Brooks Koepka has won in Korea and Sergio Garcia looks set to win in Spain but is a he a bet at [1.15]? Read what Steve thinks here with his final in-play update of the week here...
“Since 1996, 34 players have led by four shots with a round to go on the European Tour and ten of them failed to convert and Sergio once let a six-stroke lead slip on the PGA Tour. He really should get the job done, given he’s playing on his favourite course, but shots can soon go astray around Valderrama if your games not on song.”
10:30 - October 21, 2017
Brooks Koepka fired a seven-under-par 29 on the back-nine to move to the top of the world rankings and to win the CJ Cup by four strokes and that's how far clear Sergio Garcia is at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters with a round to go.
Sergio is currently trading at [1.15] and having backed him yesterday, I've layed my stakes back at [1.16] as that looks short enough to me. Sergio really should go on to win now but three of the last four players to take a four-stroke lead in to the final round of a European Tour event have been beaten. Since 1996, 34 players have led by four shots with a round to go on the European Tour and ten of them failed to convert and Sergio once let a six-stroke lead slip on the PGA Tour. He really should get the job done, given he's playing on his favourite course, but shots can soon go astray around Valderrama if your games not on song.
We've had another delay this morning but they are playing now and Sergio should tee-off at around 11:00 UK time, just as the coverage starts on Sky.
11:10 - October 20, 2017
It won't come as a surprise to anyone that after yet more thunder and rain, the Andalucía Valderrama Masters has now been reduced to 54-holes. They managed to get some play in first thing this morning but the heavens opened once more and yet again we've been on stop, with half the field yet to begin their second rounds. Play has just resumed again and hopefully we can get a clear run now.
With this being the final counting event of the season, the European Tour won't reduce the event's length any further and to get the three rounds in, they'll go in to Monday if they have to. That does at least clear things up for us. We now know it's only 54-holes, we know the course is soaking wet and we know they're prepared to go to Monday if they have to. Here's the current state of play as they begin again.
Ashley Chester -5 (yet to start round two) [7.2]
Marc Warren -4 (played 17 holes of round two) [16.0]
Alvaro Quiros -4 (played 16 holes of round two) [30.0]
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano -4 (played 15 holes of round two) [19.0]
Gregory Bourdy -4 (yet to start round two) [24.0]
Sergio Garcia -3 (yet to start round two) [4.0]
Jason Scrivener -3 (yet to start round two) [30.0]
Shane Lowry -2 (yet to start round two) [12.0]
-2 and [28.0] bar
The chances of Paul Krishnamurty's each-way fancy, Ashley Chesters, have increased because of the event's length reduction, given he led after round one, but tournament host and pre-event favourite, Sergio Garcia, looks a very fair price to me at [4.0] this morning.
There's a heavy Spanish presence on the leaderboard with likable local, Alvaro Quiros, and his house guest for the week and good friend, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, in-the-mix, and almost done for round two, but Sergio looks to be looming large on -3.
It's hard to know whether it's better to be close to finishing your second round or yet to start it but I'm inclined to think the former. Even though the course will play easier because of all the rain, it's still an extremely tough examination and there are far more players over-par than under for round two. If the likes of Marc Warren, Quiros and Castano can par in when play resumed, I don't think they'll be far off the lead once the stagger unwinds and everyone has completed 36 holes.
Ordinarily, I'd be looking to side with the players in-contention that have played the most holes but I can't resist Sergio at [4.0]. As highlighted in the preview, Garcia's course form is ridiculously good and 3/1 with just five men ahead of him in-play looks decent considering he was generally a 4/1 shot before the off. If Sergio can get round in one-or two-under today, which with the course playing soft is perfectly doable given his remarkable record here, the 3/1 available now will be long gone and even if he shoots level or even one-over, I can't se anyone shooting clear and he'll still be in touch.
Over at the CJ Cup, Brooks Koepka has put distance between himself and the field and he looks impossible to oppose. The world number three now leads by four with a round to go and big hitters will be licking their lips at the [1.39] available. Short-price favourites aren't my cup of tea so I'm leaving that alone now.
11:40 - October 19, 2017
Heavy rain and thunder caused a lengthy suspension in play for the second day in-a-row at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters this morning and while they are out there playing now, some players have yet to complete more than half a dozen holes of their opening rounds.
It's enough of a pain having the delays and trying to gauge who will play today and how much there'll play but an even bigger spanner in the works is the condition of the course after all the rain.
Valderrama is a fabulous venue. It's tight and tricky off the tee and it's not a course to be overpowered but after substantial rain there's going to be less run on the fairways, so avoiding the rough will be easier, and the rain-softened greens are going to be much easier to hold too. We're not likely to experience a run of the mill Valderrama type tournament now so that's going to make things tricky for punting purposes and we don't even know how many rounds will be played?
The forecast for tomorrow suggests we're going to see rain for much of the day and there's more wet stuff in the forecast for Sunday too. Getting a full 72 holes in looks like being a struggle already and from a betting perspective, it looks a bit of a minefield so I'm more than happy to hold fire for now and see what happens today.
Over at the CJ Cup in Korea, this week's PGA Tour event, they've reached the halfway stage and Scott Piercy holds sway. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:30.
As frustrating as the situation is in Spain, it's not even close to how irritating it was to wake up and see last week's monster-priced selection leading a week too late. I backed Piercy last week in Malaysia at [160.0] but I haven't had a penny on this week and he was matched before the off at [400.0], having been generally available at [360.0]! Ouch.
Putting my frustrations aside, Piercy doesn't look an awful price this morning. He fell away after a decent start last week (was two off the lead at halfway) so that's a negative but he has a solid enough in-contention record. He's won four times on the PGA Tour previously and he's successfully converted a 36-hole lead on two occasions, having led at this stage just four times previously.
Piercy is 40 in less than three weeks and that's another reason to be annoyed not to be onboard. Many will think its pure gobbledygook but an upsurge in fortunes on or around a significant milestone birthday isn't unusual and if he starts well tomorrow and Brooks Koepka doesn't, all of a sudden, he could open up a big enough gap to relax.
World number three, Koepka, who eagled his final hole today, is clearly the biggest danger but he has the added pressure of reaching number one in the world rankings if he wins the tournament and that's often been an issue with a number of players. I'm not for one second saying that the three-time major winner can't handle that but it's a seed of doubt and it just makes his current short price look a fraction too short for my liking.
The front two are a couple clear of the remainder and none of their nearest rivals look particularly menacing so I'm happy to take a very small chance on the leader at [7.8]. Conditions are forecasted to be reasonable over the next couple of days and Piercy might just kick on.
Andalucía Valderrama Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Jeunghun Wang @ [75.0]
Padraig Harrington @ [38.0] (added after the preview published)
Sergio Garcia @ [4.0]
Sergio Garcia layed @ [1.16]
CJ Cup Pre-Event Selection:
Justin Thomas @ [7.6]
Scott Piercy @ [7.8]
Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia
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