The Punter's De-Brief: Terrific Thomas catches luckless Lee to profit at The Players

Golfer Justin Thomas
The Players Champion - Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas has won the Players Championship and Antoine Rozner the Qatar Masters and both results were profitable but painful for our man. Read Steve's customary Monday reflections piece here...

"Migliozzi, backed at 130.0129/1, was matched at a low of 1.794/5 and Westwood, backed at 160.0159/1, led by three during the final round and was matched at a low of 2.35/4. It was very nearly a week to remember."

Pre-tournament 23.022/1 chance, Justin Thomas, hit a high of 210.0209/1 when he made the turn in round two on Friday, having played his first nine holes in two-over-par to drift to one-over for the tournament but a late rally on the back nine and a blistering start to round three on Saturday put him back into contention and this miracle birdie at the tough par seven kept his challenge alive.

Thomas finished the third round brilliantly, birdying 10 and 11 and tapping in for eagle on 16 but he still went into the final round trailing Lee Westwood by three and after playing his first eight holes in one-over par, he looked to have too much to do, even with the leaders stuttering.

Westwood, who was one of my four Find Me a 100 Winner picks at 160.0159/1, opened-up with a birdie three to establish a three-stroke lead and the Englishman was matched at 2.35/4 in-running but he and playing partner, Bryson DeChambeau, were all over the place after that on the front nine. Westwood played his next seven holes in three-over-par and DeChambeau stood on the seventh tee on two-over-par for the day after topping his tee-shot into the water on the par four seventh.

The door was ajar and Thomas walked straight in with a run around the turn of birdie-birdie -eagle- birdie to steel a march on the rest that he never really looked like relinquishing. Westwood drew back level with Thomas when he birdied the 14th, just minutes after Thomas had bogeyed the hole, but the Englishman couldn't match Thomas' birdie at the par five 16th and despite a late scare for his many followers, when he very nearly drove into the water on the final hole, Thomas went on to win by a stroke.

Earlier in the day, pre-event, 30.029/1 chance, Antoine Rozner, who was matched at a high of 300.0299/1 when he trailed by seven at halfway, looked destined to contest a playoff with my 130.0129/1 pre-event pick, Guido Migliozzi, if he could get down in two from 60 feet for par at the 72nd hole but then this happened...

My Bets

I don't really know where to start.

Trading wise, I layed Migliozzi back and I also backed the winner in-running, and I did the same at the Players. And I also layed my only pre-tournament pick (other than the Find Me a 100 Winner selections), Paul Casey, back at 8.27/1, having backed him before the off at 75.074/1, so it was a very profitable week but I didn't sleep well last night and I still feel gutted.

Migliozzi, backed at 130.0129/1, was matched at a low of 1.794/5 and Westwood, backed at 160.0159/1, led by three during the final round and was matched at a low of 2.35/4. It was very nearly a week to remember.

I was quite philosophical about Migliozzi after the event. He came from off the pace to allow me to make a decent profit and bizarrely, Rozner wasn't the only player in-contention to birdie the tough 18th hole. Darren Fichardt and Gaganjeet Bhullar also birdied it to draw alongside Migliozzi after Rozner had edged ahead and whilst they may well not have done so had they needed to get into a playoff, if I assume they had, potential winnings on Guido would have been diluted considerably through more trading in extra time but Westwood losing by a stroke to Thomas really stings.

I backed Thomas in two of his last three starts but once he was heavily tipped up on Monday, at a price I thought too short (20/1), I was never going to get the 30.029/1 I wanted to side with him. That may sound like a big price now but he was a 16/1 chance to win the Genesis Open at a course he'd shown up at strongly before in a field that was quite a bit weaker than the one at Sawgrass and he hadn't played especially well - missing the cut in the Genesis and finishing 15th in the WGC Workday.

It looked like I'd done the right thing to leave him out halfway through the second round but something clicked, as I suspected it would at some point, and the rest is just painful history now. Oh well.

For the record, the only other one towards the front of the market that I liked before the off was Collin Morikawa but I thought he was just fractionally too short too and he missed the cut.

Big Masters move for Thomas

After a horrible defence at Sawgrass, Rory McIlroy has hit a high of 17.016/1 in the US Masters market and Justin Thomas, who I backed at Christmas to win the year's first major, is now the third favourite behind the defending champion, Dustin Johnson, and the bang in-form, Bryson DeChambeau.

After back-to-back seconds on the PGA Tour, Lee Westwood, who was a 100/1 chance at Christmas, is now trading at less than 40.039/1.

As painful as yesterday was, I'm still looking forward to this week as we have two cracking events to enjoy - the Kenya Open around the magnificent Karen Golf Course and the Honda Classic at the spectacular PGA National. I'll be back tomorrow with the previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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