Last week we saw the merits of looking for each-way alternatives to Tiger. Three of our five picks made the top eight, while the second favourite won the event at the generous odds of 18/1. That strategy looks even better in this field, where no more than 20 players look to hold a serious chance. In fact, my shortlist of potential bets was closer to half that figure.
Despite missing out on Mickelson, I am once again ignoring the very obvious claims of the second favourite. On his best form, Geoff Ogilvy is a cut above the rest and while he had been struggling for a while, weekend efforts of 65 and 67 bode very well for the forthcoming Australian events. At 11/1 with Woods in the field, however, I can’t really describe his price as value.
The same applies to another Aussie with rock-solid credentials on his US form, Michael Sim. After a quite outstanding season on the Nationwide Tour and plenty of promise in previous events at home, Sim is likely to be a popular pick in the weeks ahead. However, again 16/1 is just below the price I’m looking for. Nevertheless, both Ogilvy and Sim make much more appeal than the badly out of form Adam Scott around the same odds.
Instead, I’m going for five players at a minimum of 22/1, all of whom have plenty of experience on these tough Australian courses. JOHN SENDEN took a while before really thriving on home soil, but the 2006 Australian Open champion appears to have got the hang of it now and boasts the best recent PGA Tour form of anyone in this field besides Tiger. Indeed, Senden was secnd to the great man at August’s Buick Open, and finished his US campaign with a further four consecutive top-20 finishes. Always near the top of the greens in regulation stats, Senden looks well suited to Kingston Heath.
Defending champion Rod Pampling also finished his PGA Tour season well with a pair of top 10s, and shouldn’t mind the switch of venue from Huntingdale to Kingston Heath. Both of these sandbelt courses tend to place a similar emphasis on control, accuracy and a classy short game. On the basis of Pampling’s home form in recent years, 28/1 is an enormous each-way price, particularly with regard to the place element. His last 12 Australian starts, dating back to 2004, have yielded ten top-20 finishes, including eight top 10s and five top fives. It is very hard to imagine Rod’s name being too far down the leaderboard on Sunday.
Were Baddeley able to boast the same recent Stateside form as this pair, we wouldn’t be able to get anything near 25/1 now. There have, however, been small signs of encouragement lately, with six of his last seven rounds being under 70. I also suspect that Baddeley may be one of those players for whom conditions in 2009 have rarely been suitable. Throughout his career, Badds has never really been consistent, tending to thrive on firm, fast courses but often struggling in target golf affairs. The fact he won at Kingston Heath as a teenager, with the field well strung out behind, suggests we should be prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt this week. Furthermore, his home record is also stellar, finishing no worse than ninth since 2005 including a win in this tournament two years ago.