'Where In America are you from?' was the question from a golfer who bought me a Guinness after Kaymer had rolled in the putt to retain the Ryder Cup at Medinah. I had spent the night cursing every single putt hat dropped for the Europeans. The cheers from my fourball table in the bar that night were all talking out of our pockets. Everyone else in Carton House clubhouse that night presumed we were from the land of the free (or not so free these days). I downed the Guinness and went to bed probably the only downhearted European in the village having chunked the yanks earlier in the week. I am hoping for some better punting memories to materialise over the next few days as we return to the scene of Europe's most remarkable victory. The course is a beast at 7600+ yards although as we've seen from the major championships held here numerous plodders have featured so it isn't as straightforward as ripping it off the tee and scoring that way. Dog legs force you to lay up and a fair degree of strategy is needed if you wish to feature here over the four days.
McIlroy was mighty tempting to bet this week and whilst writing it's still not a big price I change my mind and select him. A long major layout which is challenging from the tee sets up perfect for McIlroy. His love for classical style courses down the years has been evident and if he can slightly improve his approach play this week he is a likely contender. This could play out like a major championship with the cream rising to the top and Rory is most likely to top that pile on a track of this nature. Koepka may be a little claustrophobic around this course with the tight lines and trees awaiting any errant shots. His length is a mighty advantage here but accuracy is certainly needed to avoid bogeys.
Certainly the greater portion of the test here is tee to green and one who ticks plenty of boxes in that category right now is Jason Kokrak. 6th in the Wyndham and 12th last week at the Northern Trust are just the figures we are looking to for someone to have success in the playoff events. There have been numerous players who have caught fire at this stage down the years and Kokrak may just be able to take that leap and gain his first victory. He gained strokes in every department last week bar putting and it was only scrambling that let him down at the Wyndham. He relishes a tee to green test as was evident earlier in the year being narrowly beaten into second by Casey at the Valspar. The problem is the putter behaving but bar that he looks statistically better than many ahead of him in the betting and looks an exciting betting prospect this week.
It is difficult to get away from the chances Adam Scott at Medinah this week. He finished 3rd to Tiger in the 2006 PGA here and given how he has hit the ball this year he must be brimming with confidence with what lies ahead the next four days. He was very disappointing when we backed him at Portrush but over the last ten tournaments it is no surprise to see him gaining strokes in every department. The Major Championship courses is where he has fared well on this season with top tens coming at Augusta, Pebble Beach and Bethpage. Long, gruelling layouts that demand accurate tee to green and approach play is where he excels lately and if a few putts can drop he looks one of the most likely to capitalise on his current form. His price isn't anything to get excited about but regardless I think he goes well and is overdue to a win in an impressive season.
1.5pts - A.Scott to win @ +2500
Paul Casey made a run at the Fedex in 2017 and could be suited to a return to a major championship venue. The Englishman missed out on the Ryder Cup heroics here back in 2012 but can once again show his tee to green prowess and produce a solid display. Off the tee and Approach play will be key this week and Casey has shows this in abundance down the years, most notably at Augusta that has been talked about as a possible course correlation this week. Bentgrass is by far his favoured surface which could be key as putting is usually the reason why Casey doesn't get over the line more often. 4th earlier in the year at Quail Hollow which is another tight, long major championship golf course is another pointer to suggest Casey may go well at Medinah. Another solid each way play from an interesting crop of golfers further down the market.
1.5pts - P.Casey to win @ +4100
Rory Sabbatini has found a new level of consistency this season and should he win this week it would be just rewards for his efforts. This has been his best season on tour since 2013 and a climb of around 140 spots in the world rankings since the Spring is a sign of just how improved he has become. Top 6 finishes have arrived at the Byron Nelson, Charles Schwab, Rocket Mortgage and most recently at the Wyndham. Again he is a form golfer surely worth considering in these events that have a history of rewarding streaky types at this time of year. A six time winner on the tour, he is more than experienced enough to lift a title of this magnitude but he'll need to find for pressure having not got over the line since winning the Honda in 2011. He is a form horse who looks a shade more value than a host of the market leaders this week.
0.75pt - R.Sabbatini to win @ +9000
It would be easy to dismiss Byeong Hun An after his mishap a few weeks ago at the Wyndham but on a track that reward tee to green excellence and where strategy is needed off the tee it may prove fruitful to side with the Korean. His demise when leading and strong jolly at the Wyndham two weeks ago was predominantly down to one tee shot on the par 5 which ended up in an unlucky spot where he needed to take a penalty. Granted, he didn't exactly play the rest of the hole well either but it was far from a collapse and certainly not something you could label as a 'choke'. He played well at Portrush prior to the Wyndham and looks in fine shape. A higher finish would have materialised last week had his putter shown any sign of heating up. I'm hoping it does this week because I think he has been too easily dismissed by the bookmakers for someone who is hitting it very well from tee to green lately.
0.75pt B.An to win @ +7000