Vijay is reluctantly overlooked on his return from injury. Including the 2000 US Open, his 11 visits over the last decade have yielded one win, three runners-up spots and a total of eight top-10 finishes. There’s little danger that the Fijian workaholic will be under-prepared, and the rain should help his power game. My only concern is that its never easy returning from a break, and his last effort prior to the injury was abysmal. For those reasons, others are marginally preferred.
Finishing 5th in that US Open back in 2000 was an early sign of Harrington’s potential in the Majors. Now he has won three of the last six, making him a strong candidate for the ’best bar Tiger’ tag, one would assume he would start second favourite for the next Major to be held at the venue. This isn’t a Major though, it’s a pro-am with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly scoring conditions so as not to humiliate the celebs. Thankfully, as a two-time winner of the Dunhill Links pro-am, we know Harrington is extremely comfortable in this environment too. He’s a fine bad-weather player; arguably the best around; and should be close to peak form having worked hard over the winter months. Last week’s below-par result can be overlooked, as I’d expected the beast of Torrey Pines to be unsuitable. In any case, he finished well enough with a 68 on Sunday.
Weir’s record in the event is as good as it gets without actually winning it, and he too has proven his credentials in the wet. The Canadian left-hander made the top-4 every year from 2003 to 2006, and can boast a total of six top-10s over the last decade here. Add that to the six top-10s in his last eight starts, including 3rd at the recent Bob Hope pro-am, and everything points to another very strong challenge. The final clincher for me lies in the fact that Weir won a Masters in similarly rain-soaked conditions.
If he hadn’t let us down again last week, course specialist Davis Love may well have made the staking plan. Love certainly isn’t written off, though I wonder whether he will hole enough putts. Another of last week’s selections, Hunter Mahan, finished strongly and strikes me as a winner in waiting, but has yet to produce his best golf in wet conditions, on these courses or in a pro-am.