The annual pro-am at Pebble Beach's famous links is usually won by a big name and Paul Krishnamurty is backing Jason Day to end a run of losing favourites on the PGA Tour...
"Day's power off the tee and short-game brilliance is the perfect combination for this event, as illustrated by Phil Mickelson's four titles."
It has been a miserable start to 2014 for golf punters inclined to back favourites, especially of the very short-priced variety. No favourite has won on either main tour and over the past fortnight, we've seen Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods fail to deliver at very short odds in extremely disappointing style. Instead, the last three PGA Tour winners all started the week as triple-figure priced outsiders.
It may therefore seem like the optimum time to take on the market leader for this week's A T & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, especially given the conversion record of the man in question. On pure statistical grounds, it is very hard to make a case for Jason Day at odds of just 14.013/1, considering he hasn't won on the PGA Tour since a sole victory in 2010. Yet despite being generally loathe to ignore the stats, or back golf favourites, I'm happy to change tack and follow bang-in-form BB tipster Mike Norman and back the Aussie.
Day is certainly a hard player for markets to price up. On the one hand, that win ratio is appalling for a player who is always among the leading 10 candidates, whatever the tournament. Alternatively, however, one could point to his consistency. Day hasn't missed a cut since the 2012 PGA or a top-25 since last year's Open. Loyally following him in the top-five and top-ten markets has proved a lucrative strategy, and that also makes him a reliable back-to-lay option.
My view is that the latter point better reflects his quality and expect tournament wins to arrive on a regular basis very soon. After all, Day showed no temperamental weaknesses when impressively winning the recent World Cup of Golf and, despite so many near-misses in the States, has never really come across as a bottler. Sure, he could have coped better with the lead at last year's Masters, but anyone can be forgiven the odd setback in a major.
Pebble Beach looks the perfect setting for Day to kickstart a winning run that lasts through to the Masters, for which he is already a popular 27.026/1 chance. The winner of this event is usually an elite player, which could be said of no more than half a dozen amongst this field. His tournament record is already impressive, finishing sixth as a rookie in 2008, a respectable 14th the following year, then repeating sixth in last year's renewal. Day's power off the tee and short-game brilliance is the perfect combination for this event, as illustrated by Phil Mickelson's four titles.
Those similarities with Mickelson also go a long way towards explaining why so many see Day as a banker to win a Masters one day. He is clearly well-suited to Augusta and very few players have ever achieved as much there so early in their career. Most need half a dozen visits before being able to contend, Day already has a pair of top-three finishes from just three attempts. His second place in 2011 was one of the great Masters debuts.
Punters seem bound to be attracted by that course record and, when the market hots up in the run-up to the Masters, I'll be surprised if he's any bigger than the current 27.026/1. If he wins in the meantime, (the forthcoming WGC Matchplay is another good opportunity), those odds will likely collapse.
Since I recommended three ante-post bets for the Masters last week, both Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan's odds have already contracted by 25%, presenting the opportunity to lay back and leave a chunky risk-free bet. So in addition to backing Day this week, I'm adding him to my early Masters book. He is undoutably one of the world's great prospects and this could well be the year he finally delivers.
Back Jason Day 4u @ 14.013/1 to win the Pebble Beach Pro Am
Back Jason Day 6u @ 27.026/1 to win the Masters