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Rupert Wyman 23rd Feb 2010 - 14:53

Holmes is the way to go in Phoenix

J.B. Holmes has won the Phoenix Open twice before in 2006 and 2008 but in the odd years since his first win he has failed to make the cut. After last year's disappointment the Kentuckian will be keen to make amends.

The big hitter definitely likes the course in Scottsdale, Arizona, unlike many of his colleagues who struggle despite it not being the hardest on the PGA Tour as many stars year in, year out fail to make the cut.

Coping with the huge crowds and having a hot putter are the keys to this tournament, both of which Holmes has proven he can do with his two tournament wins. He is also focussing on his putting once again and this should set him up for a good four days in Arizona.

He is also in form this season having finished as joint runner-up in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and tied for third in the Northern Trust Open. Therefore my money will be going on him at 16/1.

At the price he is extremely good value when you compare his course credentials with that of tournament favourite Phil Mickelson. Lefty is priced at 8/1, but I will be leaving the 2005 winner well alone as his putter has been far from hot this season and unless he alters that this week he could well fail to even make the cut, which would be a repeat of his performance in this event last year.

The man I think that could be Holmes' biggest rival for the spoils is Kevin Na. He has a good record at the TPC Scottsdale having had three finishes of fourth or better in five starts. This year he has been on song - finishing in the top 10 twice plus he is ninth in putting. So at 35/1 the Korean-American offers a fair bit of value.

One person who will come to Scottsdale in buoyant mood is last week's Accenture Match Play champion, Ian Poulter (22/1). The Englishman was fantastic in Marana but the change from match play to stroke play will hinder the newly crowned world number five so I don't think he will be challenging for the honours this week. Although there will be not a player coming into the event with more confidence than the man from Hertfordshire.

Brian Gay's putting has been fantastic this season as he sits second in putting plus he has had has five top 25 finishes to his name. In addition he has finished in the top 25 in this tournament in the last three years. This consistency should stand him in good stead for a crack at the title this year and at odds of 25/1 could be worth a bet.

Ahead of Gay in the putting stats is fellow American Brandt Snedeker so he will definitely have a chance and at the bigger price of 40/1 is certainly tempting. He has been Mr Consistent this season as in four starts his worst finish is a tie for 21st. His best finish in Scottsdale was in 2008 when he finished ninth. Is he primed for a run this season?

There are lots of contenders for Phoenix Open glory but for me the one with the stand out credentials is the two-time champion J.B. Holmes and I will be hoping that he follows in the footsteps of fellow Kentucky native and last year's winner Kenny Perry to make it three wins in a row for Kentucky and a hat-trick of victories for Holmes in Phoenix.



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