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The Punter's De-Brief: Boisterous Billy bags his maiden win at the Zurich Classic

Billy Horschel, winner of the Zurich Classic

"At the Zurich Classic, maiden winners have a fantastic record. First-time winners have now won 11 of the last 20, and six of the last nine renewals."

Steve looks to the future and takes us through his final day's trading, Was he happy with his tactics this week and what lessons were learnt? Read his final thoughts on the week here...

With a spectacular eagle three on the first playoff hole, Australia's Brett Rumford, matched at 100.099/1 before the off, edged out compatriot Marcus Fraser and Scotland's Peter Whiteford to win the Ballantine's Championship in Korea. And Billy Horschel's victory in Louisiana was no less impressive either...

Horschel, who first came to many UK golf fans' attention when he upset a young Rory McIlroy at the Walker Cup, is a breath of fresh air. He wears his heart on his sleeve, gets on with the job and has some game too. At odds of 34.033/1 he was one of the 19 players I layed before the off and one of those I described in the In-Play Blog as looking too short. I was wrong.

My Bets
I barely got involved at the Ballantine's but I did place a few bets right at the end. When I got up yesterday morning and switched the TV on, Brett Rumford was bravely rolling in a ten-foot par save on the final hole after seemingly losing the title. He'd traded as short as 1.101/10 in-running, presumably just before he double-bogeyed the penultimate hole, and having missed the fairway on the final hole, he'd done well to make par.

Peter Whiteford, playing in the final three-ball, then needed a birdie on the 18th to win. Whiteford had been an unconsidered 500.0499/1 shot before kick-off but when he hit his second shot right of the par 5 18th green he was matched at just 1.271/4. I layed him at an average of 1.4840/85 and when he missed his birdie putt to win in regulation play I was able to fiddle about with the other two in the playoff and turn a small loss on the event to a tiny one. And a tiny loss was the very same result in Louisiana...

As detailed in full in the In-Play Blog, I decided on Wednesday to lay all those towards the head of the market at the Zurich Classic and to spend the week laying more players and attempting to trade myself to a profit. And all went swimmingly until a thunderstorm hit during yesterday's final round.

Horschel had looked the likeliest fly in the ointment on Sunday morning but he didn't start brilliantly and when rain stopped play, he was on the premises but he didn't look like most likely winner. When he returned to rain-softened TPC Louisiana he birdied his first six holes and I was struggling!

My biggest mistake was to back Lucas Glover back for a few pounds, having layed him as short as 2.68/5 during Saturday's third round. I thought he looked the most likely winner after round three but I'm not sure the rain-softened conditions brought the best out of him. It was like throwing darts when they came back out and he was soon left wanting.

I did do a few things right though. I got a bit more out of pre-event pick Boo Weekley, laying him as low as 8.07/1 and I got stuck into the extremely dodgy in-the-mix, Jimmy Walker, at less than 4.03/1 and so as Billy kicked clear, I was winning regardless of the result. And when D.A Points shortened up, when Horschel bogeyed the 15th, I went after him too, laying him at just a shade above 2.01/1.

By the time Points and Horschel teed off on the 16th, tied for the lead and clear of the remainder, I was winning a few quid whoever won and then it went a bit pear-shaped again...

Billy birdied the hole and went heavy odds-on and far too heavily I thought - I layed him at various prices and as low as 1.171/6 as he led by one with two to play.

As if there hadn't been enough drama, the players were hauled off again for another weather delay, after they'd hit their drives on the 18th hole. When they came back I was delighted to see the market had no delay whatsoever and trading in-between shots was easy enough. Normally the TV coverage as we view it the UK is at least a 30 seconds behind the market moves and so trading 'live' is impossible but for just a few minutes last night, it was a joy to trade on.

It looked like I'd played it well as they played the last and a playoff was surely an odds-on shot. Points was winning me £1483 and Horschel was losing me just £7 and I was readying myself to level off for a nice profit during the playoff. Points had chipped up out of the bunker to four feet for his birdie and Billy, having been forced to lay-up a long way back after a poor drive, was nigh on 30 feet away in three but then, as he'd done all day, Billy bombed in the putt and that was that.

I can't complain, I could have levelled off for a small profit but I traded it as I saw it right up until the bitter end and it very nearly paid healthy dividends.

What have we learnt for next year?
At the Ballantine's, although we've only had three renewals at the Blackstone course, a number of players are building up some nice bits of form there and it may make sense to concentrate on those with course form next year.

In-running wise, you really don't need to be out of the gates fast. The first four home all traded at a triple-figure price after round one and Louis Oosthuizen, who finished 5th, was the only player in the top-ten to break 70 on day one. Rumford sat in a tie for 75th after round one, fully seven strokes off the lead and not one player in the top-ten after round one finished in the top-ten after round four.

At the Zurich Classic, maiden winners have a fantastic record. First-time winners have now won 11 of the last 20, and six of the last nine renewals.

Stats-wise, yet again, hitting greens was vital. Only poor-putting Justin Rose hit more greens in regulation than Horschel.

I'll be back tomorrow with previews for this week's two events, the Volvo China Open and the Wells Fargo Championship.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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29 April 2013

The Punter


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