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Jon Riley 10th Aug 2011 - 17:58

Jason Day can make the bookies Pay

The 93rd edition of golf's final Major of the year is being played at the long and demanding Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia. The Highlands course could prove a nightmare for many of the field, with a layout incorporating water on almost every hole, including three of the final four, large and deep bunkers, and fast greens throughout.

So who will be able to handle this beast of a course? Long hitting will surely be a pre-requisite for a winner, particularly if it gets close since the final five holes are par 4s of 469, 470 and 507 yards, and par-3s of 260 and 207 yards, both of which, as mentioned, require carries over water.

Britain's hopes will surely rest on the shoulders of the well supported Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. The British trio will go into this week with plenty of confidence after their top 10 performances at the Bridgestone Invitational, won in brilliant style by Adam Scott.

McIlroy may have disappointed at Sandwich and in Ireland but his record in Majors is right up there with the best right now. Seven top-20 finishes, which includes five top-10's and that amazing win at Congressional in the US Open in June prove just how devastating this Ulsterman can be. Installed as favourite at 10/1, McIlroy will need to overcome some doubts about his recent state of mind (His twitter rant against an inane commentator and rumours circulating about a relationship with a female tennis star) if he is to justify favouritism.

On a course that is set for the big hitters, it could be another Major missed for Luke Donald (14/1). Donald, the world number one, now lives in Chicago so will be used to the humid climates but his game specializes in precise play and there is none better on the tour with a wedge. I'm a big fan of Lukes but I would give him a wide berth.

Lee Westwood's prospects though seem a lot brighter. Westwood (14/1) has been immaculate off the tee all year and he has only been let down by his putting, which has o be said has been woeful at times. The glaring example of this is The Open, where he missed the cut despite being the second best player in the field from tee to green in the opening two rounds. The Worksop star, as with Luke Donald, is still yet to break his Majors duck which seems ridiculous considering his undoubted ability and consistent approach but alas, that elusive win is yet to come.

A few of the so-called golfing experts have predicted that the American players will thrive in Atlanta at the expense of their European counterparts and one name that has cropped up on more than a few occasions is Dustin Johnson.

Johnson should have plenty of crowd support after attending college in nearby North Carolina and considering only a technical ruling stopped him from winning this title last year, at 28s he is well worth your consideration. His long hitting style is perfectly suited to the Athletic Club course and was identified early on as a future Major winner.

Two other American stars that have been tipped to shine are Phil Mickelson (25/1) and David Toms (40/1).

Mickelson has been a prolific tournament winner throughout his career and can play any shot in any given circumstance. He also has course history that he will want to rewrite. Lefty was a runner-up here 10 years ago to Toms and he will be eager to secure another Major victory.

That man Toms, who defeated Mickelson on the very last hole here a decade ago, has found some sterling form in the golden years of his career. A win at the Colonial just a few months ago have been joined by a second at the Players Championship and a third at Bay Hill. Given his experience and return to form, could Toms be in with a shout?

Any preview for a golf Major wouldn't read correctly without the mentioning of Tiger Woods. For so long Tiger was on his own at the summit of world golf but his recent injuries and turbulent private life has seen him plummet down the rankings and the money earners. A few years ago the 25s on offer for Woods in any Major would have been deemed incredible and snapped up by the masses, at present, sadly, is seems a little tight to me.

The man behind Tiger for so long, caddie Steve Williams, is now working for Australia's Adam Scott (25/1). Scott put in a complete and effortless performance at the Bridgestone Invitational last week and if he can reach anything like that standard in Georgia, he could well win again. The employment of Williams seems to have taken the spotlight off Scott, especially the caddie's post-tournament put down of Tiger Woods, and he could well thrive here.

Fellow Australian Jason Day (22/1) can finally land a major after successive seconds at both Augusta and the Congressional. A long hitter by nature, Day should be finding those pins with his huge iron shots.

My Tips
Jason Day - Outright @ 22/1
Rickie Fowler - first round leader @ 25/1
Ryan Moore - Top 10 finish @ 6/1



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