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Nic Ladds 4th Feb 2009 - 11:11

Hunter can prevail with no Tiger to get in the way

Tiger Woods may be missing from the tournament he traditionally dominates but we still have a host of superstars on display in a much more open contest.

Woods has won the Buick at Torrey Pines the last four times in a row and six times altogether and his rivals will be relieved they will be in with a better chance of winning the $954,000 first prize.

The first 36 holes of the Buick are played on the North and South courses while the final 36 holes are all played on the tougher South course with the notorious 18th hole with water right in front of the green often making or breaking golfer's chances in tournaments.

The most recent course winner we have taking part is Phil Mickleson who won back in 2001 and 'Lefty' is available at odds of 11/1 in the betting.

Mickleson however does not look like the fantastic golfer we all know he is. His driving has been woeful so far this season and he doesn't seem the same man he was mid last year. Until he looks like returning to some kind of form he is best left along as there are better options at bigger prices.

Padraig Harrington is always supported well from Ireland and there will no doubt be money for the winner of the last two Majors.

At 10/1 though there may be better options as Harrington clearly has all his focus on the Majors and will no doubt be trying some things out this week.

Winning will be a bonus for him as opposed to a priority and while you can never rule out a bold showing others are preferred.

Camilo Villegas was ninth on this course in the US Open but missed the cut last week and is also overlooked at 18/1.

Luke Donald also at 18/1 in the betting has the potential to win having pulled things around last week when he had a shocking first round before carding three decent subsequent decent rounds which ensured he placed above thirty.

If he can start fast and hold that form then he will be a huge threat to all but it is too much of a risk that Donald can play consistently well for the whole tournament.

So, we've ruled out the four market leaders so should carry our money this week?

Hunter Mahan had a reasonable finish here last year and was tied 18th in the US Open which shows he can play the course well.

He is available at 40/1 in the betting and Mahan is full expected to win his fair share of tournaments this year and there is no reason why he can't start now.

Next selection is Nathan Green who has some useful course form having been second here three years ago and eleventh last year.

He showed up poorly last time out but had looked in decent nick before that and a small wager on the Aussie at 50/1 looks fair shout.

At a bigger price James Nitties at 100/1 is fancied to build on his excellent performance last week.

Nerves seemed to get the better of him coming into the final round which is hardly surprising and he will no doubt be stronger for the experience. Whether he can win just yet is open to debate but he could be a cracking each way bet at a big price.

The final selection is Dudley Hart who has improved vastly over the last few years and is 100/1 in the betting.

He had some decent finishes towards the end of last year and after just the one tournament so far this year he should be nicely tuned up for a decent crack at this prize.

Hunter Mahan - 40/1
Nathan Green - 50/1
James Nitties - 100/1
Dudley Hart - 100/1

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