The Punter's In-Play Blog: Tyrell poised to break his duck

Tyrell Hatton – three clear with a round to go at St Andrews
Tyrell Hatton – three clear with a round to go at St Andrews

There's just a round to go at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship so our man assesses the state of play ahead of today's final round here...

“It’s notoriously difficult to back-up a low score so it’s very hard to envisage Tyrell Hatton getting close to yesterday’s fabulous ten-under-par 62, especially given that he’s attempting to win his first title today. Nerves are almost certain to get to the 24-year-old and the chances are he’ll have a wobble or two at some stage today but that doesn’t mean he’s opposable.”

10:55 - October 09, 2016

In stark contrast to my man, Alex Noren, who shot a bitterly disappointing one-over-par 73 at St Andrews, England's Tyrell Hatton skipped round the Old Lady in just 62 strokes and he'll take a three-stroke lead into today's fourth and final round. Here's the leaderboard with prices to back at 10:50.

Tyrell Hatton -17 2.01/1

Ross Fisher -14 4.84/1

Richard Sterne -13 13.012/1
Joakim Lagergren -13 18.017/1

Martin Kaymer -12 13.012/1
Florian Fritsch -12 34.033/1

Marc Warren -11 55.054/1

Soren Kjeldsen -10 60.059/1
Lasse Jensen -10 300.0299/1

-9 and 200.0199/1 bar

It's notoriously difficult to back-up a low score so it's very hard to envisage Tyrell Hatton getting close to yesterday's fabulous ten-under-par 62, especially given that he's attempting to win his first title today. Nerves are almost certain to get to the 24-year-old and the chances are he'll have a wobble or two at some stage today but that doesn't mean he's opposable.

Having led by two with a round to go in 2013, Peter Uihlein was beaten by David Howell in a playoff but he's the only third round leader here to fail in the last six years and since 1996 on the European Tour, 76 players have led by three with a round to go and 54 of them went on to win. That's a 71% strike rate so that percentage, coupled with the recent five out of six record of third round leaders here, make Hatton a fair enough price at around even money and I wouldn't put anyone off backing him.

Ross Fisher, who shot a very decent three-under-par 68 around Carnoustie yesterday, is the obvious danger to Hatton. He's already won five times on the European Tour and he did nothing wrong when losing to Alex Levy in a playoff last time out but whether he rates a value price at less than 4/1 is debatable.

I'm not keen on either of the two players tied for third and four off the lead and if forced to pick an alternative to the leader it would have to be Martin Kaymer at 13.012/1. The German has given up a number of very good chances to win since he lost a ten-stroke lead in Abu Dhabi in January last year and he's well overdue another title. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that the two Englishmen in front both feel the heat today and if they do, Kaymer from just off the pace may be the one to capitalise but it's a no-bet heat for me now.

I decided not to lay any of my Brandt Snedeker wager back yesterday so after his facile victory in Fiji overnight I'm going to make a nice profit on the week and I'm more than happy to settle for that.

I will be following today's event closely though and I'll be particularly interested to see how they bet the event if it goes to extra time. Should Hatton and Fisher end up in a playoff for example, the more experienced Englishman will definitely be favourite but it's worth considering that Fisher's playoff record is zero out of five and when he was involved in one here back in 2008 he drove straight into the Swilcan Burn off the tee at the first hole.

08:40 - October 08, 2016

Alex Noren was a confident selection before the off in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and after he'd opened up with a record-equalling eight-under-par at Carnoustie to take up the early running on Thursday I was very confident about his chances but he hit the buffers a bit at Kingsbarns yesterday.

Playing at the easiest of the three courses, I thought he might take control and move clear of the field but a cold putter hampered his progress and back-to-back bogeys at the 17th and 18th holes resulted in a disappointing one-under-par 71. Those two bogeys to finish his round saw him slip two strokes behind halfway leader Ross Fisher so here are the latest standings, with courses to be played today, tee-off times and prices to back 08:30.

Ross Fisher -11 (Carnoustie 09.22) 4.84/1

Joakim Lagergren -10 (St Andrews 10:39) 10.09/1

Alex Noren -9 (St Andrews 11:12) 4.57/2

Jbe Kruger -8 (Carnoustie 11:01) 80.079/1

Tyrell Hatton -7 (St Andrews 10:06) 14.5

Thomas Pieters -6 (St Andrews 10:50) 10.09/1
Richard Sterne -6 (St Andrews 10:50) 50.049/1
Marc Warren -6 (Carnoustie 10:28) 100.099/1
Matt Ford -6 (Carnoustie 10:50) 200.0199/1
JB Hansen -6 (Carnoustie 10:06) 200.0199/1
Ulrich Van Den Berg -6 (Carnoustie 10:28) 200.0199/1

Martin Kaymer -5 (St Andrews 10:28) 25.024/1
Bernd Wiesberger -5 (St Andrews 09:00) 25.024/1
Tommy Fleetwood -5 (Carnoustie 10:06) 65.064/1

-5 and 44.043/1 bar

Scanning too far down the leaderboard might not be too wise. David Howell sat tied for 20th and six strokes adrift at halfway before going on to beat Peter Uihlein in a playoff in 2013 but he's the only winner since 2004 to be outside the front four places at this stage.

This is the 11th occasion that Ross Fisher has led or co-led at halfway and so far he has a 30% strike rate. He did little wrong last time out at the European Open, when he lost a playoff to Alex Levy, and his chance has to be respected but I'm happy to stick with Noren.

Fisher plays the toughest of the three courses today - Carnoustie - whereas Noren moves on to St Andrews and I can see the Swede putting yesterday's disappointment behind him. It's never easy to back up a low round so I perhaps should have anticipated yesterday's lacklustre effort and I'm hopeful that the Swede can get back on track today and go low again.

If I hadn't already backed him before the off I'd have backed him before the second round at only 3.55/2 and he's a fair price this morning at around the 7/2 mark. History suggests being up with the pace is important and the others in and around the lead look opposable.

Joakim Lagergren hasn't been this close to the lead in a European Tour event since he went into the weekend in second place at the Madeira Islands Open way back in 2012. He could only finish fourth on that occasion and he's still looking for his first European Tour title. He won the Northern Ireland Open Challenge on the Challenge Tour wire-to-wire in 2014 but victory in an event of this magnitude would be a major step up on anything he's ever done before.

South Africa's Jbe Kruger, was matched at 990.0989/1 before the off and he was never on my radar. He won the Avantha Masters in India back in 2012, so he does have a European Tour title to his name but I'd be very surprised if he ever won a second and especially so if it were in an event of this stature.

Tyrell Hatton has been many peoples idea of a winner in waiting for quite some time but I'm always wary of players that haven't yet won and if there's to be an off-the-pace winner this year then Ryder Cup hero, Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer and Bernd Wiesberger look better propositions.

I toyed with backing Pieters last night at 12.5 but if Fisher and/or Noren play well over the weekend, he's going to have to go ridiculously low to catch them and if there was a modicum of value in his price then, it's certainly gone now. I'm going to stick with Noren only and see what today brings.

Over at the Fiji International, the short-priced favourite, Brandt Snedeker, has edged clear with a round to go and I'll be disappointed if he doesn't win from here. Having backed him before the off, I perhaps should lay my stakes back at least but it's very hard to see him getting beat so I'm going to wait and see how the Alfred Dunhill pans out today before making a decision.

22:45 - October 06, 2016

My each-way selection at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Alex Noren, has kicked off the event with an extremely impressive, course record equalling, eight-under-par 64 at the toughest of the three courses - Carnoustie - and he sounded a little surprised by his superb start.

"That was probably one of the best rounds I've played, so I'm very happy right now. I've never shot lower than 71 at Carnoustie. I didn't expect much, but it went better than I expected. It was tough conditions, but I putted great."

Carnoustie has always been the toughest of the three courses and that was again the case today. Here are the hole averages for the first round.

Carnoustie Par 72 - Averaged 71.01 (0.99 under-par)
Kingsbarns Par 72 - Averaged 69.1 (2.9 under-par)
St Andrews Par 72 - Averaged 69.46 (2.57 under-par)

Noren's nearest challenger is the in-form Englishman, Ross Fisher, who lost a playoff last time out at the European Open. That was Fisher's fifth playoff defeat in total and his second came here in this event back in 2008 so his presence on the leaderboard isn't a surprise.

Fisher trails by just a stroke but he's already played the easiest of three courses - Kingsbarns- so his proximity to the Swede could be a bit misleading.

I'm going to stick with what I have for now. As highlighted in the preview, three of the last five winners were in front after day one and in 15 years, only two winners have trailed by more than four after the opening day.

Given Noren has already played the toughest course in the rotation, and that he plays Kingsbarns tomorrow, I'm more than happy with his start and I'm not laying anything off yet.

The Fiji International looks to be going quite well at this stage too. My sole selection, Brandt Snedeker, is already more than halfway through his second round and he's already been matched at 2.01/1 having gotten to within a stroke of the lead. It's an extraordinarily weak field for a European Tour event and he really ought to outclass his rivals from here.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Pre-Event Selections:

Alex Noren @ 26.025/1
Andrew Johnston @ 65.064/1
Graeme McDowell @ 85.084/1
Peter Uihlein @ 180.0179/1 (non-runner)
Zac Blair @ 500.0499/1

Fiji International Pre-Event Selection:
Brandt Snedeker @ 5.04/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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