In contrast, the Augusta performances of RORY MCILROY and AARON BADDELEY were the perfect warm-up. Both played well, McIlroy finishing an excellent 20th on his Augusta debut, and Badds producing his best golf in ages to finish 17th.
Rory is bound to be winning his second tournament before long, and this looks the ideal time to start backing him again. As he showed at times at Augusta, (dropping five shots in the last three holes at Augusta), McIlroy still shows all the weaknesses of a novice. Bearing that in mind, his achievements so far are remarkable. After making the frame virtually every week in Europe, his first four US strokeplay starts have all yielded top-20s. This week, that inexperience may prove to be irrelevant for the first time as he will have more links experience than most of the field.
Baddeley is already well on the way towards building a record like that of Davis Love. In three visits so far, his results have been 1st, 2nd and 10th. He would have been impossible to back on form going into Augusta, but looked to have turned it around over the weekend. Furthermore, his aggressive putting stroke looks far better suited to these slow greens than the lightning surfaces of Augusta.
Nobody holds a better Harbour Town record than Love, who has won the event five times, made the top-4 on four other occasions, not to mention a stream of other top-20 finishes. In fact, backing Love in the Heritage used to be one of the most predictable bets of the year, and priced accordingly. However, after three relative failures at the venue, Davis is out to a very reasonable 40/1. Those efforts are easily explained by the fact that Love’s game was in dire straits at the time, and that argument no longer really applies. Since finishing last season in style to retain his card against all odds, there has been much promise from Love, even if he is still having nightmares with the flat stick. Hopefully this return to his favourite course will bring more confidence in this regard.