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Michael Taylor 12th Aug 2009 - 21:41

Five under-dogs to watch out for at Hazeltine

Stewart Cink's dramatic Open Championship victory made it three out of three for under-dogs in this year's golf majors so the question now is, if big prices are going to make it a clean sweep in 2009 then who could be the best value long-shot to win the 91st PGA Championship?

1.       John Rollins 125/1 - Rollins heads to Hazeltine full of confidence after four days of scintillating golf landed him his first PGA Tour title since 2006 at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open last week.

The 34-year-old took full advantage of missing out on a WGC-Bridgestone Invitational appearance by destroying the Montreux Golf and Country Club and claiming $540,000 in the process.

A second round 62 saw Rollins play perhaps the best golf of his career and, if he can maintain his accuracy and hot putter, then he'll feel anything is possible at the notoriously difficult venue of the PGA Championship, Hazeltine.

The trip to Chaska, Minnesota should also hold fond memories for the stylish Virginian as it signals a return to the course he made his major championship debut in back in 2002. He may have missed the cut on that occasion but that may provide him with just that little bit extra motivation to show his class this time around.

2.      Scott Verplank 150/1 - Verplank goes into the PGA Championship on the back of yet another solid season that has seen him claim multiple top twenty finishes, including a great fourth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The steady 45-year-old consistently delivers accuracy off the tee and hits greens in regulation at a higher percentage than virtually all of his fellow competitors. A lack of distance with his driver could be a problem on what is the longest course in majors' history although, as we saw in 2002 when Rich Beem won the PGA, length very much came secondary to accuracy.

Despite going trophy-less this season Verplank continually gives punters a run for their money and if he can sink a few more putts than normal then he will start to look like huge value in the latter stages of the week.

3.       Brandt Snedeker 150/1 - Snedeker could never be referred to as the most consistent performer on Tour but there is no doubting that when on form he has the ability to challenge in any tournament.

His 2009 record of seven cuts made from eighteen tournaments is nothing to be proud of but, when you consider out of those seven made cuts three resulted in top five finishes, then you see there is plenty of hope.

His all-round game ticks all the boxes as well. He makes putts, scrambles well and drives with accuracy; it's just a question of getting the combination right over a four day period. If it was possible for Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink then it could be possible for Snedeker.

4.       Oliver Wilson 150/1 - It's hard to believe that Mansfield's ultra talented Oliver Wilson has yet to win a professional title but surely it is only a matter of time.

Wilson shot to fame last year when he partnered Henrik Stensen to a dramatic Ryder Cup victory over Anthony Kim and Phil Mickleson; coming back from four down to take the tie on the last hole - and it seems he hasn't looked back since that day.

He's now up to 46th in the official golf world rankings and eighth in the European Tour Race to Dubai, all on the back of making cuts and finding himself in contention going into the final of day each week.

If Wilson backers are expecting to see fireworks then they're likely to be disappointed. What he will give you though is a good run for your money as he'll play the percentage game and hope to post four scores capable of challenging at the top of the leader board.

5.       Charley Hoffman 200/1 - Life in 2009 had been going swimmingly for Charley Hoffman right up until July's Open Championship where his streak of 17 made cuts came to an end.

Life got even worse at last week's Reno-Tahoe Open where an opening round +8 ensured punters would be able to get their hands on the huge 200/1. However, unlike the bookmakers, I'm not convinced that Hoffman won't regain the form that has seen him claim over $1,600,000 already this year.

Much will come down to his accuracy off the tee - something that has plagued him throughout his career - but he has shown in the past that he can put together four rounds without too many big errors.

That's all he may need here. Stick on the fairways and the rest of his game will have chance to shine. Stats that rank him as the 14th best all-round player on the PGA Tour is enough for me to risk a few quid, at least as an each-way shout.

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