The Punter's De-Brief: Tommy wobbles to let in Rai and Garcia wins in style

Golfer Aaron Rai
Aaron Rai with the Scottish Open trophy

Aaron Rai has won the Scottish Open and Sergio Garcia has claimed the Sanderson Farms Championship title. Our man looks back at the two events...

"Trading at around 94/195.0 before round four, Rai hit 199/1200.0 when he fell even further back with a bogey at the second hole. But the dropped shot galvanised him and, five birdies in, his next six put him bang in the mix."

After a final round that saw many players in with a chance of taking the title, Aaron Rai has won the 2020 Scottish Open and you won't see too many gutsier winners all year.

Having led through rounds one, two and three at the Irish Open last week, before bogeying the 72nd hole when a birdie would have seen him in a playoff, Rai did brilliantly to pick himself up so soon and to even compete, let alone win. Especially from the wrong side of the draw!

The general 109/1110.0 pre-event shot, who was matched for a few pounds at 1000.0 in-running on Saturday, trailed by eight after shooting 70 on day one and he still trailed by five with a round to go.

Trading at around 94/195.0 before round four, Rai hit 199/1200.00 when he fell even further back with a bogey at the second hole. But the dropped shot galvanised him and five birdies in his next six put him bang in the mix.

Halfway leader, Lucas Herbert, who was matched at as high as 289/1290.00 after his 79 on Saturday had seemingly done for his chances, but he was matched at a low of 2/13.0 as he charged through the field yesterday and he looked highly likely to win until he bogeyed the par three 17th.

Ian Poulter was matched at a low of 9/52.8 but his chance went at the 13th when he recorded a double-bogey six. Erik Van Rooyen, who had began the day seven back, threw his hat in the ring with a fast finish but ultimately came up shy.

Marc Warren hit a low of 6/17.0 when he eagled the 16th but he bogeyed the last when he needed a birdie to get into the playoff. Eddie Pepperell, Marcus Kinhult, Kalle Samooja and Victor Dubuisson all briefly threatened to get involved. But most of the drama occurred late on, once Rai had posted his score.

Tommy Fleetwood's price dipped to 5/61.85 when he gave himself three feet for birdie at the 16th to tie Rai in the clubhouse. After Rock had drawn level with the leader from around ten to 12 feet, however, Tommy inexplicably missed.

Rock was then matched at a low of 1/12.0 after a perfect drive up the last but after a poor second, he failed to get up and down from a few yards in front of the green. And in-between Rock's clumsy chip and missed par save, Tommy, whose price had spiked to 19/120.0 after the miss at 16, did this to take it to extra time.

It was advantage Tommy after the two drives when Rai found a bunker left of the fairway, as he'd done in regulation. Fleetwood hit a low of 30/1001.31 and Rai's price jumped to above 3/14.0 but he again played a brilliant shot from the sand before getting up-and-down for par from in front of the green. Tommy, from position A in the fairway, failed to find the green before missing from a few feet for par. Fleetwood backers were left frustrated and Rai was left holding the trophy.

Brilliant Garcia wins in Mississippi

Over at the Sanderson Farms Championship, we looked set for another playoff but a couple of touches of brilliance from pre-event 69/170.0 chance, Sergio Garcia, put pay to that.

Having begun the final round trailing by five, the 2015 winner, Peter Malnati, posted a sensational nine-under-par 63 to take the lead. Having been matched at a high of 1000.0, the pre-event 319/1320.0 chance hit a low of 5/81.62 as one by one the challengers fell away.

Brandt Snedeker was matched at a low of 5/23.5 and J.T Poston 6/42.52 before they finished tardily. Just as it looked like Malnati might be safe in the house, Garcia eagled the par five 14th when his second shot just cleared the bunker and rolled to within four feet of the hole.

The Spaniard then parred 15, 16 and 17 before producing this piece of magic at the 72nd hole.

My Bets

After the great start by pre-event 49/150.0 pick, Lee Westwood, who was matched at just 3.65 following an opening 62 on Thursday at the Scottish Open, the whole week was a bit of a disappointment.

The Scottish Open looked like a minefield all weekend and as a result, I was extremely careful in-play yesterday. I had a small bet on Van Rooyen at a huge price that obviously didn't pay off but I did nurse a small position on Rai once he'd posted his score.

With in-play picks, Poston and Snedeker in-contention, I got Malnati onside at an average of 15/28.4 after he'd birdied the 12th in the States. It looked highly likely that the tournament would go to either one of those three or Sergio and, as I wrote in the In-Play Blog, I always want to be against Garcia - especially away from his native Spain.

I'm a big advocate of the value being with those who have already finished, compared to those on the course (see Rai earlier in the day for another example), and I thought that was most definitely the case last night. I did lay a bit back on Malnati but I always felt he was the value as Sergio is always too heavily favoured. Obviously, the second shot on the par five and, in-particular, the approach on 18 proved costly.

Neither result was a disaster but small losses were incurred at both events. With hindsight, I should have layed more Malnati back but I played it how I saw it and, had Sergio bogeyed instead of birdied, it would have been a cracking result.

Wyndham vibes at Jackson

As already stated, on the back-nine on Sunday, it looked like one of four would take the title - Garcia, Malnati, Snedeker and Poston - and three of the four have all won the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club.

At first glance, it would appear merely coincidental given the Country Club of Jackson was designed by Dick Wilson and Sedgefield (home of the Wyndham) by Donald Ross but there is a very firm link. Jackson was extensively remodelled in 2008 by the heavily Ross-influenced, John Fought.

The Wyndham was on my mind as I looked at the field before the off, as there appears to be a strong link between Jackson CC and the Donald Ross designed Detroit Golf Club - home of the Rocket Mortgage Classic - and it's something I'll pay even more attention to next time following this year's result.

Check out the Wednesday drifts

After his performance in Ireland last week, Aaron Rai traded at between 79/180.0 and 94/195.0 to win the Scottish Open last Monday. He wandered out to a high of 109/1110.0 on Tuesday but the real drift occurred on Wednesday when he traded between 99/1100.0 and 159/1160.0, and that's nothing new at all.

The Irish open winner, John Catlin, also talk a walk on Wednesday and it happens week after week. As demonstrated in the last fortnight, big drifts aren't often a sign that something's amiss and they're something we can capitalise on. The same is true of third round flops bouncing back on a Sunday.

Bounce-back boys well worth backing

Having trailed by six at halfway, Malnati was trading at about 99/1100.0 in Mississippi before round three. But he was matched at 1000.0 in-running and he was trading between 299/1300.0 and 399/1400.0 after a relatively disappointing two-under-par 70 on Saturday.

Given he traded at odds-on for long periods of the fourth round, anyone taking those huge prices had ample opportunity to make a lovely profit. But Lucas Herbert in Scotland was an even better example of the final round bounce back.

I haven't got any figures or stats to back up my theory but it's something I've written about before and it's well worth remembering: lots of players bounce back after a poor third round. Herbert was a perfect example.

The Aussie shot the worst round of the day on Saturday (79) and, having been the 4/14.80 favourite to take the title when leading at halfway, he drifted right out to 289/1290.0. Given he hit a low of 2/13.0 on the back-nine yesterday, there was plenty of scope for making a profit.

On many occasions, throwing a few pounds at Saturday's flops at huge odds won't pay dividends but there are plenty of examples of players relaxing on Sunday once their chance to win has seemingly gone and the rewards can be huge when they do manage to bounce back.

We have two cracking events to look forward to this week. I'll be back tomorrow with my BMW PGA Championship and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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