The inaugural EurAsia Cup, dubbed the Ryder Cup of the East, begins on Thursday at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, as the European Tour swings back into action with a team event that has ostensibly replaced the Royal Trophy on the schedule.
The previous incarnation of the tournament, that pits ten golfers from Europe against ten from Asia in three days of competition (fourballs, foursomes and singles), saw the visitors (all events were hosted in either Thailand, Brunei or China) win five of the seven renewals, and there looks to be a serious imbalance in favour of Miguel Jimenez’s side this time around.
The Spaniard’s starting line-up, that includes himself, averages out at 38.4 in terms of world ranking while Thongchai Jaidee’s team, of which he is the highest placed member in the OWGR, has a mean of 122.1. No amount of local knowledge can help that disparity; despite history telling us team golf can be a great leveller.
For those that like to get involved at short prices, Europe have to be backed to win this event at 4/9, but for others looking for longer odds, the top point scorer markets offer greater scope.
Local Tour Order of Merit winner for 2013, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, is the favourite for Asia at 4/1, but the burly Thai has struggled to find the form that saw him a force to be reckoned both at home and abroad last year, failing to register a top ten since mid-December.
Jaidee, who was sixth in the high class WGC Cadillac Championship three weeks ago, is much value at slightly bigger odds of 5s, but I wonder if captaining the side might take its toll.
Therefore, it might pay to take a chance on the 12/1 rank outsider Nicolas Fung. The top ranked Malaysian player in the world will be desperate to repay the faith shown in him by Jaidee, who made the reigning Asian Development Tour Order of Merit title his wild card pick. Successive top five finished on the Asian Tour late last year suggest he is not playing this week just to make up the numbers.
5/1-shot Graeme McDowell is the market principle to rack up the most points for the visitors and it is difficult to back against the in-form Ulsterman, who was 10th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday and can boast seven top 20 finishes in his last eight starts.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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