One golfer stands out above all else for Niall Lyons in the CJ Cup market.
The Club at Nine Bridges is welcomed back with open arms by the PGA tour this season after a very successful inaugural staging last year where Justin Thomas continued on his merry way to another victory. He wasn't the only winner though as the course received high praise from those who turned up last year and an even more stellar field makes the trip this week.
The course is at altitude so balls fly further although that may be mitigated by the temperature which is usually a fair bit more chilly than the sauna they experienced last week. Temperature is a huge factor in golf scoring and it was curtailed last year with a score of 9 under being good enough for a playoff. The wind plays its part here as well and it was no surprise to see a wind specialist in Marc Leishman narrowly miss out. He goes here again after last weeks flawless display and must hold every chance.
Justin Thomas can win on any type of venue it seems and renders him tough to judge from a punting perspective. He is a fair 6/1 poke this week but the field is deep and plenty of competition means I am happy to let him win unbacked at those odds. Koepka makes more appeal to me personally at double figures but as of yet I am unconvinced about motivation away from the States in these type of events. This being only the second year on this course makes our task somewhat difficult but the difficult nature of the course more than likely will produce a high profile winner.
I have tried hard to muster up some bets in this event but one stands out for me and only one, IAN POULTER (best price 80-1). There are only 12 others in this event that are ranked higher in the world rankings to start. That isn't everything of course, but only a few months ago the Englishman was hovering just outside the top 25 mark. He broke our hearts beating Beau Hossler in a playoff at the Houston Open earlier in the year and has backed that up with some solid finishes.
7th Harbour Town, 11th Sawgrass, 20th Wentworth, 25th Shinnecock, 21st Le Golf National, 10th Firestone are all consistent performances on some of the more tougher venues he has faced this year. He hasn't been pulling up any trees lately but that is of little concern to me as he was solely focused on his big major in Paris. Last year at this track he fired in three under par rounds to finish 3 under and tied for 15th.
His Ryder Cup wheels were just chugging into action at that point and he went on to have a great year having been on the canvas 12 months previous on the verge of losing his tour card. Poulter is a fighter and I expect we'll see a slightly more polished version than what we did last year at Nine Bridges. He won the HSBC at Mission Hills in 2012 shortly after his efforts at Medinah to lift the European team to victory and I'm hoping similar occurs here this time around. More wins in Singapore, Hong Kong and in Japan show just how versatile Poulter is in these regions.
Frankly, I'm amazed he is so big. If this event was being played in the States I still think he should be a shorter price. A tough, windy venue in the Far East makes his price even more appealing. For someone with a win on the board this year and riding high after European dominance at Paris he holds a much better chance than others sandwiching him in the market. I can happily sit this one out with one selection as nothing else appeals to me. Fingers crossed the Postman delivers an early Christmas present.