At more or less the same price, MIKE WEIR looks a far more reliable proposition. The Canadian is bidding for his third title on this course, having won the Nissan Open in 2003 and 2004. Disappointments since then can easily be ignored, as this last six months have seen him in better form than at any time since that peak period. He may well have won last week’s event had it not been curtailed a day early, but nevertheless, that runners-up spot makes it four top-4s and seven top-10s from his last nine outings. A record like that represents each-way value at its best.
With non-Americans filling over half the places here in the last five years, three of the other four places in the staking plan go to overseas players, all around the same price. ROBERT ALLENBY won here back in 2001, and has made the top-7 in three of the last four years. Nobody has been more consistent in terms of greens in regulation over the past 12 months, and it seems ridiculous that this once-prolific worldwide winner hasn’t landed a title in over three years. There must be a fear that he’s forgotten the art of finishing the job, but even taking that into account, 40/1 represents outstanding each-way value on one of his favourite courses.
Fellow Aussie AARON BADDELEY has shown promise at Riviera without matching Allenby’s record, but does strike me as someone who will master this course as he gets to know it better. He’s repeatedly prospered on one of the few other PGA Tour courses with small greens, Harbour Town Links, and a couple of top-15s here point to success at some stage. Two of his last four efforts, at Torrey Pines and in Qatar, have been notably promising, and it appears that Badds is coming right back to peak form after missing the winter period for the birth of his first child.