Golf Betting: Volvo World Match Play Championship
My first pick is someone I actually dismissed to start with
While Steve Rawlings may not be a fan of this week's match play tournament, he did back the winner last year so you might want to read his thoughts on the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship.
First staged back in 1964 and won by Arnold Palmer, the Volvo World Match Play Championship is now a very different event to the old autumnal Wentworth treat that many will remember with fondness.
It was oh so easy just a few short years ago. A collection of the world's best would turn up at Ernie Els' gaff, saunter round Surrey's finest for a few days and then Ernie Els would collect the trophy and all those that followed the most obvious selection in the golfing calendar collected their winnings, halcyon days indeed.
But like many good things in life, it didn't last forever and for reasons best known to others, it was decided that the event required a complete overhaul and now we have this brand new format in a brand new country at a brand new time of year.
A dog's dinner would perhaps be stretching it a bit but can you tell yet?
I'm no fan.
Twenty-four players contest over four days. The first half of the tournament, Thursday and Friday, is spent whittling 24 down to 16. I know, I know, surely they'd be better off just having 32 entrants and a straight knockout from the start but no, that's obviously far too simple.
Instead the top 16 players have been seeded, and they've been put into eight groups of three, with each group containing one of the eight un-seeded players. Seed one has been paired with seed 16, seed two with seed 15 and so on and so forth. The two seeds in each group play each other tomorrow afternoon, and then each seeded player takes on the non-seed in their respective groups on Friday. First and second in each group of three then advance to the last-16 and they play on Saturday morning. The quarter-finals are on Saturday afternoon and the semi-finals and final are staged on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. All matches are over 18 holes.
Finca Cortesin Golf Club, Casares, Spain
Par 72 -7,380 yards
Finca Cortesin is a long track with five par fives and three reachable par fours. It's a great risk-reward set-up, ideal for this format. With its length and generous fairways, distance off the tee is most definitely an advantage but a deft touch around the fast greens is essential.
Last Five Years
2011 - Ian Poulter
2010 - No event
2009 - Ross Fisher
2008 - No event
2007 - Ernie Els (Staged at Wentworth)
A losing semi-finalist last year, Martin Kaymer is now quite a warm order at just Betfair odds of 8.2 and that looks plenty short enough to me. He looks to a have a straight forward task to progress out of the round-robin stage but he could then face Graeme McDowell, followed by Ian Poulter and if it did pan-out like that he's a dreadful price.
Defending champion, Ian Poulter, a selection last year at a juicy 19.0, has to be fancied in this format but he has a tricky enough draw. He faces John Senden tomorrow afternoon followed by Tom Lewis on Friday afternoon and neither will be that easy to beat. Senden fared well in the recent Accenture Match Play event, beating Simon Dyson in round one before putting Jason Day to the sword 6 & 5, and he's a tough nut to crack. I want to get Poults onside at some stage but I'm going to wait until he's played Senden and judge it from there. I can't see him shortening up too dramatically if he wins the Senden match but with Lewis playing Senden on Friday morning, waiting a while may just be the best way to go.
Of the other shorter priced players, only Graeme McDowell makes any appeal. He's a perfectly good price at 17.0 but he has a tough first game too, taking on Paul Casey's last minute replacement Robert Karlsson. He then tackles the determined Joe Kruger on Friday. As previously stated, even if he progresses, he could potentially bump into Kaymer after that so I'm being cautious and leaving him out from the get-go too.
I really don't like this format one iota. Unlike the Accenture Match Play, it's impossible to say who'll meet who in the knockout phase and waiting until late yesterday afternoon to do the full draw didn't help either. I decided to hold off until they'd made the draw and I'm really glad I did as the two players I thought looked value, Brandt Snedeker and Branden Grace, have been drawn together - alongside Thomas Bjorn.
My first pick is someone I actually dismissed to start with. I'd come to the conclusion that Alvaro Quiros is just a bit too sloppy for match play but on closer inspection I felt he was just about value at an average price of 24.0. He faces his compatriot Sergio Garcia tomorrow afternoon in what looks the most attractive day one tie. That will be close but even if Sergio gets the better of him I can't see either Spaniard failing to comfortably beat the third member of their group, Tetsuji Hiratsuka, and progression looks highly likely.
This venue looks right up Alvaro's street and he fared well last year, losing narrowly in the quarter-finals to Martin Kaymer.
Next up is Robert Rock, who I also thought looked a very good thing to progress. After playing Justin Rose on Thursday, who is certainly beatable, he takes on the woefully out of form Darren Clarke on Friday morning. It's perhaps dangerous to dismiss the defending Open Champion and a former winner of the Accenture World Match Play but Dazzler's really struggling at present and even if Rock loses to Rose, I'd still make him favourite over Clarke to progress. He's suffered a bit of a hangover since his brilliant win over Tiger Woods and co in Abu Dhabi but his stats were impressive last time out at the Open de Espana and this could be a good opportunity to reignite his season.
My final pick is Rafael Cabrera Bello, and again, it's because I view him a very good thing to progress. He has to tackle Kaymer tomorrow but even if he loses there, Richard Finch looks a weak opponent on Friday morning.
I have a sneaky feeling for Paul Lawrie, who is playing in his 500th European Tour event, but he's in a nasty group with rock-solid Peter Hanson and the dangerous Camilo Villegas so he's another one to look at in-running.