|Aaron Wise to Win The Desert Classic||35/1||Bet365|
|Danny Willet to Finish Top 10 at The Desert Classic||11/1||888 Sport|
|Chez Reavie to Win The Desert Classic||40/1||Coral|
|Ryan Palmer to Finish Top 10 at The Desert Classic||13/2||888 Sport|
|Jhonattan Vegas Each-Way at The Desert Classic||125/1||Paddy Power|
After a fortnight of Hawaiian fun, the PGA Tour decamps to California to start the West Coast Swing and opens it with the Desert Classic, previously known as many other titles, but perhaps best remembered as the Bob Hope Classic.
It is hosted by three resort golf courses in and around Palm Springs – the TPC Stadium and Nicklaus courses at PGA West, plus La Quinta CC. It’s a birdie-fest pro-am so the winner will need to go low.
22-year-old Aaron Wise was born in South Africa but raised in California, not far from Palm Springs, and he lives in Las Vegas so the resort courses he’ll face this week will be no shock to his system. In fact he also played them last year when finishing T17th after an opening lap of 64.
We know he can keep the foot to the floor when the birdies come because he opened with two 62s on his way to victory on the Web.com Tour in 2017 and then claimed a win in his 2018 PGA Tour rookie campaign, signing for one 63 and two 65s along the way. He’s 35/1 with Bet365 to win the tournament outright.
Chez Reavie sounds a little like a French bistro struggling on TripAdvisor, but he’s finished fifth in this event in the past, has been T17th and T12th in the last two years, and he warmed up in last week’s Sony Open by collecting a share of third.
Eight of the last nine winners of this event played in Hawaii which bodes well, experience has mattered (no debutant winner in the last six years) and Reavie was also second in another recent California pro-am, last year’s AT&T Classic. Coral go 40/1 with seven places on offer, should you back Reavie each-way.
All told, Texan Ryan Palmer has collected five top 10 finishes in this event through his 13 appearances, but glance closer and the efforts are all the more intriguing because four of those top 10s have come in the last seven years (and he’s only once finished outside the top 20 in that period).
That alone would make him of interest this week, but there’s more: when last seen in action he thrashed a final round 62 to finish third in the CJ Cup and he followed it up with a pair of 65s to add seventh in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Course and current form show him ticking the top 10s and he’s 13/2 with 888Sport to keep it going this week.
It’s not often you’d consider backing a player whose last 12 starts in a country had seen him fail to make one cut. However, the recent career of Danny Willett has been anything but straightforward.
The 2016 Masters champion scaled the heights and then experienced a breakdown in his caddie relationship, swing, fitness, form and confidence. But slowly the rebuilding process has reaped reward.
His victory in the DP World Tour Championship was a remarkable one and, whilst it might pay to wait a little to believe he is truly back, the opportunity to back a major winner, off a win, who has won before in the desert (albeit in Dubai), and whose last round on the PGA Tour was a 65 (CJ Cup in Korea), at 11/1 to make the top 10 is a good one. That's the opportunity offered by 888 Sport this weekend.
Jhonattan Vegas won the Desert Classic in 2011 in just his fifth start on the PGA Tour. In the following five years he found very little to cheer about, missing four cuts, but in 2017 he was second after 18 holes and last year he was T11th.
A double winner of the Canadian Open, his second victory there came off the back of five missed cuts. His form at the end of last year was better than that: T28th then T38th with two 66s and a 65 in there. The 125/1 on offer at Paddy Power (each-way seven places) is a touch big.