The Punter's De-Brief: G-Mac makes it three

Graeme McDowell with yet another trophy

Graeme McDowell held his nerve to win the Open de France and Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me A 100 Winner pick, Jonas Blixt, came from off-the-pace to win the Greenbrier Classic. Steve looks back on last week here...

"The fact that a former US Open champion won this year’s renewal speaks volumes. Le Golf National is a really stern test and G-Mac quite rightly put his victory down to the fact that he only dropped four shots all week."

After a protracted duel with Richard Sterne, Graeme McDowell drew away at the end of the Open de France to win by a slightly flattering four strokes. G-Mac is having the oddest of seasons and his form figures for his last eight outings, now read MC-1-MC-1-MC-MC-MC-1. The Irishman was matched at as high as 42.041/1 before the off but was generally a 34.033/1 shot.

Over in the States, following a lengthy storm delay, Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me A 100 Winner pick, Jonas Blixt beat the impending darkness as well as the field to snatch the Greenbrier Classic. Jonas had started day four - four off the lead but he managed to win by two with his third consecutive three-under-par 67. He was backed at a high of 170.0169/1 but was matched for most money at 130.0129/1 before the off.

My Bets
Yet more disappointment I'm afraid with yet another pre-event pick falling short on day four, having been in with a great chance of victory. Bernd Wiesberger, backed before the off at 44.043/1 in France missed a tiny birdie putt on the opening hole that would have seen him tie for the lead and that set the tone. He missed an equally short one for par on the 2nd and the wheels fell off thereafter.

At the Greenbrier Classic, as detailed in the In-Play Blog, I took the decision to take on the two leaders, Johnson Wagner and Jimmy Walker, and it paid off. I quite fancied Wagner to convert his two-shot lead but his game, which hadn't been in great shape before this week, gradually broke down and both he and Walker shot over-par rounds.

The likes of Matt Jones and Steven Bowditch (both tied 2nd) would have been better results than Blixt but I'm certainly not complaining.

What have we learnt for next year?
The fact that a former US Open champion won this year's renewal of the Open de France speaks volumes. Le Golf National is a really stern test and G-Mac quite rightly put his victory down to the fact that he only dropped four shots all week. With hindsight, my two main picks, Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger, were perhaps far too cavalier for such a tough set-up.

If the course is as tough as it was this time around in future, avoiding bogeys is of more importance than making birdies and in addition to great scrambling, finding greens with regularity is the key to victory. G-Mac ranked 1st for greens in regulation and the last five winners have ranked inside the top-12 for that stat.

One of the reason I picked out Alex Noren before the off was his Wales Open victory at the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor. There appears to be a link between that venue and this and G-Mac winning doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the link - he won the Wales Open in 2010.

After a string of missed cuts, it was no surprise to see third round leader Johnson Wagner go off at the maximum odds of 1000.0 this week but, current form aside, there were clues. Having gone to college at nearby Virginia Tech, Wagner had plenty of course experience to draw on and he was a previous winner of the Hawaii Sony Open, which is played on another Seth Raynor- designed course at Waialae Country Club.

Coastal Waialae is quite a bit shorter that the Old White TPC but they're both par 70s and it looks like form at the Sony might be worth considering going forward. In addition to Wagner, this year's Sony Open winner, Russell Hanley, was also in-contention (favourite at halfway), Jimmy Walker has a 4th placed finish at the Sony and players like Matt Every and Rory Sabbatini who fared well this week, also have form at Waialae.

I know I'm stating the obvious but the Greenbrier Classic is most certainly an outsider's tournament. It seems anybody can find their game at the Old White and Blixt was the fourth big-priced winner in-a-row.

Laying all those priced at 90.089/1 and below before the off worked well but as always, there were minor irritations. I built the book up nicely in round two but there was a large group of players within four of the lead at halfway that I hadn't got layed and they all went backwards thereafter. I felt a little aggrieved that none of those un-layed players traded at a single figure and losing a couple of hours play yesterday didn't help much either.

Having an event finish at two in the morning doesn't exactly help trading and if I'm going to be ultra-critical I also feel as though I was a bit too pro-Wagner and that I didn't go after Walker enough. He's a weak finisher and he constantly looked too short from the end of round three onwards.

Anyway, that's enough looking back, we've two great events to look forward to this week - the Scottish Open and the John Deere Classic and we're now less than a fortnight away from the greatest tournament of the year - the Open Championship, so there's plenty to be getting on with.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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