The Punter's De-Brief: Rose blooms in Hong Kong and Kaufman hits the jackpot in Vegas

Smylie Kaufman – the second rookie to win on the PGA Tour in two weeks
Smylie Kaufman – the second rookie to win on the PGA Tour in two weeks

Steve takes his customary look back at last week's golf where we had two vastly contrasting events and two very different winners...


“I’ve written on many occasions how the market nearly always favours those out on the course over those in the house and that happened again yesterday. It’s never easy to pass someone safely in the clubhouse and when those attempting to do so don’t have a record of winning or even contending well, siding with the one with his feet up watching the TV coverage is often the way to go.”

This week's two winners were like chalk and cheese. The experienced world number seven, Justin Rose, won the Hong Kong Open, to provide cheer for favourite backers, before 23-year-old Web.com Tour graduate, Smylie Kaufman, kept the layers happy by winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in just his fifth PGA Tour start.

Rose was generally a 7.613/2 shot before the off but after an opening 65 he did nothing but shorten up all week. He traded at around 3.7511/4 after round one, 2.47/5 after round two, and he went into Sunday's final round as the strong 1.68/13 favourite.

Although Rose had the luxury of three-putting the final hole to make bogey to win by one, it was far from plain sailing. After a brilliant approach shot on the tricky par four ninth hole, Lucas Bjerregaard birdied as Rose three-putted for bogey and the young Dane entered the back nine with a two stroke lead.

Bjerregaard, who began the week at around 60.059/1, was matched at a low of 1.664/6 but those that had dived in at odds-on were soon in trouble when just two holes later the leading two were tied again, and when he double-bogeyed the 14th hole they knew their fate. Rose was always bang there and the final round was largely predictable but it was anything but that in Las Vegas.

Smylie Kaufman, who was quietly fancied by a number of shrewdies on Twitter, began the week at around 300.0299/1 but he started the final round seven off the lead and an unconsidered 1000.0 shot before firing a 10-under-par 61 to win by one, with seven players tied for second.


My Bets

After a decent little run over the last couple of months, I was due a bad week and now I've had one - although it could easily have been even worse.

The Hong Kong Open result was no good at all but I've no regrets. I never seem to catch Justin Rose right and I was more than happy to let him go at short odds. I could have fared better at the Shriners though.

Kaufman's top-10 at the Frys.com Open was an eye-catching effort. He'd made 22 birdies on a course he'd have to be considered too inaccurate off the tee for and TPC Summerlin looked a much more suitable test for him but that's easy to say now. I went with just one before the off (Scott Piercy) as I had a plan to get stuck in in-running but that didn't go too well.

Previous renewals of the Shriners had been dominated by frontrunners from halfway and I was hoping I could get stuck in to someone after 36 holes but it just didn't happen. As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I made a couple of tentative plays over the first couple of days but neither David Hearn or Morgan Hoffman ever really threatened to win and my confident wager on Jimmy Walker after round three was disastrous.

On a weak looking leaderboard, containing a number of players I wanted to be against, I thought Walker looked a great price at anything over 6.05/1 and I had a decent enough bet on him but I knew my fate in no time after he bogeyed the first three holes!

I thought I was going to call it a night after that but a chance arose with the winner when he posted a score early and it started to look like no one would get to him. I got him onside at an average of 3.211/5 before laying him back at long odds-on and although it didn't recoup all me losses - not by a long chalk - it went some way to easing the pain.


What Have We Leaned This Week?

Two lessons or reminders came out of yesterday's final round in Las Vegas. Firstly, I made the mistake of backing Walker too heavily given he'd been out of form for some time and more significantly, given I hadn't watched much of the tournament, and secondly, those that have posted a score early on a Sunday are often undervalued by the market.

The days of me getting up at silly o'clock, catching a nap in the day and then staying up into the early hours to watch both tournaments all week are way behind me now and when the European Tour heads east and the PGA Tour west I tend to concentrate on one or the other. Last week I concentrated on the Hong Kong Open and neglected the Shriners so I wasn't aware of quite how badly Walker had been playing. It seems he'd managed to get to within a couple of the lead despite not playing very well at all and had I watched the event, my enthusiasm may well have been curbed.

I've written on many occasions how the market nearly always favours those out on the course over those in the house and that happened again yesterday. It's never easy to pass someone safely in the clubhouse and when those attempting to do so don't have a record of winning or even contending well, siding with the one with his feet up watching the TV coverage is often the way to go.

If I hadn't put myself so far behind with my Walker wager, I'd have bet with more confidence, so I didn't make the most of the situation, but Kaufman, who finished his final round two and half house before those in the final two-ball did, looked over-priced for much of the evening, given who was trying to catch him.

Kevin Na was matched at just 1.68/13 when he had five feet to tie Kaufman on the 15th green but he fluffed his lines again. Having missed that chance, he looked to have retrieved the situation with a birdie putt from over 20 feet on the 16th but yet again he blew it, bogeying the 17th and paring the last to lose by one and he remains a player to be very wary of. He's now finished runner-up nine times on the PGA Tour and won just once in over 300 starts.

It seems I most definitely abandoned my theory about rookies doing well early on in the new PGA Tour wraparound season far too soon. Russell Henley and Scott Langley finished first and second at the competitive Sony Open back in January 2013 as rookies when that was the first event available to them under the old schedule format. When the PGA Tour changed to start the new season straight after the FedEx Cup Series in October that year, it made sense to think rookies fresh off the Web.com Tour and full of convidence in weak events would fare well but none of them really shone over the first two years and I began to think there might be nothing in it.

I really should have stuck with it though because following Emiliano Grillo's win in the Frys and Kaufman's victory yesterday, we've just had back-to- back victories by rookies for the first time that I can remember.

A year after Scott Hend's freakish victory at Fanling, Justin Rose became the 10th major champion to take the title, confirming that, in stark contrast to the Shriners, the Hong Kong Open is an event where the ream rises to the top and where backing outsiders is often a fruitless exercise.

I'll be back later with my previews for this week's two events. We've got the first Final Series event on the European Tour - the Turkish Airlines Open - and the co-sanction Asian and PGA Tour event - the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles