Instead, I’m inclined towards supporting a few players who are still looking for their first Euro Tour title, though in each case it is simply a matter of patience. A useful historical precedent could lie in the 2007 result, when Ross Fisher landed his first title ahead of another promising youngster Joost Luiten. Clearly this is a course that doesn’t penalise inexperience too badly.
So long as the weekend’s exertions at Hazeltine haven’t taken too much of a toll, CHRIS WOOD is surely up to winning on this links course, having finished top 5 in both of the last two Opens. It’s hard to read anything too meaningful into last year’s missed cut, as it was one of his earliest professional events and contained both extremes with rounds of 77 and 64. Better in my view to look at this summer’s form, which has yielded 11 straight cuts, including four top 10s.
DANNY WILLETT was also disappointing on last year’s debut in what was one of his very first professional events. Unlike Wood, there is no top-level evidence that Willett is a proficient links player, but he has at least shown good form in bad weather, as one might expect from a golfer from the north of England. He remains a player to follow very closely in the years ahead, and recent form points to an imminent breakthrough win. Five of his last six starts have yielded top 25s, four times inside the top 12.
Two more that will surely be winning before long are Gareth Maybin and ALEXANDER NOREN. The former has proved very frustrating for us so far, never more so than when missing the places by one shot last time out, despite sharing a four-shot lead with four holes to play. He is interesting on his course debut, but Noren looks likelier given finishes of third and 12th already on this course. We have to overlook a lack of recent form, but that is accounted for in his odds of 50/1.
PETER LAWRIE could be decent value at 66/1, having finished 6th here in 2006. Lawrie has been playing solidly all summer, driving very accurately and scrambling well. His best finish was third in the Spanish Open, and the Irishman also made the top 10 in very bad weather at the Ballantines Championship.