The Punter's De-Brief: Pan's the man at Harbour Town

Golfer C.T Pan
RBC Heritage winner, C.T Pan

Taiwanese golfer, C.T Pan, has won his first PGA Tour title and our man looks back at all the action from Hilton Head here...

"C.T Pan was the third consecutive big outsider to take the title and he was the fourth winner in-a-row winning for the first time on the PGA Tour."

A year after falling from fourth and two off the lead through 54 holes to 23rd and beaten by six, following a final round 76 at the RBC Heritage, Taiwan's C.T Pan has won the event from two back with a round to go thanks to a brilliant four-under-par 67.

Pre-event favourite, and world number one, Dustin Johnson, had hit a low of 1.564/7 on Saturday but he finished round three with bogeys at 16 and 17 and after birdying the par five fifth, he lost the plot yesterday. He turned for home on level-par but played holes 11 to 15 in seven over and he finished up holing a 30-footer for birdie on the 18th just to finish tied for 28th! It was a surprisingly poor effort from DJ but maybe we shouldn't have been so shocked?

With DJ in reverse, it looked like the first round leader, Shane Lowry, might bounce-back to take the title and he was matched at a low of 2.245/4 but he lost his way badly after missing a three-foot par save on the ninth.

Pre-event 23.022/1 chance, Patrick Cantlay, was matched at a low of 2.0811/10 when he got to within one of the lead with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15 but he parred the next two before bogeying the last to finish tied for third and my in-play fancy, Matt Kuchar, hit 3.185/40 after he'd birdied the 15th but he came up short too. That birdie was followed by a par at 16 and a bogey at 17 and he finished second courtesy of a superb birdie at the 18th.

Kuchar's -11 total was a decent target but Pan finished superbly after a scruffy bogey at the par five 15th. The 27-year-old birdied 16, scrambled a brilliant par at 17 and then very nearly birdied the 18th.

It was a typically chaotic Hilton Head finale and we saw a number of other players trade in single-figures when they put themselves in with a chance to win. Trey Mullinax (8.415/2), Ian Poulter (6.411/2) and Scott Piercy (6.411/2) all threatened and one of my pre-event picks, Sam Burns, who was backed at 360.0359/1 before the off, was matched at just 5.95/1 when he birdied the 13th to tie the lead but he found water off the tee on 14 so that bubble was burst quickly enough!

My Bets

I managed to lay Burns at an average of 7.26/1 and I also took a bit of profit from my halfway play, Kuchar, who I'd backed at 48.047/1 but it was an event I'll look back on as one that could have been very profitable.

I was out on Saturday evening so didn't get to trade the tournament then but anyone armed with the tournament stats may well have taken on DJ when he traded so short given how long there was to go and how woeful a record third round leaders have. And getting him in the book would have been a great position to start Sunday from.

What Have We Learned This Week?

C.T Pan only ranked 59th for Driving Distance so three of the last four winners have now ranked in the 50s for that stat, suggesting finding fairways isn't important, but the old saying of lies, damn lies and statistics comes to mind. It was noticeable again this year that a number of contenders were ground down by their inaccuracy off the tee and to a large extent, if you're going to keep being wayward, you need to be very fortunate. Two equally poor drives can have very differing outcomes. Often there's a clear sight of the green and a decent lie but equally, a player can be blocked out completely and a hack out sideways is the only option.

Harbour Town Golf Links have some of the smallest greens on the PGA Tour so they're very hard to hit with regularity and that can ware players down too. Once they board the bogey bus it's hard to get off and collapses like DJ's aren't uncommon.

We haven't seen a 54-hole leader convert for seven years now and in each year since 2012, the winner has come from outside the final pairing. Pan was the seventh winner in-a-row to come from at least a couple of strokes adrift and although he was quite close to the lead compared to some winners, he was still unfancied and a 36.035/1 shot after three rounds. Since Carl Pettersson converted from the front in 2012, the winners have trailed by four, four, four, three, four, six and two strokes. Taking on the leaders has proven a great tactic of late.

The par five 15th is the last hole in the woods at Harbour Town and it's a tough finish after that. The par four 16th is a tough hole if the fairways missed and the exposed par three 17th trips up many a contender. The fairway is ridiculously generous on 18 but it's a tough second shot, even from the fairway so great rounds can untangle at the end quite easily.

C.T Pan was the third consecutive big outsider to take the title and he was the fourth winner in-a-row winning for the first time on the PGA Tour.

We've got the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on the PGA Tour and the Trophée Hassan II on the European Tour this week and I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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