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Michael Taylor 2nd Jun 2010 - 16:00

Choi’s the boy to challenge Woods and Mickelson

A strong field lines-up for this week's Memorial Tournament at Muirfield, Ohio including the names of Woods and Mickelson, however, it could be an under-the-radar Korean who steals the limelight.

KJ Choi, the 2007 winner around Muirfield has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour this season and had it not been for a few final day meltdowns he'd be boasting a much higher ranking than 15th in the FedEx Cup standings.

This week he heads into the event on the back of yet another solid outing at the Memorial where only a nightmarish quadruple bogey on the eighteenth on Saturday could stop him from being a real threat at the top of the leaderboard.

But then I'm sure Choi would tell you that if you live by the sword then you die by the sword and his constant attacking of every pin more than backs him up.

The classy Korean does come with risks.

He's made 12 from 12 cuts this year, has the third lowest scoring average on the Tour yet he can only boast one top three (a second place at the Transitions) and what he'll have seen as a disappointing fourth in the Masters (where it was his to lose going into Amen Corner).

The big worry is that he doesn't have the right mentality on the final day, which would make him close to unbackable at 28/1 on the win only market - however I'm not sure this is accurate.

I'm looking more at the fact that while he's been playing great golf he hasn't quite got into pole position heading into the final day, if he starts Sunday defending a lead rather than chasing then he could be a terrific shout.

He's easily the bet of the week at 25/1 to win outright however in a high class field they'll be loads of characters to watch out for.

Tiger is the most obvious one as he hopes his latest return proves more successful than the past few.

The great one starts off as the unsurprising 6/1 favourite - the question has to be what frame of mind will he be in?

It comes down to his frame of mind rather than the course because he has simply crushed Muirfield in the past winning the event on four separate occasions including last year.

However, the saga that's plagued him for months continues to role and he simply doesn't have the popularity anymore from the galleries, unlike his cohort Phil Mickelson.

Personally I'd lay of Woods, at least on the ante-post markets - the only potential value gamble being his 7/1 price on the enhanced win only market because as we know if he turns up hot he's got the ability to run away with it.

Still though if you're looking for real value why not give the runaway Crowne Plaza winner Zach Johnson a little go at 33/1.

He hasn't exactly excelled round this track before but you can't ignore his final round form on Sunday where he attacked every pin to land a brilliant come from behind win.

If the Iowan can return as even a little shadow of his Sunday's self then he has to be contender and certainly represents the form player going in, one with nerves of steel it would seem as well.

Finally, in a similar vein to Johnson, based purely on last week's outing I've decided to stay well away from Phil Mickelson after his disastrous missed cut.

It may have been his first this year but, more importantly, it signalled what has been a rather forgettable period of golf for someone who could easily have climbed to the top of the world rankings in Tiger's absence.

Instead though it seems he's been content to rest on his laurels and I wasn't actually altogether surprised by his decline in Texas.

Saying this though, we all know that Lefty is at his best when Tiger Woods is in town so while I'm happy to lay off pre-tournament I wouldn't be quite so keen to ignore if he's in contention come Sunday.

Nobody handles pressure like Big Phil so watch out for him in-play - a pre-tournament 10/1 isn't enticing me at all though.



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