The one to be on: Ryan Moore
After an encouraging start at the Tournament of Champions, it’s been slow going for Ryan Moore.
I thought the Las Vegas native would come out strong in 2017 after pushing Rory McIlroy so close at the Tour Championship and then clinching the winning point at the Ryder Cup.
Following that tied third in Hawaii, though, Moore disappointed at the Pheonix Open and then missed the cut at Riviera.
There were signs of life last week in Mexico. His 32nd place finish covered up an opening 67 and a third round 69. That suggests he might be starting to play his way into form.
If there’s a place where we might be able to capitalise on that, it should be Innisbrook.
Consecutive top 10s at the Valspar Championship, third and fifth over the past two years, reveal it’s a course he really likes. I think there’s value in the 28/1 we’re being offered by some of the bookies.
But it will be interesting to see how the former deals with blowing up in the final round in Mexico. Has the latter has recovered from the virus that forced his withdrawal in that WGC event?
I’ve had a sneaky ante-post bet on Moore for Augusta so it’s about time he started to get into gear. Let’s hope it’s this week in Florida.
The each-way back: Graham Delaet and Charles Howell III
I’m going to cheat here and take two picks.
I like what Delaet has been doing this season. Top 10s in Phoenix and at the Honda are sandwiched between a top 20 at the Genesis Open. He is clearly in good touch.
Looking like he’s recovered from the chipping yips that have blighted him in the past, Delaet’s also a fan of Innisbrook with finishes of 17th, eighth and fifth in his last three visits.
45/1 is my kind of price.
Similar feelings lead me towards Charles Howell III. He loves it at the Valspar Championship and if you can find a better 40/1 shot with form figures of 14th, 10th and fifth in the last three years than good luck to you.
He had a lacklustre weekend at the Honda Classic last time out but that was the first time he’d finished out of the top 15 in eight previous starts going back to November.
I think we can forgive him one mishap.
The dark horse: Ollie Schniederjans
Jon Rahm might be dominating camera time in his rookie season but don’t forget about this guy.
I reckon the former world number 1 amateur has had a cracking start to PGA Tour life and is still a little bit under the radar.
Three top 10s – at the RSM Classic, Farmers Insurance Open and at the Genesis Open (where he recorded four rounds in the 60s on a tough Riviera track) – show he’s more than ready to compete at the top of the leaderboard.
Schniederjans knows this course well. He made his PGA Tour debut at Innisbrook two years ago and also competed here in the Southern Amateur. Familiarity at the Valspar Championship could be his friend.
With plenty of the tour’s leading lights taking a break after their exertions in Mexico, this is one of the softer line-ups he will face this season.
Odds of 80/1 are more than enough to tempt me in – especially with firms offering up to seven places.