McIlory favourite in Arizona but you can’t rule out anybody!
The fact that Coral are going 12/1 Rory McIlory, 18/1 bar, tells its own story; the Accenture World Matchplay is just about the hardest tournament in golf to predict.
This format is as volatile as the FA Cup, but instead of teams varying considerably in quality, we have 64 fairly matched players, who, on any given day, can beat anybody else without causing that much of a stir.
Occasionally it goes to form, such as in 2004 when number one seed Tiger Woods beat number three seed Davis Love III, the second of his three triumphs.
But more often than not it doesn’t. Few saw a Jeff Maggert (seeded 24) v Andrew Magee (50) final coming in 1999, while even Mystic Meg didn’t expect Kevin Sutherland (62) to be going head-to-head with Scott McCarron (45) in 2002. And there are plenty of other examples.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that when it comes to finding the winner of this year’s knock-out in the Arizona desert, your guess is as good as anybody else’s.
I keep banging on about Jordan Spieth and how it should pay to back him every time he tees it up and so will be looking for an each way nibble at 22/1.
But there might be more mileage in concentrating on Coral’s group betting. Group B, the Ben Hogan quarter, features McIlroy (100/30), Sergio Garcia (9/2), 2010 winner Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood (14/1).
McIlroy, runner-up in 2012, is set to meet Westwood in the second round if both win their group openers, but the Ulsterman’s Wednesday opponent, Boo Weekley, can be a tough old bird, while the Englishman first has to get past Harris English (16/1) and that’s definitely no gimmee.
Poulter takes on Rickie Fowler (20/1) in the first round and if nothing else, it should be a colourful clash with the American probably wearing his customary vivid orange and the Ryder Cup hero wearing who knows what.
Jason Day, 18/1 to win outright, is apparently fancying his chances this week and is 7/2 favourite to win Group A, the Bobby Jones quarter, which also features 2007 winner Henrik Stenson (5/1).
Spieth will do for me at 9/2 in Group C (Gary Player), while there should be fireworks somewhere down the line in Group D (Sam Snead) with in-form Dustin Johnson (4/1) favourite to make it through to the semi-finals ahead of 6/1 chances Bubba Watson, who ended a drought last weekend, and Hunter Mahan, who won this event in 2012 and then lost in last year’s final to Matt Kuchar.
There’s no Tiger Woods, Adam Scott or Phil Mickelson in the field this year, which is a shame, but it’s still a fabulous line-up and you can’t rule out anyone.