The top five in the Official World Golf Rankings are missing from the Travelers Championship, which gets underway at TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut on Thursday, but there was never any doubt that defending champion Bubba Watson would tee it up this week. Watson, 37, misses the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio to do so but, granted his impressive record in the Travelers, punters may be glad that he does.
After missing the cut on his first attempt in 2006, Watson has finished in the top ten on five of his subsequent eight attempts at the Travelers, including playoff wins in 2015 and 2010, tied second in 2012 and fourth in 2013. The big-hitting left-hander has had a steady, if unspectacular, season, making 14 out of 14 cuts, including in all four majors and the Players Championship, and winning the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in February for the second time. As the highest ranked player in the field this week, he looks a worthy favourite at 14/1 and worthy of support.
Selection: Travelers Championship – Bubba Watson to win outright (14/1 generally available)
The Qatar Sussex Stakes (3.10) at Goodwood on Wednesday features the first three home in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, Galileo Gold, The Gurkha and Awtaad, who reoppose on identical terms. The Gurkha has since been turned over, at odds-on, in the Coral-Eclipse, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Sandown and, with the going at Goodwood likely to remain on the fast side of good, Galileo Gold (2/1) looks a worthy favourite to confirm the form.
In fact, Galileo Gold is the only one of the trio to have won on the prevailing good to firm going, with The Gurkha only having won on good or softer and Awtaad only having won on yielding or softer, so it would be no great surprise if the Paco Boy gelding increased his advantage over his nearest market rivals. Of course, he also takes on the older horses for the first time in his career, but he has 6lb and upwards in hand according to official ratings, not to mention his 8lb weight-for-age allowance, so he looks destined for the lion’s share of the £1,000,000 in guaranteed prize money.
Selection: Goodwood 3.10 Galileo Gold (2/1) to win
The 145th Open Championship gets underway at Royal Troon on Thursday and ante post favourite Dustin Johnson (10/1) can complete a memorable hat-trick. The big hitter from South Carolina landed his first major with victory at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, followed up with a come-from-behind win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and arrives in South Ayrshire in irresistible form.
Not only that, but he boasts an excellent Open record, having made six of seven cuts and finished in the top 15 four times, including a tie for second in 2011. Royal Troon is traditionally a course where scores are made on the front nine so, with his power from the tee and precision with his shorter clubs, not to mention his reputation as a fast starter, Johnson could get off to a flyer. He also has the ability to flight the ball to counteract wind conditions, which are invariably unfavourable to the players on the back nine, and so defend his score on the back nine.
Selection: Open Championship – Dustin Johnson to win outright (10/1 generally available)
This week’s European Tour event is the Lyoness Open at Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, Austria and, with home advantage, Bernd Wiesberger can continue his excellent run of results in the tournament. Wiesberger failed to recover from an opening round 79 when missing the cut in the Lyoness Open last year, but three top-five finishes in his previous four appearances, including a win in 2012, have seen the tall Austrian installed as 13/2 joint-favourite, alongside Dutchman Joost Luiten, by bet365.
Wiesberger has enjoyed a successful, if unspectacular, year so far, finishing in the money in 10 out of 11 European Tour events, including four top 20 finishes. His latest effort was a solid tied-15th at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, six shots behind eventual winner Chris Wood. Once again, an opening round of 76 put him on the back foot, but subsequent rounds of 68, 71 and 70 ensured another decent payday and, back in his native Austria, he should give us a good run for our money.
Selection: Bernd Wiesberger (13/2 with bet365) to win outright
Aidan O’Brien saddles three runners in the Investec Oaks (4.30) at Epsom on Friday, but ante post favourite Minding (10/11) looks far and away his best chance of landing the second fillies’ Classic for the sixth time. The daughter of Galileo stayed on strongly to beat stable companion Ballydoyle by 3½ lengths in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in May and, although failing by a neck to overhaul Jet Setting in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh three weeks later, she sets an exemplary standard.
The front pair pulled 10 lengths clear of the third, Now Or Never, at the Curragh and Minding can probably be rated a little better than the bare form after hitting her head on the starting stalls. Even so, she has 9lb and upwards in hand of her rivals on official ratings and, while her stamina for a mile and a half is not absolutely guaranteed, she stayed a mile as a juvenile, so the step up to middle distances could conceivably bring about further improvement. Even if it doesn’t, she’s hard to oppose.
Selection: Epsom 4.30 Minding (10/11) to win
In the Dante Stakes (3.15) at York on Thursday, Midterm did nothing to diminish his lofty home reputation when beating Algometer by 1½ lengths in the Sandown Classic Trial last month with 8 lengths back to the third horse and can maintain his 100% record. Sir Michael Stoute’s colt is the first foal out of six-time Group 1 winning mare Midday, by Galileo, which accounts, in large part, for his prominence in the ante post betting for the Derby, but he is already officially rated higher than Foundation and Deauville, who finished first and second in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket last autumn, and remains open to significant improvement. If he’s to win the Derby, he should win this, and win it well, so doesn’t look bad value at 11/8 currently.
Selection: York 3.15 Midterm to win