Roebuck’s Humana Challenge preview: Woodland fancied to prosper

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The PGA Tour hits mainland America this week for the Humana Challenge, a pro-am event that takes in three courses in California and one that has thrown up some big priced winners in recent renewals – the last three champions have all been 100/1 shots or bigger.

Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson vie for favouritism at 12s, with the former hoping to continue his stellar start to 2014 that has seen the US Ryder Cupper win the Tournament of Champions before claiming eighth place last week in the Sony Open.

Simpson’s form figures read 4-1-7-3 stretching back to late last term and, of the two market principles, is preferred, but there are better bets further down the outright list.

The three resort courses used to host this event (PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course is the host layout this year and will be played twice, with the Jack Nicklaus Private Course and La Quinta Country Club also used) can put the premium on putting.

Gary Woodland’s form on the greens has been encouraging recently; not since September has the big hitter ranked lower than 20th in putting average in a PGA Tour tournament.

Woodland’s length will also be an asset, as those that can hit it out there, have prospered in the past in this event – note Jhonatton Vegas’ 300/1 win in 2011.

The Venezuelan defeated Woodland in a play-off three years ago and the American is taken to go one better after a solid start to the new stateside wrap around campaign, which has already brought the 20/1 shot one runner-up finish.

Pat Perez (66/1) will be popular amongst punters as his only tour win came in this event back in 2009.

The Scottsdale resident reminded everyone of his talent when just failing to reward each-way backers in Hawaii last week, when he was eighth in the Sony Open.

He has thrown in some low rounds at each of the California tracks that stage this week’s event, including a Sunday 63 at Palmer Private when a fast finishing 14th two years ago.

Lastly, take a punt on web.com Tour graduate Peter Malnati. He has ranked third and seventh in putting average in his last two starts and, with sparse crowds expected over the first three days of play, there will be little pressure on the Indiana born rookie who could surprise at massive odds of 200/1.

My three to follow – Woodland, Perez and Malnati.

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