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Four golfers who could give Europe its first Masters of the millennium

This Thursday sees the thirteenth Masters of the century get under way at Augusta and despite some fine performances from the likes of Peter Hanson and on more than one occasion Lee Westwood the wait for a first European winner since Jose Maria Olazabal took the tournament for the second time back in 1999 continues.

European golfers have claimed the Masters just 11 times during the tournament’s 78 year history, with nine of those wins claimed by just four players, but Rory McIlroy 10/1, Justin Rose 20/1 and  Lee Westwood 28/1, all sit comfortably inside the top 10 in the tournament betting with Coral.

Rory McIlroy posted a vastly improved performance in the Valero Texas Open last time, improving on his previous season’s best (a tie for eighth in the Cadillac Championship) with a clear second place finish. He led the tournament for both greens hit in regulation and pars broken and will return to the tournament he lost only thanks to a final round capitulation in 2011, with unfinished business.

Justin Rose is an ultra-consistent performer who comes into the tournament on a streak of 12 consecutive top 25 finishes, having last been seen on course when second at Bay Hill three weeks prior. More importantly at a course where past experience is so vital, he’s yet to miss the cut in seven Masters tournaments.

Lee Westwood is a course-and-distance-proven performer at Augusta National, having finished second, tied for eleventh and tied for third in his last three US Masters, but the Nottinghamshire native’s performances on the US tour this term haven’t been overly encouraging, with a tie for ninth at the Honda Classic his best result of the season.

Further down the betting Graeme McDowell – a 66/1 shot with Coral – has had a strong return on what has been small but select campaign for the Northern Irishman, with three top five finishes and a top 10 in his last five tournaments. The 2010 US Open winner has experience of maintaining his mental strength on the biggest stages and looks perhaps the best value of the this European foursome, not least because he is the highest ranked European on the US tour for strokes gained putting.