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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Local man Lee has the game to become Colonial king

Market leaders should be opposed

Danny Lee is always a dangerman in the Lone Star State
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Play starts 2pm Thursday
Live on Sky Sports from 9pm Thursday

Palmer's top tip
Danny Lee 80-1

The market leaders are unappealing on both sides of the Atlantic this week and it may pay to dig much deeper in the betting for your selections.

Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia have taken top billing for the Dean & Deluca Invitational in Texas, but none of the illustrious trio looks a sensible wager at unattractive odds.

Rahm is a naturally aggressive player who may not fall in love with Colonial Country Club on his first visit. It is a test of strategy, favouring accuracy over power, and Rahm's third-round 82 at Sawgrass last time out highlights how the fiery Spaniard can be frustrated by courses which do not allow him to let loose.

Spieth flopped in the final round of the Masters and has missed cuts since at the Players Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson, where he used a new putter. The defending champion loves Colonial and should probably still be favourite, but does not represent any value at 12-1.

Garcia has thrown in some short spells of dismal golf in his two outings since becoming a Major champion and does not seem able to retain full concentration for 72 holes at the moment. A Sunday 78 at Sawgrass was followed seven days later by a 74 in the Byron Nelson.

Preference at a much juicier price is for Danny Lee, who has made Texas his home for almost a decade and is always a dangerman in the Lone Star State. Lee's Tour victory came in Texas (2011 WNB Classic), a title he almost successfully defended (tied for second).

A slow start hindered Lee in last week's AT&T Byron Nelson down the road in Irving, but he excelled over the weekend to finish fifth. If he carries that form on the short journey to Fort Worth, the Korean-born New Zealander can stay in the thick of things. He is used to Texas winds and the forecast for constant breeze will not frighten him.

Lee is more accurate than he is given credit for, he has won on both the European Tour and the US Tour, and the 26-year-old can build on solid Colonial form figures of 46-38-10-22 by contending at healthy odds on Sunday.

Next best
Kevin Kisner 33-1

Colonial CC is right up the alley of Kevin Kisner, who relishes layouts where precision is favoured over length, and the cocky Carolinan can set up another opportunity for a second US Tour title. He has squandered some golden chances recently, but that is because he has been playing so well.

Kisner signalled his return to top form with a third-round 60 on his way to fourth place in the Sony Open in January, then he had the Arnold Palmer Invitational at his mercy in March before Marc Leishman pipped him at the post.

A Sunday lead was lost in the Heritage in April, followed by a playoff defeat in the Zurich Classic alongside Scott Brown at the start of this month. Reward may finally arrive for Kisner at Colonial, where he was fifth in 2015 and tenth last year.

Other selection
John Huh 125-1

Complete a three-pronged Colonial attack with John Huh, who lives in Dallas and has a solid record in Texas events. Huh was just off the pace for most of the Byron Nelson last week, and he was in the final group of the Texas Open a month ago before a Sunday 77. Colonial is probably the course where he has most hope of sustaining a 72-hole challenge.

Huh, runner-up in the 2012 Texas Open, was fifth on his Colonial debut that year and has finished in the top 20 in three of his five starts there. The forecast wind plays into the hands of this dead-eye driver, who won the 2012 Mayakoba Classic. Coral are top price and offer seven places.

Others to note

Kyle Stanley
The 2012 Phoenix Open champion impressed on his way to fourth place at Sawgrass last time out. Strong from tee to green. Finished eighth in Houston on his last trip to Texas.

Cameron Smith
The improving Australian youngster was on the winning team in the Zurich Classic at the start of this month and should enjoy his Colonial debut.

Ryan Palmer
The 40-year-old Texan loves performing in his home state and finished third in last year's Dean & Deluca. Comfortable in a breeze.

Matt Kuchar
The top-ten machine posted yet another one in the Byron Nelson last week after finishing strongly. Colonial runner-up in 2013 and obvious threat.

Si Woo Kim
The Sawgrass champion reappears after skipping the Byron Nelson to rest his troublesome back. The Texas-based Korean will be under the spotlight more than normal.

Billy Horschel
The Floridian firebrand got back to winning ways on Sunday. Won back-to-back titles in the 2014 FedEx Cup playoffs.

Staking plan
D Lee
1pt each-way 80-1 Betfred
K Kisner
1pt each-way 33-1 Betway
J Huh
0.5pt each-way 125-1 Coral

Dean & Deluca Invitational lowdown
Course Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
Prize money $6.9m ($1.206m to the winner)
Length 7,209 yards
Par 70
Field 132
Course records – 72 holes 259 Zach Johnson (2010) 18 holes 61 Keith Clearwater (1993), Lee Janzen (1993), Greg Kraft (1999), Justin Leonard (2003), Kenny Perry (2003), Chad Campbell (2004)
Course winners taking part Keith Clearwater, Phil Mickelson (twice), Sergio Garcia, Tim Herron, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson (twice), Boo Weekley, Chris Kirk, Jordan Spieth
When to bet By 2pm Thursday
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports from 9pm Thursday
Time difference Texas is six hours behind the UK and Ireland
Last week – AT&T Byron Nelson 1 B Horschel (125-1), 2 J Day (18-1), 3 J Hahn (175-1), 4 J Kokrak (250-1), T5 B Cauley (45-1), D Lee (125-1), S O'Hair (250-1), B H An (66-1)

Course overview The US Tour has held an event at Colonial 67 times since 1946 and the ancient track inevitably offers up plenty of birdie opportunities to the modern professional.

Ben Hogan won at Colonial five times, hence the track's nickname 'Hogan's Alley', but more recently Corey Pavin, Phil Mickelson and Kenny Perry have claimed dual Colonial crowns.

There are only two par-fives – the first and the 11th – and the latter is a genuine three-shot hole at 635 yards. In-play punters should be aware that the first two holes on the course are the easiest, immediately followed by the three most difficult.

The third, fourth and fifth are known as the 'Horrible Horseshoe'. The layout has been lengthened through the years but remains more of a test of accuracy over power. The fairways are Bermuda grass, but the greens are smooth Bentgrass.

Story of last year Jordan Spieth claimed his first US Tour triumph in Texas, the Dallas native securing a three-shot success over Harris English.

Weather forecast Hot, sunny and breezy, with a thunderstorm threat all weekend.

Type of player suited to challenge An accurate sort with a behaving putter can destroy Colonial – it is a course that can be overwhelmed with straight-hitting rather than power-play. Newcomers are obviously at a significant disadvantage at such a long-established venue.

Key attribute Accuracy

He is used to Texas winds and the forecast for constant breeze will not frighten him
E.W. Terms
Sky bet