The Punter's De-Brief: Bjerregaard gets off the mark and Schauffele causes a shock
Our man looks back at another eventful week of golf trading where profits were made with an early play in Portugal and a final round lay in the States. Read Steve's customary look at all the action here...
“Yet again, someone new won the FedEx Cup and Tiger Woods remains the only man to win it twice so Thomas’ success was fairly typical but Schauffele was a winner that went against almost all the trends.”
A week after 26-year-old Frenchman, Romain Wattel, won for the first time on the European Tour, 26-year-old Dane, Lucas Bjerregaard, has won his first official title too. Bjerregaard won the GolfSixes event alongside Thorbjørn Olesen back in May but this was his first official win and it was achieved in fine style.
Bjerregaard was matched at [70.0] last Monday but having been well-supported throughout the week, he went off at around the [50.0] mark and his many followers were never really given any cause for concern. He sat just two off the lead after round one, a stroke adrift in second at halfway, and he soon powered away to convert from the front on Sunday.
Over at the Tour Championship, Xander Schauffele kept his composure brilliantly to take the title, although he did give his supporters a moment's stress with this all-round good putt on the 18th!
Never a doubt. pic.twitter.com/1AiaayBLXg? PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 24, 2017
Schauffele had begun the event trading at around [110.0] but he was matched in-running at a whopping [230.0]. He was still trading at [50.0] when trailing by just two strokes at halfway. His victory was clearly unexpected and it was incredible that he was even in the field. He needed to play the last six holes of the BMW Championship in six-under-par just to make the line-up!
Although matched at a low of [1.81] on Saturday, before he failed to birdie the 18th at the end of round three, Paul Casey wasn't the one to trade the lowest and lose. That honour went to Justin Thomas who was matched at just [1.45] after he'd birdied 17 to tie the lead yesterday and Schauffele had looked odds-on to make bogey at the same hole.
Schauffele made a quite brilliant up-and-down at the penultimate hole and after Thomas could only par the 18th, having missed the fairway off the tee, he was able to claim the title with his birdie four. As for Thomas, his compensation was the $10 million FedEx Cup prize. His second place at East Lake was enough to see him edge past his good friend Jordan Spieth and the Tour Championship winner, Schauffele, finished third, having begun the week in 28th place.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Bjerregaard after round one in Portugal and I layed Paul Casey, who eventually finished fifth, before the final round of the Tour Championship so it's been a nice week.
I did lay some of my Bjerregaard wager back at odds-on but I never regret laying some back when they win. Oh so many look home and hosed before disaster strikes and it's just not worth the stress of sweating all the way to the line.
What Have We Learned This Week?
I'm assuming the Portugal Masters will remain in this new September slot next year and if it does, the days of players threatening to beak 60 around the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course could be over. The rough was again sparse but the greens were faster than they ordinarily are in October when the course is more likely to have at least a smattering of rain.
There was a disparity in the scores of almost two strokes on day one with the afternoon starters disadvantaged. The wind got up fractionally but the main reason was the speed of the greens. It's much harder to find the pins on fast greens as the ball has far more run. In cool early morning conditions, the watered greens are much more receptive and scoring is easier.
In last week's De-brief I wrote about looking to take on players in-the-mix at long odds-on in the Top 5 Finish markets and yet again there was agony for those attempting to buy money when George Coetzee fell from second to tied seventh with a triple-bogey seven at the 72nd hole. George was matched at [1.1].
Yet again, someone new won the FedEx Cup and Tiger Woods remains the only man to win it twice so Thomas' success was fairly typical but Schauffele was a winner that went against almost all the trends.
He was just the third rookie to win twice in the same season since 2000 and to win from as far back as 28th on the FedEx Cup Standing was unusual too. It was the first time in six years that someone outside the top-six in the standings won the event and it was the first time since 2009 that the winner of the Tour Championship didn't win the FedEx Cup. It was also the first time in six years that someone didn't win two of the four playoff tournaments but strong current form and a previous win in the series remains a strong pointer. Look how close Thomas came to making it six players in-a-row to win two playoff events.
East Lake is a great course but it's a brutal test and every year we see lots of change on the leaderboard. Not only did the third round leader, Casey, very nearly drop out of the places but the first round leader, Kyle Stanley, finished the week in a tie for 20th and Webb Simpson, who was tied for the lead at halfway, eventually finished tied for 13th!
Simpson's lofty position on the leaderboard early on reaffirmed the Sedgefield link and Ben Coley, who's well worth a follow on Twitter, looks to have spotted another course correlation. Schauffele's first victory came at the Greenbrier Classic in July around TPC Old White and he's the fourth player (from a fairly small pool of players) to figure prominently in both tournaments. Bill Haas was second in the Greenbrier Classic the year he won the Tour Championship and the runner-up in the Tour Championship in 2015, Danny Lee, had earlier won the Greenbrier Classic. And just to give it one more boost, Kevin Kisner, who played in yesterday's final two-ball having begun the day in a tie for second, was beating in the playoff at the Greenbrier Classic by Lee two years ago.
And finally, is the number one ranking too heavy a burden? Jordan Spieth began the week in pole position but for the fourth time in five years the player ranking number two went on to win the FedEx Cup.
The 2017/18 PGA Tour season kicks off again in two weeks' time with the Safeway Open but we've still got plenty to look forward to. The Presidents Cup begins on Thursday and on the European Tour, we've got the British Masters to enjoy. I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter