Mickelson has played this for the last two years, and perhaps not unpredictably, failed to challenge both times. Phil is renowned for losing his form over the autumn months and when playing outside the US. This penal layout is probably not his ideal set-up, although the counter-argument would be an awesome US Open record. It also must be added that Lefty has rather confounded expectations this autumn, winning the Tour Championship in September and starring in the Presidents Cup. Furthermore, he did win the HSBC Champions Trophy in China a couple of seasons ago; his first notable overseas success; so shouldn’t be written off.
Still, I rate the other joint-favourite, Harrington, a much bigger danger. After Lee Westwood‘s long overdue success in Portugal, Harrington has no competition for the title of ‘Best player without a win in 2009’, and all recent form suggests he will end that sequence quickly. Leaving aside a strangely disappointing 26th place in the Dunhill Links, Pod has been right in the thick of it for his last eight events. As he finished second here last year, Ireland’s finest must rate a very serious candidate indeed. My only slight concern is that, even during this good recent run, his 2009 driving accuracy stats are appalling and that could prove costly around here. Nevertheless, his chance is too obvious to ignore as at least a win only bet.
It’s hard to fault Ernie’s claims. He was tied with Harrington as runner-up last year, and also made that position in the shortened 2006 renewal behind Scott. In between he missed the cut, but that can be explained by the fact he was suffering from a stomach virus and nearly pulled out. Having just turned 40 and generally performed below his best for a couple of years, there are legitimate concerns about whether Els is still the elite player of old, but equally he’s shown plenty of top-class form this summer. Eighth and sixth in the season’s final two Majors, plus second place at the Barclays, reads pretty well.
Despite the fact he’s making his course debut, Ogilvy looks a massive price at 25/1. It was around this time last year
that Ogilvy really made a march towards the game’s pinnacle, winning three times in six events, including two stunning victories in the Mercedes Championship and WGC-Matchplay. His form slipped back afterwards, but there were signs in the late summer that Ogilvy was getting back to his world-class best, most notably when seventh at TPC Boston. With the Australian season around the corner, I’m expecting big things in the weeks ahead. As a former US Open winner, with a high ball-flight and a generally good record on tough, Major golf courses, Sentosa should be ideal.