In total contrast, LEE WESTWOOD should enjoy this course much, much more than the last two US layouts where he performed better than results suggest. Lee admitted in one of his post-round interviews that he’d never win at Augusta, because his short game isn’t good enough, so it was no surprise to see him lose interest on Sunday and ruin a decent position. A week earlier, he’d finished an excellent 11th at Redstone; a course where he’d never made the top-40 previously. The key stat for me is that Westwood ranked 6th and 2nd for greens in regulation in those two events, always the sign of a man in good form.
McDowell’s chance is hard to ignore, especially after an excellent top-20 finish at Augusta. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he were to oblige, but others were preferred for two reasons. Firstly, as regular readers will know, I’m always wary of backing defending champions, due to the extra pressure and media commitments. Secondly, the various plus points surrounding McDowell have sent his odds into half what they would be otherwise.
The other player below 20/1 in the betting is Ernie Els, but frankly I couldn’t take those odds with free money. He may well be my favourite player of all time, but I can see a struggling player when I see one. Ernie’s performance at Harbour Town over the weekend, a course where he had consistently prospered, was dire. With putting so important at Pinx, its hard to see him keeping up with the leaders.
While last week’s selections were never seriously at the races, I’m still prepared to stick with a couple of them. THONGCHAI JAIDEE has become quite a jinx player for me; winning on a regular basis but never when I’ve been on, (if my memory serves me correctly). The consequence of last week’s never in contention 20th place is that his odds have drifted from 12/1 favourite out to 33/1. OK, this field is markedly stronger but I still doubt that more than 25/1 would have been available if this had been played seven days ago. The facts remain, he is a class act, one of the straightest drivers around and capable of living with anyone when the Tour hits this part of the world.