Following his first win on Australian soil at Coolum last week, GEOFF OGILVY starts hot favourite at 7/1. It was frustrating to see Ogilvy win the PGA, because I’ve had him in mind for this event for some time and would surely have got double figures otherwise. He finished runner-up in 2006, striking me as a little unlucky to be collared by an inspired final two holes from Senden. As a former US Open champion, clearly this tough all-round test suits Ogilvy’s game, and as there’s no arguing with his current form, he must rate a win only saver.
Allenby won here back in 1994, but played below his usual consistent best in the two Opens staged at Sydney since. A greater concern is that his form and focus haven’t convinced over the past fortnight, probably due to the off-course distraction of his mother’s grave illness. Likewise, Peter Lonard is hard to fancy after a couple of poor weeks, showing form well below the usual stellar standards seen from him in these home events.
STUART APPLEBY is another home star to have underperformed so far this winter, but because he is so ideally suited to the course and event I’m prepared to overlook those disappointments. Over the last ten Opens, Appleby’s record reads one title, twice runner-up and seven top-10 finishes, strongly pointing to an each-way bet at 14/1.
Sydney, where he finished 3rd in 2006, suits him perfectly. There are very few players better at shaping controlled iron shots in windy conditions, which is why I’ve long fancied Appleby to win a British Open. Certainly on the basis of some very consistent 2008 form and eight PGA Tour titles, Appleby looks ready to break through at the highest level, and a massive contender in this moderate field.