The European Tour heads to China this week for the inaugural BMW Masters, the first event of a four-week Asian swing in the lead up to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Eleven of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team will be in action at Shanghai’s Lake Malaren Golf Club, along with their captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

The players will still be on a high after their thrilling final-day turnaround at Medinah, but their sights will be firmly set on a strong finish to the season-long Race to Dubai.

Rory McIlroy is on course to replicate Luke Donald’s incredible feat of winning both the European and PGA Tour money lists, but he is by no means guaranteed to succeed.

He is less that €500,000 ahead of Justin Rose, and with €888,560 on offer for the winner, it is all to play for.

Only 78 players are taking part in the reduced-field event, so every participant has a great chance to string together four good rounds and propel themselves up the standings.

The golf course is relatively flat but water-strewn, and at 7,607 yards, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of the tour’s longer hitters prevailed this week.

Nicolas Colsaerts
is the tour’s longest, and he is well priced this week at 20/1 with Ladbrokes. The ‘Belgian Bomber’ will still be on cloud nine after his Ryder Cup heroics, but well rested after a week off. He hasn’t finished outside the top 20 on the European Tour since August, including a tie for eighth at the KLM Open and a tie for fifth at the BMW Italian Open, and will believe he still has an outside chance of Race to Dubai glory. Colsaerts also has an affinity for China, winning his first European Tour title at the 2011 Volvo China Open and finishing second this year.

Ian Poulter also looks a good price at 25/1 with Labrokes. The Englishman’s exploits at Medinah have been well documented, and he will be hoping to use that inspiration to improve on his modest tour record thus far in 2012. The enigmatic Londoner often thrives late in the season and has a great record in Asia. He also finished 13th, sixth, first and second in his next four strokeplay tournaments after the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Paul Casey, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth considering this week. Granted, the Englishman has endured a terrible season, but he seems to have turned the corner of late. The 11-time European Tour winner spoke this week of his determination to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, and predicted a victory was imminent. He finished third two weeks ago on the Asian Tour and fifth last week in Australia, potentially vindicating his claim.

Pablo Larrazabal, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, could well feature this week. The gregarious Spaniard may have finished 63rd last week, but he has two top-five finishes in his last four starts. Like Colsaerts, he also performs very well in China. The 2011 BMW International Open champion finished 18th at this year’s Volvo China Open, tenth in 2011 and 20th in last year’s WGC-HSBC Champions.

Alvaro Quiros, at 125/1 with Ladbrokes, is a decent price, despite his terrible season. The Spaniard returned to Dubai’s Earth Course this week, the scene of his triumph at the 2011 DP World Tour Championship, and spoke of his determination to defend this year. As it currently stands, he isn’t in the field for Dubai, so his visit could inspire a good showing this week. His length of the tee will also be an advantage at the long Lake Malaren.

BMW Masters advised bets:

2.5pts each way on Nicolas Colsaerts at 20/1 with Ladbrokes
2.5pts each way on Ian Poulter at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Paul Casey at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Pablo Larrazabal at 80/1 with Ladbrokes
1pt each way on Alvaro Quiros at 125/1 with Ladbrokes