Golf betting selections:
1.5pts ew LUKE DONALD @ 30/1 (BOYLESPORTS, 33/1 BET365)
I’m normally loathe to back Donald, because of a poor win ratio that saw him go four years without a title prior to May’s triumph in Madrid. His claims at Firestone, however, are too obvious to ignore. With six top-three finishes, amongst ten top 20s, he has been one of the most consistent players in 2010. Moreover, the emphasis on quality long-irons and scrambling is ideal, as illustrated by a decent record at Firestone, and an excellent one at the similar Torrey Pines. Five attempts at Firestone have yielded four top 25s, including two top tens.
1.5pts ew JIM FURYK @ 35/1 (GENERAL)
Furyk’s excellent Firestone record; eight top 25s, including five top tens; shows that while Firestone is a long course, shorter-hitters can thrive if compensating for their lack of power off the tee in the more important long-iron and scrambling departments. If it wasn’t for Tiger, Furyk would have won this title before, as he lost an epic play-off back in 2001. The fact the favourite looks markedly weaker than usual this time can only help his cause, as does four sub-par rounds for a top ten last week.
1pt ew SEAN O’HAIR @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Despite missing the cut when carrying our cash in the week immediately following The Open, O’Hair is definitely worth another chance. Seventh at St Andrews was his fourth straight top 12 and confirmed him as a likely candidate for the big summer US events. On the downside, Sean has struggled on two out of three attempts at Firestone, but three good rounds from four to finish 12th in 2008, showed he can play the course. Generally speaking, he has a good record on tough US tracks.
1pt ew NICK WATNEY @ 66/1 (GENERAL)
For me, 66/1 about Watney following consecutive seventh places at St Andrews and Aronimink represents the week’s best value. This long, and fairly straight, driver looks well overdue a third PGA Tour title, and with 11 top 25s this season, is at least due a second place payout. Granted, he’s done little on either previous visit to Firestone, but a win and ninth place on his last two visits to Torrey Pines prove that he has some pedigree for a long course with small greens.
1pt ew RICKIE FOWLER @ 80/1 (GENERAL, 90/1 SKYBET)
Regular followers of this column could justifiably have been left shaking their heads by Ross Fisher’s victory in Ireland, having backed him so many times recently without success. I hope, therefore, I can be forgiven for sticking with Fowler both this week and doubtless in the months ahead. Everyone agrees Rickie is an oustanding prospect, and his 14th at The Open remains one of the most eyecatching recent performances. This course is primarily about world-class iron play, and Fowler is already one of the best on that score. The fact he was runner-up on his last trip to Ohio, for the Memorial, is another positive.
0.5pt ew BEN CRANE @ 125/1 (GENERAL)
If I’m right about the correlation between Firestone and Torrey Pines, Crane must rate huge value at 125/1. He is the defending champion at the latter venue, and also made the top ten in 2009. Crane’s form at Firestone, which includes a top 20 in 2006, is harder to assess because his career was previously plagued by injury. Four sub-par rounds last week confirm that Ben remains close to the consistent form shown throughout this best season to date.