Published: 08:33 19/03/2014
The tour returns to Arnold Palmer's event, and it's a week that the great man looks forward to greatly each year. This course plays to a stern 7,419 yards, and a par of 72. Palmer and his team have made some significant changes in the last five years, and the course now plays much harder, with undulating greens and plenty of run of areas that will test the short game. Bunkering has also been much enhanced, with the bunkers been much placed better to collect errant shots. Thankfully for the players the forecast is for it to be fairly calm, as the greens are going to be fairly firm; it would of been a nightmare to hold the ball on these greens with a strong crosswind.
On the betting front, this has been another course which has become a Tiger Woods benefit in the last decade or so. He has won here an amazing eight times in fourteen years, and is the defending champion this year. Tiger has suffered back spasms lately, but his form has been dreadful as well, and the doubters are starting to wonder about him winning again anytime soon and of course winning another green jacket in a few weeks time. If he doesn't go close at an event he absolutely loves, those alarm bells will be getting louder and louder. At a current best price of 7/1, he is readily swerved again this week.
We are really looking for players who are accurate and plod there way around the course, as large numbers can be made here if the more wild or impatient players start to unravel. Graeme McDowell has shown in recent weeks that his game is getting sharper, and he possesses a fine short game that will be much needed this week. Two 2nd places at this course show he knows how to play here, and it just may be the main price this week.
Kevin Na has a fine record here and his last four year finishing positions read 11,2,30 & 4th. He obviously has an affinity for the course and is in great form, 2nd last week. Though it has to be said he is one of the slowest players on tour, and if in contention, Sky's coverage might run into Monday. Torture to watch! I think he might be worth betting in the main market and also the Top Ten market.
For an outsider this week, I think Freddie Jacobson could go well at a big price. He has had a few glimmers of form lately, and will be motivated to try to get his game in good order for the upcoming Masters.
Graeme McDowell 18/1 E/W Boylesports
Kevin Na 33/1 E/W Paddy Power (6 places)
& also Top Ten Market 7/2 Stan James
Freddie Jacobson 100/1 bet365