Steve looks back at an eventful final day on the golf where both winners came from off the pace and his wallet took a bashing...
"The standard on the European Tour is somewhat lower than on the PGA Tour and week after week we see nervy performances from a number of players – a perfect recipe for happy layers."
With weekend rounds of 62 and 68, Dan Geraghty's each-way selection, Anirban Lahiri, came from nine strokes off the pace at halfway to win the Malaysian Open and in the States, it took a four-man playoff to get us a Farmers Insurance Open winner, with Australia's Jason Day coming out on top with a par at the par 3 16th - the second extra hole.
My in-running selection and defending champ, Scott Stallings, and third round leaders, Harris English and J.B Holmes, were the other three to make it to extra time but it perhaps should never have got that far? Holmes hit a low of 1.654/6 when he hit his drive to within short-iron range of the par 5 18th green in regulation but he inexplicably chose to lay-up before failing to get up-and-down for birdie. It was an unforgivable decision and I was pleased to see Day prosper - although he wasn't without a bit of fortune.
The young Aussie, whose victory has seen him climb to number four in the world, looked to be out of the reckoning until a birdie on the 15th gave him a chance. He then holed this monstrous 47 footer for birdie on 16 before saving par brilliantly from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker on 17. To his credit, unlike Holmes, he went for the green with his second shot on 18 in regulation but then got lucky with his third shot when it looked certain to roll in the water. It somehow stopped shy of the aqua and he chipped up and made the par putt.
I input a lay on my sole bet in Malaysia, Lee Westwood, at just a shade too big on Friday morning. At the completion of his third round he led by three strokes and I thought 1.728/11 was about what I wanted to lay my stakes back at but then Alejandro Canizares finished strongly to tie the Worksop Wonder. With the benefit of hindsight, I really should have layed him back at around 1.9010/11 but I really did think he'd outclass his rivals over the weekend, as he's done in Asia on numerous occasions. He did far from outclass them, he was very disappointing but I did eventually win my stakes back and a bit more besides - backing Lahiri in-running in the early hours of yesterday morning at 3.55/2.
With a tiny profit banked I went into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open hopeful rather than confident. Pre-event pick, Jimmy Walker, was trailing by two but favourite to win and Bill Haas, backed at 46.045/1 before the off, was also lurking and I still had hopes of Brand Snedeker sneaking into the top-ten but I'm sorry to say it all went pear-shaped. After bogeying the opening hole, Walker never really got going and couldn't quite get to the lead, Haas was hopeless, and any chance Sneds had of a top-ten died when he double-bogeyed 15th and I didn't get anything out of my pre-final round four wager on Stallings at 55.054/1, despite him getting to the playoff.
I usually like to wait until any selections get to odds-on before laying back and the defending champ never dipped below 3.02/1 and along with English, he was eliminated at the first extra hole.
Yet More Market Carnage On The European Tour
We've had five European Tour events this year now and in four of them at least one player has traded at odds-on before going on to lose. The only exception was the Dubai Desert Classic when world number one, Rory McIlroy, powered to an easy unchallenged three-stroke victory.
Charl Schwartzel was matched at 1.011/100 when he threw away a three-stroke lead with three to play at the South African Open and Martin Kaymer looked an absolute certainty when he led by ten at the Abu Dhabi Championship the following week. At the Qatar Masters, where Branden Grace took the spoils, three men went toe-to-toe down the stretch. The eventual runner-up Marc Warren was matched at just a shade of odds-on and Bernd Wiesberger, who went on to finish third, very nearly did and he most certainly went odds-on yesterday.
Having birdied the first two holes at the Malaysian Open, Wiesberger opened up a five stroke lead and he was then matched at a low of just 1.162/13 but he double-bogeyed the 5th hole after finding water and after failing to pick-up any more shots and having made bogeys at the 12th and 14th holes, when he missed the green off the tee on the par 3 15th, eventual winner, Lahiri, went odds-on - at around 1.68/13.
Wiesberger then made par at 15, just as Lahiri missed a short birdie putt on 16 and when Wiesberger edged ahead with a birdie 3 on 16, as Lahiri missed the green on 17, for the second time the Austrian hit 1.162/13 again but there was to be a couple more twists on the penultimate hole. Lahiri drained his putt for a birdie and minutes later, Wiesberger missed the fairway, got a flier from the rough and failed to get up-and-down. Over £30k was matched at just 1.21/5 as long odds-on backers did their money twice in the space of a few hours. And before all that had happened, Lee Westwood was matched at just 1.728/11 as long ago as Friday morning!
The in-running layers have enjoyed the year so far and with even the star names struggling in-the-mix, there's nothing to suggest they won't continue to do so. The standard on the European Tour is somewhat lower than on the PGA Tour and week after week we see nervy performances from a number of players - a perfect recipe for happy layers.
I'll be back later today with my previews for both the inaugural True Thailand Classic and the AT&T Pebble Beach National.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter