The Punter's De-Brief: Drama aplenty as Olesen and DeChambeau triumph again
Thorbjorn Olesen has won his fifth individual event on the European Tour and Bryson DeChambeau his second on the PGA Tour. Our man looks back at all the drama at the Italian Open and the Memorial Tournament here...
“It was all very dramatic and if they’d have played a bit faster it would have been even more exciting, but it wasn’t anything new. The winning post takes some getting at Jack’s Place and multiple players trading at long-odds-on over the treacherous finishing stretch is nothing new.”
Both last week's events looked good on paper and neither disappointed, with drama all the way to the winning line in both Italy and Ohio.
Local hero, and recent BMW PGA Champion, Francesco Molinari, put in a great charge at the Italian Open, with birdies at 13, 14, 15 and 16 to grab a share of the lead and to trade at just [1.62] but a bogey at 17, minutes before the eventual winner, Thorbjorn Olesen, made birdie there, proved decisive.
The Italian rolled in a monster birdie putt on 18 to close within in one and to pile the pressure back on the Dane, but Olesen was calmness personified as he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for par and the title.
Although a class-act with four previous European Tout titles, a World Cup and a GolfSixes title to his name, Olesen wasn't in the best of form before the off and was backed at a high of [150.0] - although he was generally a [130.0] chance.
My in-play fancy, Kyle Stanley, put in a similar charge to Molinari at the Memorial Tournament. Having looked dead and buried after a disastrous double-bogey at the par five 12th, Stanley birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17 but caught a terrible break on 18 when his tee-shot hit a tree and rebounded to a terrible lie in the rough. He could only make bogey but so too could eventual winner, Bryson DeChambeau, and the event went in to extra time for the fourth time in five years.
Stanley encountered more misfortune at the first extra hole when he was left with an atrocious lie on a slope and it was left to DeChambeau and Byeong Hun An to fight it out. DeChambeau had led with a round to go and he'd been knocking at the door for weeks so it was perhaps fitting that he went on to win the title with this excellent birdie at the second extra hole.
The 24-year-old was matched at [65.0] and [70.0] on Monday and someone even got a few pounds on at [95.0] but the bulk of the pre-tournament money was matched at [48.0] and [50.0].
I've had a hectic weekend, with stuff on and visitors so I haven't been on it like I usually am, and it felt like it should have been a much better week.
I'm a huge Olesen fan so missing out on him in-running was a bit of a pain. He was the same price and on the same score as my in-play pick, Haotong Li, at halfway and if I'd have got involved yesterday, Olesen would have been my man, but it wasn't to be.
My pre-event pick, Bubba Watson, was disappointing after getting himself in to a decent slot from the wrong side of the draw at halfway and my in-play pick, Kyle Stanley, came within a decent tee-shot on 18 of victory so both results weren't great but once again, the Memorial Tournament offered up all sorts of trading opportunities on the back-nine on Sunday so I was able to make a few bob trading.
What have we learned this week?
Year after year we see plenty of drama at Muirfield Village in round four and this year was no exception. The first man to make a move yesterday was Patrick Cantlay and when he raced to the front with a four-under-par 32 on the front-nine, his price dipped to just [1.32] but he lost his way completely after that and it was left to DeChambeau to assume command...
Bryson was also matched at [1.32] as the challengers seemingly fell away but Stanley's late charge saw DeChambeau drift right out to odds-against again as Stanley's price plummeted to [2.02]. Less than an hour earlier it had spiked to [400.0]!
As if all that wasn't enough, An, who had birdied two of his last four to post -15 - which had looked highly likely to be a shot short - was also matched at odds-on in the playoff. Just like Stanley, the Korean had looked dead and buried deep into the back-nine but he was matched at a low of [1.66] after Stanley had been eliminated.
It was all very dramatic and if they'd have played a bit faster it would have been even more exciting, but it wasn't anything new. The winning post takes some getting at Jack's Place and multiple players trading at long-odds-on over the treacherous finishing stretch is nothing new.
Don't take too much notice of player's course clues
It had been 12 years since Gardagolf had been used on the Challenge Tour and 15 years since it had staged the Italian Open so us punters were keen to get a steer on the set-up. Local pro, Matteo Manassero, appeared the obvious man for the job but when he compared the green complexes to Valderrama and described it as "a tricky course" I don't think any of us expected to see a winning score of 22-under-par!
I know we had rain in the lead-up to the event and conditions were good with no wind to speak of but this was far from the first time a local pro has talked up a course and made it sound harder than it transpired to be. I guess, with hindsight, it makes sense for them to be cautious. They'd look pretty daft if they said we should get a birdie-fest and then they played poorly but it's something to bear in future and a handful rather than a pinch of salt is advised.
The Italian Open was the 10th Rolex Series event and yet again the quality of the leaderboard was there for all to see. Olesen was first triple-figure priced Rolex Series winner but he oozes class and he beat the favourite by a stroke with several Ryder-cuppers and major champions not far behind.
We've got another new gimmicky event on the European Tour this week with the Shot Clock Masters in Austria, which I'll preview tomorrow. Whether you're in favour of these initiatives or not, the Tour's CEO, Keith Pelley, is certainly trying and having watched how slowly the Memorial Tournament ground to a crescendo, my only complaint is perhaps on the wrong Tour!
This time next week we'll all be getting excited about the US Open but before that, we've got the Fed-Ex St Jude Classic and I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my preview.
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