Kristoffer Broberg held on bravely to win the Dutch Open and Max Homa has swooped late in California to claim the Fortinet Championship. Steve Rawlings looks back on the two events here...
"Broberg had been matched at a low of 1.031/33 earlier in the round but in a matter of minutes he was back to odds-against."
Pre-event 400.0399/1 chance, Kristoffer Broberg, who was matched at a high of 570.0569/1 when the market first opened, led the Dutch Open by eight strokes with a round to go. Nobody had ever lost a lead of eight or more through 54 holes on the European Tour and after a birdie at the first on Sunday, it looked as though we were about to witness a straightforward canter to the line but winning is never straightforward.
After a bogey at the third, Broberg parred his way to the turn before a birdie at the 10th appeared to have settled the nerves and when he stood in the fairway on the par five 12th, leading Germany's Matthias Schmid by four strokes and Spain's Alejandro Canizares by five, he still appeared to be in command, but he hit an awful second shot and put himself under all sorts of pressure.
The 35-year-old Swede made a poor decision with his third shot (photo above), attempting to clear a large tuft of grass from a poor sandy lie in amongst the trees to the right of the fairway and he ended up needing to take a penalty drop for an unplayable lie for his fourth stroke, after his third had failed to clear the tuft and gone backwards!
With Schmid on the green, eyeing up an eagle putt, already on six-under-par for the day and cruising, we looked like witnessing a three-stroke swing at the very least and the young German went odds-on, hitting a low of 1.738/11.
Broberg had been matched at a low of 1.031/33 earlier in the round but in a matter of minutes he was back to odds-against until this fabulous sixth stroke saved the day.
Schmid then left his eagle putt a roll short, but the gap was still down to two and Broberg was clearly under pressure.
A good tee-shot on the par three 13th by the German would have pilled yet more pressure on the Swede but Schmid hit a shocking shot, wide of the bunker right of the green and into the water. A double-bogey five went down on the card and the lead was back to four.
Broberg drove into the water on the par four 14th after taking a three wood for safety and Canizres was matched at a low of 3.1511/5 when he birdied 16 to get within two but Broberg managed to keep it together in the end. After a bogey at 14, he made a terrific par saving putt on 15, a par at 16 and a fabulous birdie two at 17 to finally restore some breathing space.
Broberg was in bits after the victory and he could barely speak to Sky's John Morgan. This was Broberg's second European Tour win, following victory in the BMW Masters in 2015, and when John reminded him of how long it had been, he could barely speak. After a prolonged period, he uttered.
"Sorry, I can not talk...Yeah, I did it, (but it's been) six years of hell."
This was a brilliant battling performance and one I'll remember for a while.
Over on the PGA Tour, pre-event 65.064/1 chance, Maverick McNealy, and 1000.0 shot, Jim Knous, were tied for the lead and two clear of the rest with a round to go at the Fortinet Championship. Knous bogeyed the second and never really got going but McNealy made the turn in three-under for the day and leading by two over Marc Leishman in the house, and by three over everyone else, he was matched at a low of just 1.331/3 for the win.
McNealy did little wrong, parring six in-a-row before birdying the par five 16th but Max Homa caught fire on the back nine after he'd bogeyed the par four 10th. Birdies at 13, 16 and 17 followed this hole-out eagle on the 12th and McNealy's cause looked lost before he double-bogeyed the 17th. To his credit, he bounced back to eagle the last to lose by a solitary stroke.
Homa was an 80.079/1 chance before the off but he was matched at a high of 240.0239/1 after a poor second round.
It's been a profitable but frustrating week.
I wrote about Matthias Schmid in the Find Me a 100 Winner column on Wednesday and he would have been a pick had I not decided to play three in the Fortinet Championship instead.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I did get him onside at 70.069/1 after round one so was able to trade to a small profit but I'd have loved to secured some much needed gains for the column, and I was lucky enough to side with Homa before round three.
When I updated the In-Play Blog yesterday morning, I still hadn't decided what to do about the Fortinet. I knew the leaders went out late and I wasn't feeling great but I was keen on the chances of Homa. I had it mind that I might go to bed early and get up to trade the event but as I felt so ropey, I just threw a few pounds on Homa and went to bed early, without setting an alarm.
As it transpired, I did wake up with about four holes to play so I layed a tiny bit back at odds-on but I needn't have bothered.
Going back to Bernardus will be a joy
My sole pre-event pick, Branden Grace, was too slow out of the gates on Thursday to ever mount a challenge and he eventually finished tied for 12th but I don't regret the pick.
With its linksy look and wide fairways, I thought Bernardus would suit Grace and the course played how I'd imagined it might. He didn't play well enough early on to figure but it was right up his street and I'll look forward to going back next years. He's what Grace had to say about the venue: "It's lived up to all expectations. It's a phenomenal golf course, the facilities are great, and it's a proper links golf course this. We don't get to play links courses that often so it's nice when we get the chance."
The 2022 European Tour schedule hasn't been released yet but I suspect they'll try and put this event in the week before the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to make for a cracking fortnight of autumnal links action.
The Alfred Dunhill is the next full field event on the European Tour, beginning a week on Thursday, but prior to that we have the small matter of the Ryder Cup and I'll be back with my preview of that event later today.
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