Luke Donald teed up in Dubai last November only needing to finish in the top nine to clinch the Race to Dubai title and in true Donald-style he got the job done by finishing third behind Alvaro Quiros.
The Englishman's consistency last season was staggering and, with so many cash-rich events now counting towards both the Race to Dubai and US Tour Money List, it was no surprise he ended up top dog on both sides of the pond. You wouldn't rule out a repeat and the 5/1 on offer with bet365 for the 2012 Race To Dubai will tempt some punters, but his focus this season will surely be on adding a major to his CV and as a result he is likely to play a much lighter schedule.
With the 9/2 market leader Rory McIlroy now firmly ensconced in the States, where he's expected to play the majority of his golf, this could be an opportunity for MARTIN KAYMER to regain his Race to Dubai crown. The German topped the standings in 2010 courtesy of four victories, the biggest coming in the USPGA Championship, and he started last year in similar style with victory in Abu Dhabi, climbing to world No.1 a month later.
That proved to be a double-edged sword, however, as the inevitable media circus that followed clearly got to him and only served to magnify his loss of form that probably came about as a result of some swing changes prior to playing in the Masters, where he missed the cut for the third consecutive time. His game was in state of flux for several months afterwards and it wasn't until the European Masters at the start of October, where he finished runner-up, that things started to turn around, with a late victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China rounding off his season nicely.
With his game back on the rails and having had nearly a year to get used to the media pressure that comes with being a golfing superstar, he could be in for a monster year. More importantly in relation to the Race to Dubai, he's the only one of the market leaders who is going to be fully focussed on the European Tour, whilst still being eligible to play in the Majors and WGC events that count so much to the final standings.
He should be favourite in my mind so the 5/1 on offer with Coral looks like terrific value and, for those of you who want some insurance, an each-way bet to nothing at Coral's place terms of one quarter the odds, four places - you are guaranteed a small profit even if he finishes second, third or fourth. His season is likely to get under way in the Abu Dhabi Championship, where he's chasing a third straight win, and that affords him the opportunity to get his campaign off to a flyer.
Lee Westwood, an 8/1 shot with Coral, should again be thereabouts at the business end but, like McIlroy, he's taken up US Tour membership, and a bigger threat might be Sergio Garcia (20/1 Ladbrokes) now he's got his confidence back after two wins in his homeland last October. His compatriot Alvaro Quiros could be in for a good year too, with his win in the season-ending Dubai World Championship taking him up No.22 in the world golf rankings, thus qualifying him for all the big events to come. At 25/1 with Totesport, he's worth considering each-way, although consistency has not been his strong suit in the past.
Martin Kaymer 4pts @ 5/1 Coral