The Punter's De-Brief: Long odds-on shots turned over on both Tours
Favourite, Matthew Fitzpatrick, has won the Omega European Masters and outsider, Keegan Bradley, has won the BMW Championship after both events went to a playoff. Read our man's take on all the action here...
“It’s always easier to chase and to chase with nothing to lose is easier again so I have to wonder how Bradley would have fared had he been in Rose’s position after 54 holes. Even without the added pressure of becoming world number one. Golfers must look back at their careers and ponder what was and what might have been and some have some absolutely rotten luck but not Bradley. This was his fourth career win and all four have had varying degrees of good fortune attached to them.”
The Omega European Masters never fails to entertain and for the fifth time in six years the tournament went to a playoff which was eventually won, for the second year in-a-row, by pre-tournament 12/1 shot and favourite, Matthew Fitzpatrick, but there was much drama before he could be crowned as the first back-to-back winner since Seve 40 years earlier.
Frenchman, Michael Lorenza-Vera, a pre-event [110.0] chance looking for his first European Tour win in his 167th start, was matched at just [1.5] after he rolled in a birdie putt on the par three 13th to take the lead with two par fives to come but disaster struck at the very next hole when he made what transpired to be a very poor choice with his second shot. Having missed the fairway on the par five 14th, he was faced with chipping out and playing the hole as a traditional three-shot hole or going for the green in two. With trees left, water right, and OB and trees long of the green, the latter seemed a very risky play but MLV felt the gamble was worth the risk. It wasn't.
Having seen his approach race through the green he took an unplayable drop from the trees before three-putting to make a double-bogey seven to hand the initiative to Paul Krishnamurty's each-way fancy and my pre-event pick, Lucas Bjerregaard.
To his credit, the Dane finished the tournament immaculately, birdying the par five 14th and 15th holes and parring in to post a seven-under-par 63 that looked good enough to hand him the title. He was backed down to [1.1] in-running but he was collared at the death by the defending champ.
Fitzpatrick had been matched at higher than his SP when he rammed a birdie putt attempt miles by at the par three 13th and he still looked to have too much on his plate when he failed to birdie 14 but he composed himself magnificently to birdie 15 and 18 before beating Bjerregaard at the first extra hole with this never-in-doubt birdie putt.
So bad was the rain on Sunday in Philadelphia that we didn't see a stroke played at the BMW Championship and a 54 hole tournament was odds-on. In fact, the event going to 72 holes was matched at a high of [4.0] when the market was first opened yesterday morning but the rain stayed away long enough to prepare the course and we were treated to a fascinating and exciting finale.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy began the final round dominating the market but both looked to have lost their chance as the day wore on. Justin just didn't give himself enough opportunities and Rory's putter misbehaved again.
One of my in-play picks, and one of Paul's Find Me a 100 Winner selections, Billy Horschel, put in a charge and he was matched at just [3.3] but it was Keegan Bradley that looked to have timed his run best as he birdied 14, 16 and 17. The pre-event [210.0] chance, who had begun the week ranked 52nd in the FedEx Cup standings and in need of a decent week to get in to the top-30 to play at East Lake in two weeks, was matched at just [1.1] as he stood on the 18th tee with a two-stroke lead but everything changed very quickly.
Bradley missed the fairway off the tee and ended up making bogey, just as Rose birdied 16 and 17 to take the lead. Having safely found the fairway on 18, nearly £200,000 was matched on the Englishman at [1.1] and below and he hit a low of [1.03] but he duffed his approach and his chip on to the green before this par safe for the title lipped out.
Justin Rose ... for the win ... pic.twitter.com/eRYqLVnCgS? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 10, 2018
Both men missed the green with their approach shots in extra time and Keegan took the title when Rose failed to get-up-down, missing his first putt inside five feet all week. He'd successfully converted the first 48.
By finishing second, Rose has now climbed to number one in the world rankings, becoming the third oldest player to do so behind Vijay Singh and Tom Lehman.
Having backed Fitzpatrick before the start, it's been a decent week but it could and perhaps should have been much better.
I'd also backed Bjerregaard before the off and he stood to win me far more than Fitzpatrick and having traded to a miniscule profit at the BMW, with hindsight, I definitely should have won more there too.
The only reason I didn't back Rose after the opening round at around [30.0] was that he always lets me down and if I had backed him I could have made that claim again but not before laying him off for a chunky profit.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I began round four opposing Rose and McIlroy but when they both drifted and Horschel, who I'd backed after round one at [34.0], threw his hat in the ring, I decided to level things off and have a stress-free evening. With hindsight, that wasn't the greatest decision ever made given the market carnage that ensued but with both Horschel and Zander Schauffele, who I'd backed at [21.0], in-the-mix, I was happy to just see what happened. Those two finished tied for third in the end, beaten just a stroke.
Fine Margins and Lady Luck
Rose received a bit of stick on-line for his finish and let's be frank, it was poor, but it wasn't a surprise. Golf is hard and golf under the utmost pressure is harder still and having reflected on the result, you have to feel for him. Sitting on the lead for more than 24 hours, with the knowledge that a win would see you reach one of your lifelong ambitions couldn't have been easy and he did brilliantly to give himself a chance in the end.
It's always easier to chase and to chase with nothing to lose is easier again so I have to wonder how Bradley would have fared had he been in Rose's position after 54 holes. Even without the added pressure of becoming world number one. Golfers must look back at their careers and ponder what was and what might have been and some have some absolutely rotten luck but not Bradley. This was his fourth career win and all four have had varying degrees of good fortune attached to them.
He won his first title in extra time at the 2011 Byron Nelson when he narrowly missed the water at the first extra hole with his approach shot before Ryan Palmer found it, he somehow won the US PGA a couple of months later in a playoff, having trailed by five with three to play, following a triple-bogey at the 15th hole, and he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2012 after Jim Furyk, threw the event away at the 72nd hole having traded at just [1.14]. Keegan is a brilliant tee-to-green player but a player who often performs poorly in-contention but he certainly doesn't suffer with bad luck and just to emphasise that emphatically, here's his birdie putt on six yesterday. Rose backers can quite rightly feel aggrieved.
The PGA Tour is having a week off so we've only got action from the European Tour this week and I'll be back later today with my KLM Open preview.
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