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The Punter's De-Brief: Sensational Sharma wins again and Woodland ends a five year barren spell

Gary Woodland with the Phoenix Open trophy
Gary Woodland with the Phoenix Open trophy
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Our man takes his customary look back at all last week's golf action where there were wins for Shubhankar Sharma in Malaysia and Gary Woodland in Arizona...

“TPC Scottsdale is a hard place to convert from the front. Rickie Fowler became the eighth 54-hole leader in nine years to fail and questions are going to be asked about his ability to close again.”

Less than a month after winning his first European Tour title in just his 10th start, at the Joburg Open in South Africa, Shubhankar Sharma has won his second event in just his 13th start. The talented 21-year-old, who Joe Dyer tipped up in the each-way column at 60/1, began the final round of the Maybank Championship four shots off the lead but on a tricky, windy day, he fired in a bogey-free 10-under-par 62 when the next best score was 66!

Spain's Jorge Campillo, began the day tied for the lead and he eagled the first to hit a low of [2.24] but he couldn't live with Sharma on the back-nine and the wait for his first European Tour title continues. Campillo settled for solo second, two strokes behind Sharma.

The Indian was well-touted and nicely backed in the lead up to the event but he hit a high of [190.0] in-running.

Over in the States, Gary Woodland, who was generally a [70.0] chance before the off, also won from off the pace at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Trading at around [42.0] before the fourth and final round, Woodland finished the tournament nicely with birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to post an 18-under-par total. He missed a great chance to birdie the 72nd hole too but it still looked like he'd done enough. He was matched for around £200k at [1.12] and below, hitting a low of [1.03], but playing in the final thee-ball, after bogeying 16, Chez Reavie birdied 17 and then did this on 18.

It was the fourth week in-a-row that the PGA Tour event had ran in to extra time but those who had piled in to Woodland at long odds-on didn't have long to sweat. Reavie hit a low of [1.55] after Woodland hit a poor drive but he failed to get-up-and-down for par after a poor approach shot and Woodland was able to tap in for par and his first win for five years.

Although only three off the lead before the final round, Woodland was the first winner in more than 20 years to be outside the top-six places with a round to go and he was also the first Phoenix Open winner ever to record a triple-bogey (on Friday) or worse on his way to victory.


My Bets

After a cracking start to the year, I can't for one moment complain but last week felt like a week of missed opportunities. Having prepared both previews before I went away a week last Saturday, I e-mailed myself the following on the Friday before the two tournaments began. "Hend and the Indian fella and Rahm in Phoenix if a decent price."

I arrived back in England late on Wednesday night and backed Hend (who missed the cut) but skipped Sharma as his price had been slashed. And when I looked at the in-play market on Saturday night, prior to round four, I saw Sharma trading at [70.0] but in my wisdom, I decided that- that was a bit on the skinny side!

After the disappointment of missing out on Sharma, and after seeing my in-play picks (apart from Phil Mickelson) fall away almost immediately in round four, I spent most of last night hoping that Rahm could power home but it wasn't to be. I very nearly backed Woodland as he played the par five 15th at [5.2] as by then it was a three-man race between him, Reavie and the ultimately disappointing Rickie Fowler, but I'd had enough by then and decided to just watch the event play out.

With hindsight, that was a mistake, but I was tired and not really on top of my game, and although I thought he was the value at the time, I couldn't help feeling that I was better of not getting involved.

What Have We Learned This Week?

TPC Scottsdale is a hard place to convert from the front. Rickie Fowler became the eighth 54-hole leader in nine years to fail and questions are going to be asked about his ability to close again.

Although he's won on three of the eight occasions he's led with a round to go, his record is only one from six on the PGA Tour and he did appear to play defensively from the tee yesterday. Having hit a low of [2.14] in-running (another opportunity missed) he finished very poorly indeed to finish tied 11th.

I don't want to draw too many conclusions from Fowler's lacklustre performance over the weekend and he was far from the only one to disappoint. Justin Thomas, who fell away tamely on the back-nine on Saturday, was matched at a low of [3.75] after he'd began the third round with six birdies in-a-row and multiple winners, Rahm, Daniel Berger and Xander Schauffele, along with Bryson DeChambeau all finished the event poorly but this was the third time Fowler has messed up a chance to win this title and I suspect he's one to swerve here now.

I've mentioned before about laying players in-the-mix in the place markets and anyone that did so yesterday would have a had great day with the well-fancied pair of Fowler and Rahm both failing to finish inside the top-ten! Fowler traded down to [1.21] in the Top 5 Finish market and Rahm [1.51] so heaven knows how low they went in the Top 10 markets!

We're off Down Under on the European Tour for the second renewal of the World Super 6 and the PGA Tour returns to California for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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