Finau captures win number three
All week, from Steve's tournament preview right through the In-Play Blog that I compiled while he was on holiday, we stressed that TPC Twin Cities, home of the 3M Open, was prone to volatility.
"An ideal course set up for late drama," were Steve's words and they would prove to be prophetic.
But let's head back to the start when Scott Piercy flew from the blocks with a 65 that tied the lead with Sungjae Im.
Piercy was backed at a high of 360.0359/1 and generally at 290.0289/1 before the off but was now into 20.019/1. The market wasn't quite convinced that he had it in him to maintain the pace. Im, who had been 23.022/1 before the start was now into 4.84/1.
Twenty-four hours later Piercy had added a 64 and was three clear of second, five clear of third and six clear of five players in third. The market was still reluctant - he was now 3.711/4.
Perhaps just as notable was that it didn't really trust the closest pursuers - Emiliano Grillo was the man in second and he was 6.25/1 while Callum Tarren in third was 16.5.
By the end of Saturday's disrupted action Piercy had added a 66 to open up a four shot lead and was finally odds on at 1.8810/11.
But he had traded as low as 1.330/100 and for decent amounts at 1.42/5 early in the back nine before he stumbled with a birdie miss and a bogey at the last.
Grillo was still alone in second, four back, and 7.26/1 - the market was suspicious of his ability to pounce.
And so to the final round. A procession, right?
Piercy got off to a good start, with two birdies in his first seven holes and he was backed at 1.21/5.
Even when he made three bogeys in four holes from the eighth to see his lead drop to two he was 1.4640/85 - he was just short of the par-5 12th and birdie should right the ship.
If it did, it was only temporarily. His run (slash stagger) for home reads bogey, triple bogey, bogey, birdie, bogey, par-5.
Again, we'd noted all week that the three previous editions of this event had seen dramatic moves but that they'd always been in the penultimate round - there was a chance it would flip to Sunday.
We'd maybe expected a big move forward rather than a golfer hurtling backwards, but that's what happened.
So who capitalised? It was the man the market had always thought might do so.
Tony Finau started the week as the 18.017/1 favourite and after the first round he was 6.25/1, the shortest price of anyone outside the two pace-setters.
Even when six back at halfway it remained the case that he was the perceived threat from the peloton, priced 7.613/2 and by the 54-hole stage even though he trailed Grillo by one he was shorter at 7.26/1.
With those six holes to play and Piercy's lead down to two, it was over him alone and the market had it as a two-horse race with him 3.953/1.
His odds only ever travelled in one direction once Piercy started flapping.
Finau birdied 14, 15 and 16, giving himself the breathing space to drop a shot at the 18th.
He'll be delighted that there were just two second-placed finishes between his second PGA Tour win, The Northern Trust last August, and his third - there were famously nine between his first win and second.
Grillo has taken his baton of being the man banging endlessly on the door of a second win. His first came back in 2015. Since then? Nine top three finishes without lifting a trophy.
Ramsay gets emotional
Back this side of the pond we had a third of four weeks of links golf and it again provided a fine spectacle.
Hillside GC, next to Royal Birkdale in Southport, hosted and, just as with the 2019 British Masters held there, it was a Wirral man who set the pace.
Three years ago it was Matthew Jordan, this time Paul Waring. Backed at a high of 85.084/1 before the off he was 5.79/2 when leading by two at 18, 4.1 when having the same advantage 18 holes later, and 6.411/2 when he slipped into a share of second ahead of the final round. He'd end the week alone in second.
All week a host of linksland specialists would flirt with a challenge - the likes of Jack Senior, Matthew Southgate, Garrick Porteous, Daan Huzing.
So, too, players with good records at Al Mouj which, as I noted in my each way preview and the In-Play Blog, has a distinct linksy feel. That included some of the names in the previous paragraph plus Jens Dantorp, Sami Valimaki and Callum Shinkwin.
Heading into the final round Frenchman Julien Guerrier ticked both those boxes - he had won the Amateur Championship at Royal St. George's in 2006 and had been a first round leader, 54-hole leader and two-time top three finisher in Oman.
He was 4.47/2 when holding a one shot advantage with 18 holes to play and would be backed as low as 1.132/15 when playing the front nine in 3-under to extend his advantage. But he was 3-over on the back nine and slipped back into the pack.
Steve's advice that DP World Tour events often see a fellow trade odds-on and lose might have earned some a few quid.
In the penultimate group Waring set a target of 13-under but he was always hoping that Richie Ramsay would falter. The Scott had moved in the opposite direction to his playing partner Guerrier, making back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15, and adding another crucial red number at the 17th.
An impressive up-and-down at the last secured the title.
He'd been available at around 29.028/1 pre-event, was backed at a top price of 50.049/1 when T21st after round one and could still be backed at 5.85/1 late into the final round.
He likes this piece of land: he was T22nd at Royal Birkdale in the Open (he also played well there in the 2005 Amateur Championship) and fifth at Hillside in 2019.