So if Tiger doesn’t rate as value, who does? None of his immediate rivals in the betting; Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington or Lee Westwood particularly appeal. Mickelson could be forgiven rustiness at Firestone, but didn’t improve as the week went on and having finished outside the top-30 here in 2002, gives the distinct impression that his general lack of driving accuracy could prove fatal.
 
Harrington’s sterling effort at Firestone was his first decent result since January, so while the defending champ is at least back in contention, I’d want to see more evidence of a return to his best before backing him. Westwood certainly has the form, and the game for Hazeltine, but has never thrived in this major before and appears to have forgotten how to win.
 
Perhaps a more obvious danger is Hunter Mahan, whose last four US starts have produced results of 6th, 4th, 2nd and 4th. That puts him only behind Woods for recent form, and the emphasis on ball-striking will suit him down to the ground. The only negative is the price; a quarter of what it would have been just a couple of months ago.
 
It would be frustrating to see Mahan win, having supported him so many times this season, as it would be were USPGA nearly-man Sergio Garcia to finally land his first major. At his best, Sergio would love Hazeltine, but that best hasn’t been seen since last autumn.
 
Normally in a Major, I tend to pick more than the usual five or six players, and spread them around the speciality markets. However because Woods’ short odds have forced the price of everyone else out, all the best value appears to lie in the outright market, especially with several bookies offering six places for each-way punters.
 
For instance, it strikes me that IAN POULTER rates better value each-way at 66/1 to win the event, than 16/1 to finish as top European. Likewise, why back GEOFF OGILVY and ROBERT ALLENBY in short single-figures to be top Australian, when 50/1 and 100/1 are on offer in the main market?