The Punter's De-Brief: Third round leaders show their grit

Søren Kjeldsen with the Irish Open trophy
Søren Kjeldsen with the Irish Open trophy

Steve's had a poor week punting but he's still enjoyed the golf and as always, lessons have been learned. Read our man's look back at all last week's action here...

"Trying to gauge which players will handle the pressure on a Sunday is notoriously hard and sometimes facts speak better than anything else. Kjeldsen went into yesterday’s final round with a 100% strike rate when leading with a round to go and after yesterday’s success he’s now four from four from the front."

Both this week's winners, Søren Kjeldsen and Steven Bowditch, entered the final round leading by two strokes and as highlighted in the In-Play Blog, both began the day trading at generous enough odds. Kjeldsen was trading at around 3.65 and Bowditch at 5.59/2.

Kjeldsen, matched at a high of 430.0429/1 but generally a 330.0329/1 chance before the off, won the Irish Open to become the fourth big priced winner in five weeks on the European Tour. In fact, it was a great week for the layers all round.

In Ireland, warm favourite, Rory McIlroy, missed the cut, as did the well-fancied, Sergio Garcia, and other than the winner, who hit a low of 1.444/9 way before the playoff, four players - Padraig Harrington, Bernd Wiesberger, Eddie Pepperell and Rafa Cabrera-Bello - were all matched at 3.211/5 and below. A further four players - Rickie Fowler, Richie Ramsay, Tyrell Hatton and Maximilian Kiefer - all traded at less than 5.04/1 and Luke Donald was matched at just 5.69/2. Lots of players put themselves in with a chance over the weekend so it was no surprise to see the event go into extra time.

The market made Wiesberger favourite with Pepperell the outsider of the three in the playoff but it was Kjeldsen that prevailed thanks to a majestic approach shot on the par 5 18th, an indifferent eagle attempt and this all around good putt.

Despite winning the Texas Open in his home state just over a year ago, Australian Steven Bowditch, who's based in Dallas, was matched at 890.0889/1 before the off but given he'd missed eight of his last 13 cuts and his form figures at TPC Four Seasons read 60-MC-MC-MC, that's perhaps not that surprising. This was another cracking result for the layers but the clues were there - he knows the course intimately and was even married there in 2011.

My Bets

With two huge outsiders winning, this wasn't the best of weeks to be punting golf. As a renowned poor weather performer that had finished 9th in Spain and 18th at Wentworth in his two previous starts, Kjeldsen wasn't impossible to find before the off but he wasn't on my radar and Bowditch most certainly wasn't.

My in-play bets were all poor as well so it was quite simply a week to forget punting wise but it's not always all about the betting. I thoroughly enjoyed the Irish Open and seeing Bowditch, who has suffered badly with depression in the past, win again and win so impressively was also pleasurable.

Did we miss a trick with Rory?

Rory McIlroy had missed the cut at Wentworth the week before, he'd missed his last two cuts at the Irish Open, the wind was forecast to blow for four days and he had all sorts of distractions away from the course. He was matched at a low of 1.081/12 to make the cut and at around evens to finish in the top five. I know hindsight's a marvellous thing but if ever there was a chance missed that was it.

I'm sure he'll be determined to make a better fist of it next year but with so much going on behind the scenes, Rory may well be worth opposing again in 12 months time - especially if he's just performed poorly elsewhere!

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Trying to gauge which players will handle the pressure on a Sunday is notoriously hard and sometimes facts speak better than anything else. Kjeldsen went into yesterday's final round with a 100% strike rate when leading with a round to go and after yesterday's success he's now four from four from the front.

He's never really appeared terribly convincing in the past and he wasn't especially so yesterday. It was a patchy performance with plenty of brilliance but there were a number of short missed putts and he twice nearly blew his chance right at the death. He needed to make a fantastic up-and-down on 18 in regulation play to get into the playoff and his birdie putt in extra time looked sure to escape the drop but it didn't and he was very much the worthy winner. Those conditions were brutal and to lead all weekend was a quite superb effort. And he was also assigned the less favourable early/late tee times.

According to the market, three men looked to have the AT&T Byron Nelson between them with a round to go. Bowditch, who had only ever led once on the PGA Tour before and duly won, Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker - two vastly experienced multiple winners. After racing to two-under-par through three holes, the market went mad for DJ but a quadruple-bogey 8 followed at the 6th and it just goes to show, even multiple winners can easily come a cropper on a Sunday and it's very easy to judge a poor effort as a choke.

Bowditch may have looked a little unconvincing at times when he scrambled home to win the Texas Open a year ago but he looked like a seasoned veteran yesterday and anyone that ignored reputation and just bet on hard facts did very nicely in-running yesterday.

Significant Birthday Again a Factor

Kjeldsen celebrated his 40th birthday just two weeks ago and he's far from the first to taste success after that milestone. Anyone celebrating their 30th or 40th is worth keeping an eye on as it's a time of revaluation and results often improve quite dramatically.

What Have We Learned For Next Year?

Yet again previous course form was absolutely irrelevant at the AT&T Byron Nelson and yet again a huge outsider prevailed. Bowditch was the fourth monster-priced winner in five years so this is very much a tournament for outsiders, and I'm not giving up on the course debutant angle either.

Alongside Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Charley Hoffman, in a tie for 2nd was Scott Pinckney and he was one of four players in the top-ten that were playing TPC Four Seasons for the first time.

I'll be back later today with my Memorial Tournament preview and tomorrow with my look at the Nordea Masters.

Golf previews for this week:

Memorial Tournament 2015 Betting Preview from The Punter.
Nordea Masters 2015 Betting Preview from The Punter.
Nordea Masters 2015 Tips from the betting.betfair Golf team.
Memorial Tournament 2015 Tips from Dave Tindall.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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