The Punter's De-Brief: The Golden Child strikes again

The sun setting on another Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands
The sun setting on another Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands

It's been quite a week of drama on both the European and PGA Tours. Our man assesses all the action here with his customary lookback...


"Over at the Travelers Championship, having begun the week laying everyone priced below 80.079/1, the last thing I needed was a wire-to-wire win for the favourite. It made it very difficult to get anyone in the book that I hadn’t layed before the off and I was quite pleased at the state of my book with around to go."

Tournament invite, and 510.0509/1 shot, Andres Romero, won the BMW International Open in fine style, with seven birdies in his last 11 holes, to pip young Belgian star, Thomas Detry, and third round leaders Sergio Garcia and Richard Bland by a solitary stroke.

Garcia had gone into the final round as the odds-on favourite and despite a bogey at the first and a persistently cold putter the US Masters champ still hit a low of 1.454/9 in-running. The market continued to consider him the most likely winner right up until his awful bogey at the 16th hole which had to be seen to be believed.

Garcia found the green in regulation but three-putted and his par save attempt from no more than a few feet was truly awful. It was weak, pulled badly and it never threatened the hole.

Detry had looked the most likely winner and he was matched at just 2.1411/10 as he made the turn but a bogey at the 10th stopped his momentum and after birdies at 14 and 16, he failed to birdie the reachable par five 18th.

Richard Bland, who was matched at a low of 3.1511/5, was looking for his first European Tour win in his 411th start and I couldn't help but feel for the 44-year-old Englishman. He hit a poor tee-shot on the 17th which led to a bogey four but other than that he did very little wrong and he can hold his head up high as he showed more mettle down the stretch than the Masters champ. Lady Luck deserted him right at the end but this wasn't one he threw away.

Romero, who had begun the week as the 837th best player in the world according to the official rankings, was a 32.031/1 chance with a round to go but after starting the final round with seven straight pars he was matched yesterday at a high of 190.0189/1.

Over at the Travellers Championship, it's hard to know where to start. Pre-tournament favourite, Jordan Spieth, had begun day four leading, just as he'd began days two and three and after birdies at one and two, he looked highly likely to saunter to victory as all his nearest rivals stumbled. Matched at just 1.091/11 it looked a done deal but he had a major wobble between the 12th and 14th holes where he missed three short putts and somehow avoided the water of the tee at the par five 13th, just as Daniel Berger made a move.

Spieth was again fortunate not to be wet off the tee on the drivable par four 15th before he holed this bizarre putt for birdie to regain the lead.




The reaction was very strange given the putt didn't really look like going anywhere but the hole and it said plenty about his emotional state at the time. It settled him nicely though and pars at 17 and 18 saw him tie with Berger, who had played the final six holes in three-under-par.

Spieth had been lucky off the tee on 13 and 15 and he received another huge slice of good fortunate at the first playoff hole when his poor tee-shot went way left and into a huge tree. A lost ball wouldn't have been inconceivable but instead it was spat back into the fairway and from there he found the greenside bunker.

Berger's drive wasn't great either and from the rough to the left of the fairway he could only find the fringe, someway from the hole. They'd begun the playoff closely matched in the market, with Spieth just shading favouritism and as they approached the green they still couldn't be split but then Spieth did this...




Berger's attempt to miraculously tie was decent but not good enough and Spieth had won his 10th title. He's just the second player to win 10 times before the age of 24 since World War II. The other chap was a certain Mr Woods.

Justin Thomas had called it on Twitter, tweeting "Wouldn't be surprised if @JordanSpieth just holed this bunker shot" and it really was typical Spieth. He's a truly great player and a likeable person to boot but there's no doubt in my mind that he gets more than his fair share of breaks and it's totally understandable that he earnt the nickname 'Golden Child' many moons ago.


My Bets

I'm trying my best not to regret making a few quid at the BMW. As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I toyed with laying the four market leaders at halfway and I also thought carefully about laying Sergio at odds-on before round four so maybe I was over cautious?

Garcia really was weak yesterday though and after two great performances in-the-mix this year I expected an awful lot better - especially now that he's a major champion. I fiddled about a bit in-running and reduced my losses slightly but I found myself struggling to get stuck in. I couldn't help but think sooner or later the Spaniard would hole a few putts and take control on what was an especially weak leaderboard but it just didn't happen.

Over at the Travelers Championship, having begun the week laying everyone priced below 80.079/1, the last thing I needed was a wire-to-wire win for the favourite. It made it very difficult to get anyone in the book that I hadn't layed before the off and I was quite pleased at the state of my book with a round to go.

Again, as detailed in the In-Play Blog, Spieth was a loser for £362 but given I'd gone out on Saturday night and that he'd led from flag fall, I was happy enough with that and I felt I had every chance of turning it into a profit.

Further lays of Spieth after holes one and two at long odds-on put everyone else in the black and I was arguably fortunate that Spieth didn't run away with it but that was never likely at TPC River Highlands where a tight and nerve-racking finale is almost guaranteed.

I didn't do much more with my book until Spieth looked like making par on 15. I backed him back to reduce the losses and then I layed Berger at odds-on when he birdied the 17th. I traded Spieth and Berger back and fore to reduce losses further (Spieth hit a high of 2.89/5 and Berger a low of [1.51) and when the event went into extra time I decided to leave it alone.

Berger was a loser for around £60 and the Spieth victory cost me £160 so it was a disappointing week's work but I'm not complaining. It had looked much worse with an hour of the event to go and that's a loss I'm more than happy to accept after the favourite won wire-to-wire - an outcome that isn't going to happen with any sort of regularity.


What Have We Learned For Next Year?

The last three winners have been priced at less than 80.079/1 before the off and two of the last three renewals have gone to the favourite wire-to-wire but I'm going to be laying again at the Travelers Championship.

Despite recent results, outsiders and off the pace winners still have an outstanding record in the event and as demonstrated this year, even when the result isn't ideal, reducing losses is fairly straightforward. I accepted a small loss this time around but I fancy I'd have finished the week in front had I not had social commitments on Saturday and given the nature of the event and the course in particular it can be an outstanding tournament to trade.

We've got a real treat on the European Tour this week as it moves from Germany to France for the Open de France at the wonderful Paris National and it's the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour where we have a reworked venue to consider. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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