Three with no hope in the old Bob Hope? I think not!

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And you all thought playing golf was frustrating? My last article saw us go close yet again though the scores were ridiculously low as the lead see-sawed from one to another, and although we did pick up a place with Collin Morikawa, there were times when it looked as if we would do so much better before we were swamped late on to end up with two out of the three out of the money.

After a week off to lick my wounds, we are back  now with the American Express in California (or the Bob Hope Classic for the older amongst us), a strange format where they play the first round on the West Course and the second on the Nicklaus course – before reverting to the first named for the rest of the weekend – though even that is split for a second time as they use both West courses, the Stadium and the Tournament – and I have to ask why? The West Courses are the tougher of the two historically, and there is an awful lot of rough, water, and bunkers I could get lost in (and probably would), and those near to the lead after day one will be looking to make hay while the sun shines on day two with more generous greens for them all to attack.  With “just” $7.6 million on offer in total prize money, so nobody will be going home hungry here – with the exception of the amateurs of course (this is a pro-am just to make it even more complicated), who may be looking for their bus fare home!

One again we battle with balancing the bigger prices with those with a more obvious chance (not always an easy equation), but here we go – perhaps this week will be when our luck turns for the best.

Selections with reasoning:

***NOTE*** Different bookmakers are offering different each way terms so do shop around – and make sure you only partake non-runner no bet – covid has seen last minute withdrawals all season and we don’t want to be throwing money away. DO shop around for best odds and best place terms and any special offers with the bookmakers to steal the most value, and DO check the exchanges for bigger prices – I can’t put them on here accurately as they differ by the minute. Betfair prices quoted are as indicators only and were correct at the time of writing.

1pt each way Phil Mickelson 100/1 top 8 places Sky bet, Paddy Power, and others (240.0 Betfair)

OK so I am getting older myself (aren’t we all) and so is Phil, but trust me, his is a lot fitter than I am and is still in love with the game – let’s face it, he doesn’t need the money but here he is, playing golf at a level most of us can never even dream of, and as he has surprised in the not too distant past, who is to say he cant’ do so again? Much as he is a different player now, and half his opposition were still in short trousers, he won this in 2002 and 2004, was fifth in 2006, third in 2016, and runner-up in 2019, so fair to say he likes this set-up. He may not hit it as far as some on the tour these days (though he can probably still hit a nine iron further than I can hit a driver), but these courses don’t necessarily call on big hitters to come home in front and at a big price, he could go close on a going day.

1pt Each Way Seamus Power 33/1 Sky Bet, top 8 places (44.0 Betfair)

Consistency and a lack of errors is what seems needed here and the 34 year old Irishman ticks all the right boxes on that score yet he sems to have slipped in here under the radar. Now living in Las Vegas and practicing at TPC Summerlin on a daily basis, he has the chance to become the Irish Number one with a good showing here, something he would clearly love to achieve, and although I do think a win is beyond him, a place at a big price is not.  His putter certainly sprang to life at the Sony Open which is a promising sign, and although fireworks may not be an appropriate nickname, slow and steady may yet win the race here with others seemingly far more likely to implode when the pressure is on.

1pt each way Kramer Hickok 110/1 Sky Bet top 8 places (130.0 Betfair) I am going to guess that half of the people reading this started with a loud “who” when reading the name of my third selection, but please stay with me. Hardly a household name, he has been climbing up the rankings over the last year or so, with an unheralded second at The Travelers in June 2021, where he lost out in a play-off. Fourth at the Houston Open in November, I would be more than happy if he can fill the same spot here at this price, and although he only came home 20th last week in Hawaii, he carded rounds of  65 and 66 over the weekend which is impressive by any standards. He is definitely on the march up the rankings for whatever reason (new coach, at a guess), and although he may never be competitive on the longer courses, these should suit him ideally.

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