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Michael Taylor 24th Nov 2010 - 13:28

Kaymer can take the Race but Westwood will win the war

A fantastic year for European golf comes to an end at the Dubai World Championship and the battles for supremacy are well and truly on.

Up for grabs are two prizes. Firstly the biggest prize purse on the European Tour, and secondly the Race to Dubai - which only Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are gunning for.

No matter what happens on the fairways and greens of the Earth Course at the breathtaking Jumeirah Golf Estate, one player will be guaranteed to lose something, Lee Westwood.

Not that the Worksop man will care as he hands over his status as European number one and enjoys to settle down into the even more impressive title of world number one.

Last year Westwood saw off the challenge from Rory McIlroy at this very event when he landed a six shot victory and claimed the inaugural Race to Dubai title.

This year it's hard to rule out him out from challenging again, in fact I'm struggling to see anybody being good enough to beat England's finest.

From day one to day four he was untouchable last year and the bad news for the field is that he's improved even more since then.

Since the Ryder Cup he might have only appeared in one tournament, finishing second one shot behind Francesco Molinari, but he arrives in Dubai at full health after some niggling back injuries.

From tee to green he's without equal and on the flat greens his putter holds up well enough to see him sink some vital putts, as his cumulative score of 23 under proved last year.

True enough European golf is at an all-time high but in terms of consistency nobody can compare and at 7/1 he's great value to keep hold of his title.

If anybody doubts the legitimacy of the strength in depth of the European Tour then you only have to look at who trails Westwood in the betting.

PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer is a 12/1 joint second favourite alongside McIlroy while Ryder Cup stars and Tour winners such as Ross Fisher are seen as outsiders at 33/1.

The big battle of the week comes between Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell though, both capable of becoming Europe's biggest money winners in 2010.

Kaymer is a strong favourite at 1/10 to take the crown but Graeme McDowell has shown all season long that he cannot be ruled out - his gritty performance in the US Open at Pebble Beach being the best example.

In his past four starts McDowell has registered three top five finishes, including a win at the majestic Valderrama resort in the Andalucia Masters.

His task is still tough in terms of overhauling Kaymer and at 11/2 to cause yet another surprise in a year of shocks he looks hard to back.

However he has to be highly fancied to contend in the actual tournament given how sharp his game has been recently - even if I'm struggling to see past Westwood - so I'm taking the 14/5 about a top five finish all day long.

As for Kaymer I think we can look forward to another steady four days, in which I expect him to keep McDowell in his sights.

The German doesn't arrive in the best form after failing to challenge in the last three events (his best performance tied tenth at the Barclays Singapore Open), making him one to watch rather than back this week - his form is easily good enough for him to seal the money title.

Finally in a year of European rejuvenation I can't wait to watch another four days of seventeen year old Italian Matteo Manassero.

He appeared from nowhere to take the CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar title and just in case we thought that was a flash in the pan, he showed us he's the real deal with a brilliant second in last week's UBS Hong Kong Open.

The real test comes next year where he has to face up to being one of the world's brightest young talents, however he's riding on the crest of a wave right now and could be worth a punt this week.

I'd be looking at the 7/1 about a top five finish and the 40/1 about winning the tournament (each-way) as the better bets for Manaserro backers - the 2/1 about pipping the Molinari brothers (top Italian player) in this event might be best avoided though.

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