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Time To Strike

Dusting off his five-iron and heading for the links, James Walker-Roberts muses on what the remainder of the golf season has in store for punters.

The majority of the golfing world might have been left slightly disappointed when Lucas Glover lifted the US Open title and left Phil Mickelson as runner-up for a record fifth time, but one group who certainly weren’t ruing the result were the bookies.

Due to Mickelson’s unfortunate personal circumstances before the tournament, almost all of the fans in New York were rooting for ‘Lefty’ – and certainly those fans backing a winner followed suit, forcing even Tiger Woods to play second fiddle for much of the tournament.

However, for all the wagers tipping Mickelson for the title, eventual winner Glover started the event as a rank outsider at 175/1, while several players who finished around him like David Duval and Ricky Barnes were available at 200/1 and 1,000/1 respectively. So now, with yet another surprise major winner keeping the bookies well in pocket, the question is – what’s in store for the rest of the season?

Well, the good news is that there is still plenty more golf to come, the Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship are still on the way later this year. The varying quality and difficulty of these courses will no doubt provide different winners, but even taking into account the odd surprise package, it’s always hard to stray too far away from the top players.

For Mickelson the US Open was the final event before an uncertain summer where he will be supporting his wife Amy in her battle against breast cancer, but for the likes of Ross Fisher it could well prove a breakthrough tournament. The Englishman might have fallen at the final hurdle in New York, but he battled hard and showed that he is more than capable of competing with the best, albeit not quite yet for a four/five day stretch.

Aside from Fisher, another Brit who looks as though he will be worth following is young Rory McIlroy, who finished tied tenth at the US Open and showed plenty of his undoubted potential along the way. Back home in Europe, the Northern Irishman will have the crowd behind him and it would not be a surprise to see him lifting a major trophy at some stage this summer.

One man who will be desperate to get back to winning ways after losing his US Open crown will be Tiger Woods, who, despite putting in a brave charge towards the end of the tournament, never really looked at his all-conquering best. As always, it is impossible to rule Tiger out of any event that he enters his name into, but with his odds always so short, the likes of Geoff Ogilvy – who has had a brilliant year so far – or the in-form Henrik Stenson could be much more appealing.

Anyone looking to back perennial under-achiever Sergio Garcia will do so at their own risk, but Paul Casey, who won the BMW PGA Championship just a few months ago and is now top of the European rankings, is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

And what of the US Open winner, Lucas Glover, who remarked after his victory: "I guess if I can win this one, I should be able to play all right every week”? Well, as history has shown us with the likes of Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis, few surprise major winners go on to better their initial achievement and Glover could be another golfer whose name fades into obscurity with the rest of that unfortunate group.
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