The Punter's In-Play Blog: Sensational Spieth poised for facile win

Brooks Koepka, five behind Spieth and added to The Punter’s portfolio
Brooks Koepka, five behind Spieth and added to The Punter’s portfolio

Brandon Stone has won the BMW South African Open and Jordan Spieth looks set to begin 2016 with a victory in Hawaii. Is there any hope for the long odds-on layers? Read Steve's final in-running thoughts of the week here to see what he thinks...

“Since 1999, 24 players have held a five-stroke lead on the PGA Tour and 19 of them converted successfully. Given that’s a return of only 20.8%, the bravest of the brave might want to take on Jordan Spieth at 1.101/10 but I’m not one of them.”

13.10 - January 10, 2016

Despite an almighty wobble this morning, when he bogeyed six of seven holes in the middle of his final round, 22-year-old, Brandon Stone, has emerged triumphant at the BMW South African Open, where Dan Geraghty's each-way fancy, 250/1 shot Christiaan Bezuidenhout, has finished a gallant second.

I'll have much more on that event in tomorrow's De-brief but for now I'm going to concentrate on events in Hawaii where at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, following a sensational approach shot on 18 yesterday (see below), that led to an eagle and an eight-under-par 65 third round, world number one, Jordan Spieth, will take a five stroke lead in to today's final round.

Since 1999, 24 players have held a five-stroke lead on the PGA Tour and 19 of them converted successfully. Given that's a return of only 20.8%, the bravest of the brave might want to take on Jordan Spieth at 1.101/10 but I'm not one of them. Having backed him and Patrick Reed, who currently sits third and six off the lead, I've decided to have a tiny bet on the man in second, Brooks Koepka, at 23.022/1.

Brandt Snedeker and Fabian Gomez are tied for fourth but they're three behind Reed and fully nine behind Spieth so I'm not even going to bother backing them. I can't see beyond the front three.

I'll be back tomorrow with my De-Brief.

10.40 - January 09, 2016

With Branden Grace stuttering at the end of round two of the South African Open this morning, bogeying the last two holes, and with Jordan Spieth cruising four clear of the field at the halfway stage of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, I've decided to tweak my books slightly...

I've backed Grace back at 2.588/5 to lessen the hit should he win and I've layed back some of my Spieth bet at 1.4640/85, just in case he flops over the weekend. If I do nothing else now and things don't go my way, I'll end up with a very small loss, so I'm more than happy with the first week back. So far!

The South African Open is currently live on Sky and the leaders tee off at 10:50 UK time. I'll be back tomorrow, with a more detailed look at the state of play at both events with a round to go.

14.30 - January 08, 2016

The sound of the hooter blasting at Glendower, where black clouds had been massing ominously for some time today, came as no shock at just after one o'clock UK time and there's an air of inevitability about the leaderboard at the South African Open too...

Branden Grace, the pre-event favourite, had just holed fairly lengthy birdie putts at holes 10 and 11 to tie the lead with fellow South African Keith Horne, and it's not at all how I'd hoped today would go.

As set out in the preview, I wanted to get involved in-running by laying the leaders as the event progressed and after the often-flaky Jaco Van Zyl opened up the event with an impressive seven-under-par 65 to lead, I had high hopes of taking him on at short odds but it hasn't quite panned out that way. Van Zyl has performed poorly today (currently +4 for the day through 11 holes) and it's one of my favourite players, Grace, who has taken up the running.

Opposing Grace doesn't feel quite right and I fancy him to win but it's very early on in the event for anyone to be odds-on and I've felt compelled to lay him at less than 1.84/5. As formidable as Grace looks and as ruthless in-contention as he's been, he's trying to win his national title and now that the weather's moved in and caused a delay, as it's forecasted to do the rest of the week too, this might not be as straightforward as the market assumes.

Laying anyone at odds-on on day two is often a good tactic - whether it's to lay them all the way to the line, or as a lay-to-back vehicle. Grace has looked in imperious form so far today, but will he when and if they return now the event has changed so much since he began round two? If this was an ordinary tour event in South Africa I'd be really surprised if he didn't kick on and win in style. But it isn't. It's the South African Open and it's a huge deal for the home contingency and I feel he's worth taking on modestly at odds-on at this stage.

It's been a great start for favourite backers over in Hawaii too, where Jordan Spieth looks very well poised at just a stroke behind defending champ, Patrick Reed. The two played together in the final pairing and they seem to inspire each other brilliantly. They had a fantastic duel at the Valspar Championship last year and they look set for another here.

In the 16 tournaments at Kapalua since 1999, only three winners have been outside the top-five after round one and nine of the last ten winners have all been within two of the lead after round one. The odd man out was Geoff Ogilvy in 2010. He trailed by three.

Those stats suggest we'd be daft to look past Fabian Gomez, who trails Reed by three alone in sixth, but I'm going to narrow it right down to the front two. I can see these two relishing the duel and I can see them fighting out the finish so I've backed both - favouring Spieth.

I did toy with dutching the two for an equal win but Spieth has been more prolific than Reed (Reed hasn't won since he took this title 12 months ago) so I've made him the bigger winner in the book.

South African Open Pre-Event Selections:
David Howell @ 40/1 (Sportsbook)
Hennie Otto @ 55.054/1
Pelle Edberg @ 400.0399/1 (Added after preview published)

In-Play Trades
Layed Branden Grace at 1.774/5 average
Backed Branden Grace @ 2.588/5

Hyundai Tournament of Champions Pre-Event Selection:
Graeme McDowell @ 30.029/1

In-Play Trades
Backed Jordan Spieth @ 3.39/4
Backed Patrick Reed @ 4.94/1
Layed Jordan Spieth @ 1.4640/85
Backed Brooks Koepka @ 23.022/1

I'll be back at some stage tomorrow with an update.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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