PUNTERS looking for an angle in to this week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial immediately have their attentions turned to second favourite Zach Johnson.
The 2007 Masters champion has an outstanding record at the venue, winning on two occasions (2012 and 2010) and recording a further top five (2011) and top 10 (2009) finish in the last four renewals.
But crucially all but one of those performances came on the back of a decent month prior to this event. Last year Johnson had just finished second at the RBC Heritage and The Players prior to winning here.
The year before he'd just finished sixth at the Wells Fargo and 12th at The Players, while in 2009 he had a third-place finish and a win to his name leading up to this tournament.
Leading up to this year's defence, Johnson is in no form whatsoever – just two top-20 finishes (18th and 19th) to his name are all he has to show from 12 outings on the PGA Tour this season, albeit one of those came last time out at The Players.
Many will argue Johnson's finish at The Players is a sign he's on his way back to his best – great timing for an event he loves to play if you like – and his form is similar to what he showed leading up to his victory here in 2010 but three years ago he was four times the price he is to win this week.
True, he definitely deserves his place towards the head of the market, but before being tempted to back him at 17.0 I'd have liked to have seen him show more sparkle leading up to this week.
Instead I'm looking at Ben Crane and John Huh while I also give a chance to Ryan Palmer and Charlie Wi.
Huh (41.0) had a scattering of top-30 finishes mixed in with five missed cuts to show for his efforts this season, until he turned up at Augusta.
He would go on to finish in a tie for 11th at the Masters which given the strength of the field was a very creditable effort as well as being out of the blue. And he has since shown that he remains in decent form with a top-10 finish at last week's Byron Nelson Championship.
Last year Huh made his debut in this event and finished in an encouraging tie for fifth. If he can continue the form he has shown in recent weeks hopefully he can prove that last year's debut performance here was no fluke.
Crane (36.0) endured a slow start to his season with four missed cuts in his first six events but bounced back at huge odds to finish in a tie for fourth at the Shell Houston Open – Texas being a favourable place for him to play his best golf it seems.
He then went on to record a top-10 finish at The Players a fortnight ago, which augers well now he's back in his home state and given he has finished in the top five at Colonial in three of the last five years.
Palmer started 2013 in great fashion, recording two top-six finishes within the space of three weeks, but went completely off the boil for a few months.
He bounced back with a highly emotional top-five finish at The Players a fortnight ago and appeared to carry that form forward to the Byron Nelson last week where he was bang in contention at the halfway stage.
Weekend rounds of 73 and 73 sent him tumbling down the pack but I wouldn't write Palmer off yet, especially given he finished in the top five here last year.
Finally a small chance is given to loveable Wi. He's had a poor season admittedly but makes the cut more often than not and has some decent course form to his name here including a runner-up finish in 2011.
(all e/w – 1/4 odds 1,2,3,4,5)
Back John Huh @ 41.0
Back Ben Crane @ 36.0
Back Ryan Palmer @ 46.0
Back Charlie Wi @ 151.0