Neither Rory Sabbatini or Richard Sterne have shown enough lately to justify South Africa’s fairly prominent market position, and I’m inclined to think the same about Ben Curtis and Brandt Snedeker for the US. Another negative for Curtis is that he performed poorly in the Ryder Cup pairs.
Alternatively, IRELAND can boast two proven team golf performers. Paul McGinley played the senior role alongside a young Padraig Harrington when they last won the World Cup in 1997, and that pair also went on to make the top-3 a couple more times. His partner this year, Graeme McDowell, finished strongly in Hong Kong on Sunday, and has looked a winner in waiting for several weeks. Crucially given this week’s format, both McGinley and McDowell have already looked masters of foursomes and fourballs in Ryder Cups.
Given their previous failures in the event, I’m loathe to over-rate the good recent form shown by the representatives of India and Thailand, most notably Jeev-Milkha Singh and Prayad Marksaeng. Danish duo Soren Hansen and Anders Hansen would also need to improve on their previous tournament records to justify third-favourite status.
If it wasn’t for Alex Cejka’s complete lack of form since July, then his pairing with Martin Kaymer for Germany would have made for a decent bet. But even considering Colin Montgomerie’s much improved performance in Hong Kong, Scotland are unlikely to defend the title with Alastair Forsyth struggling at present.
Australia, represented by Richard Green and Brendan Jones, came in for very close consideration before being pipped for the final places in the staking plan by FRANCE and NEW ZEALAND. Note that none of the six players for these three teams could be considered world-class, but all are solid, consistent types that contend a couple of times each year. For this is the profile of recent World Cup winners. Apart from Monty last year, the other most recent five were Marc Warren, Marcel Siem, 49-year old Bernhard Langer, Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd.
Gregory Havret was half of the French pairing that finished 3rd last year, beaten by just a shot, and Gregory Bourdy should prove a solid partner this time. Both of these middle-ranking Euro Tour players are well capable of shooting low rounds, which could bode well for the fourballs.
As for New Zealand, 80/1 is an insult. Even thinking purely in terms of the individual abilities of each player, I see no justification for Mark Brown and David Smail to be twice or three times the odds of similar standard pairings. Its only nine months since Brown was winning consecutive events, and featuring regularly on leaderboards in the Asian leg of the Euro Tour. Smail has also produced his best golf in Asia, and has made his mark on the World Cup before. Back in 2001 when this event was held in Japan, he put up a particularly outstanding individual performance alongside Michael Campbell to finish second.
OMEGA MISSION HILLS WORLD CUP
3pts ew IRELAND @ 14/1 (PAGEBET, TOTE, VCBET)
3pts ew SPAIN @ 16/1 (GENERAL)
2pts ew FRANCE @ 25/1 (GENERAL, 28/1 BET365)
1pt ew NEW ZEALAND @ 80/1 (CENTREBET, CORAL)
7pts win ROBERT ALLENBY @ 7/1 (GENERAL, 15/2 CANBET)
3.5pts ew PETER LONARD @ 14/1 (GENERAL)
2.5pts ew TIM CLARK @ 20/1 (BETFRED, BOYLES, CENTREBET, SKYBET)
1.5pts ew OLIVER FISHER @ 40/1 (BOYLES, CANBET, CENTREBET, STANJAMES)
1pt ew DAVE HORSEY @ 66/1 (CENTREBET, SKYBET, VCBET)
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
RACE TO DUBAI
2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1
2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1
2008/2009 STATS: -40pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts
Gallery: Omega Mission Hills World Cup