Status on the wider stage can be the only plausible reason for Harrington starting as favourite. Nearly two years have passed since his last victory, and he must have been disappointed to finish so far off the pace in the US Open, at what was an ideal venue. Even when in better form, he has very little pedigree in run-of-the mill PGA Tour events, and finished 54th on his sole visit to this one.
BO VAN PELT
Nobody in this field has played more consistently than Van Pelt in recent weeks. Prior to the US Open, Bo had made five out of six top tens, rewarding place backers four times in the process. His record at River Highlands during much inferior seasons is pretty decent too, with top ten finishes in two of the last three years. Should any of my picks withdraw, he’s first reserve.
Justin’s 80/1 triumph at the Memorial was very much a case of the one that got away, as he was my first reserve. In response, bookies make him a quarter of those odds to follow up, which rules me out. He does, however, have strong claims on the basis of a couple of top tens here already. Moreover, it may be slightly easier for him to win back to back than would usually be the case, as he should be fresh having not played in either event since.
Last year’s course-record busting victory was the least Perry deserves for a superb course record. His last eleven visits have yielded nine top 25s, including six top tens, and I wouldn’t have hesitated to back him for the follow-up, if only his recent from had been more convincing. He didn’t play badly at Pebble Beach, in completely unsuitable conditions, so must still rate as one of the men to beat.
Though his record is less consistent than Perry’s, Cink‘s two River Highlands victories also warrant the course specialist tag. His long game has been strong on all recent starts, so if Stewart can just get the putter going, he’ll go close.