10:00 - September 10, 2016
For the second week in-a-row, someone takes a three stroke lead into the final round on the PGA Tour. Paul Casey led the Deutsche Bank last week and this week it's the turn of Dustin Johnson. Here's the BMW Championship third round leaderboard with prices to back at 09:40.
Dustin Johnson -18 1.364/11
Paul Casey -15 6.611/2
J.B Holmes -14 13.012/1
Roberto Castro -12 100.099/1
Adam Scott -11 50.049/1
Matt Kuchar -11 110.0109/1
-10 and 270.0269/1 bar
A bogey for DJ at the 13th hole yesterday saw him tied for the lead with my in-play pick, J.B Holmes, but that appeared to galvanise him into action and he birdied four of the last five to pull three clear of the field. He looks to have a fantastic opportunity to win his 14th title and the big hitters will be piling it at long odds-on but the stats suggest that may not be wise.
D.J has led with a round to go in a 72 hole stroke play event six times and he's successfully converted only twice. He's led by three twice, when he lost the plot at the US Open in 2010 and when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China. Overall on the PGA Tour, three-stroke 54 hole leaders have gone on to win 52% of the time but their recent record is shabby to say the least.
Casey, on Monday, was the latest to get beat and he was the eighth in 12 to fail. And if we look a bit further back, 21 of the last 32 to lead by three with a round to go have been beaten. The course is playing soft and long and that really does play into D.J's hands but given the stats, I've had to take him on at 1.364/11.
Over at the KLM Open, for the second week in-a-row, Scott Hend will take a one-stroke lead into the final round. Here's the current state of play with prices to back at 9:45.
Scott Hend -14 2.546/4
Nino Bertasio -13 7.413/2
Joost Luiten -11 7.87/1
Richard Bland -11 15.014/1
David Horsey -11 21.020/1
Ben Evans -11 34.033/1
Bernd Wiesberger -10 17.016/1
Tommy Fleetwood -10 23.022/1
Brandon Stone -10 25.024/1
Simon Khan -10 80.079/1
-9 and 75.074/1 bar
Looking at his record when leading, the record of one-stroke leaders on the European Tour since 1996, and considering who his closest rival is, Scott Hend looks a fair price at around the 6/4 mark. Hend has led 11 times with a round to go and he's converted four times and of the 182 players to hold a solitary stroke advantage with a round to go, 82 went on to win (45%). And the chances are, on many of those 82 occasions, the nearest challenger wouldn't have been a rookie who was two clear of the remainder.
Italy's Nino Bertasio is looking to win for the first time and he's not been great in-contention so far. He's been within five of the lead on the Challenge Tour and the European Tour with a round to go on six occasions and he's never broken 70. He led twice on the Challenge Tour with a round to go last year and he finished 14th and second.
He shot 82 in round four of the Made In Denmark Challenge in May, when tied for the lead with a round to go, and he lost a playoff at the Irish Challenge in October having led by a stroke through 54 holes. Hend was chased down and beaten in a playoff by the experienced multiple winner, Alex Noren, in Switzerland last week but I can't see Bertasio pressing him anywhere near as hard.
Hend's biggest danger could well turn out to be home favourite, Joost Luiten, and I've added to my wager on him at 8.07/1 and I've also backed the halfway leader, Bernd Wiesberger. The Austrian will be disappointed by his third round 71 yesterday but he's drifted to a decent price at 18.017/1. Many a halfway leader bounces back in round four after a disappointing Saturday and I'm happy to go to war with Hend, who I backed on Friday, Luiten and Wiesberger.
I'll be back tomorrow morning with the De-brief.
09:30 - September 10, 2016
After two rounds at the BMW Championship, US Open champ, Dustin Johnson, has played the eight par fives in nine-under-par. He's collared first round leader, Roberto Castro, and he now trades at odds-on. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 09:15.
Dustin Johnson -14 1.9520/21
Roberto Castro -14 7.613/2
Paul Casey -11 9.08/1
J.B Holmes -10 20.019/1
Chris Kirk -10 28.027/1
-7 and 46.045/1 bar
This is one of the strangest halfway leaderboards I've seen in quite some time. We've got two players three clear of everyone else and a gap of three between the pair in a tie for fourth and the group of players in a tie for sixth. On such an easy course, where low scores are the norm, I'd be extremely surprised to see someone from outside the current top-five go on to win and it's no surprise to see Johnson trading at odds-on.
His co-leader, Castro, who was matched at 580.0579/1 before the off, is yet to win on the PGA Tour, although he did come very close in May when he lost a playoff to James Hahn at the Wells Fargo Championship. He did nothing wrong there and he can't be dismissed out of hand but it's hard to envisage him breaking his duck in an event of this magnitude.
Johnson's record when leading or co-leading at halfway is strong. He's found himself in this situation after two rounds in a 72-hole stroke play event seven times before and he's gone on to win on three occasions. Nobody's played the long holes better than him and he's clearly the man to beat but he does have a propensity to lose focus and throw in the odd bad round and I wouldn't dream about taking the odds-on.
Paul Casey will be determined to put behind him the disappointment of throwing away the Deutsche Bank Championship last week but he's not one to rely on stateside and he still has just the one PGA Tour victory to his name. He won the Shell Houston Open way back in 2009 and it's the man he beat in the playoff there that I like best here - J.B Holmes.
Chris Kirk and Holmes are both four off the lead and three clear of the remainder but given his length advantage, I much prefer Holmes. This is a long track and the big hitters have already come to the fore. Johnson and Holmes currently rank first and second for Driving Distance on the PGA Tour so it's no surprise to see them figure. Scoring well on the four par fives was always going to be key here and I can see their length advantage telling even further as the event continues.
This is a penalty kick for DJ now but if he misses, Holmes is ideally placed to benefit. I can see J.B continuing to enjoy the venue and at 20.019/1, I thought he was worth chancing.
Over at the KLM Open, the morning starters on day one enjoyed a sizable advantage over the rest and 11 of the top 12 and 16 of the top 19 at halfway were drawn morning/afternoon. The wind that troubled the afternoon starters on day one didn't materialise yesterday and overall those drawn early/late averaged 1.76 strokes less than those drawn late/early.
Here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 09:20.
Bernd Wiesberger -10 4.1
Joost Luiten -9 5.24/1
Nino Bertasio -9 18.5
Mark Foster -9 32.031/1
Tommy Fleetwood -8 15.5
Alejandro Canizares -8 18.017/1
Ben Evans -8 50.049/1
Scott Hend -7 17.016/1
-7 and 30.029/1 bar
I backed Hend in-running yesterday and I certainly didn't get any value. He's trading at almost the same price now and I could lay my bet back but I'm going to stick with him. He was the only player drawn on the wrong side to reach seven-under-par and from just three back he can figure over the weekend but he's far from the most likely winner according to the market.
That honour goes to the leader, Wiesberger, but I much prefer the home favourite and 2013 KLM winner, Joost Luiten. Wiesberger is very often well-supported but he's not entirely reliable in-the-mix and I'd have Luiten the slight favourite myself. Wiesberger has led at halfway four times previously but he's only once converted and he's only ever won three times on the European Tour.
Wiesberger and Luiten have very similar profiles and the Dutchman has won only once more than the Austrian but I suspect he holds the aces here. He'll know the course far more intimately than Wiesberger and he won't lack for support. I got my fingers burnt backing him in this event last year when he faded badly after a great first round so I was reluctant to back him again on such a packed leaderboard but his record in the event is very strong and 5.49/2 looked fair.
I've had what amounts to little more than a saver on Luiten as I thought he was fractionally big at that price but the dangers are plentiful enough. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the bang-in-form Alex Noren put in a run from off the pace, former winner, Ross Fisher, could also strike from just four back and Paul Krishnamurty's each-way fancy, Tommy Fleetwood, is bang there on -8. It's a far more open heat than the one in the states and I'm happy not to get too involved.
I'll be back again in the morning to take another look at both tournaments.
09:50 - September 09, 2016
It's been a somewhat unsatisfactory start to the week so far. I wrote in the KLM Open preview that there might be a draw bias in favour of the early starters on day one and that was indeed the case so it was Sod's law that both my two pre-event picks were drawn in the afternoon. Neither prospered and I don't really think I can realistically blame a bit of wind.
Thongchai Jaidee shot one-over par and Pablo Larrazabal one-under. The wind didn't get up too menacingly but enough to cause a disparity in the scoring of 1.25 strokes in favour of the early starters.
The first round leader, Ben Evans, shot a six-under-par 65 in the morning and with today's early starters not making up much ground, he's still atop of the leaderboard. Former winner, Ross Fisher, is the biggest mover so far and he's climbed up into a tie for second having played his first eight holes in four-under-par.
I've had one tiny in-play bet, taking an average of 15.014/1 about last week's runner-up, Scott Hend, after he'd birdied the 13th hole (his fourth of the day) to get to within one of Evans. He went on to birdie 14 as well but gave that back at the 15th and at the time of writing he's alongside Fisher on -5.
Over at the BMW Championship, we look set for a frustrating stop-start week and three and half hours were lost to the weather on day one. My main fancy, Rory McIlroy, trails first round leader, Roberto Castro, by four strokes but he's still got eight holes of round one to play and he's firmed up further at the head of the market.
I'm going to leave things alone for now and see what the day brings and I'll return this evening or in the morning with a look at the state of play at halfway in the Netherlands.
KLM Pre-Event Selections:
Thongchai Jaidee @ 33/1 (Sportsbook)
Pablo Larrazabal @ 44.043/1
Scot Hend @ an average of 15.014/1
Joost Luiten @ 5.49/2 and 8.07/1
Bernd Wiesberger @ 18.017/1
BMW Pre-Event Selections:
Rory McIlroy @ 8.07/1
Patrick Reed @ 25.024/1
Gary Woodland @ 70.069/1
J.B Holmes @ 20.019/1
Dustin Johnson layed @ 1.364/11
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