was an opportunity for a seventh win on the bounce.

In all seriousness, who can blame him? The evidence of the last year is that

Tiger is capable of maintaining his A-game for several months if he picks

and chooses his events. Starting with the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake,

Woods has won an incredible 11 times from 19 PGA Tour events, always in

world-class company. Everything points to another stroll here. TPC Boston

has shown in its four years on the Tour to very much favour the best players

and longest hitters. Tiger, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh have won three of the

four events here, usually with a wide margin back to the rest. Scott and

Singh re-oppose this week, but are in nowhere near their best form at

present. In any case, if Woods repeats the form of his last two victories in

the WGC-Bridgestone and USPGA, nobody on the planet can live with him.

Tiger?s task has been made all the more straightforward by the withdrawal of

clear second favourite Ernie Els. Phil Mickelson at least showed his best

form for a while and could come into the argument on his course debut. I

don?t see any sense in taking on Woods though, and suggest five each-way

bets in the ?Without Woods? market instead.

Firstly, GEOFF OGILVY is selected very marginally ahead of Justin Rose on

price grounds. Rose has some great course form to his name, and will surely

be winning before long. 16/1 is short enough though for a non-winner.

Alternatively Ogilvy is a few points bigger and well overdue his first win

since the 2006 US Open. The Aussie has looked right back to his best in his

last two tournaments, finishing 6th at Southern Hills and contending all the

way at Westchester over the weekend. He certainly looks to have the right

type of game for Boston, interestingly finishing 5th in 2003 when a minor

PGA Tour figure at best.

RORY SABBATINI was also in contention right until the last at Westchester,

where 3rd place lifted him above Woods in the Fedex Cup list. Of the three

players heading the World No 1 in that race for a $10M bonus, I marginally

prefer Sabbatini to Steve Stricker and KJ Choi this week. It seems that with

Rory, he?s either bang in contention or nowhere to be seen, largely

depending on whether the course is suited to his attacking game. After

Sunday, he?s now finished in the top-3 on six separate occasions this year,

a record that very few could match. He?s making his course debut at TPC

Boston, though it would appear to be one that will suit so I?m expecting to

see the South African?s name on the weekend leaderboard once again.

My other three selections are all relatively inexperienced future stars.

BRANDT SNEDEKER can easily be forgiven a missed cut at Westchester,

immediately following his maiden PGA Tour win at Greensboro. Snedeker has

been a model of consistency this summer, and seems to play long courses

particularly well. Prior to Westchester, he?d made eight cuts in a row

including five top-10s, excellent progress for his first full season.

With long-hitters expected to enjoy a significant advantage, this looks

within the compass of big-priced outsiders CAMILO VILLEGAS and BUBBA WATSON.

Both have already proved their liking for the course, Villegas finishing

12th in 2004 when very inexperienced, Watson on his course debut last year.

His last three efforts have all been respectable, just off the pace amongst

world class fields on tough golf courses. The Colombian seems to thrive on

courses where his length off the tee and classy iron play are seen to best

effect.

As for Watson, 200/1 without Tiger is a crazy price. Bubba is very

inconsistent and has missed nine cuts this year, but he also has five top-10

finishes. All of those came on courses, rather like this one, where his

outrageous distance off the tee receives maximum reward. And lets not forget

that its only two months since Watson finished 5th in the US Open.

Good Luck!

ADVISED BETS

VOLVO ORDER OF MERIT

2pts PAUL CASEY @ 80/1 (TOTE)

JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP

5pts win PAUL CASEY @ 9/1 (GENERAL)

2pts ew BRADLEY DREDGE @ 28/1 (GENERAL)

2pts ew MARTIN KAYMER @ 33/1 (GENERAL, 35/1 CORALS)

2pts ew GRAEME MCDOWELL @ 33/1 (GENERAL)

1pt ew ZANE SCOTLAND @ 80/1 (CANBET, VCBET, 100/1 WITH PORTLANDBET)

DEUTSCHE BANK CHAMPIONSHIP

12pts TIGER WOODS @ 15/8 (SPORTING ODDS, BETFAIR)

BETTING WITHOUT TIGER WOODS

2pts ew GEOFF OGILVY @ 22/1 (PADDY POWER, STAN JAMES, PORTLANDBET)

1.5pts ew RORY SABBATINI @ 33/1 (STAN JAMES)

1pt ew BRANDT SNEDEKER @ 80/1 (STAN JAMES)

1pt ew CAMILO VILLEGAS @ 100/1 (BETFRED, PORTLANDBET)

0.5pt ew BUBBA WATSON @ 200/1 (STAN JAMES)

2006/2007 STATS: -28pts

2005/2006 STATS: +144pts

ANTE-POST ALREADY ADVISED

VOLVO ORDER OF MERIT

5pts PADRAIG HARRINGTON @ 7/1

5pts HENRIK STENSON @ 10/1