The Punter's De-Brief: Outsiders take the spoils

Ben Martin following victory in Vegas
Ben Martin following victory in Vegas

It's been a tough week for golf punters everywhere with three outsiders winning on the two main tours but how did our man fare and more importantly, what has he learned this week? Read Steve's look back at last week's golf here...

“Week after week players trade very low without winning in the golf markets and sitting back, assuming the best and counting your winnings can prove costly. Take some profit!”

It was a good week for the layers this week with outsiders winning all three events on the two main tours. Scott Hend, who edged out Angelo Que in a playoff, had been a 200.0199/1 shot before the off to win the Hong Kong Open. The out-of-form Mikko Ilonen had been an almost unconsidered 44.043/1 shot in the Volvo World Matchplay Championship and Ben Martin, who had shot rounds of 78 and 79 at the Open the week before, was easy to dismiss and matched at 250.0249/1 before the start of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

My Bets

I've had a busy roller-coaster weekend that thankfully finished up being profitable - something I really didn't envisage yesterday morning.

The Volvo Word Match Play was a disappointing event from start to finish and I made a mistake not getting Ilonen onside at the quarter stage having written this in the In-Play Blog.

"Mikko Ilonen has impressed over the first few days. He could well sneak past Victor Dubuisson tomorrow and he wouldn't be intimidated by either Joost Luiten or Pablo Larrazabal in the semi final."

The Finn was trading at around 16.015/1 at that stage and I toyed with having a small wager but didn't. I'm really not a big match play fan and I know from experience how easy it is to keep making picks and to dig a bit of a hole so I decided to leave the event alone but there was much better news elsewhere. 

My sole pick at the Hong Kong Open, David Lipsky, was a disappointment, as were in-play picks, Ernie Els and Raphael Jacquelin but I managed to claw most of my loses back by backing eventual winner, Scott Hend, at the end of regulation play. 

Having birdied the last to post 13-under-par, Angelo Que seemed to bizarrely assume he'd won, even though he was still tied with Hend who had two holes still to play. He conducted TV interviews, laughed and joked with the crowd and had a group of friends gathered with fizzy at the ready. It was hardly the best possible preparation for a potential play-off and when Hend got up-and-down on 18 from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker to force extra time I was amazed to see him trading at odds against.

Hend had the two-fold advantage of going straight into the playoff. Not only was he still warm but he hadn't been distracted by all and sundry and I just couldn't fathom why Que was favourite. Playoffs are by their very nature a bit of a lottery and I'm usually not keen to get too involved by I couldn't resist a reasonable wager on Hend and when Que bogeyed the 1st extra hole I was glad I'd got involved. Hend rolled in his par putt from around five feet and I'd almost wiped out my losses on the event.

I deliberated long and hard over the state of play at the Shriners before the fourth and final round and it paid off. As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed Kevin Streelman at 26.025/1 yesterday and he looked the most likely winner as he played the 18th. Leading by a stroke, he had a five foot putt for birdie but just as he was sizing it up, this happened.

All of a sudden, Streelman need to hole his putt just to tie for the lead and of course, the inevitable happened and his attempt slipped by the hole. Mercifully I'd layed plenty of my wager back, first at 1.684/6 and then again at 1.454/9 so although it would have been a better result had Streelman won, I'd finished the week in front and given the results, I'm more than happy with that outcome.

Is the European Tour Getting Weaker?

With Asian Tour player, David Lipsky, winning the co-sanctioned European Masters last month, and the Hong Kong Open going to a playoff between two Asian Tour players, I have to wonder whether the European Tour is getting even weaker. 

Prior to Lipsky's win, I'd be inclined to almost dismiss the Asian Tour players in most co-sanctioned events, as their record in them had been very poor but it seems the tide is turning. With so few of the European star names playing in regular European Tour events, they appear to be getting weaker and following these two results, I'm going to give the Asian tour players much more attention going forward.

Be Wary of Equipment Changes

There's only so many hours a day I can spend researching so I don't beat myself up when I miss something but I was a bit miffed to hear that Jamie Donaldson had changed manufacturers before the Volvo Match Play, after it had started and after I'd backed him! 

It's something that players only ever seem to do for money and it's definitely a gamble. Remember how long it took for Rory to get used to his Nike bats? And look at Thorbjorn Olesen; I'm not sure he ever will. His form has dropped off a cliff since he switched to the swoosh logo sticks.

Donaldson has only changed his drivers and utility clubs but it could still take him a while to get used to them and had I known about the change, I wouldn't have at least reduced my wager and I'd have probably given him a swerve. 

What Have We Learned This Week?

With regards to the Volvo World Match Play Championship, it's worth highlighting that of the 16 entrants, only Joost Luiten didn't lose a group match, and yet again, there were some big drifters in the market - Ilonen was matched at 130.0129/1 after he'd lost to the said Dutchman on day one.

Up with the pace was the place to be at TPC Summerlin yet again. The last eight winners have been within two of the lead at halfway now; seven of the last nine winners have been leading or co-leading with a round to go and the two that weren't, trailed by just a single stroke. 

And last but not least, I've said it before and I'll say it again - always lay off at odds-on. Angelo Que hit an unbelievably low 1.171/6 without winning, beaten finalist, Henrik Stenson was matched at just 1.292/7 in the match play event and I was very relieved to have had the wherewithal to lay back some of my Streelman wager. Week after week players trade very low without winning in the golf markets and sitting back, assuming the best and counting your winnings can prove costly. Take some profit!

We've two events to look forward to this week - the Perth International on the European Tour and in the states, it's the McGladrey Classic and I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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