• Betting Bunker

Donald to emerge from McIlroy's shadow

Josh Williams March 14, 2012
Luke Donald's glories weren't all that long ago - yet he's been forgotten about, with all the hype surrounding Rory McIlroy © Getty Images
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Click here to bet on the Transitions Championship at bet365

Justin Rose insists he has Masters glory firmly in his sights after victory at last week's WGC-Cadillac Championship, which lifted him 15 places to No. 7 in the world rankings.

"For this little beauty to show up on my mantelpiece so early in the season is definitely a fantastic feeling and it sets up a fantastic year," he said, referring to the trophy.

"No doubt about it, if you look at the tournaments I've won - Jack's tournament, Tiger's tournament, a play-off event over here and now a World Golf Championship - the progression is really nice.

"The only thing that is the next level up is a major. I've learned enough along the way that I've a realistic shot every time I tee it up in a major."

The next step on his journey towards April's Masters comes at the Transitions Championship, starting Thursday at the Copperhead course. It's an unusual track in that it boasts five par-three holes, ensuring there's a premium on accurate iron play and confident putting.

Rose's chances of recording back-to-back triumphs look pretty good, considering he was fifth here last year and has a history of hot streaks in his career: two of his wins on the PGA Tour in 2010 came less than a month apart.

Williams' wagers

  • Luke Donald to win - 11/1 at bet365
    Justin Rose to win - 16/1 at bet365

So he has a very strong case, and I certainly wouldn't advise against a wager on him - but it's going to be Luke Donald as my main selection here. The Englishman surrendered top rank to Rory McIlroy rather meekly in the end, but showed some tenacity - and signs of a return to form - last week at the WGC-Cadillac, producing a much-improved putting performance.

Donald isn't renowned as a particularly fiery character - yet his CV has recently been peppered with instances when, against the odds, he's produced a little magic: look at his storming final round to wrest the US Money List title from Webb Simpson last year. I just feel he's been forgotten about a little over the past few weeks with all the praise that's been showered on McIlroy, and that's got to serve as strong motivation.

Plus he has form at Copperhead - ending up in a tie for sixth last time he played - and has the accurate, efficient style that can tame a tricky course. And, with the Masters just around the corner, now is the time to make a statement - especially with McIlroy absent this week.

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk