Instead of taking a short-price gamble, I prefer to take advantage of the each-way value about others that Woods’ presence ensures. For it is only due to Tiger taking so much out of the book that the likes of SEAN O’HAIR, JIM FURYK and GEOFF OGILVY can be backed at odds where the place terms represent superb value.
O’Hair strikes me as a very likely contender on the basis of some promising efforts at Muirfield Village earlier in his career. He’s made all four cuts here, finishing 5th in 2007 and 12th the previous year. Quite clearly, O’Hair has improved plenty over the last few months and now looks a candidate every time he tees it up. Eleven 2009 starts have produced nine top-25s, including one win and three further top-5s. It is to his great credit that Sean came back to win at Quail Hollow having only recently caved in under pressure to Woods at Bay Hill.
Furyk is another 25/1 chance with very obvious claims, having already won this title in 2002. After three top-11s from his last four events, and a 65 to close on Sunday, he looks close to his best form and a probable winner in the near future. The combination of high-class iron play and world-class scrambling skills really is perfect for Furyk.
It was a tough call, but Ogilvy just edged out Perry and Zach Johnson. I can’t engineer an argument against Perry, beyond the fact that I never like backing defending champions and the same player can’t win every year. He is bound to be in contention. Johnson has already finished 2nd at Muirfield Village and has made massive strides of late. Its only nine months since we were backing him to win the low-grade Texas Open at 50/1 as he sought to save his card. Two more titles have followed since, along with several high finishes. If not this week, 66/1 about Zach winning the forthcoming US Open is well worth a bet.
Ogilvy took a while to come to terms with this course, but seems to have now with consecutive top-10s in the last two years. Its hard to see why he ever struggled because his high ball flight should be a massive asset around here, as it has proved on other ‘second shot’ courses. Earlier in the year, all the value about Ogilvy had disappeared, as bookies retreated in response to a golden run of three wins from seven events, most significantly for a third WGC title. However, after four less impressive if not disastrous efforts, he’s back at a far more attractive price. Despite not challenging for a few weeks, Ogilvy remains in good form, without a missed cut all year.