No Rust on Michael Kim in Cleveland

After last week's new event the Tour it heads to the venue of last year new event the Lakewood CC for the Rust-Oleum Championship. Last year it was known as the Cleveland Open and the winner was Steve Alker who beat Dawie van der Walt in a mammoth playoff. It starts fairly soon and will be underway at 12pm UK Time on Thursday 11th June.

The Course

Lakewood was opened in 1921 and designed by A.W. Tillinghurst the designed for US Open courses like Winged Foot & Bethpage Black, but underwent some changes in 2008 which extended it to 7,022 yards and a par 71. It's quite a tight tree-lined course with plenty of bunkers, although there doesn't look like much of the water around the course is in play.
The course is to the west of the city, a few kilometres south of Lake Erie. Cleveland is in Ohio, just north of Akron, home of the Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone CC.
The winners of event here have been:
Year Player Score Players Under Par Winning Margin
Steve Alker
Obviously not a large sample to work with but reasonably average scoring last year, plenty finishing under par in what was quite a tightly packed leaderboard.

The Contenders

First look then is at the 60 players who return from last year, exactly half of whom made the cut and 5 of those who finished inside the top 10 return. Headed by the player who lost out in the playoff, the big South African Dawie van der Walt. He shot 70 & 69 to start before a good weekend with 65 & 66 to make the playoff which he lost at the 11th hole, yes 11th. One of three of the returnees to have all 4 rounds under par. Already a winner on tour this year picking up the win in Chile and was then 9th the following week, but has struggled a bit since then, 34th in Mexico and 26th at the United Leasing Championship. The headed to Europe and missed the cut in Spain and 63rd at Wentworth, before 45th at the Rex Hopsital Open back on this tour and a missed cut last week. The win and his performances on the European Tour back home in South Africa mean he's the second highest ranked player in the field at 207th.
Shooting a consistent three rounds of 69 and a 68 last year was Michael Kim, a score which meant he finished 10th five shots behind the playoff. Hit some form last week with his first top ten finish of the year with 8th in Dallas, before that was 51st at the Rex Hospital Open, 26th at the BMW Charity Pro-am and 18th at the United Leasing Championship. All since his last missed cut in Mexico.
After missed cuts at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open & United Leasing Championship it was a bit of a surprise return to form with 3rd at the BMW Charity Pro-am for Roland Thatcher, especially as he threatened 59 in the final round, setlling for a 50. Followed that with 30th at the Rex Hospital Open a couple of weeks ago not playing last week. Played here last year and finished 14th, a second round 72 letting him down after 69, 67 & a 68 in his other rounds.
Looking at some making their debuts here and in good form at the moment is veteran Steve Marino who has was 34th in Mexico, 14th at both the United Leasing Championship and Rex Hospital Open, with 16th at the BMW Charity Pro-am in between and then last week he was 5th.
Ending his good run of form last week was Order of Merit leader Patton Kizzire, who finished 33rd after a final round 74. He was runner up the week before at the Rex Hospital Open with 10th, 5th and another 2nd in Mexico before that.
OK it's close to the start so will finish there, but check the forum for an excellent preview of tour new boy Canadian Adam Svensson, whilst Bud Cauley makes his first start of the year.

My Selection

Marino is tempting as he has been in good form in recent weeks but I think I am going to go with Michael Kim as he did well here last year in 10th, and improved his run of form with 8th last week, his fourth cut made in a row.