A study of recent leaderboards in this long-standing PGA Tour fixture offers one crystal clear conclusion; this is not an event to lay out big stakes. Well over half of those to have filled the top-5 places this century started the tournament at over 100/1, and just under half were over 200/1. Surprisingly none of the last six winners were outsiders, but the previous three were among the biggest-priced winners ever seen on the PGA Tour. Given that every leaderboard has produced a bunch finish with those rank outsiders very close to victory, I suspect that we may be due for another shock.
That’s not to deny the very strong claims of the front-three in the betting, headed by defending champion Kenny Perry at 9/1. Perry was quite outstanding on his latest start, shooting a final round 63 to land his second title of the season. Perhaps its time to acknowledge that the 48 year-old is reversing the ageing process, and after decades as a PGA Tour journeyman, is now genuinely amongst the world’s very best. However, given my regular rules about supporting players going for back to back wins, single figured odds make little appeal.
Similarly strong cases could be made for Steve Stricker and David Toms. The former is relentlessly consistent, and has one very interesting piece of course form, finishing 4th here in 2004. That came right in the middle of a terrible spell for Stricker, and therefore emphasises that he certainly knows the key to success at Deere Run. I was sorely tempted to back Toms, who has done everything but win this year. Defeat to Perry at the Travelers Championship was DT’s third runners-up spot and seventh top-10 of the year to date.
Any could easily win, but even when the winners of this event have been fairly obvious, they haven’t run away with it. I am confident that at least a couple of outsiders will be bang in contention come Sunday, and that leaves me cold about taking short prices. Its also worth adding that the two other players near the head of the market are confidently overlooked. Zach Johnson on the basis of his failure to better 20th in seven tries on this course, and Lucas Glover because he must surely be knackered after several weeks keeping to his commitments, despite becoming US Open champion. In any case, Glover‘s five previous tries never yielded a top-10.