The Punter's De-Brief: Popular Furyk finally strikes again

 Jim Furyk reacts to winning again after a drought of five years
Jim Furyk reacts to winning again after a drought of five years

After five years, more than a 100 starts and umpteen near misses, the extremely popular Jim Furyk is back in the winner's enclosure but was the result any good for The Punter? Read Steve's take on last week's golf action here...

“I went into the playoff cheering on Hao-Tong Li for a tiny win but had to settle for a very small loss instead and things didn’t improve in the States either – not by a long chalk!”

Extra holes were required to settle both the Shenzhen International on the European Tour and the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat playing the part of pantomime villain in China and Jim Furyk the hero in the States.

Hao-Tong Li had looked set to become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event in China and he was matched at just 1.11/10 to do so after he'd posted a 12-under-par total but Aphibarnrat caught the 19-year-old Chinaman, having been matched at 50.049/1 during the final round, when he put a disappointing day's play behind him with a glorious eagle at the 17th. The crowd were getting suitably excited about the prospect of a home win but the burly Thai had all the momentum in the playoff and there was an air of inevitability about the outcome when he holed his birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

The development of the game in China is a fascinating story. This video here gives a great insight into its complexities and this article details the very recent story of the closing of 66 courses in a crackdown on the "Sport for Millionaires' so it's fair to say a good news story of a Chinese win by a promising young player on the European Tour would have been something of a timely fillip for the game's Chinese supporters.

Over in the States, it looked for a while as though we were going to witness another dramatic late turnaround when Jim Furyk, who had been matched at just 1.061/18 in-running, was caught and momentarily passed by Kevin Kisner but Jim held his nerve superbly in extra time...

Kisner birdied the tough final hole to tie Furyk in regulation play and when he did so again at the first extra hole, he was matched at just 1.42/5 but Furyk matched his birdie three with one of his own to send them both back to the par 3 17th where he took the title with this birdie two.



Without a win five years, the relief was evident as the ball approached the hole and there can't be many golf fans that didn't enjoy the moment immensely - even those, like me, that layed him!


My Bets

Yesterday promised much but didn't deliver a lot and I finished the week losing.

Over in China, Scott Hend, backed before the off at 110.0109/1, got to within one of the lead late on but he never traded below around 10.09/1 so I didn't get anything out of him and the strange TV coverage hindered trading considerably.

With so many players in-contention and with so few shots being shown for some reason (we didn't get to see Aphibarnrat's tee-shot or second shot on 17 for example) it was very difficult to do anything but be cautious but I did manage to get Hao-Tong Li onside at an average of 4.84/1 after he'd birdied the 14th hole.

By the time Aphibarnrat played the penultimate hole, he was the only realistic danger to Hao-Tong Li and I could have gotten him onside quite comfortably at a double figure price to ensure a decent profit but not knowing how he was faring at all I didn't want to risk doing so.

Once it was revealed that he was on the green in two, his price dropped considerably and when the eagle putt found the bottom of the cup it completely crashed. I was kicking myself for not just blindly backing him but that wouldn't have been wise and luckily he gave me another chance when he drove into a fairway bunker on 18. I was tempted to leave things alone and take a chance but thankfully I levelled my book off a bit by backing him modestly at a shade over 3.02/1.

I went into the playoff cheering on Hao-Tong Li for a tiny win but had to settle for a very small loss instead and things didn't improve in the States either - not by a long chalk!

With no pre-event picks figuring, in-play picks faltering, and Troy Merritt, who I'd layed in the Top 5 and Top 10 markets at halfway placing, it wasn't the best result I've had this year! And just to make it worse, after updating the In-Play Blog, I again layed Merritt in the Top 5 market again, at around 1.51/2 on Sunday afternoon, and I also layed Furyk in-running in the win market at the same price. I did manage to ease the pain a bit by laying Kisner in extra time but it wasn't a good result.


What Have We learned This Week?

A combination of poorer than usual TV coverage and tiredness thanks to a Saturday night out and an early morning start meant I didn't get the most out of the event in China and I really should have been a bit more aggressive.

Three men traded at odds-on again and if I'd have gone after Pablo Larrazabal (matched at a low of 1.910/11 I'd have been in a great position. It's rare that only one player trades at odds-on in European Tour events and just taking on the odds-on shots over the weekend pays dividends most weeks.

Conditions differed greatly to the norm at Harbour Town with little wind, damp fairways and sodden greens offering up lots of low scores but some things stayed the same. Course form countered for plenty yet again and Furyk became the tenth man to win the title more than once in its relatively short 47 year history.

Stats wise, straight hitting and a great short game were again very important, with the playoff protagonists ranking 7th and 3rd for Driving Accuracy and 1st and 2nd for Scrambling.

And finally, a word of warning when trading in-running.

The PGA Tour website's leaderboard has a Shot Tracker function that shows where each player is on each and every hole but it's quite often wrong and anyone that piled in on Ian Poulter yesterday afternoon got their fingers well and truly burnt.

Trading at around 80.079/1, when on -9 playing the 5th hole, the leaderboard suddenly moved Poulter to -11 and just two off the lead. Shot Tracker showed that he'd made eagle after a perfect drive on the par 5 and his odds collapsed. He was available to back at 15.014/1 and to lay at 20.019/1 but a few minutes later Shot Tracker corrected itself and he drifted right out to 1000.0!

Poulter had actually taken a penalty after a wayward drive before going on to make a triple bogey eight - so from the false -11 he dropped to -6 and those that had backed him had basically just thrown their money away. Its right the vast majority of the time but caution is most certainly advised.

I'll be back later today with my Zurich Classic preview and tomorrow with my look at the Volvo China Open. Fingers crossed the course is still open!

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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