The Punter's De-Brief: Otto holds firm in Italy while Kirk belies the odds to claim the Deutsche Bank millions

Chris Kirk with the Deutsche Bank trophy
Chris Kirk with the Deutsche Bank trophy

How did our man fare on Sunday with his lay book in Italy and what have we learned for next year? Read Steve's reflections on last week's golf here...

"I wasted my energy trying to find the winner at TPC Boston – what I should have been doing is laying the daylights out of Day!"

Hennie Otto put up one of the gutsiest displays of the season to win the Italian Open on Sunday - shooting an impressive bogey-free four-under par 68 to beat David Howell by two strokes - despite not being at his best off the tee. He hit a number of poor drives, and the odd bad approach shot too, but he recovered brilliantly under the utmost pressure every time and he was very much the deserved winner.

Over in the States, Chris Kirk, despite not looking at a leaderboard yesterday and playing with warm favourite, Rory McIlroy, on days three and four, hit the front with a somewhat fortunate birdie at the 13th and never looked back. The pre-event 200.0199/1 shot won by two strokes having been matched at a 1000.0 after an opening round of 73 which saw him trail by fully ten strokes. 

My Bets

Taking on Francesco Molinari after day one in Italy at just 3.8514/5 proved a good decision but I struggled a bit thereafter. I layed eventual winner, Otto, and Bernd Wiesberger, in-running on day two but at much longer odds than they were trading at the close of play on Friday.

Otto led wire-to-wire after hitting the front on Friday so I was always up against it and in the end I was quite happy to make just the tiniest of losses.  As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I'd got Richie Ramsay layed before round four but given I hadn't been impressed by Otto's performance in round three, I made him my biggest loser going into the final round.

To cut a long story short, I layed Stephen Gallacher strongly during the final round and I even made him the biggest loser. He flew through the field early on and was made favourite but he never actually got to Otto and in the end finished tamely. I also layed the runner-up, Howell, but in contrast, he often looked a decent price so I pretty much kept him onside. 

In hindsight, I should have layed Howell for much more but I'm happy with the way I played it. As already mentioned, Otto finished the job off superbly and much better than I thought he might but in the end it cost me pennies. Had Howell won, I'd have had a very good week so maybe I'm guilty of not levelling off the book and guaranteeing a nice profit but I prefer to play it how I see it and if I'm wrong so be it.

At no stage did I ever get to grips with the Deutsche Bank Championship and the only silver lining was that I didn't go mad with my stakes. Maybe my instincts were right all along. I couldn't have fancied Kirk before the off and he belied the in-running stats too. 

My last ditch attempt to pick the winner by backing Rory McIlroy yesterday at less than 2/1 soon proved fruitless as he failed to ever really get going and it's a week to forget. 

There was better news for Joe Dyer though, as he got the profitable each-way column back on track with 100/1 shot, John Senden, who finished tied for fifth.

What Have We Learned This Week?

Past Italian Open winners are well worth close consideration - regardless of where their previous victory was recorded. Hennie Otto was just the latest to win the title at two different venues. Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, Ian Poulter and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano have all also achieved the feat. 

If we go back to the Golf Club Torino I'll again look to trade in-running on day four and I'll again take on the leaders. I know Otto was never headed after hitting the front on Friday but I still think it's a venue where you can win from off the pace. The first three home in 2013 were outside the top-ten before round four and Howell was matched at 3.02/1 in running on Sunday having been backed at around 150.0149/1 before the round began. 

Kirk's win was very much against the grain. Prior to this year's renewal, Phil Mickelson was the only winner in 11 years to go on to win having failed to shoot an opening round in the 60s. He shot 70 and trailed by seven after round one. Kirk shot 73 and was ten behind! But one trend did continue - third round leaders have a terrible record at TPC Boston and Russell Henley became the eighth solo 54-hole leader to get beat in-a-row. Olin Browne and Steve Stricker were both tied at the top before they won in 2005 and 2009 respectively but it's now ten years since the last clear third round leader went on to win.

Player To Swerve

Jason Day was matched at 2.56/4 on Friday, before making a mess of the back nine, and then 2.47/5 on Saturday, before he bogeyed two of the last five holes, and he was out of contention after a double-bogey at the 12th yesterday. Time after time he flatters to deceive and despite his undoubted ability, he's still only won one PGA Tour stroke play event. He's in cracking form at present and he'll be a short price again if he gets in-the-mix at the BMW Championship but he needs to be taken on. I wasted my energy trying to find the winner at TPC Boston - what I should have been doing is laying the daylights out of Day!

That's enough looking back for one week, the Monday finish has put behind a bit but I'll be back later today with my European Masters preview and either this evening or tomorrow with my look at the BMW Championship

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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