After a near miss at Sawgrass with Lee Westwood, Steve's back with three off the tee again this week as he attempts once more to snag a monster-price winner...
"I’d much rather play an in-and-out of form prolific winner than a consistent non-winner and around a course that should suit him, Catlin looks worth risking."
We rattled the crossbar at the Players Championship last week with 160.0159/1 pick, Lee Westwood, coming up one shot short at Sawgrass.
The 47-year-old Englishman led by three after a birdie at his opening hole in round four but he didn't quite hit the second lay back price of 2.01/1 (Westwood was backed at a low of 2.35/4) and he was always chasing the eventual winner, Justin Thomas, on the back-nine after the American picked up five strokes in four holes around the turn, so it was a case of close but no cigar.
Hopefully, we can go one better this week. I've got three picks in total, one on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic, and two on the European Tour, at the Kenya Open.
Hot Hahn heading in the right direction
James Hahn had a strange week at Sawgrass, where he eventually finished tied 41st but it could and should have been so much better. After a nice start on Thursday, playing his first nine holes in three-under-par, he completely lost the plot on the front-nine in round one (his second nine) dropping seven shots, and after recovering brilliantly on Friday to make the cut, he went and did it again, on Saturday - playing the front nine in a four-over-par 40 strokes this time.
Playing ifs and buts is probably not a great idea but had he played the front nine in level-par on Thursday and Saturday, he'd have finished the week alongside Westwood in second place, so his game is clearly in good order and although he's missed the cut in his first two visits, this week's Honda Classic venue, the PGA National, really should suit him.
Both his PGA Tour wins have come at tough tracks (Riviera and Quail Hollow), with single-digit under-par winning scores, and his protracted playoff defeat to Patton Kizzire at the Sony Open in 2018, reads very well too.
As highlighted in the preview, the Sony Open is an event that correlates brilliantly with this one and only three of the previous 14 winners at PGA National have manged to get to double-digits under-par, so much like the Genesis Open and the Wells Fargo Championship (Hahn's two wins to date), this is a tough test.
Hahn's roller-coaster ride at Sawgrass was far from his first signs of life this year. He traded at even money when he hit the front in round four of the Phoenix Open last month, where he eventually finished 10th, and after an understandable missed cut at Pebble Beach the week after, he finished a very respectable 15th in the Genesis Open so his form figures, reading 10-MC-15-41, don't really reflect just how well he's playing and he looks well worth chancing at 150.0149/1.
Course looks ideal for Catlin
This week's Kenya Open venue, the Karen Golf Course just outside Nairobi, is an absolute gem and it's an event I'm very much looking forward to watching. It's a short tree-lined track with drivable par fours around the turn but it's no pushover and it was interesting to see that form from the 2019 renewal (event cancelled last year) correlated rather nicely with form at the Andalucía Masters at Valderrama in September - an event won by America's John Catlin.
Catlin followed his maiden European Tour victory with an eighth at the Portugal Masters and another huge win in the Irish Open followed but he lost his way after that. He finished 2020 with a couple of missed cuts and a 54th place finish at the DP World Tour Championship and he's started 2021 poorly too with three missed cuts in-a-row before last week's 42nd at the Qatar Masters.
Catlin played here two years ago, finishing down the field in a tie for 66th so he arrives in Kenya out of form and with only one poor effort around the track but I'm happy to overlook both of those facts.
There's a very strong possibility that Catlin isn't quite ready to contend again but there were signs in Qatar and if he does start nicely, he certainly knows how to win. Having been recently successful on the Asian Tour, Catlin's victory in Ireland was his seventh in 75 starts so he knows how to get the job done.
I'd much rather play an in-and-out of form prolific winner than a consistent non-winner and around a course that should suit him, Catlin looks worth risking.
Bryson-slayer McEvoy massive odds to win again
Having chanced one with no obvious course or current form, I'm more than happy to take a massive price about a player who has both...
Although he missed the cut in this event when it was played on the Challenge Tour back in 2014, way back in 2005, Richard McEvoy finished fourth here on his only other appearance and he advertised his wellbeing last week in Qatar when finishing fifth and that was his best finish since he won back-to-back tournaments in 2018.
Having won the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge on the Challenge Tour, McEvoy rocked up in Germany a week later to win the Porsche European Open on the European Tour, beating none other than a certain Bryson DeChambeau, who you may recall, was criticized for not shaking hands with McEvoy after the event.
Although more than capable of long spells of poor play, McEvoy has a habit of briefly holding form in fleeting spells. There are numerous other examples of him stringing together two or three good efforts in-a-row and his fourth here in 2005 followed a fourth in Guatemala.
He's nearly always straight off the tee and he ranked second for Scrambling last week so if he can just hit one or two better approach shots, he may just contend again and he's a huge price to do so.
I'll be back on tomorrow or possibly Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
STEVE'S 2021 FIND ME A 100 WINNER P/L
Staked: 53 units
Returned: 22.5 units
P/L: -30.5 units