Never has a PGA Tour betting list been so dominated by Europeans, and McIlroy starts as favourite amongst them, despite having just one professional title to his name. That second win is surely just around the corner as nobody is playing more consistently from tee to green, illustrated by top sevens in all but one of his last eight starts. Still, a short, tough par-70 doesn’t automatically sound like his ideal venue.
The Race to Dubai champion is up to number four in the world and with no Woods, Mickelson or Stricker in this line-up, he could make further headway towards the top spot. Virtually all his recent European Tour form points to another strong challenge, though Westwood’s limited Stateside visits haven’t produced a win since the 1998 Freeport McDermott Classic.
Constructing a strong case for Allenby is very straightforward. He’s been in the form of his life over recent months, winning just about everywhere besides the US, and has made the top five in all three renewals at PGA National. The bookies wasted no time in taking cover though, quoting Allenby at his shortest ever price on this tour.
After finishing runner-up for the second consecutive WGC Match Play, Casey looks fully recovered from the rib injury that curtailed his brilliant 2009 campaign. He now looks a serious candidate for all the season’s big prizes, but I’m not convinced this short course will bring out the best in him. Furthermore, Casey is yet to register a top-five place in Florida.
In contrast, Villegas often saves his best golf for Florida, including when losing the 2007 play-off here. After excellent performances over the past fortnight, the Colombian looks a winner waiting to happen. However, his golf tailed off over the weekend in Phoenix, perhaps due to playing so many mentally tiring rounds in a short period.
Harrington has won this event before at a previous venue and wasn’t beaten far at PGA National in 2007, but has yet to produce solid evidence that he’s back to his best.
Despite a much-improved performance to reach the last four of the WGC Match Play, Garcia remains a player in rehabilitation. If he were to bounce back to his best though, PGA National would be ideal due to there being less emphasis on him holing birdie putts here.
Predictably, bookies have reacted sharply to Rickie’s near-miss at the weekend. We won’t see 80/1 very often again about Fowler, and I’m not entirely dismissive of this week’s 40/1 quote. However, I doubt this tough course will be anywhere near as suitable as Scottsdale.
Snedeker is now officially top of my ‘players to avoid’ list after Sunday’s total disaster. Falling back from the final-day lead to 43rd place may well be some sort of record. That’s three embarrassing collapses when in contention now, and whatever his many wider merits as a player, Snedeker looks to have severe problems with ‘bottle’.
The defending champion also blew a great winning chance on Sunday, but given his PGA success over Tiger it would be outrageous to question his bottle. Yang has a solid chance, as reflected by odds of 33/1.
We saw the best and worst of Kim at Phoenix, where he hit three great rounds and one disaster that ruined the week’s work. Having missed the top 40 on both previous visits, PGA National doesn’t look ideal.
Last year’s runner-up holds a decent chance once again, after a series of strong performances prior to a couple of moderate rounds over the weekend.
Campbell often pops up in the frame at a decent price, and some impressive long-game stats at Phoenix suggests this could be one of those occasions.
Marino is in great form, registering top fives on two of his last three starts. His best at PGA National is just 20th, but he’s never been beaten far.
The reigning Masters champion looks one to oppose after three failures on this course.