World No 3 Rory McIlroy is hotly fancied to become world No 1 next year. Picture Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieNow that Rory McIlroy has a major title on his mantelpiece, the bookies expect him to continue to rack up the wins and take over as world No 1. Of course, they haven’t forgotten about Tiger Woods.

McIlroy, 22, is even money with Ladbrokes to reach world No 1 during 2012 and 10/1 to retain the US Open title he won in such emphatic style at Congressional Country Club last June.

Surprise Open Championship winner Darren Clarke is 80/1 to retain his title at Royal Lytham and St Annes while any Irish golfer to win a Major next year is 5/2 with the firm.

As for Woods, the former world No 1 is still a major worry for the bookies. Having shown glimpses of past form earlier this year and finished the season by ending his two-year victory drought at the Chevron World Challenge, Woods is 6/1 to claw his way back to the top spot in the world rankings and 7/4 to win his 15th major.

He’s also the 6/1 favourite with Ladbrokes to win the Masters and the Open with McIlroy second favourite in both.

Ladbrokes Golf 2012
Rory McIlroy to be world number 1 at any stage of 2012 – 1/1
Rory McIlroy to retain the US Open – 10/1
Darren Clarke to retain The Open – 80/1
Any Irish golfer to win a Major in 2012 – 7/4
Tiger Woods to win a major in 2012 – 7/4
Tiger Woods to become world No 1 in 2012 – 6/1
An Irish player winning the Irish Open – 5/2

Paddy Power also features a series of tempting golf bets for 2012, including its ‘Rory McIlroy Specials’.

For the majors, rates McIlroy at 7/1 behing Tiger (5/1) for the Masters, 8/1 for the Open, 10/1 for the US Open and 12/1 for the US PGA.

Ryder Cup qualifying is also in full swing and Paddy Power offers interesting odds on the main Irish contenders for a place on Jose Maria Olabazabal’s team for Medinah.

McIlroy (1/100) and Graeme McDowell (2/7) are more than hot favourites to retain their places in the side but Padraig Harrington is very short odds at 11/10 despite his disappointing season.

Clarke and Michael Hoey are both 10/1 to make the trip to Chicago with Shane Lowry 20/1 and Peter Lawrie 33/1.