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Michael Taylor 27th Apr 2010 - 16:10

Look at Kim for Quail Hollow success

After a poor 2009 season Anthony Kim's reputation was fast fading heading into the new decade but it seems the 24-year-old Korean American was determined to prove he wasn't simply a shot in the dark.

A near two year hiatus from the winner's enclosure finally came to an end at the start of this month as Kim pipped Vaughn Taylor in a tense final day playoff in the Shell Houston Open.

His relief was clear to see but, for many of his followers, it came as vindication of months of great play without any real success and now everybody is hoping he can push on and become the star that everyone expected him to be.

This week he has a great chance to show just how good he can be as well as he returns to the Quail Hollow Club, home of his first and finest win to date.

He famously dominated a quality field two years ago in the Wachovia Championship as it was known then, landing a frightening five shot win and announcing his emergence on the PGA Tour.

This year he'll have to be even better though with Tiger Woods, Masters champion Phil Mickelson and recent dual Tour winner Jim Furyk all heading to North Carolina for what promises to be the most intriguing regular season event of the year.

The heightened standard is an obvious burden however, after shooting the lowest aggregate score at the tournament two years ago, he'll be able to take an under-the-radar position that really shouldn't be afforded to him.

His course knowledge and form will be obvious pluses this week but even more important than this could be his ability to make short work of demanding par fours, of which the notorious 16th and 18th holes at Quail Hollow stand out here.

The monster 16th with its devilishly placed traps signals the start of a testing last three and, like Mickelson showed through Amen Corner at the Masters, those three holes could so easily dictate where the big prize money will be headed.

In his victory year Kim made it look all to simple, if he can keep his ball on the fairways consistently through the four days again then he could have similar success and he looks great value at 25/1 to do just that.

As mentioned before though, this year is a whole new game with the rise in standard brought in by three of the game's elite in Woods, Mickelson and Furyk.

Woods, playing in his first non-major of the year simply cannot be ignored despite a lack of competition over the past seven months.

He won the event in 2007, he managed a creditable tied-4th at the Masters earlier in the month and he's never finished lower than tied-11th around Quail Hollow - is that enough evidence to show his 3/1 price isn't too short?

Well a big issue he will need to sort out is accuracy off the tee, especially with the narrow fairways on show this week.

His driver never fully warmed up around Augusta and it pretty much fell to pieces on the back nine on the final day; around Quail Hollow this would simply not do, not even Tiger can scramble four rounds for a win.

Obviously the greatest player of our generation, maybe even in history, cannot be ruled out but I'd be extremely reluctant to back him at 3/1 pre-tournament until he proves he has rid himself of recent demons.

As for Mickelson I'm going to treat him exactly like I'm treating Tiger by leaving off, mainly because before Augusta Lefty was playing some of the worst golf of his storied career.

Fair enough he might be able to raise the bar on the big occasion, or perhaps to simply usurp Tiger, but this week pales into insignificance in terms of viewers, crowds and grandeur, therefore I won't be backing Mickelson at 10/1.

Away from the real big two Furyk could provide a bit of value at 20/1 if his solid win (he hardly blew the opposition away) at the Verizon is anything to go by.

Whether he can raise his game to the level of some of his fellow competitors is debateable, his consistency, when he's on his game, isn't - meaning that if the field doesn't score highly then The Grinder may be in with a realistic shout of a third Tour win of the year.

Finally, the outsider attracting my attention this week is former US Open winner Lucas Glover at 66/1.

Glover must have come away from last year's event wondering what he could have done better to improve his tied-2nd to an outright first after dominating the greens throughout the four days.

His solid approach to the final day saw him fall a single shot short in the end but this year he'll be back, full of confidence and may even be better if he's learned from his mistakes of last year - he's sure worth a little punt.

 

 
 
 

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