2007 runner-up Ken Duke also came into calculations after a couple of decent performances over the past fortnight. Heís a very consistent player, and good on fast greens, so I expect weíll see him on the first couple of pages of the leaderboard. Nevertheless, its hard to part with cash on a player in his forties who has never won at this level, and only once on the Nationwide Tour this century. By the same logic, despite a great course record, Woody Austin is hard to back on his return to the course where he readily admitted to choking last year.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if either of English pair Justin Rose and Ian Poulter at last won their first PGA Tour title this week, as both showed much promise at Augusta. Both were on the final shortlist, as was 80/1 chance John Mallinger who finished 3rd in 2007 and 6th on his penultimate start at Redstone.
I’m less inclined towards defending champ Romero now he carries that extra pressure. Rather than take a week off after the Masters, the erratic Argentinian went straight to an event on the low-grade Las Americas Tour, where 5th place probably represents nothing out of the ordinary.
Rory Sabbatini has shown some promise in recent weeks, but is short enough at 28/1 on his course debut. Steve Stricker, 11th last year and seemingly there or thereabouts every week, is hard to back at fairly tight odds given his repeated inability to win since returning to the game’s pinnacle a couple of years ago.
My final selection is an outsider who has twice given us a run for our money already this year, SCOTT PIERCY. Consistently one of the longest hitters this year, at 80/1 Piercy looks a sporting bet to follow in the footsteps of Watney and Romero. He certainly has looked the leading Nationwide Tour recruit so far, making the top-20 in half of his starts and showing some promise on other occasions. Remembering that he won twice last season at the lower level, it won’t be any surprise at all if he breaks through in his rookie year.