• The Betting Bunker

Toms tempts with Westwood distracted

Josh Williams June 8, 2011
Lee Westwood's priority is, understandably, the US Open © Getty Images
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Click here to bet on the St Jude Classic at bet365

After weeks of battling over the world No.1 spot, Luke Donald can at last rest easy in the knowledge that he cannot be overtaken by Lee Westwood at the St Jude Classic. As a result, Donald will leave himself in the firing line as the top ranked player when the US Open kicks off at Congressional next week.

And it's the US Open that will doubtlessly dominate the thoughts of Westwood when he tees it up at TPC Southwind this week, a track that he triumphed on last year when Robert Garrigus suffered a remarkable collapse in regulation play on the 18th. Garrigus, needing just a double-bogey to claim the title, somehow managed to drop three shots.

With the US Open obviously - and understandably - Westwood's priority at present, we're more than happy to oppose him as the clear 15/2 favourite, with the presumption that he's going to have one eye on the year's second major. The same would have been true last year, but then it took a freak implosion from Garrigus for him to triumph.

Perhaps Garrigus' meltdown wasn't such a surprise, as this is a daunting course that can cut your round to shreds with just one mistake. The average score is usually over par, and the green complexes are about as unfriendly as they come on the PGA Tour, meaning hitting greens in regulation is a priority, as is bogey avoidance.

Williams' wagers

  • David Toms to win the St Jude Classic - 11/1 at bet365
  • Ryuji Imada E/W to win - 90/1 at bet365
  • Shaun Micheel E/W to win - 110/1 at bet365

Which leads us to David Toms who, after winning in 2003, said: "I'm very comfortable on this course, comfortable with my spots off the tee as far as where I'm trying to hit the ball."

The American, top of the all-around ranking on Tour, has two wins and seven top 10s in his last nine starts here - and he's currently second in both the standings we're paying particular attention to, GIR and bogey avoidance.

He's found a new lease of life in the autumn of his career also, showing form that belies his 44 years to stand fifth in the FedEx Cup list. The world No. 27 won his last tournament at Colonial, one week after losing out in a play-off at The Players Championship. Get on him.

Ryuji Imada hasn't had a season to remember, but he is arriving off the back of a third-place effort at the Byron Nelson, where he led the field in greens in regulation. What's more, he's made the cut every time he's played at TPC Southwind, scoring top-30 finishes in the process. For those reasons, 90/1 odds are worth a small play, particularly as he opened with rounds of 67 and 68 at this tournament in 2010.

Finally, 2003 US PGA champion Shaun Micheel, who wound up in fourth at last year's St Jude, just one shot away from landing himself in the play-off. Last week's 22nd-place was his best performance of the season, so let's hope he can continue that momentum, with odds of 110/1 on offer.

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.

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Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk