The Punter's De-Brief: Rahm storms to impressive Torrey Pines success

Jon Rahm has his first PGA Tour win
Jon Rahm has his first PGA Tour win

It's been a good week for the youngsters, with 21-year-old Korean, Jeunghun Wang, winning in Qatar and 22-year-old Spaniard, Jon Rahm, taking the spoils in the States. Read our man's customary look back at all last week's action here...

“Having had a decent bet on Wang last week in Abu Dhabi, it was obviously very frustrating to see him win this week and Rahm’s victory irked somewhat too. He’s based in Arizona, plays well in the desert and he was high on my shortlist for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.”

A European Tour record was set at the Qatar Masters this week when nine players tied for the lead at the halfway stage but it looked like we were all set for a rather dull fourth and final round after an impressive bogey-free seven-under-par 65 on Saturday saw Korea's Jeunghun Wang take a three-stroke lead into the fourth and final round. Wang birdied the first two holes of round four and was matched at a low of just 1.384/11 but he played the last 16 holes in one-over and we ended up witnessing a great finish and a three-man playoff, with a number of players trading low.

Frenchman, Michael Lorenzo-Vera was matched at just 2.265/4 but drove into the water on the par four 15th and found the lake with his second shot on the 18th. South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl was matched at 1.654/6 and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren touched 4.3100/30 in regulation play before the pair and Wang all posted 16-under-par - one better than Lorenzo-Vero and South Africa's Thomas Aiken.

Van Zyl's price dipped to 1.434/9 when he found the par five 18th in two at the first extra hole and over £6k was matched on Lagergren at just 2.265/4 in extra time but Van Zyl three-putted and Lagergren failed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker and it was left to Wang to tap in for birdie and his third European Tour title. He'd started the final round trading at around 1.910/11 and he'd begun the week at around the 40.039/1 mark.

In contrast to the Qatar Masters, which finished up a tight affair, 22-year-old Spaniard, Jon Rahm, became youngest ever winner of the Farmers Insurance Open and the first debutant to win since Jay Don Blake in 1991, when he played the back-nine in 30 to win his first PGA Tour event by three. He'd begun the tournament trading at around 55.054/1 and he was still that price after the third round, as he trailed the leaders by four.

It was one of those fabulous rounds that began with a bogey and he was matched in-running at 180.0179/1 as he failed to birdie either of the two par fives on the front nine but he eagled the long 13th and then did this at the par five finishing hole.

My Bets

Having had a decent bet on Wang last week in Abu Dhabi, it was obviously very frustrating to see him win this week and Rahm's victory irked somewhat too. He's based in Arizona, plays well in the desert and he was high on my shortlist for this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The result of the Farmers was a poor one. As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I had a number of chances with a round to go but it all went pear-shaped before the turn. Snedeker, who I backed before the off at 30.029/1, hit a low of 2.427/5 early on yesterday but after he'd three-putted the par five sixth he lost his way. I very nearly backed Rahm at 3.613/5 after the 16th hole and obviously wish I had, but it's pointless crying over spilt milk.

I fared better in Qatar though, even scraping a small profit. I thought Wang looked a good thing before round four but I wasn't prepared to back him at odds-on. Three times he drifted back to odds-against yesterday and I nearly took the plunge but I waited right up until the 14th hole.

An adrenalin-fuelled approach shot saw him sail over the green and when he duffed his chip-back he drifted all the way out to 3.7511/4. He looked a heavy odds-on shot to get-up-and down for bogey and I felt that was a bit of an overreaction and so it proved. I fiddled about on the other playoff protagonists to reduce my losses but kept Wang as a winner so at least the playoff went my way.

What Have We Learned This Week?

Van Zyl came close to finally winning his first European Tour event and Thomas Aiken was matched at as short as 5.95/1 so yet again South Africans have put in a bold showing at Doha and they'll be worthy of close consideration again next year.

Wang became the 12th third round leader to win the Qatar Masters in 20 years so although a slow start can be overcome at Doha, 54-hole leaders are well worth siding with. In stark contrast, they need swerving at the Farmers.

Rahm won from four back and tied 13th and that was pretty typical at Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods won from the front in both 2008 and 2013 but every other winner since John Daly in 2004, has won from off the pace.

After a run of six years straight, where the winner had played the South Course on day one, seven of the first eight home had played the North Course in round one this year. Whether that has anything to do with the changes to the North Course or not is impossible to tell but Rahm was drawn on the South Course on Thursday so the streak extends to seven.

Tiger lost his way on the South Course's back-nine on Thursday and couldn't recover sufficiently on Friday to make the cut. That wasn't entirely unexpected given how long he's been out but what was a shock was that his playing partners, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, also missed out on weekend employment. There has always been a circus atmosphere surrounding Woods and that can't help those drawn alongside him.

Woods is playing in the Dubai Desert Classic this week and he's bound to be drawn with a pair of fancied players. They might just be worth swerving.

And finally, Robert Streb added yet more frustration to my week. Having backed him each-way at 50/1 at halfway it was a disappointment to see him finish a shot shy of those tied for fourth. In truth, had he been tied the place return would have been significantly reduced given five others were tied for fourth but he should arguably have finished much higher given he bogeyed four of his first five holes in round four.

He should have finished higher than he did this year and he very much caught the eye 12 months ago with his level par 72 in awful conditions in round four. On both occasions he's rocked up at Torrey Pines with no recent form of note and he's one to bear in mind for next year.

I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews for the aforementioned Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour and the Waste Management Phoenix Open in the States.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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