To my mind, an infinitely superior strategy involves a series of each-way bets amongst the next batch of high-class candidates. At odds ranging from 28/1 to 33/1 about the likes of RORY MCILROY, ANTHONY KIM, ZACH JOHNSON and JIM FURYK, we’re getting double Woods’ win odds about a top-5 finish. And all of them look rock-solid contenders for at least that position.
Firstly to McIlroy, who is no forlorn hope by any means on his course debut. 13th place at PGA National last week was a perfectly respectable effort amongst a predictably closely bunched field dominated by outsiders, and retained the promise shown at the Matchplay. Without a couple of untimely disaster holes, the Northern Irish teenager would have added another top-5 finish to his growing collection, which still reads five from his last eight starts. Having won his maiden title on similarly ultra-fast greens in Dubai last month, and boasting very strong driving distance and greens in regulation stats, Doral could be the ideal venue for McIlroy’s talents.
It certainly has proved that way for Johnson and Furyk over the years, even if they lack the driving distance of some of their peers. Zach has finished 3rd, and 9th twice in the last three years, never coming into the event in anywhere near the form he does this time, having won twice since the autumn. Johnson is always a factor when the greens are very fast, which is just enough for me to overlook shorter odds than we’d usually see about him.
Florida resident Furyk has made great use of his local connections over the years, winning on this course in 2000, and twice finishing runner-up including last year. Furthermore, though he only reached the last-16 stage after a trouncing at the hands of an on-fire Ross Fisher, I was impressed with Furyk’s form at the World Matchplay. He never prospers in that event, and makes for a much more serious contender this week.
At last Kim can be backed at a decent price again. Odds of 33/1 are a consequence of two failures on the Race to Dubai in Malaysia and Australia, though in fairness neither venue was exactly ideal for his big-hitting, aggressive style. Kim is making his Doral debut, but this
layout looks much more suitable and I can see him running up Tiger-esque figures around here over the years ahead. Note his best effort of 2008 came on another championship course with fast greens that favoured his high-ball flight, Quail Hollow.