The Punter's De-Brief: Finau denied again as Homa holds firm

Golfer Max Homa
Max Homa with the Genesis trophy

We witnessed all sorts of mayhem at Riviera again yesterday when the Genesis Invitational went to extra time. Steve Rawlings looks back at all the drama here...

"Following wins for J.B Holmes two years ago and James Hahn in 2015, Homa is the third winner of the Genesis Invitational in the last six years to have also won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. And all three were matched at a triple-figure price before the off!"

In search of his first PGA Tour title, Sam Burns led by five strokes at the halfway stage of the Genesis Invitational and by two with a round to go. The pre-event 180.0179/1 chance, who was matched at a high of 300.0299/1, started the fourth and final round very nicely and he was matched at a low of just 1.4840/85 as he turned for home with a three stroke lead but it all got a bit ragged after that.

Burns played the back-nine in two-over par to finish alone in third and the finish was eventually fought out by pre-tournament 80.079/1 chance, Max Homa, who was matched at a high of 120.0119/1 before the off and 220.0219/1 in-running, and the perennial bridesmaid, Tony Finau - a pre-tournament 36.035/1 chance, matched at a high of 190.0189/1 in-running.

Finau was matched at a low of just 1.351/3 when he hit the front with one hole to play after back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 but Homa birdied the 17th from just inside seven feet to tie before stiffing his approach at 18 to just three feet four inches. Homa was matched at a low of 1.031/33 but, incredibly, missed the putt!

Finau's seven-under-par 64 was the best round of the day by two strokes and Homa's 66 was matched only by the defending champ, Adam Scott, and Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. Given the intense pressure that being in-contention brings, neither man deserved to lose but after both posted 12-under-par totals, we were into extra time.

Finau hit a tidy drive at the first extra hole - the drivable par four 10th - that finished just shy of the green and he was matched at a low of 1.091/11 when Homa's drive appeared to be hard up against a tree but he made a remarkable recovery to save par as Finau failed to make birdie and the pair moved on to the par three 14th.

Finau hit his tee-shot in the greenside bunker on 14 before Homa found the green and when the world number 13 failed to get up-and-down to save par, Homa collected the trophy.

My bets

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I backed Dustin Johnson before the resumption of play on Sunday morning and after his second shot on the opening hole in round four, the world number one was matched at low of 2.8415/8 but that was as good as it got for DJ. He failed to make birdie at one and although he birdied three and six, he was always chasing, and he lost his way badly after the ninth.

I made a poor decision to press my small position on DJ rather than just lay Burns, who always looked like he wasn't going to quite get home, but the opportunities to trade the event were plentiful on the back-nine so it all worked out in the end.

The tournament going into extra time was a huge plus and laying Finau at 1.11/10 after the drive on 10 was far and away the best move made but it was a frustrating result. Even that was frustrating as I levelled everything off before 14 rather than sitting tight a little longer but it's always easy after the event.

Had I not been so loyal to DJ, and had I just gone after Burns more rigorously, I'd have layed lots more on Homa and Finau at odds-on but instead I fiddled about and was always saving the day rather than making hay. And Homa winning was mildly irritating too given he was my Find Me a 100 Winner pick at the Farmers at 160.0159/1 just a few weeks ago.

Quail Hollow form well worth investigating

Following wins for J.B Holmes two years ago and James Hahn in 2015, Homa is the third winner of the Genesis Invitational in the last six years to have also won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. And all three were matched at a triple-figure price before the off!

Holmes was matched at a high of 400.0399/1, Hahn was an unconsidered 600.0599/1 chance in 2015 and Homa was matched at a high of 120.0119/1 before the off.

Major moves in the Masters market

Rory McIlroy's missed cut at Riviera was largely ignored by the US Masters market and he remains available to lay at 14.013/1 but Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau's missed cuts were viewed in a dimmer light.

This was Rory's first weekend off since the Open Championship in 2019 and it's been viewed as something of an aberration whereas Thomas and DeChambeau's current form is causing more concern with the year's first major less than two months away.

Thomas hasn't won since the beginning of August, this was his second MC in three starts, and he really didn't look himself at Riviera. The furore that followed his utterance of a homophobic slur in the opening event of the year - the Sentry Tournament of Champions - preceded his weekend off in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour and the death of his grandad appears to have hit him hard too. He lost his way in round four at Phoenix (the day after he died) and he wasn't at the races last week.

DeChambeau went off favourite for the US Masters in November but after a poor run of results, he's drifted right out to 21.020/1 for this year's renewal, after being matched at a low of 11.521/2. His never-in-contention seventh at the limited field Sentry TOC is his best performance in five starts since he won the US Open but he'll have an opportunity to bounce back this week in the WGC Workday Championship at a course he won at as an amateur - the Concession Golf Club in Florida.

The big movers in the other direction were the runner-up, Finau, who's crashed from around 50.049/1 to 36.035/1 and Cam Smith, who finished fourth at Riviera. The mullet-sporting Aussie was the first player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s at Augusta when he finished runner-up to DJ in November and his price has contracted from around 100.099/1 to 60.059/1.

Don't forget, Augusta early birds can get eight places on their Masters bets with the Betfair Sportsbook.

We've got two events to look forward to this week, the aforementioned WGC Workday Championship and the Puerto Rico Open and I'll be back this evening or tomorrow with the previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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