World Cup of Golf: China look the choice
We're off to Australia this week as 28 two-man teams battle it out for the World Cup of Golf in Victoria...
"Their second place last time came at Kingston Heath so there's no reason why they can't click again at Metropolitan in Oakleigh South - another course in the Melbourne Sandbelt - using the same format."
Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 5 places
Main Bet: Back China each-way @ 14/1
Two years ago the Chinese pair of Haotong Li and Ashun Wu turned up at the World Cup of Golf in Australia with a combined world ranking of 301.
Both players were outside the top 100 (Li 130, Wu 171) so expectations were low.
While no-one could reel in winners Denmark, China shot 70-65-72-65 to take a share of second spot with France and the United States and I think they're a good bet this week to be right up there again.
For starters, Li has taken a big jump up the world rankings to 40th while Wu, after sinking to 401st in early September, is back to 177th after following T6 at Crans-sur-Sierre with victory at the KLM Open in the Netherlands.
Two weeks ago, Wu showed more signs of his improved form with T16 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
Their second place last time came at Kingston Heath so there's no reason why they can't click again at Metropolitan in Oakleigh South - another course in the Melbourne Sandbelt - using the same strokeplay format (two days of fourballs and two days of foursomes).
True, Li in particular has played a lot of golf lately but this is hardly a major and he should be able to have some fun with his partner again.
The 14/1 looks a fair each-way price.
Obvious chances can be given to Australia (Marc Leishman/Cameron Smith), England (Tyrrell Hatton/Ian Poulter) and the United States (Kyle Stanley/Matt Kuchar).
Smith (T10) and Kuchar (T23) played in last week's Australian Open at The Lakes (near Sydney and not Sandbelt) but I'm not rushing out to back the Aussies at 4/1, England at 7/1 and the USA at 8/1.
Holders Denmark at 11/1 appeal more but I'll stick with China.
Best Outsider: Back Sweden each-way @ 40/1
With joint runners-up China and France having combined world rankings of 301 and 271 respectively, there's scope to look a fair way down the betting although not crazily low given that Venezuela and Greece both have players who ranked outside the top 2000.
Sweden go with Alexander Bjork (63) and Joakim Lagergren (188), their ranking adding up to 251 which seems decent enough.
Both are winners on the European Tour this year, with Bjork taking victory in April's Volvo China Open and Lagergren at May's Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
More recently, Bjork finished runner-up to Eddie Pepperell in last month's British Masters before backing it up with T14 in Turkey and a fine T12 on his debut at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Lagergren has been more up and down but T27 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge was a fair effort and although T49 in Dubai looks average, he actually closed 65-70 on the weekend on the Earth Course.
He's not had any luck in two visits to the Aussie PGA but 71-73 last time was hardly a disgrace while there's very little matchplay form to go on (Lagergren went out in R1 of the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2016).
You can't have everything for a 40/1 punt in this format but Bjork and Lagergren have enough talent to suggest we could end up with another pair of Scandinavians hoisting the trophy.