Our man looks back at an eventful week in Spain and South Carolina where there were wins for the hot-favourite, Jon Rahm, and the rank outsider, Satoshi Kodaira. Read Steve's customary look back at all the action here...
"Armed with the knowledge that the weather was forecasted to deteriorate as the day went on and being well aware of the historic stats at this tournament, yesterday should have been a magnificent day and not just a good one. It was the sort of day that only comes along once in a blue moon and I’m still smarting."
It's never easy to get enthusiastic about the tournaments that immediately follow a major and it's especially hard after the US Masters, which rarely fails to disappoint, but Jon Rahm's first Open de España victory on the European Tour and Satoshi Kodaira's first PGA Tour win at the RBC Heritage were both brilliant spectacles in their own right and after the Lord Major's show, the dust-cart was conspicuous by its absence.
Rahm had been a well-backed [5.0] favourite to win his national title but he didn't hit the front until early on in round four and it wasn't plain sailing after that either. Paul Dunne, who had been matched in-running at just [2.04], had led after rounds one, two and three but that had been largely thanks to some terrific scrambling and putting so it perhaps wasn't surprising to see him struggle to maintain momentum for a fourth day running and it was Spain's Nacho Elvira that eventually pushed Rahm the hardest on the back-nine.
After back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14, Elvira also hit a low of [2.04] in-running but minutes after Rahm had avoided disaster off the tee on the par three 17th, when his ball hung up on the bank when it could so easily have found a watery grave, Elvira didn't get the lucky break...
Elvira came agonisingly close to holing his chip for a par three before missing his bogey putt and that was the end of that. Rahm is the fifth Spaniard to win the Open de España since Antonio Garrido won the inaugural edition on the European Tour in 1972 and they've all been top-quality players. He follows Seve (three times), Sergio Garcia, Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
I couldn't have been more impressed by Rahm and he's beginning to look like a really special talent. The way he keeps holing the crucial putts and getting the fortunate breaks is Tiger-like and he's one to keep on side, even at what appear to be short prices.
It was a dramatic enough finale in Madrid but it was eclipsed shortly after by what was a quite excruciating finish to the RBC Heritage as poor Si Woo Kim, who had led by a couple at the turn, couldn't hole anything on the back-nine as the predicted stormy weather closed in.
Kim, who was matched at a low of [1.33], had missed putts from 11 feet on 12 and seven feet on 13, before the then went on to miss from between four and eight feet on each of the last four holes. No doubt feeling crushed by his inability to close the event out, it was perhaps inevitable that he went on to lose the playoff at the third extra hole. Having backed him at [120.0] before the off, to say it was frustrating to watch is an understatement of sizable proportions.
Kodaira, who was matched at the beginning of the week at [500.0], was matched at [1000.0] after a slow start saw him trail by nine after round one and he was matched at a high of [700.0] yesterday as he began the final round six off the lead.
One could argue that it was easier to win from off the pace, but given what was at stake - a place on the PGA Tour and a completely new life in the States - Kodaira held his nerve superbly in the playoff and he deserved the win.
I drew a blank at the Open de España but the Heritage result more than made up for that. I'd layed Dustin Johnson to finish inside the top-ten and that never looked likely to happen over the weekend and I was able to trade to a nice profit in the outright market.
I layed Kim back at all rates from [3.1] down to long odds-on and I backed the winner several times too so I shouldn't moan but I feel like I've messed up big time.
Fabulous Opportunity Missed
Shrouded in a monumental post 50th birthday party hangover, and slightly distracted by Manchester City unexpectedly winning the Premier League earlier than expected, it's fair to say I wasn't at my best yesterday, not by a long chalk, but I'm still really cross with how poorly I traded the RBC Heritage yesterday.
I wrote about the opportunities this event gives on a Sunday in the preview and I again mentioned it in the In-Play Blog yesterday morning, writing "four of the last five winners have trailed by four strokes with a round to go and the odd one out, Branden Grace, trailed by three". I backed Matt Kuchar and Ryan Moore, who trailed by five, at [50.0] and [55.0], and I also wrote, "I'll be looking to get onside any movers from even further back than Kuchar and Moore" and yet my first wager on Kodaira, was at [23.0]. He trailed Moore and Kuchar by just a solitary stroke before round four but he was matched at [700.0]!
Armed with the knowledge that the weather was going to deteriorate as the day went on, and being well aware of the historic stats at this tournament, yesterday should have been a magnificent day and not just a good one. It was the sort of day that only comes along once in a blue moon and I'm still smarting.
In the clubhouse is so often the place to be. I recognise that this is all with the benefit of hindsight and the putts missed by Kim were incredible but yet again the market heavily favoured the player out on the course and not the one safely in the clubhouse and it's something to bear in mind for the future - especially when the wind is blowing so hard.
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