Injury has restricted Justin Rose’s 2014 campaign, with the Englishman making only four competitive appearances on the fairways this year.
However, the US Open champion is now fully fit after recovering from a shoulder problem and is the man to follow in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Country Club in Orlando.
Rose, who is 14/1 to win, finished last season with top ten after top ten, racking up six in succession across the globe in some of the best autumn events. The European Ryder Cup star, who injured his shoulder throwing the ball to his caddie at the Barclays tournament in August, feels he is finally beyond the problem that saw him sit out the opening six weeks of the year. His eighth place at the Valspar Championship on Sunday, when he said he felt he was ‘getting competitive’ served notice to the rest of the tour that he is ready to win again.
Rose, who lives in Orlando, knows Bay Hill – a course that will test every part of a player’s game – well. He was third in 2011, 15th in 2012 while, 12 months ago, he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods, who is a 7/1 shot this year.
Speaking of the world number one, while there are still lingering doubts that back spasms are affecting his game, they’ll be plenty of takers of the single figure price chalked up next to his name. Woods has won four of the last six renewals at Bay Hill and has to be respected.
At twice the price of Woods though, and with much better form figures of 2-1-9-2 heading into this week’s event, Bubba Watson (14/1) is the next player to side with. As a left hander, Watson’s natural fade is well suited to Bay Hill, as three top 15 finishes testify. After his runners-up spot in the Cadillac Championship last time out, Watson said ‘everything is going in the right direction, my focus is right and my putting stroke is working’.
In this season of shocks in America – we’re still awaiting a first winning favourite – Matt Every could continue that theme at 66/1. A born and bred Floridian, he has spoken of the ease of taking his family to events near his Jacksonville home, while on the course he won’t disclose the tweaks he has made to his game over the winter but, whatever he has done, finishes of 6-24-8 suggest it has paid off.
My three off thee – Rose, Watson and Every.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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