It has been a long time since Woods’ odds didn’t at least drift significantly in running. When he won at Bay Hill, there were plenty of double figured prices around during the 3rd round. So while I am sure he will be in contention over the weekend, there seems little point in backing Woods pre-tournament. After all, his golf at Augusta was nothing out of the ordinary by his standards.

Considering that event history, I really don’t think there are that many plausible winners this week. Just like most Major venues, the gruelling demands of Quail Hollow always tend to separate the best from the rest. And amongst the best, several can be written off on recent form. Padraig Harrington for instance, who has also failed miserably on two previous visits. Vijay Singh, champion in 2005, looks unbackable right now on any course, let alone one with ultra-fast greens. That last point will terrify Sergio Garcia, whose second place in 2005 is his only competitive effort from five.

Almost by default then amongst the big names, Furyk and GEOFF OGILVY appear to represent each-way value at decent prices. Furyk’s course form since 2005 reads 2nd, 1st, missed cut and 7th. More recent form is less consistent, with top-class efforts at Doral and Augusta, but nothing anywhere else. Nevertheless, as his accurate iron play and magical touch on and around the greens are such great virtues around here, Jim must rate an each-way bet at 33/1.

Ogilvy has yet to challenge at Quail Hollow, but has managed to finish between 10th and 25th in each of the five years of the event. It’s fair to say that he’s steadily improved over the years, and been at least the third best player in the world so far in 2009. Ogilvy’s high ball flight should ensure that his course form portfolio gets even stronger over time, and surely he will win or challenge sooner or later.

It’s harder to be as confident about defending champion Kim. Quail Hollow was the scene of Kim’s maiden victory and announced his arrival in the big time, so he will be inundated with media work this week. Coping with such pressures is all part of the learning process, and given Kim’s dip in form lately it’s clear he is very much still learning.