The EurAsia Cup starts on Friday morning and our man has dug out a couple of wagers for the biannual bash in Malaysia. Read his preview ahead of all the live action here...
“The world number 14, Paul Casey, will be busting a gut to prove his worth to Captain Bjorn in Malaysia this week and he’s my idea of the value in the Top European Points Scorer market.”
The EurAsia Cup is a biannual match play tournament contested between teams representing the Asian and European Tours.
This is just the third edition of the event but this tournament basically replaces the old Royal Trophy which was staged every year between 2006 and 2013.
With 24 points up for grabs, the two teams will play six fourball matches on Friday, six foursomes on Saturday and 12 singles ties on Sunday. In the event of a tie, Europe will retain the trophy.
First Two EurAsia Cup Results
2016 - Europe 18½-5½
2014 - Tie 10-10
Past Royal Trophy Results
2013 - Europe 8½-7½
2012 - Tie 8-8
2011 - Europe 9-7
2010 - Europe 8½-7½
2009 - Asia 10-6
2008 - No Event
2007 - Europe 12½-3½
2006 - Europe 9 -7
Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Par 72, 7,004 yards
Designed by Max Wexler and opened as recently as 1993, Glenmarie also staged the first two editions.
It's described as gently undulating with narrow landing areas on the fairways, parkland looking and tree-lined. Water is in-play on just four holes and the greens, which last time ran at around 10.5 on the stimpmeter, are Bermuda Tiff Dwarf.
Live on Sky Sports all three days - starting on Friday at 03:30 UK and Ireland time
Asian Team - Captained by Arjun Atwal
European Team - Captained by Thomas Bjorn
Rafa Cabrera Bello
A combination of an extremely well-respected captain (Thomas Bjorn) and a fast approaching Ryder Cup on European soil (Paris in September), has resulted in by far the strongest European Team assembling for this event, or for the Royal Trophy, and they're going to take some stopping.
Bjorn has talked about how strong the Asian Team is but he must be delighted with how seriously the top-drawer European players are taking the tournament. When asked by the European Tour website "How good is it to see some of Europe's top players here this week?" This was his response.
"I think it's amazing. It shows the commitment that they have. I wouldn't say I was surprised about some of them wanting to play, but it's a difficult time of year for a lot of guys in the sense that they are into their pre-season. They are into building for what they want to do for the year coming but the commitment they showed so early and the excitement has been admirable. There was no question about playing. They wanted to play. They wanted to represent Europe and they wanted to represent the Tour and themselves in this event. It was very telling about where European golf is. It's very telling about that the players have a very big commitment to this tournament, but to the Tour, as well. I'm very pleased with the 12 guys that we have here this week."
With the Ryder Cup in Paris looming, this is a massive event for the Europeans and I don't see them being complacent. Under the captaincy of Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Europeans led the inaugural staging of the EurAsia Cup five-zero after the opening day's fourballs and they were still 7-3 up after the day two foursomes but a collapse on day three saw the match tied at 10-10.
I suspect the 2016 captain, Darren Clarke, reminded his team frequently about that collapse and they battered the Asians by a whopping 13 points. Thomas Bjorn was one of those to lose his singles tie in 2014 (lost 2&1 to Kiradech Aphibarnrat) so he'll remember the disappointment well and I can see him getting his team similarly motivated.
I know there were a number of close affairs in the old Royal Trophy but the now defunct Seve Trophy was still in existence back then. There was arguably a bit too much team match play in the schedule at the time and the teams that represented Europe in the Royal Trophy weren't anywhere near as strong as the 12 assembling this week. I expect the Europeans to have too much firepower and I fancy another wide margin victory. The 15/8 offered up by the Sportsbook for Europe -4.5 points is a fair enough price to play.
Top Scorer Markets
I don't fancy anyone in the Top Asian Points Scorer market but I quite lie Paul Casey at an industry-best of 15/2 to be the Top European scorer.
Casey was part of the European Team that beat Team USA in both 2004 and 2006 and he was on the losing side at Valhalla in 2008 but he hasn't played since. When it came to a wildcard pick for the 2010 edition in Wales, the European captain, Colin Montgomerie, favoured Padraig Harrington over Casey (despite Casey being the seventh best ranked player in the world at the time) and Casey spat the dummy out. He gave up his European Tour membership and any chance of playing in the Ryder Cup and it seems Bjorn has been the major influence on Casey re-joining the Tour.
This is what Casey told Sky Sports back in November. "I've missed it and it's always bothered me slightly not being a member. I think ultimately the biggest thing about making this decision is I'm avoiding the regret of not doing this. I want to play another Ryder Cup and that's why I need to do this. I genuinely can't tell you how excited I am and how cool it is to think about the possibility of that next September, for multiple reasons. I feel I can make a massive contribution on the golf course. I still feel I've got another very good three, four, five years in me, of really good stuff."
"Thomas has been a massive support," Casey added. "He's assisted in me making the decision with his confidence and his backing of me and my game, but he also hasn't crowded me. I sent Thomas a congratulatory message on his appointment and our conversations haven't stopped since."
The world number 14 will be busting a gut to prove his worth to Captain Bjorn in Malaysia this week and he's my idea of the value in the Top European Points Scorer market.
I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter