Poor Tiger isn't overly happy just now. Resting his poor wee knee, he'll have to find something to occupy his time this week. Something to take his mind off the fact that he's missed out on a chance to defend his USPGA title for the second time in a row. It would have been his third opportunity to win a major three years running; He finished fifteenth in 2003 in his attempt at a Masters hat-trick and twelfth at the Open in 2007 when the three-in-a-row was also on the cards. Even for Tiger, chances like these don't come along too often, so I'm sure he's pretty peeved to miss out this time. I suggest he doesn't dwell on the fact he's not there and use some of the moolah he's made from those God-awful Gillete adverts (which appear to have put a hoodoo on all three of it's stars...), pop down the bookies and have a wee punt on the boys who are competing; he might even make up some of those lost earnings.
The good news for punters is that with Tiger not there and no one really making a play to clean up while he's away, the odds are pretty generous all round. Favourite Phil Mickelson is starting around 10-1 which is around the biggest odds given for a favourite in a major that I've ever seen. Considering a fit Tiger would be starting at 2-1 or meaner, the bookies don't seem to have a clue who's going to come through this week. Lots of money will be going on the European Ryder Cup heroes of four years ago but whether those happy memories count for much remains to be seen.
So who are my tips for this week.
My Hot Hunches
Sergio Garcia - That elusive major is surely just around the corner and what better way would there be to seal his place in the Ryder Cup than coming back to Oakland Hills and cleaning up.
Odds - 25-1 is available, 20-1 most places
Anthony Kim - Did well to challenge the weekend before last when he was obviously exhausted after the Open. If he's recovered, one of the most exciting young players around might fancy breaking is duck early without a Tiger to worry about.
Odds - 30-1
Kenny Perry - Old Kenny, has clubs, can play, won't travel. Shocked the golfing world by not coming to the Open despite being the in form player in the world with three recent wins. Something to do with concentrating on getting in the Ryder Cup (His place was secure by then, duh!). This major is much more suited to Perry's game and if he plays like he has this season, should make a real challenge.
Odds -45-1 is available, 33-1 most places
Ian Poulter has his dander up at the moment and is at 60-1, while Lee Westwood should be thinking of changing his name to Hansel he's so hot right now and is around the 22-1 mark. If Darren Clarke can carry last weeks form through to here then 100-1 looks great to me. Graeme McDowell is getting more used to the big occasion as well and is at 125-1 and Jimenez is in the form of his life so 60-1 is a great price.
Outside Bets - Monty is in dire form but when he needs a big performance 200-1 is a price which could look very foolish on Sunday, he does love to finish second in majors after all and has been written off before. I should warn he is coming off 15 over par at the Bridgestone... Nick Dougherty too is out at 200-1 and will be on a mission this week and is worth a wee look each way.
Other bets worth a peek are no hole one at 4/7. It's usually a good bet to say yes to this one but the ninth and seventeenth are ridiculous yardages, around 230+ yards. Also, you can get 5-1 on a GB & Ireland winner, which considering the form of the British and Irish players seems a decent gamble.
I'm going for a wee punt on Sergio and a sentimental few pennies on Darren Clarke, the one time I don't bet on him, you know he'll win...