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Michael Taylor 11th Nov 2009 - 14:48

Ogilvy can steal Woods’ thunder

He may have flopped in this year Majors but, if this week's JBWere Masters in Melbourne is anything to go on, Tiger Woods most certainly hasn't lost his pulling power.

Ever since Woods agreed to make his Australian appearance, tickets for a once declining tournament have been like proverbial hot cakes, selling out in record time and forcing organisers to make tickets available for the Tuesday and Wednesday practice days.

He's the biggest draw in world sport, commands AU$ 3million appearance fee (double the overall prize money), starts as a really short 11/10 favourite yet I don't think he'll be the one claiming the title on Sunday.

To me, you'd have to be crazy to look away from anybody other than another home country player after Australians have only failed to lift the title three times since 1987.

Whether it is local knowledge or just the proportion of Aussies in the field, it seems this is one for the best of the home country players, and there is nobody better fitting that mould than current world number 12 Geoff Ogilvy.

The 2006 US Open winner, on his day, is one of the most accomplished players on the PGA Tour with his mid-long drive, great scrambling ability and exceptionally hot putter.

Since winning the Mercedes-Benz Championship and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at the start of 2009 things may have gone a bit quiet for the Adelaide native but that could be set to change here.

The beautiful Kingston Heath Golf Club in Melbourne, rated one of the best two in the world by Stuart Appleby, has replaced the Huntingdale Golf Club for this year's event; a move that could massively benefit Ogilvy.

The new course has narrow fairways, long par fours and cleverly placed bunkers that are sure to catch out even the most accurate players in the field.

It's here that Ogilvy can prove to be a master if he can just get on top of his driver and post good accuracy ratings, or at least better than he has for the majority of the year.

If one area has let him down this year it is accuracy off the tee so if he can slightly up his game on home soil then he should be an absolute steal at 10/1.

Of course ruling Tiger Woods out so lightly is something that could very easily come back to bite you but he represents no place value at 11/10 and he has gone without a tournament win since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August.

He's still undoubtedly the best golfer on the planet, he's just a very hard man to back when it appears he's lost a tiny bit of edge when it comes to closing tournaments.

Away from the top of the betting I feel Rodney Pampling could be a man worth watching.

He comes in as the defending champion and while the change of course does render this stat slightly useless he could still be a very real threat.

It could all come down to how he handles the pressure of walking the course with Woods for the first two days, but judging from past performances he seems like he'll handle the massive galleries with little trouble.

He joked with Tiger that the world number one is going to steal the thunder he should receive as defending champ, but don't be surprised if he gets his short game in order and finds himself at the top of the leaderboard.

Pampling, to me, looks by far the best value bet this week at 25/1, and if he can handle the pressure then watch out for his price to be a hell of a lot shorter going into the second day.



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