Cool hand Luke worth a bet
Ben Coley picks out the best bets on day one of the TOUR Championship and fancies Luke Donald to win his two-ball.
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The phrase 'one swallow does not a summer make' should be kept in mind before backing Luke Donald to win this week's TOUR Championship.
Never mind summer, it's been a lean year for the Englishman who now sits at number 14 in the Official World Golf Rankings having failed to win in 18 months.
There were some hugely positive signs at Conway Farms last week as he finished fourth to creep into the field for an event he's excelled in previously, but I'm not ready to back him at what appear skinny outright prices on the strength of one good event at his home course.
However, there was enough encouragement to make him stand out in his two-ball with Dustin Johnson, who teetered on the brink of playoff elimination having finished 62nd in Chicago.
I'm a huge fan of Johnson but there's no doubt he's prone to taking his eye off the ball and with little prospect of winning the FedEx Cup from 30th in the standings it's possible he'll go through the motions once more, as he has every week since announcing his engagement to Paulina Gretzsky.
Donald, on the other hand, will view this as a free shot at winning a title he feels he should already have in the trophy cabinet, having finished in the top-three on each of his last three visits and so nearly landed the jackpot in both 2010 and 2011.
In that period, Donald bettered DJ in eight of the 12 rounds, with a pair of ties and just two effective wins for Johnson. And while Johnson holds a narrow advantage when these two have been paired together, Donald has always been within a shot to prove he's not overawed by the American's power.
Johnson has finished outside the top-20 in three of his four East Lake visits and never better than 10th so it's Donald who looks set to win this two-ball.
The other I like is Webb Simpson, who should be able to put course experience to good use against Billy Horschel.
Simpson has been in solid form since the US Open, making the cut in all 10 starts, and closed with an excellent 66 to finish fifth here last year. His previous 22nd is excusable as it was his debut at the venue and he arrived at East Lake as one of the five who controlled their own destiny in the FedEx Cup.
He's a winner at the Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield Country Club, too, so there's already enough evidence to suggest that these old-fashioned tracks suit him. Indeed, his career highlight to date came when winning the US Open at Olympic, a really old-school layout, while this year's best was at the classic Harbour Town.
Horschel also performed well in the latter and is a player I've a great deal of admiration for. However, he's rather gone off the boil since a stunning start to the year and last week's 18th isn't enough to prove he's truly turned the corner despite switching back to the putter which helped him win in New Orleans.
I wouldn't be absolutely certain this is Horschel's track and Simpson's combination of a superior short game and a proven liking for East Lake makes the decision a simple one.