With the European Tour taking a one week break, all of this week’s betting focus centres on the PGA Tour and the Buick Invitational, played at the two Torrey Pines courses. Though this has been something of a betting goldmine in recent years, the absence of six-time champion Tiger Woods at least adds some unpredictability to the event.
A glance through the list of previous champions shows that the last ten were all previous Major winners. Besides Tiger’s six titles, the other four fell to Jose-Maria Olazabal, Phil Mickelson, (twice), and John Daly. If that were the case again, then we could narrow our search down to just seven players; Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, DAVIS LOVE, Ben Curtis plus rank outsiders Fred Couples and Todd Hamilton.
It would be too simplistic to take that statistic at face value though. For a start, Daly was hardly an obvious selection, and in reality all the course form prior to the significant course changes in 2002 means very little. Of the 45 players to have registered a top-5 finish since the changes, 28 started at over 50/1, which in comparison to other PGA events makes this an outsiders’ tournament.
Both of Mickelson’s titles came before the course changes, though he does have four top-10s at the vastly tougher version of Torrey Pines. A combination of that previous course form, plus a longstanding reputation, ensures that Lefty starts favourite here but how anyone could back him on last week’s dismal display, or indeed anything seen in the past six months, is beyond me. Without dramatic improvement in his driving accuracy from Scottsdale, he will miss the cut, never mind get into contention.