The Punter's De-Brief: Augusta-bound Poulter pounces late in Texas

Ian Poulter - Augusta bound after his win in Houston
Ian Poulter - on his way to Augusta again on Thursday

Ian Poulter is on his way back to Augusta after a sensational victory in Texas. Our man looks back at all the drama with his customary reflections piece here...

"As fabulous as Poulter’s putt was, I couldn’t help but feel for poor Hossler. He was all over the place in the playoff finding rough off the tee and water from a greenside bunker but it was hardly surprising. He must have been a bit shell-shocked."

We may have only had one tournament last week but it turned in to a cracker. As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, Ian Poulter and Beau Hossler were tied at the top and two clear of the remainder and I thought they looked vulnerable in front. Not for the first time, or the last, I was wrong.

Jordan Spieth, who I backed at 16.015/1 after three rounds, soon closed on the leaders with a fast start and he was matched at less than 3/1 but Poulter started brilliantly given the circumstances, playing the first eight holes in four-under-par. A bogey followed at the ninth but he did nothing wrong after that and he was matched at a low of 1.251/4.

Beau Hossler, who was looking for his first PGA Tour victory, started slowly with seven straight pars but after a birdie four at the par five eighth, to remain within three of Poulter's lead, he went on a great run on the back-nine. Four birdies in-a-row from the 12th hole saw the 23-year-old take the lead and he did absolutely nothing wrong after that. His birdie attempt at the 18th hole from 30 feet went agonisingly close. He was still matched at just 1.111/9 with Poulter trailing and 20 feet away but the 42-year-old Englishman, went and did this to take the event to extra time.

As fabulous as Poulter's putt was, I couldn't help but feel for poor Hossler. He was all over the place in the playoff finding rough off the tee and water from a greenside bunker but it was hardly surprising. He must have been a bit shell-shocked.

This was Poulter's first ever stroke play victory on American soil and it was his first win anywhere since 2012. The victory gets him in to the US Masters field and it's a most unexpected turn of events given his position after round one.

After an opening one-over-par 73, that saw him sitting in a tie for 123rd, he was unsurprisingly matched at 1000.0 in-running and according to Justin Ray, who's well worth a follow on Twitter, that's the lowest first round position by a PGA Tour winner in the last 35 years.

My Bets

It's been a bit of a frustrating week really. I knew I had things on over the weekend and so I'd already made a conscious decision not to get too involved in-running but I very nearly did on Saturday evening.

I've written numerous times about how unreliable Rickie Fowler is in-the-mix so I was vaguely monitoring his progress in round three whilst watching the Everton V Manchester City game. He touched a low of 2.226/5, which was really short given how far away the winning post was, and I really should have taken him on way before then but preoccupied by the football, I missed my chance. Fowler double-bogeyed the sixth hole, after finding water off the tee, and he lost the plot after that - eventually finishing the week tied for 43rd!

Hindsight's a marvellous thing but had I taken on Fowler, I would have undoubtedly layed Poulter at odds-on and subsequently Hossler too. I don't have any regrets though, I spent all day yesterday with family and I never had any intention to trade.

What Have We Learned This Week?

Poulter was a 150.0149/1 shot before the off and Hossler's price ranged between 170.0169/1 and 210.0209/1 for the bulk of pre-tournament trading but he was matched at a high of 300.0299/1, so once again outsiders have prevailed at Houston.

There were a number of big movers in the US Masters market and it's essential that you get onside anyone teeing up in Texas that you want to back at Augusta. Spieth, who I backed last Monday at 17.016/1, is now the favourite to win the US Masters at 12.011/1, having finished tied third in Houston. Phil Mickelson, who started like a train on Thursday, and who was matched at just 4.216/5 to win the Houston Open, eventually finished only tied for 24th, but that effort has been enough to see his US Masters price shift form 29.028/1 to 22.021/1 and even though he finished a disappointing, never in-contention tied 52nd, Justin Rose's Augusta price has barely shifted.

Fowler has drifted a bit after his 73-73 weekend woes and that's hardly surprising but anyone trading him for the US Masters would have had no problem securing a decent position given he began the week at 27.026/1, dipped to 22.021/1 and now trades at 30.029/1.

That's enough looking back for this week given the US Masters starts on Thursday and I'll be back tomorrow with a look at some side markets but if you missed it last night, here's my US Masters preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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