The $15m man Rory McIlroy tees it up at Crans-Sur-Sierre in Switzerland for the Omega European Masters this week as the focus shifts to the European Tour.
The next three months will see 13 countries visited before the Race To Dubai reaches its climax at the end of November.
McIlroy arrives straight from his FedEx Cup win Atlanta and with finishing positions here of third, seventh and second in his last three visits to Crans (although his last appearance was in 2011) and plenty will be happy to take the odds of 4-1 that he keeps the momentum rolling.
After a run of five starts in six weeks, which began with the emotionally draining missed cut at Royal Portrush and finished with him collecting the Fedex Cup riches on Sunday, he will surely be running on empty.
I’ll be surprised if he is in the hunt come Sunday.
The most unique factor of the picturesque Crans-Sur-Sierre course in Switzerland is that it’s set in the Swiss Alps, some 5000ft above sea level. A par 70, measuring 7648yds, it’s a tree-lined test with its small, bunker-protected, greens offering the main defence.
Altitude is a significant factor, so course experience and knowing how to adjust the yardages is key. Market leader McIlroy has this knowledge from previous visits but makes limited appeal at the prices.
So the man who sits behind him in the market, Matthew Fitzpatrick, will lead my team in the Omega European Masters.
Fitzpatrick is one of the most accurate iron players on tour and has shown his love for the place by landing the trophy here for the past two years. Second in Sweden last weekend, he looks sure to contend again.
While a ‘three-peat’ is a rare thing, I can see no negatives to the Yorkshireman’s chances of achieving it and I am happy to take the 15/2 on offer with Paddy paying eight places each-way before Thursday’s tee off.
Next up is another former champion here, Danny Willett @ 22/1.
He was last seen performing solidly to finish 24th in The Northern Trust three weeks ago. With sixth and 12th place finishes at the Open Championship and US Open – it has been a strong summer for Danny.
Now back at a venue that – before his slump – saw him post a win and three other top 12 finishes in five years, he should be in the thick of things come Sunday.
Of the others at the top of the market, I expect Tommy Fleetwood to start feeling the effects of a recent hectic schedule, Alex Noren is yet to prove he is back to his best, while Matt Wallace is yet to show anything on this course.
On that basis, I’ll give another chance to one of last week’s picks, Haydn Porteous @ 80/1.
The South African didn’t deliver the goods for us last week but hardly disgraced himself with a 29th-place finish. He has been playing really nicely lately and having posted his best effort here of 16th last year, it may just be that this two-time tour winner is inspired by his fellow countryman Erik van Rooyen’s win last week to a really big performance.
I’ll wrap things up by including Ashun Wu at 100/1. The 34-year-old has sprung to life at this event for each of the last two seasons, finishing ninth and sixth. Last year he won the KLM Open a week after his Top 10 finish here.
He was tied second going into the final round in Sweden last week before slipping back to finish 20th. He can continue his love affair with this event at those juicy odds with Paddy paying 8 places before Thursday’s tee off.
*Prices correct at time of publication.