If there is one tournament anywhere in the world which should carry a health warning for punters, it would basically be any event played at Summerlin GC, Nevada. Summerlin has hosted a variety of PGA Tour fixtures over the years, with this sponsor taking over in 2008. This century, only two of the nine champions started at less than 100/1, including some completely unfathomable characters such as Marc Turnesa, Wes Short and Andre Stolz.
The reason for these shocks is simple; it is for all intents and purposes a putting contest. Since reverting to a 72-hole event in 2004, (previously it was played over 90 on three different courses), the highest winning total is a mere -22. Given this characteristic, it’s probably no surprise that the one top-class player with a great tournament record is this week’s favourite, Jim Furyk, whose last 11 visits have yielded ten top-25s, including four top-4s and two wins. Does that make him a good value bet at 12/1? Probably not when considering that Jim hasn’t won anywhere for over two years, but he definitely starts as the man to beat.
Basically though, it would take a brave man to take short prices here, and for that reason I’m immediately disregarding all of the players who contested last week’s Presidents Cup; a list that includes Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan and Tim Clark.
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In fact, I was highly tempted to ignore anyone under 50/1, but as he comes here fresh and off two decent results, RORY SABBATINI just sneaks into the staking plan at 33/1. As I’ve written before, target golf is Rory’s forte, and though he couldn’t quite deliver for us a fortnight ago at Atunyote, he wasn’t beaten far in 12th place. Earlier this century, Sabbatini looked like he was building a course specialist’s record, registering three consecutive top-10s between 2001 and 2003 including second on the first of those occasions. He’s also often performed well at the back-end of the season.
The other obvious candidate is Nick Watney, who might have considered himself a little unlucky not to have made the Presidents Cup side. Watney finished sixth on his course debut in 2005; an effort that reads particularly well given the vast strides made since. The only thing that kept him out of the staking plan was my desire to keep sub-50/1 chances to a minimum.