Robert Streb leads the RSM Classic by three strokes with a round to go but can he hold on to double up after wining the event in 2014?
“The last three players to take a three-shot lead into the final round of a PGA Tour event were all been beaten and we’ve seen all sorts of drama here on day four, with three of the last four renewals going to extra time.”
12:20 - November 20, 2020
With just 18 holes to play, here's the latest RSM Classic standings with prices to back at 12:10.
Robert Streb -17 2.447/5
Zach Johnson -14 5.04/1
Bronson Burgoon -14 10.5
Emiliano Grillo -13 13.012/1
Kevin Kisner -12 14.5
Kyle Stanley -12 34.033/1
Camilo Villegas -12 36.035/1
Matthew NeSmith -11 42.041/1
Patton Kizzire -11 60.059/1
Andrew Landry -11 70.069/1
-10 and 130.0129/1 bar
We've had ten previous renewals of the RSM Classic and we've seen six third round leaders go on to take the title, including three of the last four. And since 1996, three-stroke 54-hole leaders on the PGA Tour have a 51% strike rate, with 64 of 124 going on to win, suggesting odds of just a shade below 6/4 are more than fair for Robert Streb but I'm far from convinced...
The last three players to take a three-shot lead into the final round of a PGA Tour event were all been beaten and as highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, we've seen all sorts of drama here on day four, with three of the last four renewals going to extra time.
Last year's winner, Tyler Duncan, was trading at 48.047/1 and trailing by four at this stage, Ben Crane came from five shots back to win in 2012 and a year later, Tommy Gainey hit 60 in round four to win by a stroke, having trailed by seven after 54 holes! And this year's third round leader, Streb, began the fourth round trailing by five strokes and trading at 110.0109/1. before he went on to win in 2014.
Dave Tindall's 55/1 fancy, Zach Johnson, is the biggest danger to Streb but this is definitely an event in which you can take a chance on one or two players from off the pace.
In addition to cheering on the leader, who I backed in-running on Friday, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that pre-event pick, Patton Kizzire, can somehow start finding fairways and greens and I've also thrown a few pounds at Cameron Tringale at a huge price. He trails by fully seven strokes but if Streb starts to struggle this will be blown wide open.
17:20 - November 20, 2020
A second consecutive 67 by 20-year-old Wilco Nienaber has seen him end the third round of the Joburg Open in front. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 17:15.
Wilco Nienaber -16 2.021/1
JB Hansen -15 3.185/40
Brandon Stone -11 18.017/1
Shaun Norris -11 21.020/1
Richard Bland -11 34.033/1
Jacques Blaauw -11 48.047/1
Aaron Cockerill -10 110.0109/1
-9 and 150.0149/1 bar
JB Hansen came back this morning to finish off his second round and he did so poorly, recording bogeys at 17 and 18, but he soon shrugged that disappointing finale off, recording a six-under-par 29 on the front nine in round three.
The damp and very different conditions could be blamed for the way he ended his second round and the poor finish could be the reason for the bright start to round three. He would have been frustrated to close out the round so poorly but it certainly didn't hold him back. The question now is how will he start tomorrow's fourth round?
This is the fifth time that the Dane has entered the final round of a European Tour event within three strokes of the lead and on the four previous occasions he shot rounds of 71, 72, 73 and 75 and he went backwards every time. He won twice on the Challenge Tour twice in 2018 so he knows how to win but I don't think he can be backed with confidence and I can see why Nienaber is so short.
This is a great opportunity for the youngster but I'm in no rush to side with him at around even money. How he'll react to the pressure of converting his first 54-hole lead is anyone's guess and I'd rather play a few from off the pace at juicy odds.
Branden Stone won the Scottish Open from three off the lead and outside the top-ten places two years ago and if the two leaders start to mess around in front, he's more than capable of capitalising.
I was happy to take 18.017/1 about Stone and I've also thrown a few pounds at the 36-hole leader, Jacques Blaauw, at 50.049/1. We've seen lots of halfway leaders bounce back to win after a poor third round, including last year's winner of the week's other event, the RSM Classic.
Tyler Duncan was a similar price to Blaauw when he trailed by four with a round to go 12 months ago and I'll be back tomorrow with a look at where we stand this year with a round to go at that event.
12:00 - November 20, 2020
The third round of the Joburg Open is well underway and currently live on Sky Sports. JB Hansen has hit the front, after a terrific front nine, and I'll be back later with a look at the event at the close of play but for now I'm concentrating on the PGA Tour action where there's been a fairly sizable draw bias...
We've reached the halfway stage of the RSM Classic and there are ten players within six strokes of Robert Streb's lead and only one of them, Kevin Kisner, played the Seaside Course yesterday.
On a tough and windy first day, the Seaside Course played slightly easier than the Plantation Course - averaging fractionally below its par of 70 at 69.88, whereas the Plantation averaged 72.59, more than half a stroke above its par of 72, but it was a completely different story yesterday. The Seaside averaged 68.68 (1.32 below par) and the Plantation averaged 70.07 (1.93 below par) so the longer course played more than two and half strokes easier yesterday than it did on Thursday.
The field now play the Seaside Course over the weekend and here's the latest standings with prices to back at 11:50.
Robert Streb -14 5.85/1
Camilo Villegas -12 11.010/1
Patton Kizzire -11 11.5
Bronson Burgoon -11 23.022/1
Harris English -10 6.05/1
Kyle Stanley -10 23.022/1
Zach Johnson -9 16.5
Kevin Kisner -8 20.019/1
Emiliano Grillo -8 40.039/1
Bernd Wiesberger -8 46.045/1
-7 and 60.059/1 bar
The last four winners were all in front at this stage, which is a positive for the 2014 winner, Streb, but I certainly wouldn't rule out an off the pace winner. Austin Cook, who led by a stroke in 2017, kicked on to win by four but the other three all won in extra time and we've witnessed some incredible comebacks here.
Ben Crane was seven adrift at halfway when he won here in 2011, Tommy Gainey trailed by six at this stage (and by seven after three rounds!) in 2012, and Patrick Rodgers lost in a playoff two years ago having began round three fully 12 strokes off the lead!
I'm happy to have boarded the Streb train during the second round, I'm hopeful that 200.0199/1 pre-event pick, Patton Kizzire, can keep going today, and I haven't given up on Wyndham Clark yet either. He sits tied for 22nd and eight off the lead but that's from the wrong side of the draw and he mad an eight on Thursday. Hopefully, he can go low today and I've also added Keith Mitchell at 160.0159/1.
The 2019 Honda Classic has been in the wilderness for a very long time and he came into the event with form figures reading MC-MC-49-MC but this is just his cup of tea and I thought he was overpriced.
18:55 - November 20, 2020
As so often happens during South African events, an afternoon storm caused a lengthy suspension of play at the Joburg Open so we haven't quite reached the halfway stage. A number of players need to return to the course early tomorrow to finish off their second rounds and that includes a couple of players in-contention. Here's the current state of play at 18:50 with prices to back, as well as holes played in round two where applicable.
Jacques Blaauw -13 5.85/1
Wilco Nienaber -12 3.90
JB Hansen -10 8.415/2 (thru 16)
Aaron Cockerill -10 16.015/1
Shaun Norris -9 12.011/1 (thru 15)
Julian Suri -8 32.031/1
Richard Bland -8 27.026/1
Rhys Enoch -8 60.059/1
-7 and 28.027/1 bar
The leader, Jacques Blaauw, was extremely impressive today but looking back at the four 72-hole tournaments played at Randpark this century, using this week's venue, Firethorn, as well as the club's other course, Bushwillow, no halfway leader has gone on to win.
Mathias Gronberg was five off the lead in fifth place at the 2000 South African Open, Shubhankar Sharma sat second, just one off the lead, at the last edition of this event in 2017, Louis Oosthuizen won the South African Open here in December 2018, having trailed by a couple of strokes at halfway and Branden Grace won that event in January, having sat tied for 11th and three off the lead.
At just 20, Wilco Nienaber has an incredibly bright future but it's going to be tough for one so young to contend over the weekend. I'm not for one second saying he can't win but he lost his way quite badly at the Portugal Masters when in-the-mix back in September and having a caddie that's he's only known since Monday isn't a huge plus.
I'm happy to sit this one out for now but the one I came closest to backing was the young Canadian, Aaron Cockerill, who's the only player in the top-five that was drawn Pm-Am over the first two days. With his girlfriend on the bag, Cockerill appears relaxed and he's arguably slightly overpriced at 16.015/1 given his proximity to the lead.
The second round of the RSM Classic is well underway and I've had a small bet on the 2014 winner Robert Streb at 10.5.
Double figures on Streb looks fair. hard to see him not leading at halfway and could be a few clear if he can pick up two more birdies? Steve Rawlings (@SteveThePunter) November 20, 2020
I'll be back tomorrow morning to take another look at this one at the halfway stage.
08:35 - November 20, 2020
The second round of the Joburg Open is well underway and it looks like favourite backers have already had their fingers burnt. Home favourite, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, a pre-tournament 17.016/1 chance, started his first round nicely and he was matched at a low of just 5.24/1 after he'd birdied five of his first six holes but he's gone backwards ever since and at the time of writing, he's languishing outside the top-40 places.
Promising youngster, Wilco Nienaber, and the experienced, Shaun Norris, tied for the lead after round one on eight-under-par and the fast start by Norris was particularly irritating.
Given his solid course form, I backed Norris in the South Africa Open here in January when he could only finish 36th but I was happy to chance him again at 44.043/1 after he shot back-to-back weekend 67s last time out in the competitive ZOZO Championship on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, I didn't get matched.
I probably should have left the event alone and waited to see what today brought but I couldn't resist a small play on Garrick Higgo at 30.029/1 last night. He trails the current leader, Aaron Cockerill, who's started his second round very well, by fully eight strokes so he'll have to get a shift on when he starts his second round later today but he's more than capable. He's one of several that wasn't quite a big enough price to chance before the off but he finished the opening round nicely and I thought 30.029/1 was acceptable.
Over at the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour, Camilo Villegas and Matt Wallace are tied for the lead after they opened up the event with six-under-par 66s on the Seaside Course but with eight players tied for third on -5 and a further ten players just two off the lead, I'm more than happy to let the stagger unwind and see where we are tomorrow.
On a tough first day, the Seaside Course played slightly easier than the Plantation Course - averaging fractionally below it's par of 70 at 69.88, whereas the Plantation averaged 72.59, more than half a stroke above it's par of 72.
Pre-event pick, Patton Kizzire, is amongst those tied for third and one of my three Find Me a 100 Winner selections, Wyndham Clark, sits tied for 31st and just four off the lead - despite a triple-bogey eight on the par five fourth hole on the Plantation Course!
Although only alongside Clark in a tie for 31st, Webb Simpson still heads the market but he's now 12.011/1 to back, showing just how open the event is.
I'll be back this evening or first thing in the morning with a look a the state of play at the Joburg open at the halfway way point.
Joburg Open Pre-Event Selections:
Daniel van Tonder @ 28.027/1
Masahiro Kawamura @ 65.064/1
Ross McGowan @ 200.0199/1
RSM Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Doc Redman @ 80.079/1
Stewart Cink @ 180.0179/1
Patton Kizzire @ 200.0199/1
James Hahn @ 200.0199/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections
Back Wyndham Clark 1u @ 200.0199/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1
Back Harry Higgs 1u @ 210.0209/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1
Back Kristoffer Ventura 1u @ 210.0209/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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