Now a few words about the other main candidates. Seeing as his golf has been pretty much flawless of late, Paul Casey will doubtless be a popular selection. However, he can’t win or be placed every week, and to be honest, I’d rather Paul kept a low profile to keep his US Open price out. Vijay Singh is another returning to form just in time for the next major and must come into the argument with four top-5s on this course since winning in 1997. In contrast, a couple of big names who are impossible to fancy in their current mood are Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington.
In direct contrast to fellow Englishman Luke Donald, who has been relegated to my ‘avoid list’ after yet another let-down, IAN POULTER very much remains on my ‘winners waiting to happen’ list. I often liked backing Poulter at decent odds when he was primarily based in Europe, because while he was never consistent, he was very much a winner. Eight wins in eight seasons for a player who was rarely close to favouritism tells its own story. Poulter has markedly improved in the last year, in my view ever since finishing a gallant if distant second in the Open. He followed up by topping the European Ryder Cup scoring list, and his 2009 form is plainly world-class, with his last eight PGA Tour starts have yielded six top-20s including two top-5s.
Several other top-class players could take a hand over the weekend. I’m loathe to write off classy prospects Camilo Villegas and Nick Watney, even if they have yet to really shine at Muirfield Village. Though not quite at their level, similar comments apply to Kevin Na. Mike Weir is always worth considering around a course where he’s made the top-4 three times, including when 2nd last year.
Justin Rose has excellent course form credentials, finishing 2nd, 14th and 4th amongst four tries, and did offer a small hint of a return to form last week. More at least than Adam Scott, who will need to improve massively on recent efforts if he intends to make the top-5 for a third year in a row. Last week’s winner Steve Stricker has no worries on the recent form front, but hasn’t made the top-10 so far in seven attempts here.