Robert Streb has won his second RSM Classic title and JB Hansen has got off the mark on the European Tour. Our man looks back at their victories here...
"In addition to the fourth playoff in five years, we also saw the fifth straight halfway leader convert at the RSM Classic and the fifth third round leader in six to go on to win, but this remains an event in which an off the pace winner is highly probable."
Pre-event 40.039/1 chance, Wilco Nienaber, who was matched at a high of 46.045/1 before the off, began the final round of the Joburg Open with a one-stroke lead over 30-year-old Dane, JB Hansen. The big-hitting 20- year-old South African, who only turned pro in July last year, extended his lead to three as they made the turn and he was matched at a low of 1.121/8. Slowly but surely, however, despite a fairly ragged long game, Hansen reeled the youngster in.
In search of his first European Tour title, Hansen birdied 10, 12 and 14 to draw alongside Nienaber and after the pair had made matching pars at 15 and 16, the youngster was the first to crack when a wild tee-shot at the par three 17th led to a bogey four. Hansen, who had drifted out to 60.059/1 from 50.049/1 on Wednesday, kept his calm brilliantly, parring 17 and 18 to win by two as Nienaber followed the dropped shot at 17 with another on 18.
Over on the PGA Tour, for the fourth year in five, the 11th edition of the RSM Classic went to extra time after a dramatic final day and a terrific fightback by the third-round leader, Robert Streb.
Streb, a pre-event 1000.0 shot, despite the fact that his only previous PGA Tour success had been in this event in 2014, started nicely enough, playing the front-nine in two-under-par, and he was matched at 1.68/13 before a huge turning point came as he played the par four 13th...
As is so often the case in this event, a number of players rallied from off the pace and the likes of Harris English, Camilo Villegas, Bernd Wiesberger and Cameron Tringale all threatened to post a score but it was the 2015 winner, Kevin Kisner, who pushed Streb the hardest.
The pre-tournament 50.049/1 chance, who was matched at a high of 60.059/1 before the off, raced to six-under-par for the day when he birdied the par four 13th to get to within two of Streb but after an overly aggressive approach shot on the tough par four 14th, he looked odds-on to drop a shot.
Kisner ranked number one for Scrambling for the week and he'd gotten up-and-down on all 16 occasions he'd missed the greens prior to the 14th on Sunday but after using his putter from down deep in the dell behind the 14th green, he left himself almost 18 feet from the fringe to make it 17 from 17.
Streb, meanwhile, had missed the 13th green with his approach but after a deft touch with the wedge, he only had five feet to salvage par. It was odds-on that the leader would extend his lead to three but Kisner's par save dropped in on the very last roll and Streb missed his. All of a sudden, the pair were tied and the momentum had shifted from the 2014 champ to the 2015 winner.
Kisner then birdied the par five 15th (the easiest hole on the course) despite finding sand off the tee and when Streb three-putted the 15th for par, Kisner, with just a one-stroke lead, was matched at 1.152/13 for the win.
In addition to the five-footer for par at 13, Streb also missed another of that length for birdie at 15 and an eight-foot birdie putt at 16. It really was starting to look like a done deal but to his credit, Streb hit a brilliant tee-shot at the par three 17th (the second hardest hole on the course) before rolling in the birdie putt from 11 feet to tie. He then parred the last and holed a nine-foot par save at the first extra hole to extend the playoff before sealing the deal with this stunning second shot at the second extra hole.
It's been a nicely profitable week but a frustrating one too. I tried to back both Shaun Norris, who finished third, at 44.043/1, and the winner, at 60.059/1 at the Joburg Open but cancelled the bets after not getting matched by the time my preview was posted on Tuesday. Hansen then went out to 60.059/1 on Wednesday but I did at least make a small profit thanks to this yesterday.
Happy to throw a few pounds at Hansen at 5.0. Two man race now? Steve Rawlings (@SteveThePunter) November 22, 2020
The RSM Classic was a hectic event to trade yesterday and having backed Streb on Friday at 10.5, and as highlighted in the In-Play blog, Tringale at 130.0129/1 yesterday morning, the presence of Kisner was a huge irritation.
In addition to Streb and Tringale, I added English, Villegas and Wiesberger early on in round four as they made their moves but Kisner was always a lot shorter in price than I felt he should be. I managed to lay Tringale back a couple of times, at 7.613/2 and 6.05/1, and I eventually got Kisner onside at just 3.613/5 before the big turning point on the back-nine, to ensure a profitable tournament. But it would have been a cracking result had he not got involved. Or if Tringale had made just one more birdie to make the playoff.
What Have We Learned This Week?
The RSM Classic is a similar event to the recent Bermuda Championship, won by an out of form Brain Gay at a huge price, who relished the short, blustery coastal test. With the benefit of hindsight, it's astonishing to think a previous winner was matched at 1000.0 before the off and I wonder how many more past champions will double-up here now? It's clearly a track that suits a certain type of player.
It's also worth bearing in mind, come April, just how poorly those who were in contention at the US Masters performed. Kevin Kisner had missed the cut at Augusta, Wiesberger had finished way down the field in 58th, Andrew Landry, who finished tied for fourth here had shot 78 - 82 last week and Zach Johnson, who finished tied for sixth at the RSM, had finished 51st in the US Masters.
Canada's Corey Conners finished tied for 10th at both events but he was the only player to perform fairly well at both and we saw some really poor efforts from a lot of quality players.
In addition to the fourth playoff in five years, we also saw the fifth straight halfway leader convert at the RSM Classic and the fifth third round leader in six to go on to win, but this remains an event in which an off the pace winner is highly probable. Tringale, for example, hit a low of 4.94/1 yesterday having touched a 1000.0 after parring his first four holes.
There's no PGA Tour event this week but we do have a great event to look forward to on the European Tour. The Alfred Dunhill Championship is always a pleasure to watch and I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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