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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Consistent Rickie Fowler could contend in every Major

Bernd Wiesberger may sneak Ryder Cup place

Rickie Fowler can approach 2018 with confidence
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The new-year specials markets should be treated with great caution – there are a few strands of wheat swimming in a sea of chaff – but some sporting wagers are recommended.

Tiger Woods to win one Major or more at 9-2 with Coral and Ladbrokes is probably the most unattractive price of all as Tiger-mania has got out of control since he tied ninth of 18 in the Hero World Challenge.

Hills make 13 players odds-on to qualify for the 12-man European Ryder Cup side – and six of those are 1-20 or shorter – so Christmas generosity is in short supply there.

There are grounds, though, for believing that a small stake on Rickie Fowler to finish in the top five in every 2018 Major could provide an interest over the spring and summer months. Coral go 250-1, which seems more than fair about a player who ended 2017 in sensational fashion at the Hero World Challenge.

Fowler has got a timely confidence boost heading into the new year – he crushed top-class opposition with a final-round 61 in the Hero – and he has already proved himself a leading Major contender. In 2014, he finished fifth in the Masters, second in the US Open and Open, and third in the USPGA Championship.

Can Fowler repeat the feat of a top five in every Major four years later? Last year he did half the job, finishing fifth in the US Open and USPGA, with 11th place in the Masters and 22nd in the Open. This consistent performer is walking with more swagger than ever, thrilled with his burgeoning relationship with girlfriend Allison Stokke, a pole vaulter and model.

Two other appealing 2018 prices concern the Ryder Cup, which could see Bernd Wiesberger and Zach Johnson in opposition. Paddy Power make Wiesberger a juicy 13-2 to make the European side, while Johnson is 7-2 with Sky Bet to board the plane to Paris for the United States.

Both of these consistent operators are well capable of qualifying automatically for their respective team, but could easily be handed a wildcard pick should they narrowly fail to do so. European captain Thomas Bjorn is a big fan of Wiesberger and the Dane is fully aware that the Austrian is a proven performer at Le Golf National, the Ryder Cup venue.

Wiesberger won the 2015 French Open there in fine style as a brilliant final-round 65 delivered a three-shot victory. Bjorn has four picks this year and may opt for Wiesberger if the greens-in-regulation machine is in good form.

American Cup skipper Jim Furyk will want his friend Johnson in Paris. They play the game in a similar fashion – one which is well suited to the demands of Le Golf National. Finding the narrow fairways is the key to success there and Johnson has always been a dead-eye driver. The 2015 Open champion is a man to be trusted for an away fixture, so expect Furyk to call on Johnson if he finds some summer form.

A final special to consider is the 10-11 with Coral about 12 or more maiden winners in the 2018 European Tour season. Wade Ormsby, Cameron Smith and Shubhankar Sharma have already put three on the board, with 43 tournaments to go. Several of those events look ripe for maiden success and overs should be clear favourite in the your-choice market.

Recommendations
R Fowler to finish in the top five in every Major
1pt 250-1 Coral
B Wiesberger to make the European Ryder Cup team
1pt 13-2 Power
Z Johnson to make the USA Ryder Cup team
1pt 7-2 Sky Bet
Over 11.5 maiden winners on European Tour
1pt 10-11 Coral


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European captain Thomas Bjorn is a big fan of Wiesberger and is aware that the Austrian is a proven performer at Le Golf National, the Ryder Cup venue
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