Powerful Walters could be underestimated in Prague
The clear signal from four previous renewals at The Albatross course is that to contend, anything less than a stack of birdies will do. In his comprehensive preview, Steve Rawlings notes that you don't necessarily have to be a big-hitter to thrive here, but it certainly helps. Of primary importance is quality iron play and a hot putter.
Precisely the attributes that tend to favour the favourites and none of us went for an outsider in our each-way column. Nevertheless a couple of outsiders did catch my eye - one of whom makes the staking plan, the other first reserve.
Back Justin Walters 2u @ 200.0199/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 15.014/1
A big-hitting South African won last year and I certainly wouldn't disagree with Steve's analysis that Haydn Porteous has a good chance of repeating. At four times the odds, there could be some trading mileage in backing his compatriot. Walters doesn't have anything like Haydn's potential, but he does pop up at this level on occasion.
As recently as June, he registered consecutive top-tens in the Shotclock Masters and BMW International Open. Later he finished a perfectly respectable 23rd in far from ideal Scottish Open conditions and hasn't missed a cut since. He ranks top-12 among these for both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach - both of which look very important this week.
The alternative is an old friend of the column who has endured a miserable season. Chris Hanson urgently needs a big week to improve his money list standing and showed hints it might be coming at the Nordea Masters, hitting three good rounds out of four.
12 months ago Hanson held the halfway lead here and by my reading is ideally suited to a birdie-fest. He's worth a nibble at 300.0299/1.
Accuracy masters well worth a Ridgewood punt
As with so many other top golfing prize, the opening FedEx Cup play off has been dominated by the elite recently. As always, Steve runs through the long-term tournament trends in his comprehensive preview.
However when the series first started, numerous outsiders came very close in early renewals of what was then known as The Barclays, including the three stagings at Ridgewood CC. A par-70 measuring less than 7,200 yards, with penal rough that places a big premium on hitting fairways, this track could indeed be more of a leveller than usual.
Back Russell Knox 2u @ 260.0259/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 25.024/1
Place order to lay 25u @ 8.07/1
Given the strong emphasis on accuracy, I make no apology for repeating a recent failed tip. Knox made the USPGA staking plan but never got anywhere near the leaders.
Nevertheless, he did have a respectable tournament in 35th place, suggesting he retains something like the brilliant level of form shown in Europe earlier this summer. Lest we forget, seven weeks ago he was runner-up at the high-class Open de France, before winning the Irish Open.
The news from Ridgewood is of US Open-style rough and numbers from that penal major are definitely worth studying. Knox has made three cuts from four in the U.S. Open, finishing 12th at Shinnecock in June and 23rd at Oakmont - noted by many as having similarities with Ridgewood, and both have poa-annua greens. When this event was last played at Ridgewood, Russell sat sixth at the halfway stage, so evidently has the tools to contend.
Back Joel Dahmen 2u @ 600.0599/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 50.049/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 20.019/1
I always feel that good recent form is arguably more relevant at this time of year. There is one big event after another during the summer, meaning those struggling are obligated to play when a better plan might be rest and recuperation. That will certainly apply to dozens among this field so why not take enormous odds about an in-form, improving player with precisely the ball-striking skills for this test?
Dahmen has become impressively consistent. His last 12 starts have yielded no fewer than nine top-25 finishes, including top-15s in four of his last five. Amongst this field over the past three months, he ranks fourth for greens in regulation and 15th for putting.
That doesn't read like a 600.0599/1 chance and, given his consistently high finishes, there must be a decent chance of getting laid back for profit at 50.049/1 at some stage in the piece.
Initially I had made Billy Horschel a banker to make the column at 150.0149/1 but the odds have since crashed. Another popular alternative outsider is Ryan Moore, tipped each-way here by Dave Tindall and still available at 120.0119/1 on the exchange.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty