Instead, I prefer GREG NORMAN after he restated his form credentials with 6th place at Sunningdale. Nobody at this level is fitter than the Shark, so the tough schedule shouldn’t bother him. He finished 4th on both previous attempts in this seniors major, and must be fancied for at least another place. Having gone cruelly close so many times in the ‘proper’ US Open, Greg would surely love to at least bag this title as a senior.
Of those who could enjoy that slight freshness advantage, JOHN COOK and SCOTT HOCH represent the best bets in my view. Cook did travel to England, but missed the cut so shouldn’t suffer any adverse effects. That failure was out of character for this consistent player, who could boast four top-10s from six consecutive top-20s going into Sunningdale. Most interestingly, Cook frequently tops the greens in regulation list on the Champions Tour; always the key statistic for US Opens, and one which doubtless lay behind last year’s 5th place.
It was no surprise to see Hoch opt out of last week’s major, as he never liked travelling over for the British Open in his heyday. Whilst that will never endear Hoch to British golf fans, he remains a strong challenger in the States. He hasn’t won since consecutive titles seventeen months ago, but has regularly made the places in the meantime, including two of his last three seniors outings. Last time out, he finished a very respectable 24th on the PGA Tour, the exact same result as Roberts used as his springboard to winning last week’s major.
My final selection is a bit more speculative, with 80/1 about SCOTT SIMPSON looking absolutely huge. As a former winner, and play-off loser, of the US Open back in the previous two decades, one would expect this to be Simpson’s favourite major. Its three years since he last won, but both the 2008 and 2009 seasons produced numerous top-10 finishes; the best of which was 3rd place at last year’s Seniors PGA. His 2009 campaign has barely started due to injury, with last week’s outing only his third since the layoff. In registering four sub-70 rounds for 13th place at Sunningdale, Simpson very much took the eye for this more favourable challenge.
Finally, I must mention two other big names to make my final shortlist. Tom Kite and Larry Mize have both been extremely consistent of late; Mize making the top-10 in all of his last seven events, Kite his last five. Given the lack of strength in depth in seniors golf that was so clearly illustrated last week, it would probably pay to back these two and all the above-named in the various win and place markets. In the interests of clarity though, I’ll stick to the usual five selections.
Good Luck!