At 18/1 for his first strokeplay event in the States, McIlroy must start the shortest price of any player in that position ever before. The Belfast teenager was another of Ogilvy’s victims in Arizona, but he did nothing but enhance his fast growing reputation by reaching the quarter-finals. In particular, his late burst to come from behind and eliminate one of our selections, Hunter Mahan, was reminiscent of Tiger. Ogilvy said after their quarter-final that he expected Rory to be in the world’s top-3 within a year, and that incredible achievement does appear very plausible.
Rory’s biggest challenge in the weeks ahead will be coping with the growing media scrum. Up until now, nothing appears to be fazing him on this relentless march towards legendary status. He’s made the top-5 on five of his last seven starts, including a win in the prestigious Dubai Desert Classic. Most of those fields, particularly in the Middle East, were every bit as competitive as this PGA Tour affair, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t carry on in the same vein.
It also bodes well for McIlroy that this week’s key stats are areas in which he’s excelled on the European Tour; greens in regulation, putting average and par-3 performance. And it’s because BRIAN GAY has also excelled in those areas that I’m prepared to overlook a lack of course form and chance my arm at 66/1.
Gay’s only previous visit to this venue produced a missed cut in 2007, but his form over the last year suggests he’s improved since that period. He was a model of consistency last summer, and has continued in the same vein recently, registering three top-10s and six top-20s from his last eight starts. That tells me that a second PGA Tour title could well be on its way very soon, and he’s worth persevering with when odds around 66/1 are available, let alone the massive 95.0 currently available on Betfair.