As the tournament host, defending champion and obvious runaway favourite, Tiger Woods looms large over an event for which we have very few obvious clues. With the usual venue taking a couple of years off in preparation for the 2011 US Open, Aronomink GC, Pennsylvania takes over. The only time it has ever staged a PGA Tour event was the 1962 USPGA Championship, which rather makes the usual analysis of previous results and course form redundant.
At 7/2, Tiger is his shortest price yet in 2010, on the basis that third at Pebble Beach represented a huge leap forward in his comeback. However, his golf was hardly flawless there, so those of us looking to take him on should be buoyed by the bigger prices available about everybody else that his presence ensures.
Course and stats
We may know little about tournament golf at Aronimink, but we do know it is a well-touted course, expected to produce a high-class leaderboard. Indeed, given that the usual venue is Congressional, anything less would be disappointing. This is a par-70, with numerous doglegs, making driving accuracy largely irrelevant. Like other Donald Ross designs, it is expected to place a strong emphasis on high-class, precision iron-play. In short, a ‘second-shot course’. Scrambling is also expected to be very important, again as one would expect on a championship course.
Betting selections
2pts ew RICKIE FOWLER @ 30/1 (BET365, TOTE)
The Fowler bandwagon rolls on with another solid effort at the Travelers Championship, following on from his third very near-miss in well under a year on the PGA Tour. Everything points to a breakthrough win very soon, especially as he seems undeterred by the tougher layouts. Rickie’s iron play is top drawer and should prove a major asset this week.
1.5pts ew BEN CRANE @ 33/1 (GENERAL)
So long as we’re prepared to overlook a poor US Open, in conditions that were never likely to be ideal, Crane probably boasts the best recent form of anyone here. Before Pebble Beach, he’d registered seven top 25s from eight starts, and has been contending regularly all year, including when winning at Torrey Pines. He’s an accurate player from tee to green, and accomplished around the greens, so everything looks in place for another good week.
1.5pts ew RYAN MOORE @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
Moore wasn’t beaten too far in 13th when carrying our money last week, so deserves another chance. He remains one of the better emerging Americans, and highly liable to be winning again sooner rather than later. Impressive recent greens in regulation stats bode well for this likely stern challenge, and he also rates well in the scrambling department.
1pt ew VIJAY SINGH @ 45/1 (GENERAL, 50/1 BETFRED)
It is too soon to write off Vijay, if three excellent rounds out of four at River Highlands are anything to go by. That was Singh’s second top 15 in his last three starts, and his long game stats over the weekend suggest he’s emerging from a spell in the doledrums. We can assume that he will remain as determined as ever well into his fifties, and while it may be asking too much for him to win another Major title, he is always worth considering in this type of PGA Tour event on a golf course that rewards quality iron play.
Fresh from a fortnight off, I’m expecting Jacobsen to resume his promising Spring form. Freddy has six top 25s from his last nine; the highlight of which was finishing runner-up in the Texas Open. Throughout that run, he’s been very consistent in the long game department, and has always been one of the best scramblers around.