GOLF BETTING: The PGA Tour starts today with the SBS Championship which is restricted to players who won an event on last year. Defending champ Ogilvy is fancied but Steve Stricker heads the betting.
&campaignWilliam Hill’s Tim Sheppard previews the tournament.
The season-opening event on the PGA Tour, has a new sponsor and therefore is now called the SBS Championship, but it is the return of a familiar face in Paul Casey that is of most interest in Hawaii.
Casey was having a brilliant season last year, peaking at third in the world rankings, before injury intervened at the Open and ruined his season. Now though the current world number eight is raring to go and one has to be tempted by the generous looking 20/1 with William Hill about a fairytale comeback.
It will be no stroll in the park for the Englishman though as the field is literally a field of champions, as is the tradition, as to line up in Hawaii you have to have won an event on the PGA Tour the previous season.
Casey qualifies through his victory at the Shell Houston Open and he is one of seven players to have never played in this event before. That list includes PGA winner Y.E. Yang (33/1 to win in Hawaii).
Of course a certain Tiger Woods is absent, as the revelations of his misdemeanours continue to hang over the world number one, although it is doubtful he would have taken part in any case. No one knows when Woods will be back playing but at least the PGA Tour carries on and the players will try to get golf some headlines for the right reasons.
Geoff Ogilvy created some positive headlines at the beginning of last year with some tremendous play in this very tournament. The Australian won what was then known as the Mercedes-Benz Championship by six shots and you can get 9/1 on the Aussie completing the double in Hawaii.
At the head of the betting though it is the current number three in the world Steve Stricker, at 8/1. The American has a best finish of second in the tournament (in 2008) and he has been a good starter on the Tour in the past three seasons.
In 13 starts in the first two months of the year since 2007 he has six top-10 finishes. It is 2/5 for him to increase that to seven.
Stricker’s compatriots – Sean O’Hair and Zach Johnson – are next in the betting at 12/1. Last year O’Hair had the lowest final round score of 65 as he finished fourth. If he starts how he ended last year then his price will look huge. Johnson also did well last year as he finished for a respectable tie for sixth on -15.
The latter is one of seven Major winners in the field. The others in the field that I am yet to mention are last year’s Open winner at Turnberry, Stewart Cink (22/1); last year’s US Open winner, the young and improving, Lucas Glover (25/1); two-time Major winner Angel Cabrera (20/1) and last but by no means least is Retief Goosen (14/1).
The South African is skipping defending the title that he won last year at the Africa Open in his homeland, to instead take part in this more illustrious tournament. Therefore he will be hoping that the gamble pays off.
However, the best gamble could well be on the returning Casey at a relatively big price as he bids to show what the golfing world has been missing and maybe, just maybe, create some good headlines for the PGA Tour.