They'e off and running in Crans so Steve turns his attention to the Canadian Open where he fancies Bubba Watson can rally on the back-nine to take the title...
“It would be a surprise if Day or Watson didn’t capitalise on any slip up by Hearn and of the two, I prefer Watson, who has a better record in-contention but it makes sense to wait and play him in-running.”
10:50 - July 26, 2015
The European Masters is well underway and live on Sky and but for a small lay on Danny Willett, it's one I'm just going to watch and enjoy now.
Best of my three pre-event picks is Anirban Lahiri but he looks to have too much to do and yesterday's halfway play, Y.E Yang, has been awful.
Before the final round began, at just over evens, I was tempted to lay joint leader, Danny Willett, who just doesn't convince in-contention. He began the final round alongside fellow Sheffielder, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who bogeyed the opening hole. That was enough to see Willett go odds-on and it was enough to force my hand. Many a player trades at odd-on and fails to win on the European Tour so I'm happy to take Willett on at odds-on with so far to go.
Over at the Canadian Open, David Hearn leads by two over pre-event favourites, Jason Day and Bubba Watson and I'm struggling to see beyond those three. Here's the leaderboard with prices to back at 10:40.
1 David Hearn -15 5.04/1
T2 Jason Day -13 4.216/5
T2 Bubba Watson -13 4.67/2
T4 Brooks Koepka -12 9.417/2
T4 Michael Putnam -12 29.028/1
T6 Jim Furyk -11 18.017/1
-11 and 34.033/1 Bar
In the six Canadian Opens here since 1999, Vijay Singh is the only winner to be more than one back with a round to go but even he was sat in second place. He had trailed Mike Weir by three but the Canadian, like many before him, found the pressure of winning his national title too much to handle and I fancy Hearn may suffer the same fate.
It would be a surprise if Day or Watson didn't capitalise on any slip up by Hearn and of the two, I prefer Watson, who has a better record in-contention, but it makes sense to wait and play him in-running.
Bubba has played the first-nine holes in level par so far this week but he's made hay on the back nine where his length comes into play with three par 5s at 13, 16 and 18. It's a gamble to wait because if he does find his feet over the front-nine then his price will collapse but I fancy he'll be better suited to being a few strokes back if he again starts slowly and he'll be a better price too.
I'll be back tomorrow with the De-Brief.
09:20 - July 25, 2015
A threat of lightening halted play at the European Masters late yesterday with still a few groups left out on the course but the halfway leaderboard looks set with Danny Willett showing the way. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 09:00.
1 Danny Willett -13 2.35/4
T2 Y E Yang -12 8.07/1
T2 Seukhyun Baek -12 22.021/1
4 Marcus Kinhult -9 40.039/1
T5 Marcus Fraser -8 23.022/1
T5 Raphael Jacquelin -8 28.027/1
T5 Gregory Havret -8 36.035/1
T5 David Lipsky -8 42.041/1
T5 Rikard Karlberg -8 44.043/1
T5 Richard Green -8 50.049/1
-7 and 38.037/1 Bar
So effortless was Danny Willett's progress yesterday that talk soon turned to the possibility of the European Tour's first ever 59 but a scruffy bogey at the 12th momentarily halted progress. He still managed to cruise to an eight-under-par 62 to take up the running and he's very much the man to beat.
We have to go all the way back to 1997 to find a winner that trailed by any more than four strokes at halfway so if that run is to continue we need to be looking at the first four on the leaderboard only.
Willett will have his supporters at odds-against but I'm definitely not one of them. He's only ever led at halfway once on the European Tour - at the BMW International Open last year - and he could only finish 8th. He's been within a stroke of the lead at halfway six times but he's never managed to win. He's actually been just one off the lead here three times before - in 2011, 2012 and 2013 - and he's finished 25th, 2nd and 26th. He has won twice previously on the ET but he trailed by two and five strokes at this stage respectively so if he is going to win tomorrow, he's going to have to do something he's never done before.
I'm going to dismiss Seukhyun Baek and the amateur, Marcus Kinhult, who were both, understandably, huge outsiders before the off. Heaven knows where Baek has found form from - he's missed eight of his last 12 cuts and mainly on the lowly Japanese tour - and it takes a huge leap of faith to imagine Kinhult remaining in-contention all weekend. He's clearly one for the future and you may recall that he led the Nordea Masters at halfway last month but he tumbled down the leaderboard over the weekend with rounds of 77 and 75.
Y.E Yang, the 2009 USPGA Championship winner, has been in the wilderness since winning the China Open five years ago but he's been showing a bit of form of late so it's no surprise to see him contending - he finished tied 10th at the Scottish Open last time out. His putter hasn't been behaving of late but it has this week and if he can keep rolling the putts in over the weekend he's sure to be Willett's biggest challenger and at 8.07/1 he looks well worth taking a chance on.
Over at the Canadian Open, Chad Campbell has taken a two stroke lead over my in-play pick, Brian Harman. Here's the halfway leaderboard at Glen Abbey with prices to back at 09:00.
1 Chad Campbell -14 6.25/1
2 Brian Harman -12 8.07/1
T3 Johnson Wagner -11 13.5
T3 David Hearn -11 14.013/1
5 Jason Day -10 5.69/2
T6 Bubba Watson -9 11.010/1
T6 Erik Compton -9 48.047/1
T6 Eric Axley -9 130.0129/1
T9 Brooks Koepka -8 20.019/1
-8 and 29.028/1 Bar
When I went to bed last night, Bubba Watson looked completely out of contention so I was surprised to see him trading so short this morning. He actually played his last six holes in six under-par, and he and Jason Day are now huge dangers to the leaders.
Had Bubba not moved in to the mix, I may have backed Johnson Wagner modestly but this looks wide open and I'm going to leave things alone for now.
I don't fancy the leader. It's been a very long while since Campbell was in the thick of things and I fancy he may struggle and it's very hard to see David Hearn winning. Canadians have a dreadful record in their national open and Pat Fletcher, in 1954, is the only winner since 1914! He'll be under more pressure than the others and it could easily tell.
I'm not a massive fan of two-ball betting but I may well play Harman to beat Campbell and Wagner to beat Hearn at evens or better and they might make for a nice little double at around 3/1.
I'll be back again tomorrow with a look at the state of play with a round to go.
10.00 - July 24, 2015
The second round of the European Masters is well under way and it's now live on Sky so I'm going to leave that one alone for now and wait until halfway. Y.E Yang and Tyrell Hatton are leading the field a merry dance - leading the remainder by three and two strokes respectively - and my picks are making too many errors. Bernd Wiesberger played his first nine holes in level par but he didn't actually record a par until he played his 10th hole! He played the back-nine first, making five birdies, three bogeys and a double!
Over on the PGA Tour, at the Canadian Open, Emiliano Grillo leads after round one having shot a bogey-free, eight-under-par 64. Jason Day still trades as favourite, despite trailing by four strokes, and I fancy the value lies with Brian Harman, who's tied for second with Vaughn Taylor, just one stroke behind Grillo.
As highlighted in the preview, this is usually a hard place to make up ground so the plan was always to concentrate on the leaders from early on and given Harman will have the advantage of an early start today and that he's been showing signs of form of late, he looks the one to side with.
The morning starters yesterday averaged more than a stroke less than the afternoon starters yesterday so hopefully Harman can push on today.
I'll be back tomorrow morning with a look at the state of play at halfway at both events.
European Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Bernd Wiesberger @ 16/1 (Sportsbook)
Jamie Donaldson @ 26.025/1
Anirban Lahiri @ 80.079/1
Y.E Yang @ 8.07/1
Canadian Open Pre-Event Selection:
Fabian Gomez @ 260.0259/1
Brian Harman @ 14.013/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter