The Punter's De-Brief: Outsiders grab the spoils

Jason Dufner with the Memorial Tournament trophy
Jason Dufner with the Memorial Tournament trophy

Our man looks back on a nearly week of golf trading where there were wins for Italy's Renato Paratore and Ohio's Jason Dufner. Read his customary look back on an entertaining but frustrating week here...

“It was a gamble to wait until Bubba had played the seventh but I’ve no regrets. I’d rather have a tactical plan that fails than no plan and I generally try and get a selection to odds-on before I lay anything back on a Sunday.”

It was a matter of when and not if 20-year-old Italian, Renato Paratore, would win on the European Tour and yesterday's victory at the Nordea Masters should be the first of many.

He got a little lucky on 18 yesterday when his errant drive finished up a yard away from an unplayable spot in the trees and at that point, my in-play pick, Chris Wood, hit a low of 1.42/5 but the young Italian held his nerve brilliantly after two poor recent efforts in-contention and after a series of brave putts, he deserved his break and the win.

Matched before the off at a whopping 260.0259/1 on the Betfair Exchange, Paratore was still available to back at around 9.08/1 before round four - despite being just a stroke off the lead.

Over in the States, Jason Dufner, who was matched at 100.099/1 before the off, and at 40.039/1 early on in round four, rebounded brilliantly after his awful 77 on Saturday to win the Memorial Tournament by a comfortable three strokes in the end.

The final round was spoilt somewhat by a pair of weather delays and we were into the early hours in the UK by the time Dufner drained a 40 foot par save on the 72nd hole to seal the deal but it had been an entertaining evening before the weather broke.

Third round leader, Daniel Summerhays, had started slowly and it was one of my pre-event picks, Bubba Watson, who took up the early running with three birdies in the first six holes. Bubba was matched at just 2.77/4, Summerhays was matched at 2.829/5, and Rickie Fowler, who Dave Tindall had tipped at 33/1, hit a low of 2.021/1, but the winner was the only player to hit odds-on.

My Bets

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I layed the first and second in the betting, Summerhays and Matt Kuchar, before the final round in the States yesterday but that was the only silver lining on what was so nearly a fantastic week.

My big fancy for the week in Sweden was Thorbjørn Olesen and he hit the front on Saturday but finished the week in a tie for fourth. The Dane didn't have his A game with him yesterday so I was glad he held on for a place in the end.

Olesen had hit a low of 2.77/4 on Saturday and that was the same price that Bubba dipped to yesterday, so given I'd backed the pair at 50/1 and 120.0119/1 respectively, I should have had a really good week trading wise but that wasn't the case.

I was waiting for Olesen to dip below 2.56/4 to lay him on Saturday and had he not bogeyed the 14th hole I'm sure he would have done so that was frustrating and so was Bubba's play on the seventh hole yesterday.

Watson's length means he's always a good candidate for a birdie or better on a par five and so after he'd birdied the sixth hole to take up the running, waiting for him to play the par five seventh made sense. He'd stated that he didn't like the par threes around Muirfield so I planned to lay him after he'd played the seventh and before he teed off at the par three eighth hole.

Bubba found the fairway off the tee on seven but his approach shot was awful and after what was a decent enough recovery shot from an awful spot in the rough, he failed to two-putt for par from 63 feet. He went on to bogey the eighth and the rest is history. It was a gamble to wait until he'd played the seventh but I've no regrets. I'd rather have a tactical plan that fails than no plan and I generally try and get a selection to odds-on before I lay anything back on a Sunday.

Just to rub salt into the wounds, Dufner had been my headline selection in the event in both 2015 and 2016 so all in all, I've had better weeks!

What Have We Learned This Week?

I really enjoyed Barsebäck Golf & Country Club, the venue for the Nordea Masters, and I really hope we'll be back there soon. My memory of the track from 2009 was hazy so it was great to reacquaint.

Before the off I'd favoured links exponents and that wasn't an awful tactic. A number of the main protagonists had fine links pedigrees but if the truth be told, there are only three exposed links holes and the course is more tree-lined than it is linksy.

Maybe that's why the likes of Olesen, Wood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, George Coetzee and Jeunghun Wang all figured? Olesen's last individual win was at the tree-lined Carya Golf Club in Turkey last year, Wood has won at Wentworth, Fitzpatrick's maiden win was at Woburn in 2015, Coetzee won the Tshwane Open at the tight and tree-lined Pretoria Country Club last year and Wang's first European Tour win was the Hassan Trophée II at another tree-lined venue - Royal Golf Dar Es Salem in Morocco.

I haven't as yet been able to establish when we go back to Barsebäck but when we do, players with links and tree-lined course form in their CVs will be well worth siding with on the evidence of this year's result.

With the US Open now less than a fortnight away, we have the fairly low key Lyoness Open on the European Tour to look forward this week and the traditional US Open warm-up event, the St. Jude Classic, in the States. I'll be back with previews tonight or tomorrow.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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