Mike Norman takes a look at this week's World Golf Championship at Doral with particular interest on the strong European challenge...
Way before Betfair came in to existence I penned a betting preview looking at the main European Challenge when events like the Majors and the World Golf Championships came around.
It was a pretty basic preview, and generally concentrated on three golfers, namely the European Tour's leading lights at the time, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, and Lee Westwood. Obviously then, with only Clarke winning two WGC events in those pre-Betfair years I didn't quite make the millions I was hoping for.
A decade and some extremely near misses later (what kind of shot was that Monty - Winged Foot 2006) Westwood is still hanging tough, but in Monty and DC's place are a plethora of European and/or European Tour-based players capable of winning a 'biggy'.
In fact 'Europe' is arguably the first place to look when such a tournament comes around.
No less than seven European or European Tour-based players have won a Major since 2010; the last three WGC HSBC Champions winners were all European, Englishmen Ian Poulter and Luke Donald have won the WGC Match Play in recent years, and of course, England's Rose - Justin - is the defending champion at this week's WGC Cadillac Championship.
In other words, European golf has never been so strong. And I haven't even mentioned recent history at the Ryder Cup.
As you've probably guessed I'm looking to get a few Europeans on side this week, though there is at least one non-European whose chance I'm sweet on at Doral, and that person is Jason Day.
The talented Aussie is in fine form this season, recording three top-10s from just four starts, and he finished top-20 here last year when nowhere near in the same form. And for some reason, Australians have a very good record at the Blue Monster. Day is available to back at 55.054/1 on the exchange, while backing him each way at 36.035/1 on the Fixed Odds market also appeals.
But Back to the Europeans and the market that involves that group of players only, the Top European market.
Of the leading contenders I can't have Westwood - available to back at 10.5n/a - or Rory McIlroy (8.07/1) one bit. Westwood has a dreadful record here with a career high finish of tied-18th, while although McIlroy has the ability to bounce back in spectacular style, his game just looks all over the place to be even remotely confident about that happening.
Luke Donald (7.613/2) is passed over with less reluctance but he's still a no bet for me. He was well beaten at the World Match Play, and finished outside the top 15 on his only strokeplay appearance this season, and although he's recorded some decent finishes at Doral he is yet to break into the top five in six attempts.
Sergio Garcia (9.617/2) also looks a tad short in the betting, so that just leaves Justin Rose. And although he is favourite at 7.613/2 in this market, he is easily the mostly likely winner in my book.
Like Donald, Rose was beaten in the second round at the World Match Play, but his game looked in good order throughout the two days which was no surprise given he had kicked-off his season with a very encouraging second place finish in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour, his second consecutive runner-up finish on that Tour.
Rose was slightly below par when finishing 16th at the Qatar Masters but he looked in fine fettle last week in the Florida winds, battling really well over the weekend to record an excellent top-five finish.
The Englishman makes no secret of the fact that he loves playing the Blue Monster course; though a top-15 finish on your debut in 2008 and a win last year will certainly help you take a liking to a venue. He is driving the ball superbly at the moment and he seems full of confidence. This could be a huge year for Rose, starting this week at Doral.