Instead, the main opposition seems more likely to come from the likes of Retief Goosen or KENNY PERRY. Sunday’s victory at Copperhead marked the end of a long spell in the doledrums for Goosen, and bodes well for the forthcoming US Masters at Augusta. He certainly looked close to his Major winning best at the weekend. However, winning back-to-back is always a tall order, and Bay Hill was never one of his favourite tracks. The South African has only made the top-10 once here in nine attempts.
Alternatively, history suggests that when he’s playing well, Perry is a serious contender on this course. The 49 year-old won this in 2005, and finished runner-up a couple of years earlier, and looks in at least as good form this time around. Were it not for a very poor stretch of holes in his second round, Perry could well have got competitive last week, and I can certainly see another title soon to add to that recent win in the FBR Open.
SEAN O’HAIR also can be forgiven a disappointing week at Copperhead. Playing as defending champion always creates extra pressures, and it may make more sense to look at O’Hair’s previous form. Before Copperhead, he’d made five of the last six top-20s, with two top-5s and a worst of 25th. Furthermore, 14th and 3rd in the last two Bay Hill renewals suggest this is one venue where this excellent prospect will win at some stage.
Jim Furyk, so impressive at Doral and in last week’s first round before his form fell apart, has never produced his best golf at Bay Hill, a comment which could also apply to David Toms. Robert Allenby, generally a model of consistency, can only boast one top-10 in ten tries here. I have a feeling that Anthony Kim will win here at least once in the years to come, but is hard to recommend on recent efforts. For now, he seems to be struggling with the pressure of expectations. Nick Watney, normally just a middle-ranking player, is surely under-priced on the basis of a couple of outstanding efforts this season.