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Wilson should win battle of the crocks; GOLF.

Byline: Jeremy Chapman

RYDER CUP Brit Oliver Wilson can win the battle of the crocks and concede three to struggling Brandt Snedeker on Sporting Index's day-one 18-holers at the US Open at Bethpage Black, New York, today.

The Mansfield man, beaten only in extra-time by Sergio Garcia at the HSBC Champions at the end of last year and now an eighttime runner-up on the European Tour, was going along swimmingly until a recurrence of a neck problem invaded his season.

That resulted in him pulling out of the Players Championship and was the chief reason behind missed cuts at Wentworth and the London Club on his two most recent starts.

Yet he's still seventh in the Race To Dubai (or money list, as we old 'uns like to call it) and his problems are as nothing compared with those which have seen promising Snedeker drop like a stone down to 182nd on the US money list.

A rib-cage injury forced a twomonth lay-off and his comeback at St Jude last week produced no better results.

Yet another missed cut made it eight weekends off from 11 starts from the man who went out in the last pairing with Trevor Immelman in last year's Masters, but found the heat in the kitchen allied to Immo's desperately slow play too much to bear.

He fell away to a 77 but still managed to earn a share of third place. Then he went on to be eighth in last year's US Open.

What wouldn't he give for form like that now! But you need to have shown some semblance of current wellbeing to tee it up with any confidence in a US Open on a course as demanding as Bethpage.

While Wilson can look at a season that has brought him fifth place in the all-star CA Championship at Doral - the best European performance of the week - and a 14th in the Irish Open, apart from that Champions near-miss, Snedeker can look only at stats that show him 36 over par for the year with only five rounds out of 29 in the 60s.

Assuming both are now fit - and Ollie would surely not be risking further damage - the 0-3 spread difference between them in this late match is not as wide as it should be.

All credit to Sporting for thinking up so many markets but I fear there will little interest in their holes specials as it is seven years since we were last at Bethpage and the betting public's memory of the layout, unless you are a total anorak, will be vague to say the least.

Hands up, all of you who remember what the tenth looks like, for example.

But you have to like their title, the New York Spankees, for their big hitters' hotshots comprising Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Alvaro Quiros and the granddaddy of them all, Bubba Watson.

Love the name, but don't rate any of their chances of finishing in the top-ten. The excitement of a sell at 11 is limited unless you are a high-roller.

Their highest-round score market, pitched at 87.2-88.0, is of more interest as we had a 92 on the second day at Bethpage in 2002. Although the course is not expected to be the monster it was then, there is far more dross in the 156-strong line-up, including no fewer than 14 amateurs. And the weather forecast is none too rosy..

A small buy will keep you entertained until Friday night - but don't expect any huge numbers on the weekend.

Recommendations Buy O Wilson/Snedeker in day-one 18-hole match 3pts at 3 Sporting Index Buy highest-round score 3pts at 88 Sporting Index Already advised Sell winning 72-hole score 6pts at 277.5 Sporting Index
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2009
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