The Punter's De-Brief: Mondeo man Matt crowns brilliant year in style

Matt Fitzpatrick with his latest prize
Matt Fitzpatrick with his latest prize

Steve looks back on a long week of golf trading where there were wins for two exciting young prospects, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Mackenzie Hughes. Read our man's customary look back at all the action here...

"I looked at Wiesberger's price graph yesterday and it looked like a map of the Andes! He's popular with punters and often too short, both in-running and before the off, as he just doesn't win often enough but he tends to go in and out of contention lots during any given tournament. He therefore makes for a brilliant trading vehicle."

Pre-event 600.0599/1 shot, Mackenzie Hughes, has just won the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour at the third extra hole, despite never finding the par three green! All four playoff protagonists missed the green completely and Hughes was somehow again matched at 600.0599/1 when his second shot still failed to make the dancefloor, but his three rivals all failed to get-up-and-down for par after the Canadian holed out from just off the green. It sounded like a remarkable finish and it would have been nice to see it!

I can only apologise for stating in my In-Play Blog that the playoff would be live on Sky Sports News, but that was what they said on Sky Sports last night. However, we didn't see any action on the channel today.

The European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship was every bit as dramatic and I did get to see that one! Mike Norman's each-way fancy, Tyrrell Hatton, was matched at odds-on on five separate occasions and he hit a low of 1.132/15 when he produced this fabulous par save at the 17th hole.

That put him one clear with one to play but he found water off the tee on the 18th hole and could only manage bogey. Dan Geragthy's each-way fancy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who himself made a great up-and-down on 17 for par, needed a birdie or better to snatch the win and he showed nerves of steel from a greenside bunker to get the job done. It was the 21-year-old's third European Tour title and it takes him up into the top-30 in the World Rankings.

Good results for Fitzpatrick and Hatton meant the each-way column finished the season in profit to the tune of £267.58 and that's the third year in-a-row, since the column started, that we've finished in front. The column will return next week when the 2017 European Tour season kicks off with the Australian PGA Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

My Bets

Having backed Blayne Barber and Henrik Norlander in-running at 46.045/1 and 25.024/1, I was hoping to trade to profit at the RSM Classic and I suspect I may have been able to do so had Sky gone live, given the winner was matched at 600.0599/1!

It was a disappointing outcome, especially as I wrote this this morning in the In-Play Blog... "To conclude, if forced to pick a bet at this stage I'd plump for the Canadian. He deserves the victory, has nothing to lose and he looks (so far) to have plenty of bottle."

Thankfully, things went much better in Dubai where I was really pleased to get Fitzpatrick onside after round one. Not just because it meant for a profitable week but because I received a number of tweets form people that also backed him in-running on the strength of what I'd written in previous De-Briefs. Fitzpatrick is one of those players that doesn't play well week-in and week-out but when he starts well he tends to contend all the way to the line and I'd highlighted that a few times previously.

He's extremely impressive in-the-mix and I'll be amazed if he doesn't keep on improving as he bulks up further. I was surprised how far he was hitting it off the tee last week (ranked 16th for Driving Distance) and if he keeps working nicely in the gym he'll only get stronger. And he has everything else. He's straight off the tee, very accurate with his irons, a terrific putter and, importantly for us punters; he has nerves of Sheffield steel. Just a year ago, fellow pros were teasing him about his car - an old Ford Mondeo - but he can afford a better model now. He really is a class act and don't be surprised if he's a major champion in no time at all.

What Have We Learned This Week?

Being up with the pace at the Earth Course is vital. Fitzpatrick sat tied for seventh after an opening three-under-par 69 and that's the furthest from the front any winner has been after round one.

He was even further back at halfway but this year's event differed from previous renewals because the leaders all looked vulnerable. I wrote in the In-Play Blog that we shouldn't get too hung up on the stats and so it proved...this year.

When interviewed by Sky after round two, Andy Sullivan talked about how much warmer it was in the afternoons here and how he couldn't reach the second green in two in the morning but that the later starters would get there easily. Maybe the leaders' getting more favourable conditions is one of the reasons why it's hard to play catch-up?

I was happy to make a nice profit at the event but I couldn't help but think how much better I'd have fared had I been laying instead of backing. The front two in the market, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, were matched at just 3.55/2 and 5.24/1 and some really weak in-contention players were matched at some very low prices.

Halfway leaders, Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari, both traded below 4.03/1 - as did the early mover in round three - Lee Westwood. Tommy Fleetwood somehow hit a low of 8.27/1, despite never looking like winning and Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Charl Schwartzel hit lows of 7.87/1 and 7.06/1. Nicolas Colsaerts was matched at just 5.59/2 and the one I really want to concentrate on, Bernd Wiesberger, who was matched at just 5.95/1.

I looked at Wiesberger's price graph yesterday and it looked like a map of the Andes! He's popular with punters and often too short, both in-running and before the off, as he just doesn't win often enough but he tends to go in and out of contention lots during any given tournament. He therefore makes for a brilliant trading vehicle.

In addition to all those players trading so low, I've disregarded my pre-event pick, Victor Dubuisson, who hit a low of 3.55/2, as unlike those mentioned above, we don't have numerous examples of him performing poorly in-contention. Although, yesterday's round was certainly disappointing and in the fullness of time he may be another one who proves worth opposing.

The scoring at the earth Course tends to follow a bit of a pattern. There are chances to score early on and players can get on a really good roll but they nearly always hit the buffers on the back-nine.

Seemingly out of the tournament, Rory's price spiked at 800.0799/1 but a rally on the front nine yesterday saw him trade at below 20.019/1 again. He wasn't the first and he won't be the last to go on a charge and while there's not too much downside to taking a really big price, as we can see by the prices above, punters do tend to dive in a bit here. The course is easy and the players in the latter groups will also make birdies so it's best to try and resist piling in on the early chargers. Or better still, on the evidence of this year, we should perhaps be laying the chargers. And talking of laying, maybe that's what we should be doing at this time of year in the States...

The start of the PGA Tour season has yet again produced plenty of shock winners. The CIMB Classic, which is for a limited field in Malaysia, can be separated out because that tends to go to a fairly well-fancied runner but look at the starting prices of the winners this year - listed below.

Safeway Open - Brenden Steele 70.069/1
CIMB Classic - Justin Thomas 28.027/1
Sanderson Farms Championship - Cody Gribble 130.0129/1 early doors 100.099/1 at the off
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - Rodney Pampling 400.0399/1
OHL Classic - Pat Perez 150.0149/1
RSM Classic - Mackenzie Hughes 600.0599/1

The last winner, Hughes, created a really big shock but had any of his three protagonists won today the event would still have been won be an outsider. Villegas was matched at 280.0279/1 before the off. Norlander was a 450.0449/1 shot and Barber was backed by a few shrewdies at 500.0499/1.

The World Cup of Golf is the only event this week and I'll be back with my preview either tonight or tomorrow.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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