• The Betting Bunker

Rory can pounce while fatigued G-Mac toils

Josh Williams November 17, 2010
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell played together at the Ryder Cup © Getty Images

With Martin Kaymer absent, Graeme McDowell has the opportunity to make a significant move in the Race to Dubai standings at the Hong Kong Open, the penultimate event on the European Tour calendar.

Kaymer appeared a certainty to inherit the world No. 1 spot a couple of weeks ago, but he looks to have been haunted by his inability to convert the opportunity. McDowell has pounced while his Ryder Cup team-mate foundered, meaning that the gap between the two now stands at €367,600 in the money list.

It has been a laudable effort from McDowell, but these back-to-back tournaments are going to catch up with him sooner or later - and we think fatigue will cause cracks to emerge in Hong Kong this week. He should still be there or thereabouts, but at 9/1 we can't see any value in backing him each-way or in the win-only market.

The man he shares the favouritism with, fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy (9/1), carries far greater allure in our eyes. The 21-year-old has slipped to 13th in the Race to Dubai - the top 15 share the prize money - so he'll be fiercely determined to stay in the upper echelons of the standings.

Furthermore, he'll be desperate to banish some demons on a course that has brought him heartache on both of his previous visits. McIlroy has teed it up twice in Fanling, finishing an agonising second on both occasions, while he has only fired one round in the 70s on the course. Has to be worth a look, even at shortened odds.

McIlroy's Ryder Cup team-mate Miguel Angel Jimenez (15/1), is another who has enjoyed success at the tournament, triumphing on two occasions. This is the sort of course that rewards the Spaniard's game - if you hit your fairways, you've always got a chance - and we're backing him to mount a challenge at the end of a year that's seen him reacquainted with the winning habit.

To quote the man himself: "Of course I have won there twice so I have a lot of good feelings for the tournament but I think all the players enjoy Hong Kong and it is a great tournament for us." From anyone else, that may sound like little more than a platitude, but you get the sense with Jimenez that his words are weighted with sincerity. Let's hope he's repeating the sentiments come Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday glee at the tournament, let's cast our gaze on former winner Jose Manuel Lara (125/1). The odds already seem a little high considering he lifted the trophy just four years ago - to say nothing of another two top-30 finishes - and the appeal increases when you cast an analytical eye over his recent form.

Although he exploded spectacularly in Singapore last week - a second-round 77 wasn't pretty - the Spaniard recorded a win and a fourth place in September, so you can hardly say he's scrambling around for rhythm. Lara is one who is well worth a look each-way.

All odds, correct at time of publication, courtesy of Stan James. Click here to open an account and receive a £25 free bet.

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Josh Williams Close
Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk