As for the other course specialists, its surely asking too much for Boo Weekley to win this for a third year in a row. In any case, Boo hasn’t produced anywhere near his best form this year, perhaps as a reaction to his increasing status as a ‘star’. Ernie Els, arguably the best links player in the world over the past decade, cannot be ruled out, but is still priced as if he wasn’t showing clear signs of terminal decline. On the evidence of Augusta, Stewart Cink remains badly out of form.
I prefer the chances of another former winner, JUSTIN LEONARD, despite missing the cut at Augusta. The Masters has always been this former Open champion’s weakest major, and having the weekend off could work in his favour now. Going into the season’s first major, Leonard was in deceptively good form, registering his best ever finishes on two courses where he’d never previously prospered; Redstone and Doral. Since winning here in 2002, Leonard hasn’t really set Harbour Town alight, but in fairness, he was struggling during many of those seasons.
Of the rest, this doesn’t really look like big-hitting Paul Casey’s type of course. It does look perfect for short and steady Luke Donald, though he failed miserably on three visits earlier in his career. Camilo Villegas finished 7th here last year, and after a much improved effort at the Masters, deserves a place on any shortlist. Australian trio Rod Pampling, Nick O’Hern and Matthew Goggin are all capable of springing a big-priced surprise, following on from their compatriots Baddeley and Peter Lonard. Two more nicely priced home candidates to make the initial short-list were Matt Kuchar and Charles Howell.
This may be the perfect opening for one of the best players yet to win on the PGA Tour, KEVIN NA. He’s been around for so long that it came as something of a surprise to realise Na is still only 26. He’s always looked a quality prospect, and inspection of his 2009 form suggests points to significant improvement being made. His nine events so far this year have produced three top-5 finishes and seven top-25s. That points to an imminent breakthrough, and having made the top-4 here in 2007 and two further top-20s, Harbour Town looks one of the likeliest venues.
VERIZON HERITAGE CLASSIC
2.5pts ew RORY MCILROY @ 22/1 (VCBET, STAN JAMES, SKYBET)
2pts ew AARON BADDELEY @ 25/1 (GENERAL)
2pts ew KEVIN NA @ 28/1 (BET365, VCBET, SPORTINGBET)
1.5pts ew DAVIS LOVE @ 40/1 (GENERAL, 45/1 BET365)
1.5pts ew JUSTIN LEONARD @ 40/1 (GENERAL)