The Punter's De-Brief: Rory takes the Irish Open title in style

Rory McIlroy with the Irish Open trophy
Rory McIlroy with the Irish Open trophy

Rory McIlroy has justified favouritism at the K Club and Sergio Garcia has notched again in the States. Read Steve's customary look back at last week's action here...

"Rory’s victory was simply sensational. He hadn’t looked at his best for much of the fourth and final round and he even trailed Scotland’s Russell Knox by a stroke with just three to play but all’s well that ends well and you couldn’t script a better finish."

I know the big biannual bash is still four months away but yesterday was a great day for the European Ryder Cup team. Rory McIlroy produced a stunning finish to capture the Irish Open at the K Club and Sergio Garcia won the AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas.

Rory's victory was simply sensational. He hadn't looked at his best for much of the fourth and final round and he even trailed Scotland's Russell Knox by a stroke with just three to play but all's well that ends well and you couldn't script a better finish.

Knox hit a low of 1.528/15 after he'd hit the front following back-to-back birdies at the difficult 14th and 15th holes but a sensational approach shot by Rory at the par five 16th set up a chance for eagle to put the pressure right back on Knox. Rory two-putted for birdie but the Scot three-putted for bogey and momentum was all with Rory after that.

Both players missed birdie chances on 17 before Rory sealed it with this incredible shot on the par five 18th.

A home win for the popular Rory, who donated all his prize money to charity, was a fabulous enough story on its own but Rory was far from the only winner at the K Club at the weekend.

First reserve, Matthew Southgate, only found out he was playing on Monday night but his fourth place finish gets him a place in the BMW PGA Championship field at Wentworth on Thursday and the €200,000 prize money will go a very long way to securing his playing rights for next season too.

The joy and the relief were obvious for all to see after he'd birdied the 18th and it was totally understandable. Matthew was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and he only got on to the European Tour this season via Q School after undergoing treatment. His biggest cheque before yesterday was just €28,000.

There wasn't quite so much drama at the AT&T Byron Nelson and for much of the final round it looked as though third round leader, Brooks Koepka, was going to win, despite not playing at his best. The 26-year-old Floridian was matched at just 1.132/15 after paring the first four holes on the back-nine but he made three fives in-a-row from the 14th hole on to let Sergio back in. The event went to extra time but was soon settled when Koepka drove into the water off the 18th tee and Sergio was left to equal Seve's record of nine PGA Tour wins.


My Bets

I was due a poor week and I got one - although it could have been a whole lot worse. As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Knox at halfway at 46.045/1 and that helped a lot.

I kept him as a decent winner yesterday and had he won it would have been a good week but I layed him back at 1.9210/11 as he was playing the 15th hole so losses were tiny in Ireland. I made a mess of the Byron Nelson though...

Having backed Jordan Spieth at halfway, I really should have backed out of my bet completely. He hit odds-on during Saturday's third round but it was clear he wasn't playing well and I should have layed him back fully. I did lay some of the bet back, which obviously helped, but what I should have done was lay it back entirely and switch to Koepka at the end of round three.

I'd have easily traded myself into profit had I took that decision but instead I held onto much of my Spieth bet and hoped for a turnaround in his play that never looked like materialising. Having begun the final round in second place, Spieth ended the week in a tie for 18th and he needed a birdie at the last to get into the top-20!


Keep An Eye On The Top-Five, Ten and 20 Markets

It was quite obvious to all that watched the Byron Nelson that Spieth was in trouble early on-on Saturday and not only should I have ditched my win bet on him, I should have been laying him in other markets.

He was matched at just 1.041/25 in the top-five market, hit long odds-on in the top-ten market and those that took 1.011/100 about him finishing inside the top-20 would have been, mightily relieved that he birdied the 72nd hole.

Once players in-the-mix start sliding they can tumble a long way down the leaderboard and it's often possible to oppose them very cheaply to finish in the places.


The Post-Major Affect

With the benefit of hindsight, is it coincidental that both Spieth and Danny Willett struggled this weekend? The first named has lost his form completely since losing the US Masters and Willett was woeful over the weekend. His game wasn't quite as bad as his score suggests and he couldn't buy a putt yesterday but it does look as though all the media attention is taking its toll.

Willett is the early favourite for the BMW PGA Championship, starting on Thursday, and Spieth is heading the Dean & Deluca Invitational market (formerly the Crowne Plaza Invitational) which also begins on Thursday. I'll be back later with my previews but I can already reveal that I doubt I'll be advocating a transatlantic double on the two jollies!


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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