Although Australia's Scott Hend entered the final round of the European Masters with a one stroke lead over Alex Noren, the Swede was the narrow favourite to win and once he'd drawn level with a birdie at the tough par four first, he was never again headed.
Generally a 19.018/1 chance before the off, Noren was matched at just 1.11/10 with two holes to play but a bogey at the 17th saw him and Hend tied for the lead and in the end he needed to hole a lengthy birdie putt at the first extra hole to secure his second victory in five starts. This was his sixth European Tour win and it was the second time he'd won the same title twice. He also won this event in 2009 and he's twice won the Nordea Masters.
Hend was matched at 120.0119/1 before the off but was generally a 90.089/1 chance and he was matched at a low of 1.875/6 on Saturday when he went five clear on the back nine during round three.
Over in the States, Rory McIlroy reeled in a cautious Paul Casey at the Deutsche bank Championship with a brilliant six-under-par 65 in challenging conditions to win by two strokes over Casey.
McIlroy had been strongly backed before the off, from around 16.015/1 to 11.010/1, as word got out that he'd been working diligently with Henrik Stenson's putting coach, Phil Kenyon, but he was matched at a high of 85.084/1 in-running after a dreadful start.
Beginning the week on the par-four 10th on Friday, Rory opened up the tournament par-bogey-triple-bogey and he did brilliantly to recover well enough to shoot level par on the day. He climbed the leaderboard nicely after that but was still six adrift of Casey with just a round to go. Rory began the final round as a 16.015/1 shot and Casey was matched at a low of 1.8910/11 but Rory had caught and passed Casey by the 12th.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I backed both Hend and Noren at halfway in Switzerland and I've done well not to make a profit there after that. Noren was little more than a stakes saver but when the event went in to extra time it made sense to lay some of my Hend bet back at 2.186/5 and when Noren rolled in his birdie I was glad I had.
I never got to terms with the Deutsche Bank Championship and thankfully I staked accordingly so although I played two before the off and three in-running, losses were minimal and I managed to finish the week in front.
With the benefit of hindsight, not laying Casey at around the even money mark before round four feels like a bit of an opportunity missed but I've no regrets really.
What Have We Learned This Week?
Matthew Fitzpatrick remains one to be wary of before the off. Despite playing well enough to make the European Ryder Cup team, the youngster has missed an incredible 11 cuts this year and he gave himself very little chance last week with an opening five-over-par 75; and it was even worse at one stage, the Englishman was +7 after 14 holes on Thursday morning.
Hopes were high that Fitzpatrick could go one better than his second place behind Danny Willett in 2015 but he sat tied for 130th and fully 11 strokes off the lead after day one. Rounds of 65, 66 and 64 saw him spend the next three days climbing up into a tie for seventh so he clearly loves the venue. He looks like a player to assess after the first round and if he starts well next year he'll be well worth siding with.
The PGA Tour has been extremely competitive for as long as I can remember and converting from the front has never been easy but it appears to be getting even harder of late. Since 1996, more than 50% of three-stroke third round leaders have converted but Casey was the eighth in 12 to fail. One could argue that that's a statistical blip so I went a bit further back to find that 21 of the last 32 players to lead by three with a round to go have been beaten. That looks like a trend to me and laying odds-on shots three clear on the PGA Tour may well pay dividends going forward.
Is Rory the New Tiger When it comes to Repeating?
Punting Tiger Woods used to be a simple task. Year after year he'd win at the same venues and Rory is starting to develop a similar profile. Today's victory was his 12th on the PGA Tour and it was the third time he's won the same tournament. In addition to winning the Deutsche Bank Championship twice now, he's also won the wells Fargo Championship twice and the USPGA Championship twice, And on the European Tour he's doubled up at the DP World Championship and the Dubai Desert Classic.
He won next week's tournament, the BMW Championship, which I'll preview tomorrow, back in 2012, a week after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and given it's being played at Crooked Stick again, where he won it in 2012, he's going to be confident of another repeat and the 15/2 with the Sportsbook may not last long.
I'll be back tomorrow with a look at that tournament and you can find my preview of the KLM Open on the European Tour here.
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