The 93rd rolls into town at the Atlanta Athletic Club with so many players in top form it is going to be hard to pick a winner this week. Final rounds at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational see Bookies favourite Rory McIlroy 10/1 shoot 67, world number one Luke Donald 14/1 shooting 66, which could have been even better but for some uncharacteristic missed putts from inside 10 foot. Rickie Fowler 33/1 shot a final round 66, Lee Westwood 14/1 and Aaron Baddeley 125/1 along with winner Adam Scott 25/1 all shooting final round 65s. How the bookies make Tiger Woods 20/1 is anyones guess, but on this showing he will be lucky to make the top 25, ditto for Phil Mickelson 25/1 who seemed to slam it into reverse after a good start. Apart from anything else, their respective powers on the dance floor and the power to will a putt in have eluded them both.
The Atlanta Athletic Club moved from its original site where Bobby Jones Jnr was a member, to its current location back in 1967. Robert Trent Jones designed the Highlands course, which played host to the 1976 US Open won by Jerry Pate and the 1981 and 2001 USPGAs. The Highland course now measures 7,467 yards but can be stretched to a staggering 7,613 yards with a finishing hole that measures 507 yards. Not bad if it was a par5 but this is a par4 and was the hardest hole on the course at the 2001 Championship, look for some late drama here come Sunday.
My picks for the win: Lee Westwood 14/1, I think if Lee is to win a major it will be in the US and on one of the tougher tracks. Lee is bang on form and has been working hard on the part of his game that has let him down so often, his short game. Tee to green there are not many better ball strikers in world golf, could this be the year of the “Cubby Slam”.
Another player who is bang on form is Luke Donald 14/1 apart from some missed putts Luke would have pushed Adam Scott hard at Firestone, but I think that could be to Luke’s advantage this week, there are not many back to back winners, Luke is ready for his first major and his game is great condition.
Rory McIlroy 10/1 and is the bookies favourite and seemed at home at firestone shooting two 67s and two 68s, Rory took a lot of stick for the lack of a game plan for the Open Championship and not adapting his swing. He seems a lot more at home on US style courses so look for him to want to put one over on his critics and finish the season clutching two major championships.
My each way picks: Jason Day 25/1 seems to bring his A game to the majors this year, two 2nd place finishes at The Masters and US Open and a solid tied 30th at The Open Championship in some of the toughest conditions and a forth place at Firestone, sees Jason coming into this tournament ready to make the step up.
Rickie Fowler 33/1 seems to have a new found belief in himself after watching his friend Rory win his first major, Rickie seems to have taken heart from that and with a great finish for tied fifth at The Open Championship and his runners-up position at the WGC Bridgestone, he comes into this with his swing and mind in great shape.
Francesco Molinari 100/1 its not been a great year for either of the brothers, but Francesco is a great ball striker and he has been working hard on his putting which seems to be paying dividends. His final three rounds at the WGC Bridgestone were 64, 68 and 69, which see him finish tied fifteenth place and at 100/1 could be worth a punt.
I will add one more each way bet as there is no tournament on the European tour this week. It would be a fitting tribute after what has happened in his homeland this year but Ryo Ishikawa 100/1 is also great value and is in superb form, look for Ryo to become one of the youngest winners of a major championship.