It's not often that a massively in-form golfer trades as the outsider in a three-ball against two opponents who have questions to answer. But that's exactly what we have here when Kevin Kisner tee's it up at Quail Hollow on Thursday.
Kisner has finished second in two of his last three tournaments, most recently at last week's Players Championship where he lost in a play-off in arguably the strongest line-up of the season. The 31-year-old has to be brimming with confidence ahead of this week's event which just happens to be staged at the venue where Kisner put up his best finish of the season last term in recording a T6 placing.
Kisner's three-ball playing partners are very opposable. Henrik Stenson is taking his time to recover from an illness that he picked up just before the Masters, and besides that he has a dreadful record in this event, missing the cut three times and finishing 69th in his last four visits. Adam Scott is still tinkering with his putter and he's simply not in the same form that we're used to seeing him in, as a best finish of T35 from his last five outings testifies.
World number one Rory McIlroy is just 3/1 on the Sportsbook to beat 155 opponents after 72 holes of golf, so with that in mind, a price not far short of evens doesn't sound too bad to outscore just two players after 18 holes on Thursday.
McIlroy loves Quail Hollow, famously winning from the cut line in 2010 with a final round of 62, proving that he can go low at this venue. Since that victory he has finished inside the top 10 in this event a further three times, and with the knowledge that we know he can often start tournaments better than he finishes them the Northern Irishman looks primed to start this year's renewal with another low round.
Rory will have no easy task to outscore talented duo Ben Martin and Patrick Reed but the former has never bettered 50th at this venue in his few attempts at the tournament, while the latter admitted this week that he is struggling to put all aspects of his game together at the same time currently, and his two previous visits to Quail Hollow have seen him finish no better than 32nd.
Phil Mickelson's inclusion in our three bets almost needs no explanation. Both Steve 'The Punter' Rawlings and Dave Tindall are extremely keen on Lefty's chances this week and given what they say about the popular American it's hard to know why he isn't favourite to win his first round three-ball.
In a nutshell Mickelson just adores this venue and has many high ranking finishes to his name in this particular event. He seems to save his best for the tournaments he loves these days and that is almost a tip in itself. The simple rule for Lefty is to remember that in most events he is simply preparing for a bigger one down the line. This is his latest 'big event' that he has targeted and he ought to go well.
JB Holmes and Jim Furyk are both winners this year and remain in fine form so confidence in the selection is slightly diluted, but odds of 2.89/5 about such a course specialist who is talking extremely positively are hard to turn down.
Back Phil Mickelson @ 2.89/5 (13:00)
Back Kevin Kisner @ 3.211/5 (18:10)
Back Rory McIlroy @ 1.845/6 (18:20)