Paul poised for Perth prize
Paul Casey looks to have a solid chance to take this week's ISPS Handa Perth International in Australia.
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It is the second renewal of the ISPS Handa Perth International at Lake Karrinyup and my abiding memory from 2012 was the relatively weak challenge put up by the home team.
Only Kiwi Michael Hendry cracked the top 10 from the Australian and New Zealand contingent and despite firing an opening 65, he rarely threatened to land a blow.
- 3pts win Paul Casey at 12/1 (general) - Class act in this company and can make the journey Down Under worthwhile.
- 1pt e.w. Brett Rumford at 28/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365, sportingbet) - Perth resident who is the same price as last year but much improved.
- 1pt e.w. Andrew Dodt at 175/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365) - Fighting for his Tour card but has done that before and signs recently his form could be getting there.
It was American duo Bo Van Pelt and Jason Dufner who dominated with the former back to defend his title and a 16/1 chance while compatriot Dustin Johnson heads the betting on 6/1.
It is a pretty top-heavy market but I am quite tempted by a small win bet on Paul Casey at 12/1 after his T5 here 12 months ago.
Some course experience is always an advantage but Casey will return to the venue with plenty of positive memories as well, as it was here where signs started to emerge that his form was turning around.
He had spent a lengthy time in the doldrums after he recovered from injury and it took what seemed an age for him to find his best form once again.
It would be another eight months before he got back into the winner's circle with an emotional success In Ireland and I have a feeling that he will have a decent shot at adding to his tally in 2013 here.
He said: "I love playing in Australia. I have had success down here and won tournaments - I love the warm weather and great crowds."
It all adds to an upbeat mood in the event for Casey with his current form reasonable as well - he managed a 62 in round three of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The price on offer is not exactly a gift but Casey is a class act and you get the impression he will put up a bold enough show to go very close to winning the title.
As mentioned earlier, the gulf in class between the regulars on the Australian PGA Tour and the PGA and European Tours was cruelly exposed last year.
One of my picks 12 months ago was Perth native Brett Rumford and I am more than tempted to go in again at the same price of 28/1.
Rumford has won twice on the European Tour in the intervening time thanks to back-to-back titles in Korea and China - hence I would be much more confident of him showing something like his best form.
Rumford was the obvious guy to interview pre-tournament 12 months ago and although he did not feel he had tremendous course knowledge to give him an advantage, he certainly felt sleeping in his own bed and playing in front of friends and family is a welcome edge.
Rumford has three top 15 finishes from his last four outings and the bottom line is that we are getting the same price as last year for a player who has improved considerably.
My final selection this week goes to Andrew Dodt, who is one of the European Tour regulars who makes the journey in a bid to save his card for 2014.
The pressure is on for the Aussie at number 149 in the Race To Dubai but he managed to show some steel in a similar situation last year when making enough money in Hong Kong to keep his playing rights for this season.
That at least shows he can dig in when required and although his recent form is patchy, he has flashed ability in a couple of rounds lately to suggest he could at least give himself a chance this week.
Dodt has won on the European Tour - in India in 2010 - and maybe the return to a course which was part of his successful battle for survival last year might give him that necessary added momentum.
So I would rather take a chance on him with plenty to play for at 175/1 than chance one of the local Australian PGA hopes who are likely to prove once again they are not up to this sort of task.