No sooner has the FedEx Cup been resolved and a new PGA Tour season is upon us, starting with next week's Frys.com Open. Paul Krishnamurty weighs up the money list betting, and recommends three each-way alternatives to golf's 'Big Three'.
"There are plenty of others with the ability to go on a hot streak and win a couple of lucrative championships. Whatever the brilliance of the big-3 and recent results, they don't have a monopoly on the majors. The competition is too strong."
The last PGA Tour season was truly one of the best ever, signalling an exciting new era. We started out pondering whether golf had become a young man's game and finished it with a comprehensive answer. Whereas once upon a time, very few players were ready to peak or win a major before the age of 30, six of the last seven have now gone to a twenty-something.
Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day give every signal of winning many more, hopefully setting up a famous rivalry for a decade or more. But it is far from certain that they will continue to dominate. Spieth and Day have shown that world-beaters can emerge from nowhere, or step forward significantly, at very short notice.
The Big Three rightly dominate Betfair Sportsbook's market on the 2015/16 PGA Tour Money List, at 5/2, 7/2 and 4/1 respectively. At those short odds against two other hotpots, however, none make any appeal whatsoever.
After all, it only takes a temporary loss of form, or an injury like the one Rory sustained mid-summer, to ruin a bid. Likewise, there are plenty of others with the ability to go on a hot streak and win a couple of lucrative championships. Whatever the brilliance of the Big Three and recent results, they don't have a monopoly on the majors. The competition is too strong.
Instead at this stage, the best betting plan is to look further down for the each-way value. There are four places in this market, so it's even possible to earn a profit even if the Big Three are all placed.
Fowler emerged at roughly the same time as Day and I've said from the outset that they would both go all the way to the top. This season gone may have belonged to Jason, but next term could easily belong to Rickie. It only takes improvement in one or two small respects to make the difference. In Rickie's case, that would be managing bad holes better. Typically for young players, Fowler has always shown a tendency to ruin his scorecard with one or two disaster holes.
The most likeable thing about Fowler is how well he plays tough championship courses - where all the biggest prizes are won. Nobody played the majors more consistently in 2014. Last term was inconsistent, but he still landed three big titles, including the 'Fifth Major' at Sawgrass. He will eventually join the elite and now could well be his time.
This may sound bizarre given Speith's mind-boggling achievements, but it won't surprise me if Koepka achieves as much throughout his career. Both looked incredible prospects from the moment they turned pro, and both settled into PGA Tour life almost immediately. The difference at this stage is that Spieth has the temperament of an old-hand and thrives in the tough, championship arenas.
However these are attributes that are generally learned with experience, and Brooks' swift progress suggest it won't take him long. So far, he's reserved his best for easier, low-scoring courses but his results in majors show steady improvement. The last three were 18th in the US Open, tenth in the Open and a superb fifth at the PGA, fighting back from a terrible start.
None of those arguments about expected improvement or age can be made for 36-year-old Walker, but these odds are an insult. Sure, he finished the season poorly, but overall the last two seasons have been outstanding, winning five times.
Nobody has a better record in the early part of the season. In 2013, he started the run at the season-opening Frys.com Open and all five wins have come before March, including back-to-back titles at the Sony Open.
Moreover, he has an outstanding career record in California, which hosts the West Coast Swing during February. If Walker gets off to a similar start, he could lead the money list and become a tiny fraction of these odds.
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