English trio see support for first Major successes
BOOKMAKERS are reporting that football fever for Euro2012 is putting the golf in the shade, but the traditional stream of pre-Major money for Luke Donald and Lee Westwood has arrived as usual.
Donald and Westwood are still looking for their first Major victories but there is still plenty of market confidence behind the dynamic English duo.
The pair are jostling for second-favouritism behind Tiger Woods, leaving defending champion Rory McIlroy fourth in the betting.
Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said: “The trio of Donald, Westwood and Justin Rose are our biggest concerns at this stage. We have laid plenty of four-figure sums on all three.
“England’s positive start to Euro 2012 has got some people dreaming about Roy Hodgson’s team winning the footy, and punters also seem to think we could see the first English Major winner since 1996.”
Ladbrokes report Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia as popular each-way bets at 50-1, but McIlroy is completely friendless. The Magic Sign go 80-1 that the Northern Irishman repeats his heroics of last year and wins by five shots or more, but not many punters have faith that the youngster can triumph, let alone by such a wide margin.
“We can’t get Rory in the book, which is amazing considering how easily he won last year,” said Bridge. “Tiger is not proving popular either, so we could start the event in the unusual position of cheering on McIlroy and Tiger.”
Two late changes to the field saw injured duo Paul Casey and Brandt Snedeker replaced by teenagers Andy Zhang and Jordan Spieth.
Zhang is only 14 years old and will be the youngest player ever to compete in the US Open.
The China-born, Florida-based prodigy is 6-1 to make the cut with Ladbrokes and 5,000-1 to win the tournament. They have chalked up 100-1 that he claims a Major title before his 21st birthday.
Zhang’s caddie Christopher Gold said: “This kid is the best player I have ever seen at 14. He hits shots that pros can’t hit. There is zero pressure on him this week and I think he could do very well.”
A frustrated Casey said: “I’ve been trying to play my way back and I feel like I probably came back too soon originally.”
The former world No. 3 injured his shoulder snowboarding on Christmas Eve and it has essentially ruined his 2012 campaign. “I do feel like I’m very nearly ready, but not quite ready for this week. I’ve got to get my brain to trust that I can’t hurt it anymore. It’s amazing how the brain controls the body almost involuntarily.”
Hills are taking on the big guns at this year’s tournament, offering best prices about all four market-leaders from 8am on Wednesday.
BetVictor are offering a 1/4 the odds for seven places.
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