The Punter's De-Brief: The Golden Child strikes again on the eve of The Open

Jordan Spieth addresses the crowd after his second JDC title
Jordan Spieth addresses the crowd after his second JDC title

Steve looks back at last week's golf action where there were victories for popular American, Rickie Fowler, in Scotland and world number two, Jordan Spieth, in the States, where a terrific late rally saw him claim his second John Deere Classic title...

"Spieth is one heck of a talent but he does also appear to get the rub of the green too. Or does he just have that incredible ability to raise his game just when it matters most? Either way, he’s a great player to watch and a fantastic one to trade in-running."

After bogeying the 14th hole of his final round at Gullane, Rickie Fowler trailed by two and looked beat at the Scottish Open. But he rallied brilliantly, birdying the 15th, 16th and 18th to edge out fellow American, Matt Kuchar and France's Raphael Jacquelin to win by a stroke.

It was Fowler's second win in three months and it was a great result for the tournament given it was screened live in the States. The Scottish Open is going from strength to strength since being staged at links venues and having a marquee name like Fowler win, so soon after Phil Mickelson took the title, will only improve its profile further. Can Fowler emulate Lefty and follow-up at the Open Championship? He's almost halved in price this week and is now just 20/1 to lift the Claret Jug.

Over at the John Deere Classic, Jordan Spieth looked out of contention at Deere Run with just a third of the final round to play but he made four birdies over the last six holes as the leader, Tom Gillis, who was matched at just 1.330/100, bogeyed the 16th and failed to birdie the easy par 5 17th before the two played off for the title.

Spieth won the playoff at the second extra hole so when he tees off at St Andrews on Thursday he'll be bidding to win his third event on the bounce, as well as his third major in-a-row, and should he be successful he'll overtake Rory McIlroy at the top of the world rankings. In contrast to Fowler, Spieth has actually fractionally drifted in the Open Championship market and he's now available to back at 8.27/1.


My Bets

It's been a disappointing and frustrating week that promised much but delivered nothing. Knowing full well what a quality links player Fowler is and having made him my main fancy at the Irish Open, it was mildly irritating seeing him take the Scottish but I can't really complain there. It looked a ridiculously open affair before the off and it was hard to call right up to the very end.

Tommy Fleetwood, as he very often does, finished weakly and none of my in-play picks traded short enough for me to profit. I had at least layed some of my Fleetwood wager back before the final round and I layed him again in-running yesterday but the returned stakes were recycled on Marc Warren at 40.039/1, after he'd posted a ten-under-par total, so it was a poor result all round.

My sole pre-event pick at the John Deere Classic, Zach Johnson, started really well yesterday and he was matched at just 1.715/7 but while everyone else was knocking in birdies on the back nine, having played the first 11 holes in six-under-par, Zach played the final seven holes in level par and that was never going to quite be enough. He missed out on the playoff by a stroke.

Sometimes you get the feeling everything's against you and I do wonder whether the freak incident on the 16th had any bearing on the result at all. Watch below as Zach jump out of his skin, just before he was about to putt on the par 3 16th green as a boat's air cannon blasts. He did compose himself and make par there, but it certainly didn't help his cause.



Never give up on the Golden Child

When Tiger Woods was in his pomp, he would find a way to win even when not at his best and Jordan Spieth is starting to find a way to win too. Nicknamed the Golden Child, you could argue, with the exception of the US Masters, that Spieth has had plenty of luck to win three of his four titles this season.

Ryan Moore was matched at just 1.422/5 at the Valspar Championship and both Patrick Reed and Sean O'Hair looked more likely to win the playoff before Spieth holed from distance at the third extra hole. Dustin Johnson traded at odds-on twice during the final round of the US Open last month and both Gillis and Zach Johnson will feel they really should have won yesterday.

Spieth is one heck of a talent but he does also appear to get the rub of the green too. Or does he just have that incredible ability to raise his game just when it matters most? Either way, he's a great player to watch and a fantastic one to trade in-running.

This was the fourth time he'd played the John Deere Classic and the fourth time he'd failed to break 70 on day one. He was languishing outside the top-100 after round one this year and had drifted nicely in the market and there was an awful lot of movement in his price yesterday too. Having been matched at a low of just 1.4640/85 early on, he drifted right out to 40.039/1 on the back-nine when all hope looked lost.

Spieth's first round scoring average is 69.82 and his final round average is 68.93 so he has a habit of finishing better than he starts. As highlighted in the In-Play tactics section of my Open Championship preview here, a slow start could be impossible to overcome at St Andrews but at other events going forward, backing the Golden Child when all looks lost could pay dividends.

I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my Barbasol Championship preview and I'll also be looking at a number of side markets for the Open Championship prior to Thursday's opening round.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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