Steve looks back at an eventful and successful week's golf trading with lessons learned for the future. Read our man's customary look back at all the action here...
“David Lingmerth can evidently find form from seemingly nowhere and he clearly has the mental fortitude for a scrap so he’ll make for the ideal wager at huge odds before the off and he’s one to side with whenever he gets in-the-mix.”
After a tough run for punters on the European Tour, with triple-figure priced outsiders winning four of the last five events, second favourite, Alex Noren, brought some respite with a facile victory at the Nordea Masters. The Swede had cruised to victory in the event in 2011 and after his closest challenger, Maximilian Kieffer, had double-bogeyed both the 4th and 5th holes, he was able to double-up in style, eventually finishing four strokes ahead of last week's winner, Søren Kjeldsen.
When Hideki Matsuyama beat Kevin Na in extra time 12 months ago, there hadn't been a playoff at the Memorial Tournament for 21 years but now we've had two on the trot, with huge outsider, David Lingmerth, edging out Justin Rose at the third extra hole.
Just a week after Steven Bowditch (matched at 890.0889/1) had confounded the vast majority of golf backers by winning the AT & T Byron Nelson, Lingmerth produced another massive surprise on the PGA Tour.
The Swede was matched at a high of 770.0769/1 before the off and he could arguably have been matched at higher! The Florida-based 27-year-old was looking for his first win on the PGA Tour and he'd missed four of his previous five cuts so he wasn't the most obvious candidate.
None of my pre-event picks in Sweden impressed and my only pick before the off at the Memorial, Jason Dufner, was bitterly disappointing over the weekend. He began the third round just a stroke behind the halfway leader, Lingmerth, but rounds of 74 and 75 saw him tumble outside the top-20. Things went very well in-running though...
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I managed to get Noren onside on Friday and I didn't lay anything back on him until he hit 1.330/100, so that was a nice result and although he just came up short, my halfway pick at the Memorial, Justin Rose, provided plenty of profit, as did a busy night of trading yesterday...
Having layed Rose before round four at 1.695/7, I was in a nice position but I decided to jeopardise that by laying Francesco Molinari at odds-on when he went a couple of shots clear around the turn. The Italian is a notorious weak finisher and having taken him on at all rates down to his low of 1.75/7, once he'd found water on the 16th hole, I was always going to have a very nice week.
In addition to laying Molly, I also backed Jordan Spieth, when he birdied the last to post -13, a total that ultimately fell two short. At the time, Rose looked to be going nowhere, the eventual winner was only on -12 and I really fancied Molinari to flop so it made sense.
Lingmerth was matched at just 1.182/11 in regulation play when it looked highly likely that Rose would bogey the last but a tremendous up-and-down from the rough meant extra time.
I'd resigned myself to Lingmerth winning, so when another chance presented itself I decided to back the Swede at 2.35/4 before the playoff began to level things off more. Rose would still have been the slightly better result, and when he curled in a 20-footer for par on the first extra-hole I thought he looked the most likely to win and his price dipped to around 1.330/100 but Lingmerth matched him and rolled in his own par save from around ten feet.
What Have We Learned This Week?
At the Nordea Masters, wind was very much a factor and given the courses location, I'm sure it will be again. In addition to form at the Dubai Desert Classic, I'd also consider strong links exponents, as the commentators mentioned a few times how linksy the course felt, and given Noren has now won at both venues, I'd also look at the form at Bro Hof Slott, another exposed wind-affected venue, which hosted the event between 2010 and 2013.
With no previous form to speak of this season, no course form of note (57th and 49th in 2013) and at just 27 years of age, Lingmerth was incredibly difficult to find before the off. There have been a number of shock results in the Memorial Tournament but this one trumps the lot. In-running trends prevailed though and yet again tremendous trading opportunities arose yesterday.
Rose failing to convert from three in front wasn't a surprise given the stats and he's now the fifth man to lead by at least three strokes and the fourth to fail to convert in the last nine years and over that period, only two of ten 54 hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win.
Given Molinari began the week as the straightest hitter on the PGA Tour; I'd definitely looked to the Driving Accuracy stats again. The fairways are generous but the rough at Muirfield is very lush and a missed fairway nearly always spells trouble.
Look Out For the Bounce-Back
Yet again we witnessed a halfway leader lose his place at the top of the leaderboard but bounce-back to win on Sunday. I'll be previewing the Lyoness Open tomorrow but I can vividly remember last year's renewal when another Swede, Mikael Lundberg, was matched at 200.0199/1 after he'd lost his halfway lead to trail with a round to go before, like Lingmerth, he rebounded to win in a playoff. Lingmerth wasn't a huge price like Lundberg but it's definitely something to look out for.
Solid Lingmerth Well Worth Following
Given I witnessed his playoff defeat at the Humana Challenge in 2013 and his near miss at the Players Championship later that year, I already knew Lingmerth had a bit of bottle so I was a bit too dismissive of his chances over the weekend but I didn't expect him to show quite the level of guts he did yesterday.
Even though Rose would have been a slightly better result financially, I couldn't help but feel he got what he deserved when he matched Rose's par save at the first extra hole and all things considered, he was the more deserved winner.
He can evidently find form from seemingly nowhere and he clearly has the mental fortitude for a scrap so he'll make for the ideal wager at huge odds before the off and he's one to side with whenever he gets in-the-mix.
I'll be back this evening with my St Jude Classic preview and I'll take a look at the Lyoness Open tomorrow.
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