« DAILY NOTES - August 8, 2008 | Main | THE WEEK AHEAD (8/4 - 8/10) »


Based on realistic chances of winning, not the bookmaker's handle...

Phil Mickelson (USA) (14-1) – Not the strongest of favorites here as his game has been something of a roller coaster of late.  Last week’s T4 at Firestone seems a good omen (as did May’s win at Colonial), but no top 10s among his five other most recent starts is a bit dicey.  Interesting stat: since losing the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he has only one top 10 (a T5 at this year’s Masters) in his last nine Major starts.
Padraig Harrington (Ireland) (16-1) – The now two-time British Open champion enters the PGA ranked 3rd in the world and obviously on a roll, his T20 at Firestone (his only post-Open start) being a touch misleading as it was marred by a second-round 75.  Possesses an all-around game that seems to adapt equally well to both links and American parkland-style golf.  Figures to be heard from.
Vijay Singh (Fiji) (18-1) – Just when age and iffy recent play had me dropping him to the second tier, last week’s victory at Firestone reminds us that the 45-year-old Singh isn’t quite done yet.  Of course, he hasn’t logged a top-10 Major finish since the 2006 U.S. Open, missing four of nine cuts en route – so form notwithstanding, wager here at your peril.
Sergio Garcia (Spain) (19-1) – Perennially rated a Major championship contender but thus far in 2008, he’s finished T18 at the U.S. Open and T51 at the Open Championship after being listed among the low-odds favorites going in.  I don’t know that form much matters here; his tee-to-green game remains elite, his putting less so.  Bound to win one of these sooner or later…but which one seems anyone’s guess.
Jim Furyk (USA) (23-1) – Currently ranked 13th in the world, Furyk arrives in solid form, most notably having tied for 5th at last month’s Open Championship.  Possesses the sort of strong tee-to-green game favored by U.S. Open and PGA Championship courses – but it still feels like he’s rated so highly by oddsmakers simply because no other names are jumping out.
Ernie Els (South Africa) (24-1) – Big Ernie says his game is coming around – as he’s said this faithfully, whenever asked, since the middle of spring.  While some Butch Harmon-related improvement is apparent, is the game’s once-best swing ready to hold up on a Major Sunday?  Curiously for a man with two U.S. Open wins, Els has recorded only four top 10s in 15 career PGA starts – but three of them have come in his last four appearances.
Anthony Kim (USA) (25-1) – America’s best under-25 is a trendy pick wherever he tees it up now, particularly after tying for 7th at the Open Championship.  Twice a winner in the U.S. in 2008, and seems more likely to emerge at Oakland Hills than he did on unfamiliar British linksland.  To borrow from the late Herbert Warren Wind, Kim “does not suffer from an inferiority complex.”
Lee Westwood (England) (25-1) – Westwood is another who comes in playing well (3rd at June’s U.S. Open, T2 last week at Firestone) but a tie for 67th at the Open Championship – when he seemed a likely contender – gives pause to wonder.  Has never logged a top 10 in 11 career PGA starts.
Kenny Perry (USA) (30-1) – Arguably the world’s hottest player, Perry hasn’t even entered a 2008 Major, and only played in the PGA among golf’s four marquee events last year.  A famously streaky player who’s been running hot since mid-May. Nearly won this title in 1996, bogeying the 72nd hole before losing in sudden death to Mark Brooks.
Adam Scott (Australia) (32-1) – The world’s 8th-ranked player remains a Major championship enigma, frequently contending in regular events worldwide (winning twice thus far in 2008) but failing to record a Major top 10 since the 2006 PGA.  At age 28, he should just be entering his prime years…but does he possess a competitive gear we haven’t yet seen?
Geoff Ogilvy (Sweden) (33-1) – Running a bit cooler than he was from  March through June, but possesses the sort of game (both physical and mental) that one always expects to see rising high at a Major.  Though he missed the cut at Birkdale and tied for 68th last week at Firestone, Ogilvy has finished among the top 10 in the last three PGAs and seems especially well-suited for Oakland Hills’ U.S. Open-type layout.
Retief Goosen (South Africa) (35-1) – Like compatriot Els, Goosen reports his game to be on the mend, but the reality is that prior to last week’s T4 at Firestone, his last U.S. top 10 came all the way back in March at Doral.  Also like Els, this two-time U.S. Open winner hasn’t done much in the PGA, a T6 in 2005 being his lone finish better than 23rd in 10 career starts.
Stewart Cink (USA) (45-1) – Remains a popular weekly pick in some quarters due some very impressive spring and early summer form, but in two starts since his June win at Hartford, he missed the cut at Royal Birkdale and tied for 43rd last week at Firestone.  Tied for 16th as rookie at the 1996 U.S. Open here…but that hardly seems relevant now.
Robert Karlsson (Sweden) (45-1) – Though not a winner in 2008, few golfers have played more consistently excellent golf worldwide than Karlsson.  Having never bettered 29th in six career PGA starts, he may not look a likely winner – but this is a fine darkhorse pick, generally pulling 50-1, at least.
Ian Poulter (England) (45-1) – Lifted an otherwise nondescript year with a charge to 2nd place at the Open Championship, and appears to still be in decent form following a T16 at Firestone.  Tied for 9th at the ’06 PGA at Medinah – but that’s his only other career Major top 10.
Henrik Stenson (Sweden) (45-1) – Has enjoyed a quietly strong season in Europe, failing to win but recording eight top 10’s, including a T3 at July’s Open Championship.  Of course, that was his first Major top 10, and his record in limited American appearances is hardly head-turning.  But with his blend of power and touch, he figures well for a place like Oakland Hills.
K.J. Choi (Korea) (48-1) – Though the halfway leader at the Open Championship, Choi closed with 75-79 to tie for 16th, a performance fairly representative of his year since finishing 41st at Augusta.  Still, his game appears at least somewhat on the upswing, he’s finished among the top 10 in two of the last four PGAs and he’s as mentally tough as they come.
Trevor Immelman (South Africa) (50-1) – Okay, so his form has been less-than-elite (save a playoff loss in Memphis) since winning the Masters, but this is an undeniably elite talent who will not stay quiet for long.  I’ve seen him listed elsewhere at 80-1...and that’s a good bet.
Justin Rose (England) (55-1) – Adam Scott II, only he’s ranked 13th instead of 8th.  A genuine world-class talent, but 2008 finishes of T36 (the Masters), MC (U.S. Open) and T70 (the Open Championship) just aren’t good enough.  Still, he started young, and is only 28…
Mike Weir (Canada) (55-1) – More a hunch than anything else.  Hasn’t bettered 17th in a 2008 Major but has two top 5’s in his last five PGA Tour starts.

Posted on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 12:47AM by Registered CommenterDaniel | CommentsPost a Comment

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