Alex Noren has won from off the pace in France and Francesco Molinari has converted from the front in the States. Our man looks back on their victories here...
“I noticed Noren drift to [50.0] before he even teed off in Paris yesterday and I toyed with topping up but didn’t and I also mulled over backing back my lays in the States and having an early night after Noren had won. I wish I had now obviously.”
It's been a good week for the punters with the Open de France and the Quicken Loans National both going the way of well-fancied Europeans.
Alex Noren was a [19.5] chance before the off in France and Francesco Molinari was only a fraction bigger before the get-go in Maryland. They may have been similarly priced before the two tournaments began but they couldn't have won more differently...
Noren was matched at a high of [320.0] after a slow start in Paris and having trailed by seven with a round to go, he was matched at around [50.0] before he teed off on Sunday and in excess of [200.0] during the final round. His chance looked lost before birdies at 16 and 17 saw him tie for the lead and on a dramatic afternoon, being in the clubhouse, with a score posted, was the place to be. This was Noren's 10th European Tour title.
At the Quicken Loans National, Molinari was matched at no bigger than [25.0] all week long and having began the final round tied for the lead with Mexico's Abraham Ancer, the Italian powered away to claim his first regular PGA Tour event and his first on American soil easily by eight strokes.
Molinari started impressively enough and after he'd made a tricky par save on the par three ninth from 14 feet, he turned in two-under-par before really turned the afterburners on, eagling 10 and birdying 11, 12, 13 and 14. His eight-under-par 62 was the lowest round of the day by two strokes.
Both my pre-event picks missed the cut in France and although [210.0] chance, Sung Kang, finished third in the States, he was never really in with a shout and I was daft enough not to play him each-way.
I didn't get back from my holiday until the early hours on Sunday, so I didn't get involved in-running at either event until yesterday and it transpired to be a day of mixed fortunes.
As highlighted in yesterday's In-Play Blog, I backed Noren in France at [40.0] so that was a great result but I gave most of my winnings back by laying Molinari so it was a winning week but only just and it felt like it should have been a much better one.
I noticed Noren drift to [50.0] before he even teed off in Paris yesterday and I toyed with topping up but didn't and I also mulled over backing back my lays in the States and having an early night after Noren had won. I wish I had now obviously.
High drama in Paris yet again
If the majority of Ryder Cup ties get to the last four holes in September we're in for a real treat. After the par five 14th, the finish at Le Golf National is brutal and the last four holes combined at this year's Open de France averaged more than a stroke over-par for the week, with the par four finishing hole proving a real round wrecker - averaging 4.51.
The likes of Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Julian Suri, who needed only a par to win, all found water and poor Chris Wood had virtually no chance of recording the birdie there that he needed to take the tournament into extra time. There were only four birdies there all day yesterday.
I quite like Wayne 'Radar' Riley on Sky Sports and although he was absolutely correct to suggest we need the Jaws theme in the background as the players play the finishing stretch, he couldn't have been more wrong when he described the course as a good one for frontrunners.
Marcus Kinhult became the eighth leader of the Open de France with a round to go to get beat in the last ten years and he was one of five players to trade at odds-on yesterday. It's a trader's dream not a frontrunners track.
Kinult was matched at a low of [1.88] early on in the final round, Rahm hit [1.98] before he imploded on the 12th, Suri was matched at [1.95] and Wood traded all the way down to [1.45] before bogeys at 15 and 17 did for his chances. It's a really difficult finish and once again, posting a score and waiting for the rest to fail was the way the title was decided.
Noren doubles up from off the pace again
The Open de France was the 11th Rolex Series event and it felt like we were starting over given Noren won the very first one, the BMW PGA Championship, last May. And he won it in very similar circumstances too. As was the case yesterday before the final round, Noren trailed by seven at Wentworth and he's most definitely one to keep an eye on from off the pace.
A really strong trend is emerging with these Rolex Series events now. Only one of the 11 Series events to date has been won by a triple-figure priced outsider (Thorbjorn Olesen - Italian Open) and nine of the 11 winners have gone off at no bigger than [25.0] so it looks like we should be concentrating hard on the market leaders for this week's Irish Open, which I'll preview tomorrow, and I'll try and get my Greenbrier Classic preview published later today.
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