Maverick McNealy has the skill to survive golf’s feared Bear Trap

Rory McIlroy is the favourite to win the Cognizant Championship but hasn’t tackled the Bear Trap since 2018 (Picture: Getty Images)

It would be extremely painful being caught in a bear trap and one of the most dangerous can be found at Palm Beach in Florida.

The type of injury inflicted isn’t physical, though, it hits the wallet and the reputation of those who fall foul of the pitfall.

In the world of finance a bear trap refers to false signs which encourage investors to believe a declining trend in stocks and shares has reversed and is heading upwards when, in fact, it is still plummeting.

In golf, the Bear Trap is the feared name for the dangerous 15th, 16th and 17th holes at the PGA National Resort, where this week’s Cognizant Classic is being staged.

The two fearsome par-threes either side of a treacherous par-four are named after Jack Nicklaus, the winner of a record 18 majors, who was nicknamed the Golden Bear. He renovated the course six years ago and said about navigating the formidable stretch: ‘It’s about precision. It’s about guts.’

Water hazards and bunkers lure players into hitting bogeys, double bogeys and even worse and can signal the end of any hope of victory, or even a top-ten finish, in the blink of a sporting eye.

There’s more than prize money at stake at the tournament, formerly known as the Honda Classic, as the final places for next week’s prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational are up for grabs.

Matt Fitzpatrick has the skills needed to get round the PGA National without too much damage to his card

Matt Fitzpatrick has the skills needed to get round the PGA National without too much damage to his card (Picture: Getty Images)

Maverick McNealy is one of those on the cusp of playing under the Orlando sun at Bay Hill and he’s finding form after following a tied sixth at the Phoenix Open with a T13 at the Mexico Open on Sunday.

The Californian can improve enough on those finishes to warrant an each-way interest at 70/1 with Coral and Ladbrokes, who both pay out on the top ten places.

Next up is Stephan Jaeger, who cashed the each-way part of our 20/1 bet on him in Mexico on Sunday when he was tied third, and he’s 33/1 with the same firms, while this week’s final two each-ways on the first stop on the PGA Tour’s East Coast swing are completed by two Brits.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick has the tools to deal with PGA National (28/1, eight places with William Hill) while Scot Robert MacIntyre (75/1 ten places, bet365) will be full of confidence after bouncing back from three missed cuts with a T6 at Vidanta at the weekend. 

• Luke Humphries may be the world champion but Michael van Gerwen is the man in form in this year’s Premier League Darts having won three Thursdays in a row in Berlin, Glasgow and Newcastle. The Dutchman can win the first match in this week’s bash in Exeter by beating Cool Hand Luke at 3/4 with Coral and Ladbrokes. Peter Wright threw his poor Premier League form in the bin when taking Luke Littler to a deciding leg last week and is 13/10 with bet365 to defeat Nathan Aspinall, who is also out of sorts, while Gerwyn Price is 4/6 across the board to defeat Rob Cross. Michael Smith is too big to ignore in the final pairing with Littler at 15/8 with Paddy Power and Betfair.

• Not long now to the Cheltenham Festival and The Kalooki Kid, a promising winner at Newcastle and Musselburgh since Christmas, can bounce back from a below-par effort at Doncaster last time out in Saturday’s bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Kelso. Back Nicky Richards’ grey each-way at 14/1 with Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet.

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