The Punter

The Punter's De-brief: Riley and Elvira both win from the front

Golfer Davis Riley
A happy Davis Riley after his five stroke win in Texas

Davis Riley has won his first individual PGA Tour event and Nacho Elvira his second on the DP World Tour. Steve Rawlings looks back on their victories here...

  • Level par rounds are good enough on both Tours

  • Read my European Open preview here

  • Read my Canadian Open preview here

After a slightly nervous start by the third-round leader, Davis Riley, the pre-event 3/14.00 favourite, Scottie Scheffler, was matched at a low of 1.910/11 to win the Charles Schwab Challenge when the gap was closed to three strokes but back-to-back bogeys at four and five stopped him in his tracks and Riley was able to coast home after that.

The pre-event 600.0599/1 chance, had led by four with a round to go and he was six in front at the turn, so it was far from an exciting finish.

Trading at 6.25/1, Riley had led by two at halfway and he was a 2.26/5 chance with a round to go, even though four-stroke leaders have a better than 70% strike rate on the PGA Tour.

With Scheffler his closest challenger with a round to go, it looked like Riley still had plenty to do but the pre-event favourite never got going on Sunday and Riley's level par 70 on Sunday was enough to see him coast to five-stroke win over Scheffler and Keegan Bradley.

Riley had won the Zurich Classic last year alongside his good friend, Nick Hardy but it was the 27-year-old's first individual victory on the PGA Tour.

With Scheffler misfiring, the final round in Texas wasn't a dramatic affair but the final round of the Soudal Open in Belgium certainly was.

Gritty Spaniard gets across the line

Like Riley in the States, pre-event 100.099/1 chance, Nacho Elvira had led the Soudal Open by four strokes with a round to go and he shortened up form 1.758/11 to 1.374/11 when he birdied the opening hole to ease five clear but it was far from plain sailing after that.

The final round had started early because of the threat of thunderstorms, and it wasn't long before torrential rain caused havoc and a delay in play.

The heavy rain affected everyone but with the added pressure of leading the event, Elvira stated to struggle, especially off the tee.

After the opening birdie, the Spaniard played his next nine holes in two-over-par, allowing the chasers to close.

England's Joe Dean, who was matched at between 500.0499/1 and 850.0849/1 before the off, hit a low of 3.02/1 when he got to within a stroke of Elvira at the turn, but he lost his way after that.

Pre-event 30.029/1 chance, Thomas Pieters, hit a low of 3.02/1 and Elvira's price went all the way out to over 2/13.00 after his bogey at the 10th, but a birdie at the 11th composed him brilliantly and he parred his way home after that to win by a stroke.

It wasn't pretty at times, but it was certainly gritty and this up-and-down for par at the par five 17th encapsulated his play under pressure.

After a dreadful start to round four, which saw him trailing by seven, pre-event 160.0159/1 chance, Niklas Norgaard, birdied the 16th and eagled the 17th to get to within one of the Spaniard and he hit a low of 4.1 but he missed his birdie putt at 18 from 12 feet that would have taken the tournament into extra time and Elvira was left holding the trophy.

Clear leaders often very fairly priced

Although their respective victories were very different, both this week's winners had led by four through 54 holes and both shot level par to win. And if you don't mind backing short priced favourites, these clear leaders often represent excellent value.

Since 1996, on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, four stroke leaders have a better than 70% strike-rate and yet their odds with a round to go haven't been reflecting that.

Chris Gotterup won the Myrtle Beach Classic two weeks ago having led by four with a round to go and he was trading at 1.674/6, Elvira was a 1.758/11 chance yesterday and Riley was odds-against. Admittedly, Riley's closest challenger with a round to go was the best player on the planet but all three were bigger than the stats suggested they should have been.

Kenyan form holds up again in Belgium

Although Elvira hasn't won in Kenya, he finished tied second with Joe Dean at Muthaiga behind Darius Van Driel in February and he was leading the Kenya Open at halfway two years ago.

Van Driel reached the final of the Belgian Knockout at Rinkven in 2019, losing to Guido Migliozzi, who won the Kenya Open at Karen.

Both Karen and Muthaiga are tree-lined tracks like Rinkven and form at the three venues crosses over very well.

Now read my Canadian Open here

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