After a shaky start to round four, which saw him double-bogey the second hole and bogey the third, Thorbjorn Olesen held his nerve brilliantly to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by two shots over American pair, Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud.
The 25-year-old Dane was matched at a high of 290.0289/1 before the off but was generally a 270.0269/1 shot. This was his third and biggest European Tour win and it takes him up to number 75 in the world rankings.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed the winner at the end of round one at 50.049/1 so it was a decent week, although there was a moment when I thought it was going to be an absolutely brilliant one.
I layed Olesen before the final round began at 2.021/1 to make sure I'd make a profit on the week even if he'd go on to get beat and when pre-event pick, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who was backed at 160.0159/1, moved alongside the Dane with half a dozen holes to play I thought I was about to hit the jackpot. The burly Thai was matched at a low of 3.55 but he made back-to-back bogeys when he three-putted the 13th green and made a mess of the par five 14th.
I kept Aphibarnrat as the bigger winner and I really fancied him in-running but I still layed him back at an average of 6.611/2. That made for an increase in profits but I did also waste a few quid backing Koepka at 4.03/1 when it looked very much as though he was the only man that could catch Olesen.
What Have We learned For Next Year?
I used to believe that starting out at Carnoustie was a handicap but for the third year in-a-row, the final leaderboard has shown that not to be the case. David Howell and Peter Uihlein fought out a play-off in 2012 having both begun the week at Carnoustie, the first five home last year all played there on day one and the first three home this year all began the week at Carnoustie. It has to be concluded that getting the hardest course out of the way is a positive and that being drawn there on day one is advantageous.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship has been changing its profile recently and it's now an event where outsiders fare very well and where players can find form out of the blue. The last three winners were matched before the off at 290.0289/1, 1000.0 and 240.0239/1 and they were all winning for the first time in the season whereas the five winners that proceeded them had all recorded a win already.
Olesen trailed by four strokes after round one but the fact that he'd already played Carnoustie meant that he had the easiest of the three venues, Kingsbarns, still to play. That's probably about as far down the early leaderboard as I'd like to go though. We've now had 15 renewals and only two winners have been any further back than Olesen was - Paul Lawrie in 2001 and Stephen Gallagher in 2004.
All 15 winners have had links form in the book already and previous event form is very much a plus. As already stated, the last three winners have all gone off at huge prices and yet all three had finished inside the front-three here previously.
What's Wrong With Martin?
I'm starting to think Martin Kaymer has lost his nerve a bit and he's definitely one to be wary of taking a short price about. Since losing a 10-stroke lead in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year, where he was matched at just 1.011/100, he's had a couple of chances to win but he hasn't performed well. He lost a three stroke lead on the back nine in Italy on his penultimate start and he lost the plot completely here, having moved serenely in to contention on Friday.
He was matched at just 3.814/5 on as he got to within a stroke of the lead but he finished his second round poorly before shooting a pair of 74s around St Andrews to finish the week 56th! That isn't the rock-solid Martin Kaymer of old and I can't help but wonder if there's a problem.
Inconsistency Can Often Lead To Profit
Inconsistent winners make for far better betting propositions than consistent types that just don't win with any sort of regularity. I backed Olesen just a few weeks ago in Italy and remarked then on how odd a season he was having. There have been missed cuts aplenty but in the last 12 months he's now won twice and lost a play-off (at the Mauritius Open). He's won three times in total on the European Tour form just 130 starts and he's proven himself to be very dogged in-the-mix.
Olesen could very easily miss a few more cuts and before you know it he's back out trading at triple-figure prices again but he'll be worth keeping an eye on. Aphibarnrat, who has already won twice this year, is another example of someone that can be seemingly out of form but who can pop up and contend at a decent price and he's another to keep an eye on when trading at a silly price.
Contrast that pair with someone like Francesco Molinari who always seems to go off at a low price. He's fairly consistent, especially in Europe, but he's only ever won three times from over 300 starts. The fact that he contends so often means he's never a very big price but you'd be a mile behind backing him at level stakes, whereas you'd be in front backing the likes of Olesen and Aphibarnrat.
We've got two events to look forward to again this week and I'll be back with previews for both the Presidents Cup and the British Masters sometime over the next couple of days.
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