Nobody bar Tiger has a Cog Hill record to compare with that of JIM FURYK, who has returned to form over the past fortnight. Furyk won in 2005, and has made the top seven on seven of his last nine visits. Given his ability to negotiate his way around tough, strategic layouts plus an excellent US Open record, I expect the course changes will suit him even more.
ERNIE ELS had looked very strong up until last week, and his comments after missing the cut at Boston suggest we shouldn’t take that result too seriously. Ernie’s blog entry informs us that he was surprised, but not disheartened, and got straight back down to some hard work over the rest of the weekend. He sounds bullish after a series of excellent performances at the Barclays plus the last two Majors, and rightly so as this twice former US Open champion should enjoy the new Cog Hill.
Snedeker is another who plays tough, championship courses well, and remains in excellent form. He slipped back a little on previous efforts in Boston, but there was no disgrace in four rounds of 71 or better. Snedeker’s last nine starts have yielded five top 12s, including four top 5s; a record that only a few of this field could boast and certainly nobody else around the 80/1 price range.
The next place in the staking plan was a close call between two players who have repeatedly let me down lately; Ian Poulter and MIKE WEIR. Though the evidence is looking sketchier than a few months ago, I’m still adamant that Poulter is a player on the up. Rather reminiscent of Paul Casey around this time last year, who kept registering respectable finishes but couldn’t win. A few months later, Casey ranked third in the world, and while I doubt Poulter can hit those heights, he is overdue a win at this level.
Nevertheless, Weir is marginally preferred on the basis that this is a would-be Major venue. His last 28 Majors have yielded ten top 10s and fifteen top 20s, while in the US Open, Weir has made four of the last seven top 10s. That isn’t the form of an 80/1 chance, and there is some recent encouragement too. Last week’s 23rd doesn’t read brilliantly, but he was on the fringes of contention until the final nine. A few weeks previously, Weir had registered a personal best of tenth at the far less suitable Firestone.