More than five years after his last European Tour title, and thanks in part to a huge slice of luck on the 72nd hole and a late stumble by huge outsider, Callum Shinkwin, Rafa Cabrera-Bello has won for a third time. He and Shinkwin finished tied after regulation play but he won the event with a birdie four at the first extra hole, following this spectacular approach.
The Spaniard began the event as a [65.0] chance and he was matched in-running at a high of [330.0] but that was nothing in comparison to the market swings about the unfortunate runner-up.
I couldn't help but feel for Shinkwin, who began the event as an unfancied [320.0] chance. He was superb all the way through his final round, right up until the 72nd hole, when he finally played like someone trying to win their first European Tour title. He was greenside in two at the par five 18th, albeit in a nasty spot with a bunker between him and the green, and he was matched at [1.01] in-running, but he couldn't get in the hole in three stokes from there and he left his par saving putt agonizingly short. He still has to be judged as unfortunate though as he might still have won had Rafa not been so jammy on 18.
Playing ahead of Shinkwin, Cabrera-Bello's approach shot to the par five 18th appeared to have gone into the ditch adjacent to the green but it stayed up on the slope somehow and from there he chipped up to the hole and made birdie.
Having someone get matched at [1.01] is always the sign of an exciting finale but the finish to the John Deere Classic was even more dramatic.
Pre-tournament pick, Zach Johnson, was the first to trade low when he hit [2.52] when he gave himself three-feet to take the lead on the par four 14th but he missed that, bogeyed the 15th and was eventually beaten by four. Daniel Berger then hit a low of [2.62] and Patrick Rodgers was matched at just [1.2] before lost his way on the par five 17th.
Rodgers' defeat was very similar to Shinkwin's. Like the Englishman, Rodgers was also looking to win for the first time and just like Shinkwin, he'd ben magnificent all day but just when it mattered most, his game deserted him right near the finish and he was caught on the hop by a magnificent finish by Bryson Dechambeau who played the back-nine in 30.
After a quite brilliant amateur career and a fourth place finish in his pro debut last year, Dechambeau has been a winner in-waiting for some time and he went off this week at [55.0].
Both Dechambeau and unlucky loser, Shinkwin, were matched at [1000.0] in-running but I'm inclined to think both were matched so high in error as neither player were ever that far out of it to be matched at anywhere near that price.
Having backed him prior to round four at [36.0], Rafa's win saved the week in Scotland. I layed some back at [4.5] in-running and again at [1.69] before the playoff began but that put me in front for the week and the John Deere Classic turned out OK in the end.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I backed Berger before round four but he was disappointing and it was also frustrating to have three of my four pre-tournament picks finish inside the top-five without bagging the winner. Wesley Bryan, who I backed at a juicy [75.0], finished tied third and Zach and Steve Stricker finished tied for fifth but I did manage to win a few bob there thanks to a few trades.
I've watched Zach blow up at the JDC on numerous occasions and I wrote in the In-Play Blog on Saturday that he "has an awful habit of contending here without converting" so I was more than happy to lay him back when he looked in pole position. I didn't get close to the low of [2.54] but I put myself in front for the event by taking him on at [3.6] and I backed the winner after he'd hit the 17th green in two at [6.6].
He looked nailed on to at least birdie the penultimate hole and I thought that looked big given he'd have a strong chance of a playoff if he parred the last. I obviously didn't expect it to turn out as well as it did but maybe I was doe a bit of luck.
What Have We Learned For This Week?
Trading the Open Championship (which I've previewed here) while the Scottish Open, and to a lesser extent, the John Deere Classic, is in-play is a nice and easy way to get some great positions for the year's biggest event.
Whether you hang on to those positions or you trade them back for some free bets it matters not but some of the swings have again been huge again this year.
Ian Poulter went from [120.0] to [75.0] and he's now back out to [100.0] for this week's major and Padraig Harrington was readily available at way in excess of a [100.0] this time last week and he's now a [75.0] chance.
And it works just as well if you want to take players on. Rory McIlroy has continued to drift after his missed cut at Dundonald and he's now out to [22.0], having been a [17.0] chance a week ago.
Over in the States, the John Deere Classic nearly always provides a dramatic finale and it's also a decent event for first time winners. Three of the last five winners have been getting off the mark on the PGA Tour and Dechambeau is in illustrious company. In addition to the top-class Scott Hoch, who really should have won the 1989 US Masters, major champions, David Toms, Jordan Spieth and Payne Stewart all won their first PGA Tour titles at the John Deere Classic.
I'll be back later in the week with my Barbasol Championship preview and a look at some of the side markets for the Open Championship.
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