Scottie Scheffler dominant at TPC Scottsdale
Ockie Strydom wins again on the DP World Tour
Trying to assess whether a golfer is a final round finisher or fluffer has always been a tricky venture, one the career of Scottie Scheffler rather highlights.
For a while, he entered final rounds with a chance of victory, posted an under-par score, didn't win and was deemed a bit flaky.
Then he won four in six starts and seemed invincible, only to greet his next two opportunities with over-par efforts that saw trophies slip from his grasp.
After turning that run around with a Sunday 65 that sealed a successful defence of the WM Phoenix Open the 26-year-old agreed with a questioner who talked of his ability to win without his best game: "Yeah, today was a pretty good example of that."
It also felt valid that in his pre-tournament press conference Scheffler had talked of the unusually vivid memories he'd experienced of his breakthrough win last year during his first practice round and, in among that, he had specifically reminded himself how he had been grinding pars that week.
Guess what? By week's end he was back on the same theme: "I was just able to grind it out. I only had two bogeys this week which is really, really good around this golf course. Proud of that."
He had started the final round with a two shot lead over Jon Rahm and Nick Taylor, with Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among the more distant chasers. He was the 2.285/4 favourite, the Spaniard 4.47/2 and Taylor 24.023/1.
The market had slightly favoured the leader between round three's end and round four's beginning with his price shortening, but it also deemed it a bit of a two-horse race - it was wrong about that.
Front nine scrap
The first man to vaguely challenge the front runners was Jason Day who carded three early birdies to move from a pre-round 16.015/1 to 12.5.
It was less significant a drop in price because the leading trio were all 2-under through three, a move that saw Scheffler hit 1.9620/21.
When, by the sixth, the two chasers had added another par breaker to close to within one of Scheffler the greatest impact was on Taylor's price: down to 8.615/2 while Rahm was 3.3512/5 and Scheffler 2.26/5.
At the turn, Rahm (7.26/1) was clear third but two behind Taylor (5.49/2) and three adrift of Scheffler (1.558/15).
Unlikely back nine head-to-head
The Spaniard never got going after the turn and joined the field in playing a sideshow role.
But Taylor made a birdie at 10 to tie Scheffler. The latter remained odds on (1.75/7) but the Canadian was now 3.45.
A key move was at the par-5 13th. The resolute Taylor ground out a birdie but Scheffler trumped him with an eagle: it was now 1.211/5 against 6.05/1.
From there Taylor had to push and Scheffler's last test was a 15-foot par putt which dropped to more or less seal the deal: he left the green 1.162/13 after Taylor made bogey.
By the 18th tee Scheffler could not be backed.
Back at the top of the world rankings, Scheffler is now 14.013/1 to win at Augusta again, 16.015/1 for the PGA Championship and 13.012/1 for the US Open.
Maybe, however, note this remark in his post-win press conference: "I think the firmness of this golf course really suits me. Having the ability to play a lot of different shots. Hit it high, hit it low."
The Open is at Royal Liverpool this summer and he's 16.015/1.
Another thriller on the DP World Tour
The field in the Singapore Classic lacked the stars on show in Scottsdale but once again they put on a fine show for punters.
However, the time difference impacted on the market.
The final round teed off at 2am in Britain and, whilst the market reflected the fun and games on the course, the liquidity was never really there.
Sunday began with Find Me a 100 Winner pick Jeunghun Wang tied for the lead with Alejandro del Rey, the pair priced 4.84/1 and 6.411/2 respectively.
But there were a total of 15 golfers within four blows of the lead and a cavalry charge seemed a possibility.
The Spaniard del Rey led it opening with a trio of birdies to briefly hold a three shot lead and be matched at 2.01/1.
Wang, alas, made a slow start and although he recovered for a share of third (hopefully some backed him each-way) his low match was 4.1.
The next challenge was Sami Valimaki who was two back at the start of play, available at 12.5 but matched as low as 1.21/5 as he first thrashed six birdies in the first 10 holes to himself go three clear, and then went head-to-head with the eventual winner.
That man was Ockie Strydom, the South African, who was 120.0119/1 before the off and had been matched at 1000.0 during an opening round of 71.
When he ticked the 13th to sit one back of Valimaki he was 4.03/1 and he didn't relent, adding three more par breakers including one at the last from an unpromising position at the back of the green.
Once that was completed he went odds on and was right to be as Valimaki couldn't match him.
The 38-year-old Strydom will be enjoying this Monday morning.
A relentless winner on South Africa's mini tours, he couldn't transfer that form to the Sunshine Tour - agonisingly so, in fact.
True he won a minor event in 2019 but from 2012 to October last year he was 16 times second!
Last year alone he lost two play-offs and squandered a pre-final round lead.
Then he won the Dunhill Championship and rode the wave in Singapore.
"I'm speechless how it happened," he said afterward, explaining that his swing felt awful last week and adding: "My wife has been very positive for me. She said 'Maybe this week is yours'."
Now fourth in the Race to Dubai, Strydom's 2023 is going to be very, very, very different to the year he was expecting just two months ago!