The Houston Open has twice produced a winner at the maximum odds of [1000.0] in recent renewals. Paul Krishnamurty isn't being quite so ambitious but recommends three big outsiders to pull off another shock...
"At last year's USPGA Championship, Murray sat in sixth place through 54 holes, just four off the lead, before falling back to 22nd. A highly impressive major championship debut nonetheless, in keeping with an excellent first year on the PGA Tour, that also yielded a victory."
Back Grayson Murray 1u each-way @ 100/1 (1/5 odds, 7 places)
At last, after a frustrating start to 2018, a winning week and, it must be said, a welcome slice of luck! I said in last week's column that the plan for profit at the World Match Play was to reach the quarter-finals, then take the lead. As it happened on Saturday night, Cameron Smith never even took the lead against Alex Noren but challenged the Swede enough to get matched at our lay target of [10.0].
Hitting that one lay target claws back a third of our annual deficit, illustrating how quickly these numbers can turn around when backing outsiders at these sort of odds. After all, it isn't as if Smith seriously challenged for the event. Hopefully a winner or at least a strong Sunday contender is imminent.
Our strategy certainly makes sense at this week's Houston Open, which has seen several miraculous winners in recent years. As Steve Rawlings explains in his comprehensive preview, two of the last five Houston champions started the week at the maximum odds of [1000.0], while Matt Jones was a [200.0] chance.
A common theme among so many of these outright picks is trying to identify over-reactions in what can be very fickle markets. It never ceases to amaze how quickly high-class form is forgotten after a few mid-division finishes or missed cuts. Few examples better illustrate the point better than Hadley at [190.0] when he was trading nowhere near our triple-figure odds range just last month.
In effect, Hadley is being dismissed on the basis of his lack of form in prestigious Florida Swing events where he had never previously prospered. Earlier this season, he'd recorded a quartet of top-five finishes, following on from a prolific, progressive campaign on the Web.com Tour.
The stats and course correlations suggest he can fare much better in Houston than Florida. He scores extremely well in all the key stats for this test - third among these over the past year for greens in regulation, fifth for putting average, 12th for par-four performance. There's more positives to be found in his record at the two courses where Steve notes a link. Hadley was fifth at Scottsdale last month and made the top-20 on his last two cracks at Quail Hollow.
Here's another Quail Hollow link. At last year's USPGA Championship there, Murray sat in sixth place through 54 holes, just four off the lead, before falling back to 22nd. A highly impressive major championship debut nonetheless, in keeping with an excellent first year on the PGA Tour, that also yielded a victory at the Barbasol Championship.
He's continued to progress this term with top-15 finishes at the CareerBuilder, Pebble Beach and last time at Bay Hill. He also ranks inside the top-ten among these over the past year for both driving distance and putting average. Originally I was going to recommend a back-to-lay at [250.0] but Murray's odds have fallen by 100 points this morning. Each-way now looks a better option.
In searching for another miracle a la Herman and Points, this highly capable character catches the eye. Thompson is a winner on the PGA Tour, runner-up in the 2012 US Open who also once showed promise on other major debuts. Precisely the sort of forgotten man that pops up at crazy odds every so often.
This is his last start on a major medical exemption and he still needs to earn points. Thompson's efforts in that pursuit are promising. Having opened with a ruinous 76, he fought back to finish 24th. He played pretty well here 12 months ago too, finishing 12th.
So far as alternatives are concerned, let's start with someone who, in all honesty, had escaped my attention. Our PGA Tour guru Dave Tindall says Abraham Ancer is well worth a look each-way at 300/1 and he's been matched up to [450.0] win only on the exchange.
Peter Uihlein [160.0] is precisely the sort of wayward, yet very talented, bomber to go well at Redstone, and he was a respectable 24th last year. Stats-wise, Brandon Harkins ticked a lot of boxes and was only rejected because he hasn't really contended yet, but I suspect that will happen somewhere soon.
Back Chesson Hadley 2u @ [190.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [20.0]
Place order to lay 20u @ [5.0]
Back Grayson Murray 1u each-way @ 100/1
Back Michael Thompson 1u @ [500.0]
Place order to lay 5u @ [40.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [12.0]