Stricker came in for long, hard consideration. At 14/1, I can’t help but feel he’s being underestimated. His return of four wins, and nine places from 26 starts since the beginning of last year would have yielded a massive profit to regular backers at these odds. He’s a master scrambler, and has been close up in the top 15 here for the past two years. Ultimately though, with another tightly bunched leaderboard expected, I decided better value lay with each-way picks at bigger prices.
If Vijay starts holing putts, he is a surefire winner, such is the quality of his long game. Sadly, he has become impossible to fancy on the greens. Nevertheless, he’s won and finished second at Copperhead before, and after two good weeks in a row is far too good a player to write off.
Another very strong contender. Third at Doral was Harrington’s best effort of the season to date, and suggested an imminent return to his best even if he made a mess of the closing nine. His scrambling brilliance will be a pivotal asset at Copperhead.
With the emphasis on accuracy and short-game brilliance, one would expect Copperhead to suit Furyk ideally. Two previous efforts, however, have produced a missed cut and 52nd place. He’s also hard to fancy after a below-par effort at Doral; one of his favourite courses.
Poulter struggled at Doral before that magnificent closing 64, illustrating he retains the brilliant form that has propelled him to the world’s top ten. He could be at a slight disadvantage on his course debut though.
I’ve mentioned Moore already as a player to follow this year, and that remains the case as his form since the autumn is much improved. With top 20s on two of last three visits to Copperhead, Moore has to make the shortlist.
The 2008 champion is a frequent force at this level, and well capable of following up on Sunday’s closing-66 at Doral.
Gay is playing better than bare recent figures suggest, and warrants consideration after top tens here in 2006 and 2007. He’s another who fulfils the criteria of being accurate and a good scrambler.
Europe’s forgotten man returned to form with third at the Honda Classic, and top-25 finishes in each of the last three years here were all close to contention.
Zach was seriously disappointing last week when strongly fancied, and is overlooked having failed to make a top ten in four tries here.
Howell has started the year well with six respectable efforts from seven, including three top tens. He also finished sixth here last year, and runner-up in 2006.
This twice former Copperhead champion has steadily been creeping back into form, and finished runner-up in the Malaysian Open last time out.
Sergio’s struggles continued with 37th place at Doral, but if he did find a spark then Copperhead would be perfect, with its emphasis on iron play and scrambling.
While he is undoubtably an outstanding prospect, Fowler may not be ideally suited to this sort of tough test during this early stage of his career.
This promising Nationwide Tour recruit registered another top ten in Puerto Rico over the weekend. He’s in cracking form and boasts some great scrambling stats.
2010 STATS: -7pts