So much points to a strong challenge from Gay, who has been a rock of
consistency in the year since landing an 80/1 touch for this column. He
really does have the perfect game for this short, low-scoring course,
but having waited so long for a first title it could be asking too much
for him to cope with all the extra pressures of being defending
champion. His odds are also only a quarter of those available last year.
is always respected in this company, but doesn’t strike me as
particularly well suited to the layout. Verplank on the other hand does
and could offer good value at 50/1 if returning to the form shown when
finishing 3rd in Florida last November. He made the shortlist, but was
overlooked on the basis of three very disappointing efforts so far this
season. Steve Marino, 8th and 2nd these last two years and a regular
failed selection of mine, came in for extremely close consideration.
Eventually he was overlooked because of three consecutive missed cuts,
which are completely out of character.
Two of my remaining four
selections are looking for their first wins, KEVIN NA and BRENDON DE
JONGE. Na is making his course debut, but would appear to have ideal
conditions to land that first title. He is accurate off the tee, a good
putter and a player that specialises in quality iron approach play. He
made the top-5 in the same two events as the headline selection David
Toms, and confirmed his wellbeing with three sub-70 rounds at Riviera
over the weekend.
De Jonge has looked one of the best Nationwide
Tour recruits, and registered his best finish of the season in 10th
behind the superstars at Riviera on Sunday. He also made the top-10
here last year, on a rare start at the higher level, and so long as he
continues the fine iron play and putting of recent starts, De Jonge
looks bound to be a big candidate over the weekend.