40/1 Manassero can win you Doha in Qatar!
The Qatar Masters
2nd Feb - 5th Feb - live on Sky Sports
After a superb week in Abu Dhabi the European Tour takes the short Westerly trip to the Qatari capital Doha for the 2012 Qatar Masters. The defending champion is Thomas Björn (20/1) who comes off the back of a successful joint third at the HSBC Golf Championship, which was eventually won by Englishman Robert Rock. The winner this week will take home a cash prize of over €300,000 and that incentive has ensured that a strong field has assembled to take on the 7,388 yard, par 72 Doha Golf Club course.
The two names that immediately jump out from the runners and riders are the two professionals ranked inside the World's top four. By their own very high standards Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer would have been disappointed with their performance in Abu Dhabi. 21-time European Tour winner Westwood kicked his 2012 season off with a tied 17th place finish, shooting six-under-par over the course of the week despite struggling with a neck injury, whilst World number four Kaymer failed to even make the weekend shooting six-over-par on the first two days. Nevertheless Englishman Westwood heads the betting at 10/1 whilst Kaymer can be back at odds of 14/1, and despite the price my money would not be going behind the 2010 US PGA Champion.
Alvaro Quiros was the runner-up here last year and the Spaniard is renowned as something of a desert specialist, having previously won three events in the Middle East. He won this event back in 2009 and due to his missed cut last week in Abu Dhabi his odds have drifted to 16/1 for the title.
Much like Tiger Woods last week a contingent of American players have accepted their invitation to appear on this European Tour event. Hunter Mahan (22/1) looks to be the stand out name and the two-time US PGA Tour winner will be joined in Qatar by Major Champions Todd Hamilton (300/1), Ben Curtis (200/1), Shaun Micheel (200/1) and John Daly (200/1).
Two players who appear to represent huge value at 33/1 are Australian Jason Day and American K.J. Choi. Day, currently the World's number ten, was a runner-up in both the 2011 Masters Tournament and US Open Championship whilst former teenage powerlifter Choi had numerous top ten's in 2011 and ran out winner at The Players Championship. Both are 11/4 to finish in the top-ten and that's a great each-way price considering their experience and pedigree.
My number one pick this week must go to the Italian wonderkid Matteo Manassero. It's clear for everyone to see that he has been training hard in the off-season. The 18-year-old has bulked up and his sixth place finish at the HSBC last week is proof enough to suggest that the 40/1 tag on the teenagers shoulders is immensely generous. If not here it won't be long until his next European Tour title.