Europeans Luke Donald and Carl Pettersson were on my initial short-list, as both have plenty of good form at Riviera. Similarly Charles Howell loves it around here, and would be a strong candidate on the basis of his season-opening effort at Waialae. The best outsider in the pack could be George McNeill, who is ideally accurate from tee to green and seems to have improved over recent months.
All were discarded though in favour of my sole American pick, HUNTER MAHAN. I’m prepared to overlook the fact that Mahan has yet to better 31st in three tries at Riviera, because he was, (and still is), learning the game. A regular near the top of the greens in regulation stats and a good player of courses that require shot-making skills, I reckon Mahan will prosper here over the long term. Last week’s missed cut was no surprise given his poor form in pro-ams, so I prefer to look at his previous fast finishing 11th at the Buick Invitational. Make no mistake, Mahan is going places and is probably the best US prospect besides Anthony Kim. He remains well worth following when available at this week’s 66/1 quote.
NORTHERN TRUST OPEN
3pts ew MIKE WEIR @ 16/1 (GENERALLY AVAILABLE)
1.5pts ew AARON BADDELEY @ 45/1 (BETFRED, SKYBET)
1.5pts ew RORY SABBATINI @ 45/1 (BETFRED, TOTE)
1.5pts ew ROBERT ALLENBY @ 40/1 (BET365, BETFRED, VCBET)
1pt ew HUNTER MAHAN @ 66/1 (LADBROKES, PADDY POWER, TOTE)
2008/2009 STATS: -111pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts
More betting: Long-term bets; Johnnie Walker Classic betting guide
Equipment news: Gel Golf a winner for Anthony Kang
Gallery: Castle Stuart Golf Links pictures
Notice board: Pro-Celebrity golf aids Victorian bushfires Red Cross appeal