After last week's whitewash by the sublime Martin Kaymer it's off to Bahrain for our second instalment in the Middle East. Judging by our inbox, many of you took advantage of our article on how to maximise your returns on Martin Kaymer last week (click here to read it) - naturally if you didn't use up your free bets last week then you can always follow the same principle with the player of your choice this week!
The Volvo Golf Champions is a new event on the European Tour and will be played out on the Montgomerie Course at the Royal Golf Club, Bahrain. Course designer Colin Montgomerie will be in attendance to show all the entrants how to play the course as he strives for his stated goal of a World Top 50 position - we wish him a lot of luck in his quest! Only Pablo Martin is playing from the 5 European Tour winners so far this term, so in all likelihood we're looking for our 6th different winner of the season this week...
With just 98 players, this event is a little more intimate than usual - selling finishing positions could be a good betting strategy this week provided your players make the cut. The field is headed by Paul Casey at 8/1 with Paddy Power, however there's a whole host of top quality players just behind him, including Karlsson, both Molinaris, Poulter, Harrington, Garcia and Jiminez.
The course itself has only been open for a couple of years, however it will present a stern test for the players with a premium on accuracy off the tee. Montgomerie has blended aspects from some of his favourite courses into this finished article which will play like a links-cum-desert course with its rolling fairways and undulating greens, plus some very deep bunkers and lakes/streams. The course, including the greens, has been overseeded with Poa Trivialis to protect the normal Seashore Paspalum during the winter.
At 7,244 yards this par 72 will not succumb to the bombers - instead a more strategic game is likely to prevail here; that said, the longer hitters will stand a chance of hitting some of the par 5s in 2, plus the par-4 10th is likely to driveable when the tees are up.
My tips for this event:
The predictor has correctly predicted the last 2 events so who am I to argue this week?! The younger of the 2 siblings is a great selection here - on a new course that everyone (bar Monty) will uncomfortable with to begin with, picking a player who can keep himself out of trouble is of paramount importance. Tee-to-green there are very few players in the same league as Francesco and that will set him in great stead this week.
Captured his first WGC event at Shanghai in November with an assured performance with the flat stick to accompany his sublime ball striking - many (including me) have him down as a contender for a Major in the not so distant future, possibly as soon as The Masters. Since then he finished 6th in Dubai and 8th last week - shooting 69/66 over the weekend. He's warming up to another victory in my book and this could well be it. RESULT: T20
The fact that Edoardo - who won twice to his brother's once last season - is almost 4 times the price goes some way to showing how much Francesco has come on in recent months. Since they shared the final group at Gleneagles, the younger brother has stolen the limelight and Edoardo's inability to close out his Ryder Cup match versus Rickie Fowler may have left a lasting impression, however 40/1 is still far too long and very much worth taking this week.
Edoardo had last weekend off as he missed the cut, however he'll feel happy to have shaken some of the dust off and ready to compete once again. He has form in the desert with his 4th place finish in Dubai around this time last year, plus his 2 wins in Scotland were impressive on courses where he'll be able to draw a few parallels this week. His 2nd place at Bay Hill on a rare foray to the US was on a similar surface and must be respected. RESULT: T8
The Spaniard is streaky but with that comes the opportunity for us to profit when he's hitting a peak. Already a winner on the full European Tour, Rafa came to the World's attention with a prominent first round at Pebble Beach before fading - however the experience will have helped him develop further.
I think Cabrera-Bello is approaching something of a peak in his form with 4 top 20s in his last 6 starts, and an excellent weekend at Abu Dhabi of 67/66 which was bettered only by Martin Kaymer - and we know how well HE played! His putter was in good form last week averaging just 1.65 putts per GIR - if he can keep the positive momentum from the weekend going then I see him in contention through the weekend here. RESULT: T30
Sponsor's invite Brier is as short as 125/1 elsewhere and 250/1 is simply too tempting to miss. Last week's selection Ricardo Gonzalez finished 8th on Sunday...let's see if we can better that this week!
As I have done before, I've placed this bet with Extrabet as there's always scope to 'bail out' and close your bet early if he's doing well and you get cold feet - read more about this feature in our 'Extrabet Close Bet Feature' guide from the options on the left hand side.
The Austrian is twice a winner on Tour, most notably at the Volvo China Open in 2007 and clearly knows how to get the job done. Missed the cut in Joburg after a typically slow start, however a Friday 67 is encouraging and follows up an excellent top 10 at the Africa Open which he should have arguably won (69 would have sufficed on Sunday). He's had a week off now and if you look through the history books you'll find that both of his wins came after a week's rest - at a silly long price, I won't be at all surprised to see Brier still in the mix on Sunday. RESULT: 67
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:00GMT 25.1.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation