The Punter's De-Brief: Hovland hoovers up as Collin collapses

Golfer Scottie Scheffler
Runner-up, Scottie Scheffler, in action at Albany

Justin Harding led the South African Open by four with a round to go and Collin Morikawa was five in front in The Bahamas, but both men came up short. Steve looks back at all the action here...

"We witnessed plenty of volatility throughout the week and the wind didn’t even blow! It’s a quirky little track and a trader’s dream."

Collin Morikawa went into Sunday's final round of the Hero World Challenge with a commanding five-stroke lead and trading at 1.282/7, he didn't look too short given we'd seen 25 of 30 players convert a five-shot lead on the PGA Tour over the last 26 years.

Only one of the last ten to lead by five had been beaten and with the benefit of hindsight, that should have been the red flag as the last person to fail to hold on to such an advantage on the PGA Tour had been Charley Hoffman in this event, at this venue, in 2017.

Albany's a quirky links style track where low scores are common but as Morikawa showed yesterday, there are dangerous holes that can trip you up.

The world number two was matched at a low of just 1.081/12 after he'd played his second shot on the par five third and there was absolutely no sign of him getting beat at that stage.

His nearest pursuer, Brooks Koepka, had bogeyed the opening hole and with his lead of five still intact, Morikawa was long odds-on to stretch it to six from the just off the front of the par five green but it all went pear-shaped after that.

Morikawa hit a slightly sloppy chip and a dreadful putt for birdie from around five feet that missed the hole completely, and it started to get interesting when he lost his ball on the fourth hole.

He looked odds-on to make a bogey five with his provisional ball but again, from no more than four feet he pulled his putt left and it was game on.

Morikawa made a straightforward par at the fifth and he found the fairway on the par five seventh from the tee so although others were pecking away at his lead, he still looked far and away the most likely winner until he hit his second shot on the seventh...

Despite having a lot of mud on his ball, Morikawa took a risk by playing a wood from the fairway to go for the green but disaster struck again. The ball went violently left and for the second time in three holes he'd lost his ball and recorded a double-bogey.

Ahead of Morikawa, Sam Burns and Patrick Reed took up the running with Patrick Hovland joining the party with his third birdie in-a-row at the eighth hole.

It was an incredibly volatile leaderboard and half an hour later, Scottie Scheffler became the fifth man to hit the front in round four when he birdied the 15th.

With just a stroke separating the top-five, it was anyone's to win and a tough tournament to call before Hovland took it by the scruff with back-to-back eagles at 14 and 15.

Scheffler continued to apply the pressure with birdies at 16 and 17 and Hovland dropped shots at each of the last two holes, but he'd done enough and after being matched at a high of 180.0179/1 earlier in the week, the 12.5 pre-event chance held on to win by a stroke.

Earlier in the day, Justin Harding had finished off his third round at the South African Open nicely and having extended his lead to four, the 35-year-old was matched at just 1.251/4 as the fourth and final round got underway.

The pre-event 29.028/1 shot was clearly the man to beat but after a shank on the second, led to a triple-bogey seven and a bogey at the fourth, the tournament developed into a duel between the halfway leader, Oliver Bekker, and my in-play pick, Daniel von Tonder.

Bekker, a pre-event 44.043/1 chance, was matched at low of 1.9110/11 after Harding's start but it was van Tonder that assumed command on the back nine.

The pre-tournament 32.031/1 chance, who was matched at high of 48.047/1 when the market first opened, was matched at just 1.031/33 with three holes to play but long odds-on backers were given a fright when Bekker finished well with birdies at the last three holes and after only just clearing the water with his second shot at 18, he needed this lengthy birdie putt to win by one.

Coincidentally, this was the second time van Tonder had won following a Harding collapse this year. He'd trailed Harding by three at the Kenya Savannah Classic with a round to go back in March before eventually beating Jazz Janewattananond in extra time.

My Bets

It's been a nicely profitable week to sign off the year, but it could and should have been better.

Van Tonder's win was a decent result (backed at 12.011/1 at halfway) and thankfully, I layed some of my pre-event Morikawa bet back at long odds-on just in case but I didn't make the most of my in-play trades in The Bahamas.

I backed Reed at 30.029/1 and Scheffler at 80.079/1 and they were matched at lows of 4.47/2 and 4.1 before finishing second and third.

Albany a trader's dream

Away from the Morikawa collapse, there were also all sorts of dramas with plenty of other players in the field.

Scheffler would have won but for a triple-bogey seven at the fourth hole on Sunday (he was matched at 1000.0 after that and before the late rally) and Sam Burns tripled the 14th in round four to highlight just how easy it is to rack up a big number here.

The first-round leaders, Rory McIlroy, Abraham Ancer and Daniel Berger, finished 18th, 14th and tied for seventh, the halfway leader, Bryson DeChambeau, shot three-over on the weekend to finish tied for 14th and Morikawa's closest challenger with a round to go, Brook Koepka, shot 74 on Sunday to finish tied for ninth!

We witnessed plenty of volatility throughout the week and the wind didn't even blow! It's a quirky little track and a trader's dream.

After the cancellation of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, the DP World Tour is all done and dusted for the year and so am I.

We've got the QBE Shootout to look forward to on the PGA Tour this week, starting on Thursday, and Dave Tindall will be back later in the week with a look at that one but I'm going to take a break now before 2022 kicks off with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on January 6.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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