Luke Donald let down his supporters in the Masters but they could get their money back with interest in this week's Heritage at Harbour Town Links in South Carolina.
Whilst the Englishman has recorded just the one career top five finish at Augusta, he's mastered the quirky Harbour Town circuit, having finished second twice and third once in the last three years. With his play-off win at the Transitions Championship still fresh in the mind, it's no wonder bookmakers rate him a single-figure favourite at 7/1 to get that all-important victory. That's less than half the price of his nearest challenger Matt Kuchar (16/1 Ladbrokes), who played superbly at the Masters but has no form to speak of here, which cannot be said for 2010 champ Jim Furyk (18/1 William Hill). Stan James are offering enhanced place terms of one quarter the odds the first six places in a bid to attract some post-Masters action.
What the 6,973 yards, par-71 (36-35) track lacks in length, it makes up for with challenging second shots to greens that are amongst the smallest on Tour. The power-hitters have no real advantage as it's all about finding the right spots on the fairway and the right side of the flags, making greens in regulation a key stat this week along with the ability to scramble, which helps explain Donald's superb record. The weather is set fair all week.
My Three Against the Field:-
Bo Van Pelt @ 25/1 Betfred
It's impossible to ignore the claims of Donald and he's a solid win pick for all the reasons already given, but I'm going to also put up three players with solid each-way chances, starting with the American whose remarkable consistency will surely be rewarded with a win sooner rather than later. Since missing the cut at Torrey Pines, he's posted form figures of 8-8-33-8-9-2-17, and is coming off a superb final round 64 at Augusta, which was the lowest of the week. Lying third in the total driving stats, which is a measure of both distance and accuracy, and first in the all-round ranking, you'd expect him to prosper here and he has, going closest two years ago when finishing third alongside Donald. He's as short as 16/1 in a place so snap up the 25s while it lasts.
Brian Davis @ 50/1 Stan James (1/4 odds, six places)
The Englishman is another 'horses for courses' pick having posted four top-25s in six appearances, including his infamous play-off loss in 2010 when he called a penalty stroke on himself at the first extra hole, thus handing victory to Jim Furyk. After that great act of sportsmanship, he will feel like the course owes him a win and he comes into this week in great form too with top-four finishes on his last two outings. That's all factored into his price of course but the 50/1 with Stan James still looks fair given their extra place concession.
Ernie Els @ 28/1 bet365
It was a toss-up between Furyk and Els for the final pick with the latter getting the nod on account of his superior price. The South African will have been gutted to miss out on Augusta due his lowly world-ranking and will be going all out to climb into the top-50 in his next few events, thereby earning himself an automatic place in the remaining Majors and WGC events. And Harbour Town affords him a superb chance to do just that as he's already finished in the top-10 here on seven occasions, including when runner-up in 2007. That was the last time, admittedly, but he's playing as well now as he's been for a while with two top-fives and a tied-12th in his last three starts, and I fancy he can do even better this week.
Luke Donald 4pts @ 7/1 Ladbrokes
Bo Van Pelt 1pt-each-way @ 25/1 Betfred
Brian Davis 0.75pts each-way @ 50/1 Stan James (1/4 odds, six places)
Ernie Els 1pt each-way @ 28/1 bet365