Firstly, let hope February is every bit as good as January!
Stephen Gallacher’s and Robert Rock’s respective top-10 and top-20 finishes last week gave us an overall profit in January of 22 points – a return on investment (ROI) of 55%.
Last week also saw another two 20-somethings, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, notch up victories – and all 6 winners on the European Tour this season have been in their 20s, as have 4 of the last 6 winners on the PGA Tour. However, much of this week’s pre-tournament talk is about 41-year-old pre-Malaysian Open favourite Lee Westwood (7/1).
The biggest talk of the town though is, as is often the case, Tiger Woods – and who would have thought you’d have ever seen arguably the world’s greatest ever golfer priced up at 50/1 for a pretty average PGA Tour event – let alone one he’s won 6 times!
I wouldn’t begrudge either of them a victory and, whilst Woods looked a shadow of his former self last week, Westwood has a realistic chance of repeating last year’s victory – but I’ll still pass in favour of what I consider better value bets in the Malaysian Open.
Thomas Pieters 1 point each-way (50/1 general) and 2 points top-10 (5/1 Bet Victor)
The sweet-swinging big-hitting 23-year-old Dane has already caught the eye of many of the TV pundits and he looks sure to get competitive in many events this season. His form figures so far this season are 8/4/38/42 which, when you compare them to his results in the same events last year of 133/116/DNP/DNP, shows just how much he has improved in a short space of time. Despite last season’s poor start, he did however finish 8th on his debut in this event and should be at least capable of matching that performance – and hopefully he’ll land at least the each-way money as well.
Pablo Larrazabal 2 points top-10 (4/1 Bet Victor or Paddy Power)
The inconsistent Spaniard will have hopefully got over his incident with the swarm of wasps that made him take invasive manoeuvres by jumping into a lake, but he should also take great confidence that he picked himself up and still finished 8th, just worse than his 6th place finish the previous year. A quiet-ish desert swing saw him improve each week MC/33/20 – and that offers hope that he’ll once again peak for this tournament.
Alejandro Canizares top-20 (4/1 Paddy Power)
Another Spaniard, but this one’s desert-swing far exceeded bookies expectations with finishes of 12/8/47. Not played well here the last three years, but those finishes coincided with runs of bad form, and his recent form offers hope that he might be able to repeat either of his 2010 or 2011 finishes, respectively 14th and 9th.
David Lipsky top-20 (5/1 Bet365 or Paddy Power)
Last year’s Asian Order of Merit winner, and Omega Masters winner, seems to have been largely ignored by the bookies. However, he warmed up nicely with 27th spot last week in Dubai and finished 3rd in this in 2012.