The immediate impression left by a quick study of previous champions suggests that this is a nightmare event for punters and one where stakes should be kept to a minimum. There are mitigating circumstances however, in so far that this has always been a second division fixture, scheduled to coincide with one of the season’s elite events and therefore shorn of all potential top-class representatives. Against that backdrop, those previous winners don’t look quite so implausible, and long-term analysis of the placings show that in fact, outsiders have an average record at Montreux GC, Nevada.
Because this event is played at altitude on the same layout every year, course form tends to be slightly more important than usual. There are numerous players who could be described as course specialists to some degree. That’s not to suggest for a moment that this is a straightforward betting heat, as odds of 25/1 about the favourite illustrate. My initial ‘shortlist’ had more than 20 names on it.
After numerous withdrawals including one of my initial fancies, John Mallinger, three players compete for favouritism, Charley Hoffman, twice course champion Vaughan Taylor and the increasingly frustrating Kevin Na.
Hoffman has a slight advantage due to local connections, and is a player I’ve backed a few times in what has been his best ever season. While he certainly rates a threat due to the significant drop from the usual standard of opposition, one might expect a tournament favourite to hold a better course record than Hoffman’s moderate previous finishes of 36th and 29th. Taylor has never lost on this course, and again looks dangerous after finishing 8th behind Woods on Sunday, but others are preferred on price grounds.