The Punter's De-Brief: Hungry Higgo gobbles up another win

Golfer Jonathan Caldwell
Jonathan Caldwell with the Scandinavian Mixed trophy

Garrick Higgo has won his first event on the PGA Tour and Jonathan Caldwell is off the mark in Europe. Steve takes his customary Monday lookback at the two tournaments here...

“Having been matched at 1000.0 and having been a general 160.0159/1 chance last week, Higgo’s now trading at half that price to win the US Open.”

Pre-event 600.0599/1 chance, Chesson Hadley, returned to the course early on Sunday to finish up his third round at the Palmetto Championship and he missed a five foot birdie putt to take a five-stroke lead into the final round. It was a miss that ultimately proved to be costly.

After a scruffy start to his final round and a fast one by Harris English, Hadley's four-stroke advantage had disappeared after three holes and English was matched at a low of just 1.618/13 when he made his third birdie in-a-row at the par five fifth but he lost his way badly after that, eventually shooting a three-over-par 74 to finish tied for 14th!

Hadley recovered reasonably well after his shaky start but he was never comfortable. He'd missed his previous five cuts, and nine of his last 11, so it wasn't a surprise to see him struggle but he managed his game well and he was matched at just 1.171/6 as he looked like limping over the line, leading by two with three to play.

It was quite painful to watch Hadley's finish. Having hung around on Saturday to see if they could finish up their third rounds, before getting up early on Sunday to do so, Hadley and English, playing together in the final pairing, were both running out of steam and after making bogeys at 16 and 17, having his playing partner make a complete mess of the 18th, really didn't help Hadley.

With his wife waiting to greet him, poor Hadley missed his par putt from just inside ten feet on 18 to record his third straight bogey and to slip back into the group of six players tied for second, leaving 22-year-old Garrick Higgo, to lift the trophy after a three-under-par 68.

Having finished tied for 64th at the USPGA Championship in his first start on the PGA Tour, Higgo, a pre-event 60.059/1 chance, is the first player since the 1980's to win his first regular PGA Tour event and having won twice on the European Tour recently, he's now won three of his last six starts. Higgo was ranked 114th in the world rankings in April, he's now up to number 39.

Following recent victories for 48-year-old, Richard Bland and 33-year-old, Marcus Armitage, the run of veteran maidens getting off the mark on the European Tour this year continued yesterday when 27-year-old Northern Irishman, Jonathan Caldwell, made this stunning birdie at his final hole to win the inaugural Scandinavian Mixed by a stroke.

Trailing by three in a tie for 10th with a round to go, Caldwell had begun the event trading at around 160.0159/1 and he was matched at a high of 340.0339/1 in-running but he defied his odds in style on Sunday with a blistering start that saw him race to six-under-par through 11.

Caldwell then really put the cat amongst the pigeons with an eagle two at the drivable par four 14th but with Spain's Adrian Otaegui also charging it looked like the Northern Irishman was going to miss out.

Otaegui was matched at a low of 1.444/9 as he moved through the gears to get to six-under-par through 16 and but for Caldwell's birdie at the last, the Spaniard would probably have won. Otaegui was still the odds-on favourite as he played the final hole but after a great drive, he didn't manage to get close to the pin with his approach and he hit his birdie putt far too hard before missing the return for par.

My Bets

Chez Reavie was a birdie short of meeting his first lay back target for the Find Me a 100 Winner column. Backed at 240.0239/1 before the off, Reavie birdied the first two holes of his third round to eat into Hadley's lead and he was matched at a low of 16.5 but his event was all over at the third when he drove into the water before making a triple-bogey seven.

That was a bit frustrating and so too was Otaegui getting beat in Sweden. As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I backed the Spaniard at 10.09/1 with a round to go but the Palmetto Championship result was a good one.

Having backed Hadley at halfway at 7.06/1 and having backed Higgo at 22.021/1 with a round to go, the finish to the tournament was pretty stress-free but with hindsight, I probably should have layed a bit back on Otaegui and Hadley at long odds-on, but it's much easier after the event. Both looked far and away the most likely winners when they traded so low.

Huge move for Higgo at Torrey Pines

World number one, Dustin Johnson, was matched at just 1.454/9 to win the Palmetto when he drew alongside Hadley with back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 in round two and he was matched at 13.012/1 to win this week's US Open (which I've previewed here) but after his disappointing finish (T10) he's now back out to 19.5.

That could be a bit of an overreaction as he, Hadley and English, were most definitely disadvantaged by the weather on Saturday. They had to hang around all afternoon waiting for a weather window that just didn't open and then they had to get up extra early to finish off the 18th hole on Sunday morning before hanging around all day to start round four.

The eventual winner, Higgo, was lucky enough to just get in on Saturday before the weather broke and that probably won him the tournament. Of course, he may well have won had the third round completed as normal on Saturday but I'm not convinced and he looks quite short now to win the US Open. Having been matched at 1000.0 and having been a general 160.0159/1 chance last week, he's now trading at half that price.

I'll be back tomorrow with the Find Me a 100 Winner column and I'll take a look at the US Open side markets on Wednesday.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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