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Els & Harrington favourite for Euro money title

This article appears courtesey of Betting Zone

By Dave Tindall

Ernie Els

Els repeatedly showed indifference towards the 2003 Money List, stressing that it was just a by-product of playing well, but nevertheless he was delighted to be crowned European Number One last season. Only Darren Clarke threatened to deny Els but four wins and three second places saw the South African romp to the title by 750,000 Euros. So given that huge margin, does he warrant backing again? The answer is probably not on two counts. First, Els backers will have to take a best 9/2 rather than last year's 12/1. And, secondly, Els has stated that he plans to play more in America this year, playing at least 20 events and maybe more. Of course, with Majors and WGC events counting for both Money Lists he could be European number one again but he may have to settle for the minor places this time.

Padraig Harrington

Harrington leads the 2004 Order of Merit after winning the season-opening Hong Kong Open but a modest first prize cheque of 94,000 Euros won't count for much come the end of the season. After finishing third in the Williams World Challenge in mid-December, the Dubliner is set to take a two-month sabbatical. That means, as in previous years, he will miss the trips to South Africa and Australia and re-emerge for the Johnnie Walker Classic in Malaysia. Bet Direct are still prepared to offer 9/2 on Harrington and that, to me, is almost a bet to nothing as I can't see him being out of the first four while winning is a real possibility. He's threatened to be European number one for several years now and with a commitment to this Tour he has to go close again.


Clarke's schedule shows him playing in America for the first two months of the season so there would seem little point in backing him until the first counting event for the Euro Money List – the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship at the end of February. Clarke backers must also be slightly concerned that he didn't exactly bust a gut to win the Money List last year after emerging as Ernie Els' only challenger. My guess is that the Majors are his priority in 2004 and he must surely have his eyes on Troon where he finished runner-up in the 1997 Open. Clarke has the talent to be European number one but backing him at 13/2 at this stage seems pointless as that price isn't likely to vanish.

Paul Casey

He's good and he knows he is and that sort of confidence makes Casey a man to fear in this market. Two wins in 2003 proved his undoubted talent although there was a tendency for the bottom lip to come out when things didn't go his way. I could easily see another multiple-winning year for the young Englishman in 2004 and his Money List chances are likely to depend on how well he can play in the Majors and WGC events. Encouragingly, he finished eighth in the American Express Championship in his last big event so he has the temperament and ability to contend. The bookies are onto him though and the best 12/1 is giving nothing away.

Lee Westwood

Westwood is the big conundrum in this year's Money race. If the two wins at the back end of 2003 prove that Westwood is back to his best, the 12/1 could be a big each-way price. However the slump he suffered in the last couple of years means he still needs to improve his world ranking to get into all the big-money events. He currently sits at number 63 so there is still work to be done to reach the top 50. At the time of writing, Westwood plans to play both South African events and also the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand so, unlike Clarke, he has the chance to rack up some early-season cash. One of Westwood's biggest assets is that he knows how to win so he's far better than Harrington, for example, at turning promising positions into hefty first prize cheques.


Goosen won the Money List in 2001 and 2002 but never got into last year's race. By offering as big as 16/1, the bookies seem to believe that his hunger to win it again has diminished and he'll focus more on the US Tour. But these words from Goosen after his Chrysler Championship win in America in November are revealing. Talking about his plans for 2004, Goosen said: “I will play both Tours. Probably, next year I am leaning towards the same amount of tournaments, maybe a couple more. But I definitely want to keep playing Europe. Let's see if I can do a little bit better there next year than did I this year and give myself a chance to win a money title there again.” Those are significant words and given his excellent record in the Majors and World Championship events, Goosen has to have a serious chance.


The Swede shot to prominence in 2003, winning three times and proving himself to be a serious player in the Majors. If he continues that rate of progression, he could make a mockery of the 20/1 currently dangled by Bet Direct. One obvious concern is that he's admitted he wants to play more in America but given that his number one goal is to make the Ryder Cup team he should still be showing his face in Europe plenty enough. With a world ranking of 17, he'll get to play all the big events and, as he proved in 2003 with top six finishes in the US and British Opens, he's a player able to rise to the occasion. It's possible that 2003 was a standout season but I am confident that the attacking Swede can flourish again in 2004.


The Kiwi's schedule shows him entered for the Heineken Classic, Malaysian Open and World Match Play all in February so he has a good chance to rack up some early Euros. One other boost for Campbell's supporters is that he will cut back on his US schedule after a string of flops Stateside in 2003. At his best Campbell is a fantastic player but, more so than any other top player it seems, he can suddenly turn into a 12-handicapper and look incapable of ever winning again. This inconsistency worries me and I think there are better bets to be had even though he is capable of giving us a run for our money at 25/1.

Ian Poulter

Having already tipped Poulter at 33s, we've already stressed our liking for the Luton golfer. The only question that remains is would we still back him at 22/1 now that the 33/1 has vanished? Obviously, he isn't such an attractive proposition now but I wouldn't put anyone off him at 20/1 or above. Like Jacobson, his star is in the ascendancy and, crucially, he knows how to win.

Justin Rose

After winning his PGA Tour card for 2004, Rose will be playing the minimum 15 events in America. But with the Ryder Cup on his mind he isn't deserting Europe. Including the four Majors and three World Golf Championship events, Rose has 18 European Tour events on his schedule, starting with the two tournaments in South Africa. 2003 was a difficult year for Rose and I expect him to improve upon his rather moderate 25th place finish on the Money List. But as for cracking the top four and giving us a payout I'm not so sure, even though the 40/1 seems a generous price.


The 33/1 on the Dane looks excellent value on first glance given his succession of high finishes on the Order of Merit (8-12-7-5-14-6-15-10) in the last eight years. But, like several other top names, it seems that Bjorn is set to seek his fortune in America in 2004. Michael Campbell revealed in an interview back in October. "I just can't seem to gel in the States as much as I would like to and that is something I talked with Thomas Bjorn about this week as he is heading there full time next season.” Of course, playing more in America could boost Bjorn's chances of playing well in the big-money dual-counting events but, as with Clarke, he may want to focus more on Majors than Money Lists, especially after his Open agony at Sandwich.


Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia would have a great chance of featuring if they planned a decent European schedule but it seems both look set to focus heavily on the US Tour this season. The 25/1 on each reflects that although big performances in the Majors and WGC events could give them a squeak. Colin Montgomerie has fallen too far to merit consideration so the other name that springs to mind is Trevor Immelman. The South African has huge potential but I fear this could be a year too soon to expect a sustained Money List challenge.

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