Home ground advantage counts for something apparently, as the bookies have installed Marc Leishman and young Cameron Smith as favorites to win the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf.
Ladbrokes has the pair at $5.25, followed by England’s Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton ($8). Next are Americans Matt Kuchar and Kyle Stanley at $9, followed by the representatives from Belgium, Denmark and Korea, all at $11.
If you believe picking the winner of a Thoroughbred race is tough, try tipping golf. Any one of the 28 teams could win. Anyone, even the pair from Greece with the $501 price on them.
Leishman became Australia’s top nomination when Jason Day decided against accepting the invitation. Leishman’s ascendancy came at the cost of giving Adam Scott the bad news that he would not be playing in the World Cup.
Leishman’s logic in picking Smith over Scott was not the result of simple alphabeticisation. Smith is on the rise, while it seems that Scott’s best days are behind him. No knock intended, but after the grind of years on the professional circuit, top winners such as Scott often tail off as they re-prioritise their lives.
Day provides the perfect example. Although it is premature to say that Day has had his, he is the consummate family man and no longer feels the compulsion to trot the globe in the fashion that took him to the top of the OWGA rankings at one point in the not-so-distant past.
Kuchar for the Americans struggled with the wind in the Australian Open and the record suggests that the Americans do not do so well in team formats, the recent whitewash by Europe in the Ryder Cup providing just one of the myriad examples of this reality.
Day and Scott already have World Cup trophies in their collections, too, so it is hard to imagine either being devastated, but the World Cup does carry $1.5 million for each member of the winning team, so there is no doubt Smith will be focused. Leishman, too.
The defenders are Thorbjorn Oleson and Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark ($11), so before you ask, “Who?”, go back to our anyone can win declaration.