Steve Rawlings looks back on an eventful week which saw Richard Bland win for the first time on the European Tour and K.H Lee break his duck on the PGA Tour...
"The veteran Englishman was matched at a low of 1.330/100 and a high of 8.615/2 as he waited to see if Guido Migliozzi could catch and pass him."
It's not often a European Tour event captures the imagination of the wider public but Richard Bland winning his first European Tour event at the 478th time of asking, via a playoff at the Belfry on Saturday, caught the attention of plenty.
If at first you don't succeed ... @blandy73 Richard Bland has just won the British Masters at 48 years old, his first ever win. 478 tournaments as a professional. Everyone on the European Tour cheering him on. Much weeping. Terrific. And now for the FA Cup.? Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) May 15, 2021
Bland had begun the British Masters as a general 220.0219/1 chance, having been matched at a high of 300.0299/1, and he was trading at around 110.0109/1 with a round to go having tumbled down the leaderboard from tied first to tied 12th after a poor third round.
Eddie Pepperell had begun the final round in front and he was matched at a low of 3.65 when he birdied the second hole in round four. He lost the plot after that but so too did the well-backed, Robert MacIntyre, who was matched at a low of 2.942/1.
The promising young Scot looked like the man to beat when he hit the front with back-to-back birdies at two and three, but he gave the gained strokes back at nine and 10 and eventually finished tied for eight as the tournament developed into a match between Bland and Italy's Guido Migliozzi.
Bland holed this monster putt on the last to post 13-under-par and his odds fluctuated widely as he sat in the clubhouse awaiting his fate.
The veteran Englishman was matched at a low of 1.330/100 and a high of 8.615/2 as he waited to see if Guido Migliozzi could catch and pass him.
The big spike in price came when Migliozzi found the par five 17th green in two after consecutive birdies at 15 and 16 but instead of edging ahead after his approach on the penultimate hole, the Italian, who was matched at a low of 1.251/4, three-putted for par and after a poor drive on 18, the odds swung violently in the other direction.
So poor was Migliozzi's drive at the last that he actually played a provisional. He did find the first ball, though, embedded in the rough in-between a fairway bunker and a small copse of trees. From there he played a brilliant recovery shot before getting up-and-down for par but it was all in vain when he three-putted the first playoff hole to hand Bland the title.
Over on the PGA Tour, Sam Burns headed into the final round of the Byron Nelson Championship with a one stroke lead. In search of back-to-back PGA Tour titles, having won the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, he was bidding to be the first player to win his first two PGA Tour titles consecutively since Camilo Villegas achieved the feat back in 2008, but it wasn't to be.
Burns, a pre-event 40.039/1 chance, was matched at a low of 2.0421/20 in-running but he never really got going in round four. The final round turned into something of a procession as Korea's K.H Lee, who'd began the final round trailing by one, opened up the final round with a par and three straight birdies.
Lee was matched at a whopping 500.0499/1 when the market first opened but he was generally a 250.0249/1 chance. He was playing in his 80th event on the PGA Tour and he's the fifth first time winner this season.
Play was delayed due to torrential rain and thunder for more than a couple of hours as the leaders played the 16th hole and the staff worked their socks off to get the course ready.
Not all heroes wear capes pic.twitter.com/u3aOFSoGS3? Two Inches Short (@TwoInchesShort) May 16, 2021
The delay offered up a chance for the 29-year-old Korean to ponder his position at the head of affairs, but he showed no signs of weakness. He missed a 16-foot par save on 16th after the resumption of play but bounced back with birdies at 17 and 18 to win his maiden title by a comfortable three strokes.
It was a disappointing week but not one in which I got too involved.
I did manage to break even at the British Masters by backing Blandy at an average of 7.06/1 when Migliozzi found the 17th green in two, although I layed the trade back at long odds-on.
That was just one of those rare moments when someone laying made a bad mistake. Even if Migliozzi had two-putted for birdie (and he was a long way from the hole), a par at the tough 18th to win by one was never going to be straightforward and that price was too big regardless.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I thought Kim was a fair price before the final round and I did seriously contemplate backing him at 6.611/2 as I wanted to take on Burns but it wasn't the worst result I've ever had and I'm happy to move on.
Blandy bounce back not a new phenom
Having played brilliantly for two days, and having hit the front at halfway, Richard Bland had looked out of it after a poor third round on Friday at the Belfry but he's one of many players to follow that same routine to the trophy presentation ceremony and he drifted far too much in the market.
He was clearly playing nicely and being off the pace helped him in round four and that's something I've written about on numerous occasions. Watch for the round four bounce back as halfway leaders can end up winning having traded at monstrously high prices in-play. Bland was generally around 110.0109/1 chance with a round to go but he actually drifted right out to 130.0129/1 at one stage in-between rounds three and four.
Over at the Byron Nelson Championship, Kim was the third Korean to win in eight renewals and like the Aussie contingent, they clearly enjoy the windy conditions.
Following Kim's victory, seven of the last eight Byron Nelson winners have been matched at a triple-figure price before the off but there were a number of factors that would have pointed us in the right direction had we known beforehand.
There isn't an awful lot to split any of the pros on the PGA Tour so a small and subtle change can make all the difference. Kim's alteration this week was a new putter in the bag. I've written many times about how tough it is to predict these low-scoring birdie-fests, as all it takes is a hotter than average flat-stick and that appears to be what's happened with Kim.
He's also one for the Nappy Factor fans given his wife is expecting their first child in July.
That's more than enough looking back for now, as we have plenty to look forward to with the USPGA Championship starting on Thursday.