As DAVID TOMS went slightly off the boil in the latter half of 2009, his form has to be taken on trust. Nevertheless, his Waialae record is so good that at 33/1, it must be worth taking that chance. Besides running away with this title in 2006, Toms has never finished worse than 13th in five visits, making the top four on three of those. He started last season strongly with second place here, and was rather unlucky to not add a 13th PGA Tour title last season after several more near misses.
STEPHEN AMES never looked like keeping up in last week’s putting contest, but registered some superb long-game stats and is much likelier to prosper around this track. He already has four top 15s from six tries at Waialae, and as the final PGA Tour winner of 2009 would have to make any shortlist based on recent form. Few will be better equipped if the wind gets up.
Another course specialist worth a punt is KEVIN NA, despite a previous failure to finish the job. Na is fancied to finally win an event in 2010 having registered nine top-ten finishes last term. Waialae suits his precision iron play perfectly, as illustrated by top-five finishes in both the last two renewals.
A relative course novice that I can see thriving is TIM CLARK, who finished a respectable 12th on his sole previous visit. Accurate, high-class players tend to make headway at Waialae as holding the greens is no straightforward task, especially if they also have a classy touch around the greens. Clark ticks all the right statistical boxes, even if he is totally unreliable under pressure.
Robert Allenby’s pair of victories before Christmas entitle him to plenty of respect, especially as he too can usually be relied upon to hit most greens in regulation. It’s only the shortened price that is putting me off. Pat Perez has a couple of top tens here and looked in good touch at Kapalua, but has a dire win ratio.
Lucas Glover missed the cut on his sole previous visit, and is impossible to fancy after a poor weekend performance in the lead. Brian Gay comes into it on the basis of last year’s fifth place, but less so on his previous Waialae efforts. Having delivered a place payout on four previous occasions here, Charles Howell has to make any shortlist.
Others that also made that shortlist include George McNeill, who twice finished runner-up during the Fall Series and has made three consecutive top 20s on this course. Jason Dufner had his moments in 2009, and no doubt we’re all looking to see more of young Rickie Fowler, who made a huge impression at the end of the year. I also toyed with the idea of backing Tom Lehman at a huge price. Lehman is in decent nick, winning recently in Argentina and making the top 15 in the final Fall Series event. At his peak, the former Open champion used to love this place.