Major form the key to Race

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: November 26 2012, 11:03 GMT

Our expert Ben Coley is prepared to take on Rory McIlroy with two each-way selections for the 2013 Race To Dubai.

Louis Oosthuizen can win the 2013 Race To Dubai

Few things better sum up the changing face of the European Tour than its own order of merit, the Race To Dubai.

Rory McIlroy's success in 2012 followed on from that of Luke Donald in coming despite limited starts on the tour, indeed McIlroy didn't even win in Europe and had already wrapped up the Race To Dubai before finally winning outside of America in the Tour's final event.

The world number one played in just 15 events that counted towards his overall total and was chased home by Justin Rose, who, like Donald, took part in a meagre 13.

In comparison, Branden Grace not only played in twice that amount but he won four of his 26 starts, double that of McIlroy, yet earned less than 50 per cent of Rory's total.

From a betting perspective, what this serves to tell us is that to find the most likely winner of the 2013 Race To Dubai, we need to find the man most likely to perform in majors and WGCs.

McIlroy collected well over two million Euros from those in 2012, meaning that he simply needed to play well without winning in regular European Tour events to take the Race To Dubai - that he extended his advantage thanks to victory in the season's closing event was simply icing on the cake.

This is why the fact that McIlroy, Donald, Rose, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer will play fewer events than most of their European Tour rivals in 2013 is virtually irrelevant when it comes to finding the winner.

It's difficult to envisage a better season than that had by Grace for most touring professionals, and it was not enough to compete for a place let alone to threaten Rory, and so it's to the elite golfers that we should go.

I must admit that I find it hard to oppose McIlroy at Coral's standout 13/8, but I'm just about prepared to do so with Oosthuizen and Kaymer.

The former has confirmed his status among the elite of world golf throughout 2012, despite 'only' managing a pair of victories and each in relatively low-quality events.

He won less in winning the Africa Open than he did for finishing fourth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, for instance, while the 314,700.27 Euros Oosthuizen earned in lifting the Maybank Malaysia Open title was less than half he'd secured by finishing second in the Masters a week before.

I find that particularly encouraging, because ultimately he finished third in the Race To Dubai rankings with over half a million in hand over fifth-placed Ian Poulter without doing what those in front of him did, which is to win a huge event, and there's big scope for improvement in 2013.

My slight concern is that Oosthuizen has given up a couple of good opportunities, but the fact that he could quite easily have won a pair of WGCs and a major speaks to how often he contends at the top table.

That there are now six European Tour events in South Africa is also worth noting, because the way he's playing it's quite possible he could win two of them and if that's the case he'll be well on his way to a place at the very least, especially as Coral are quoting four of them.

Kaymer is slightly harder to justify, but he's now 25/1 having chosen to take up PGA Tour membership in 2013 and for me there's been an overreaction to that news.

As I've pointed out, there really is little advantage for those who base themselves in Europe unless they are contending in the top events, and most of those you'd expect to do that are now dividing their time between Tours.

Perhaps the price owes more to an indifferent 2012, but the latter part of the season has season a huge upturn in the quality of his tee-to-green game and small improvement with the putter will soon see him winning titles.

We already know that Kaymer is a man for the big-time, as victories in the PGA Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions demonstrate, and that's what has helped him to not only win a Race To Dubai but also place in two of the other three.

Yes, he's on the back of his only failure to do so but with a break ahead of him I really expect Kaymer to come out firing in 2013 and build on a promising end to this season.

He'll be going for a fourth title in Abu Dhabi and while we know that he struggles at Augusta, the other three majors and all of the WGCs are events in which he's more than capable of contending and if he can win one of them he'll more than likely be in the Race To Dubai frame.

Clearly, he's less likely than Donald to be the man to topple McIlroy but the gap between their prices is so vast that I have to make Kaymer the call.


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