TIGER WOODS

Naturally, Woods starts as red-hot favourite, albeit nowhere near as strongly fancied as last year. That victory at Kingston Heath was his last title, happening days before his fall from grace. Though his bare figures are respectable and there has been the odd excellent round recently, he is yet to show any evidence of being the same player. Tiger’s class is to some extent masking the ongoing struggles, which could be exposed if conditions get really tough in Melbourne. On the bright side, he shouldn’t need make too much use of his driver around here, which has been a longstanding weakness. He may win without having to be at his best, but hardly represents a sensible bet at just 5/2.

GEOFF OGILVY

Along with Tiger and Allenby, Ogilvy is the third really obvious candidate, and will be hard to keep out of the frame. After a disappointing summer, Geoff bounced right back to form during the Fall Series, and is bound to feature strongly during the triple crown. My only slight concern is that he seems to struggle in bad weather, as seen last time when falling back from a strong halfway position at the Tour Championship.

SERGIO GARCIA

At his peak, Sergio’s game was perfect for Australian courses, and he contended on a few visits much earlier in his career. The current version is a tortured soul, prone to all manner of disasters on the greens and unrecognisable from the man who was nearly world number one a couple of years ago.

STUART APPLEBY

Apart from shooting a 59 to win the Greenbrier Classic, Appleby has done nothing on this year’s PGA Tour. One would expect him to improve back on home soil, but he’ll do well to bounce back from shooting 80 on Sunday in Shanghai.

GREG CHALMERS

Chalmers was runner-up to Tiger last year, and came in for very strong consideration after a better PGA Tour campaign than usual. The left-hander registered a couple of top-fives and easily kept his card. That reads favourably compared to the regular Aussie contenders who have been forced to miss this in order to seek a last-week miracle in the States.

2010 STATS: +8pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
5pts MARTIN KAYMER TO WIN THE RACE TO DUBAI @ 9/1