World Cup of Golf: Rob Lee expects Australia to win on home soil
Rob Lee blogs on the World Cup of Golf favourites and a welcome return to form for Robert Karlsson.
Last Updated: 20/11/13 4:20pm
The event is being staged at a great venue in Royal Melbourne this year and that, coupled with the quality of the two men they have playing for them, makes Australia favourites.
Australia have been doing so badly in every sport you can think of recently but with Adam Scott and Jason Day in action, this could be their chance to get some glory.
Scott has been on fire recently, winning the Australian PGA Championship and Australian Masters back-to-back, while Day is a brilliant golfer, too, and with a home crowd whooping and hollering, they will take some beating.
Day has, of course, been rocked by the news that members of his family have passed away in the Philippines typhoon tragedy.
But sportsmen often say they feel safest doing their job - whether that's in the middle of Old Trafford or out on the golf course - and I think playing in Melbourne will help him.
Chris Wood and Danny Willett, who have both had good seasons on the European Tour, will play for England and if they look around the relatively-small field, they will feel that if they are on their game they will have a chance of doing well and winning some good money.
However, Denmark (Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen), Italy (Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero) and Scotland (Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher) look strong, while the in-form Victor Dubuisson will link-up with Gregory Bourdy for France.
If I had to select one member of the Sky Sports commentary team - permanent or part-time - to join me in a competition like this, though, I'd have a lot of things to consider.
If I wanted a laugh I'd go for Richard Boxall, if I wanted to annoy everybody else I'd pick Mark Roe, but if I wanted to win it I'd go for Paul Lawrie, whose face would also make me ecstatically happy.
Robert Karlsson returned to form at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba last week, earning a top-10 finish, and I am delighted for him because he is one of the world's most dedicated people and someone who goes to all sorts of lengths to maximise his potential.
I hope this leads to Robert having a healthy 2014 and playing some cracking golf because he has been a marvellous player in the past, winning what is now the Race to Dubai in 2008.
Much like fellow Swede Henrik Stenson, Karlsson had all the attributes - he could hit it miles, putted well and, when he drove the ball straight, he was able to take courses apart - but he then suffered with the yips.
Robert's issue was that he couldn't take the club back - he even pulled out of the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham because it was such a problem - but the yips can affect golfers in many ways.
Some players can putt with a short putter and see it take on a life of its own, others lose their trigger motion and can't get started, while Sergio Garcia gripping the club a hundred times is also a form of the yips.
The issues are mental but real and you have to find a coping mechanism to get around them, and whatever Robert - who has figured in the top 10 of the world rankings - has done to try and quell them seems to be paying dividends.
Another Swede, Jonas Blixt, says he will play more on the European Tour next year in the hope of earning a place in the 2014 Ryder Cup and if he qualifies, Paul McGinley will be getting a player with good credentials.
Blixt has won twice within 12 months on the PGA Tour - the 2012 Frys.com Open and the 2013 Greenbrier Classic - which a lot of European pros haven't managed.
Plus, he was in the running to win this year's USPGA Championship at the Oak Hill club in New York before finishing fourth behind Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk and Stenson.
Stenson is on cloud nine at the minute after winning the Race to Dubai and, provided his wrist holds up, I don't think he will struggle to push on next year in the way Rory McIlroy did this campaign.
He won't have to deal with the things Rory did, like a switch of clubs and the scheduling issues, and I only see good form in his future.
ROB'S SKY BET TIPS
I will go for Australia to win the World Cup of Golf, while at the South African Open I will pick Alejandro Canizares, who has played well over the close of the season and is starting to find his feet.