The Punter's De-brief: Knapp survives shaky start in Mexico

Golfer Jake Knapp
Jake Knapp wins the Mexican Open

PGA Tour rookie, Jake Knapp, has won the Mexico Open and Darius Van Driel claims the Kenya Open. Our man's back to look back on their victories here.

  • First time winners on both Tours

  • 60.059/1 shot Knapp wins in Mexico

  • Read my SDC Championship preview here!

  • Pre-event 60.059/1 chance, Jake Knapp, began the fourth and final round of the Mexico Open leading by four over Finland's Sami Valimaki, and with a gap of three further strokes to the trio of pre-event longshots tied for third, the 29-year-old was a very hot favourite to convert.

    Trading at around 1.321/3, Knapp looked correctly priced given 71.6% of four-stroke 54-hole leaders had gone on to convert on the PGA Tour since 1996 but long odds-on backers endured a long and torrid final round.

    Knapp bogeyed two of the first three holes, the gap was down to just one when Valimaki birdied the fourth, and after the leading pair had parred both five and six, it looked like the momentum was swinging in favour of the Finn.

    Valimaki hit his tee shot on the drivable par four sixth to within just six feet as Knapp found a tricky spot in a greenside bunker and having began round four trailing by four and trading at 6.611/2 the pre-event 140.0139/1 chance was matched at a low of 1.855/6.

    To his credit, Knapp played a brilliant long bunker shot to within four feet and he tapped in for a birdie three, moments after Valimaki had hit the front with an eagle two.

    Jake Knapp in Mexico.jpg

    Valimaki, who was attempting to become the first Finn to win on the PGA Tour, then made a bogey at the tenth after finding water off the tee, but he was back tied for the lead after a birdie at the par five 12th.

    It looked like a tough tournament to call with just half-a-dozen holes to play but a bogey at 13 for Valimaki and a birdie at 15 for Knapp saw the gap open back out to two and that's the way it ended.

    With so much on the line, neither man played especially well on the way in but Knapp caught a number of breaks off the tee and he scrambled just that bit better than the Finn.

    It was a gutsy performance after such a shaky start and he was very much the deserved winner.

    It was the first time Knapp had played the event but he's the third winner in-a-row to give it a good whack off the tee.

    Jon Rahm won the inaugural edition ranking first for Driving Distance, Tony Finau ranked 11th last year when winning and Knapp ranked second. Power off the tee is hugely beneficial at Vidanta.

    Van Driel gets off the mark

    Having shot the lowest round of the day on Sunday last year, pre-event 65.064/1 chance, Darius Van Driel, who was matched at a high of 85.084/1, hit the lowest round of the day on day one of the Kenya Open and he was never headed after that.

    The 34-year-old was tied for the lead with Connor Syme and Tapio Pulkkanen, and trading at 9.617/2, at halfway and he was tied at the top with Manuel Elvira through 54-holes.

    The market made the Spaniard favourite at 3.8514/5, with Van Driel trading at around 3.412/5 and it looked like the market may have been correct when Elvira nudged in front with a birdie two at the par three second.

    Van Driel drew back alongside Elvira with a birdie at the seventh and after a birdie and a bogey at eight and nine for Elvira, the pair were tied at the turn with three others - Connor Syme, Mauel's brother, Nacho, and Spain's Adrian Otaegui, but he only had one hole to play.

    It looked like being a tough event to call and drama on the back-nine looked inevitable, but Van Driel seized control with this brilliant eagle at the par five tenth to move two clear.

    Van Driel dropped a shot after missing the green and short siding himself on the par three 11th but he holed another monster putt on 12 for a birdie three and he never looked like losing after that.

    Matthew Jordan got to within a stroke with a birdie at the par four 17th but he drove out of bounds off the tee on 18 and after a string of five straight pars, Van Driel went on to birdie the last to win by two over Nacho Elvira and England's Joe Dean.

    Van Driel's story is a good one given he only returned to the Tour via Q School last year and that this was his first victory on the DP World Tour but Joe Dean's was quite remarkable too given he's been working as delivery driver for Morrisons to make ends meet!

    My Find Me a 100 Winner, Ryan Van Velzen, comfortably met the first lay back target of 10.09/1 and that was as good as it got for me betting-wise but that didn't stop me from enjoying the event.

    Muthaiga is a fabulous little course that reminds me of Delhi Country Club and Fanling in Hong Kong (two venues we don't get to see on the DP World Tour anymore) and it's a very different test to the predictable and boring one in Mexico.

    Bombing it off the tee gets you nowhere at Muthaiga where patience and a straight game are the keys to success.

    Now read my Cognizant Classic preview here!

    *You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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