The Punter's In-Play Blog: Is Luke poised to steal the show at Woburn?

Luke Donald - three off the lead at Woburn
Luke Donald - three off the lead at Woburn

The final round of the British Masters has begun and the leaders will tee-off at 11:40 so our man's taken a look at the main contenders with a round to go. Read The punter's final in-running thoughts of the week here...

“Luke Donald was on the shortlist before the off, given he plays Wentworth so well, and having hit top gear yesterday he could be the one to beat should the leaders flounder. Woburn looks and plays like Wentworth and Donald is clearly enjoying the test. I still think the event’s very difficult to call but at 14.013/1, I thought Donald was worth chancing for a few pounds and a bit of final day interest.”

09.35 - October 11, 2015

The Presidents Cup has finished in dramatic fashion, with the Americans narrowly retaining the cup by a point, and I'll have lots more on that in the De-brief tomorrow but for now my attention is taken up by the British Masters, which looks set for a thrilling finish of its own. Here's the third round leaderboard with prices to back at 09:20.

Matthew Fitzpatrick -12 4.57/2
Kiradech Aphibarnrat -12 4.77/2

Søren Kjeldsen -11 6.05/1
Fabrizio Zanotti -11 9.28/1

Shane Lowry -11 11.521/2
Luke Donald -9 14.013/1
Romain Wattel -9 30.029/1
Richard Bland -9 50.049/1

Robert Karlsson -8 65.064/1
Lee Slattery -8 75.074/1
Anthony Wall -8 95.094/1
Daniel Brooks -8 140.0139/1

-7 and 90.089/1 Bar

Having barely got involved in what looked a tough event from the get-go, I'd be more than happy to see Paul Krishnamurty's each-way selection, Matthew Fitzpatrick, go on to win. His arrow-straight long game has seen him in the van from the outset and he's put himself in pole-position to take his maiden title. It would be mildly frustrating from a personal perspective as I tried to back him at 44.043/1 but I was just a bit too ambitious and only a fiver was matched at 42.041/1. With hindsight, I should clearly have taken the 40.039/1 but that's easy to say now. He has a favourite's chance now but he makes no appeal at just a shade over 3/1.

Nobody's putting better than Kiradech Aphibarnrat this week and if he can avoid the trees off the tee all day he'll take the world of beating, but that's a big if. After three days of play, he ranks 58th for Driving Accuracy and one or two more errant drives could easily derail his charge around tree-lined Woburn. I could be way off the mark but I also wonder whether he was up early watching the Presidents Cup? He wouldn't have been a million miles off making the International team and he could well have been up following the action from early this morning - preparation that wouldn't be ideal for a pressure-filled final round on the European Tour.

Søren Kjeldsen has hit more greens than anyone else all week and he looks sure to hang around. Playing in the penultimate three-ball would ordinarily result in a fraction less pressure but with Luke Donald one of the three going off at 11:40 with Søren, the gallery will be larger than the one following the leaders ten minutes later. I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see the experienced Dane claim his second win of the year, following victory in the Irish Open, but at just 6.05/1 I'm more than happy to leave him alone.

Fabrizio Zanotti has driven the ball superbly all week and he ranks number one for Driving Accuracy so far this week so he too is likely to hang around but the 32-year-old Paraguayan has won just once in more than 200 European Tour starts and that was from five back with a round to go. I'm not saying he can't win, but I'd want more than a single-figure price about him doing so.

There's a gap of two strokes to the four players tied for fifth and if one of the front four can shoot three or four under then they'll take some stopping but with pre-event favourite, Shane Lowry, and home favourite, Luke Donald, lurking three off the lead, the front-runners are far from safe. Lowry struggled badly on the greens yet again yesterday, taking an astonishing 33 putts, after taking 34 on Friday. He simply can't win if he putts that poorly again today and at a few ticks bigger Donald represents much better value...

The classy Englishman was on the shortlist before the off, given he plays Wentworth so well, and having hit top gear yesterday - shooting an error-free six-under-par 65 - he could be the one to beat should the leaders flounder. Woburn looks and plays like Wentworth and Donald is clearly enjoying the test. I still think the event's very difficult to call but at 14.013/1, I thought Donald was worth chancing for a few pounds and a bit of final day interest.

16.25 - October 10, 2015

Today's two sessions at the Presidents Cup were both shared equalling so with just the 12 singles matches to go the Americans will take a 9 ½ to 8 ½ point lead into the final day and I have a feeling they might just keep the Internationals at bay.

I haven't seen very much of the tournament at all but I did get to watch quite a bit of today's second session and one or two of the International team looked vulnerable. Adam Scott's putter is still misbehaving, Danny Lee is apparently struggling and Anirban Lahiri looked really out of sorts.

The Sportsbook has just published their two-ball prices and I will back Branden Grace at 11/10 to beat Matt Kuchar. The South African was the star of the show this morning. He's playing with bags of confidence and Kuchar will have his hands full.

Sangmoon Bae looked in fine fettle this morning, and might reward a bet at 11/10 up against Bill Haas in the final match. Bae's playing partner Hideki Matsuyama also looked in good touch and is a tempter at even money against JB Holmes.

21.55 - October 9, 2015

We've reached the halfway stage of the British Masters and with 22 players within four strokes of the lead it's still a very hard event to assess. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 21:40.

Søren Kjeldsen -9 6.411/2
Matthew Fitzpatrick -9 6.86/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat -8 11.010/1
Richard Bland -8 30.029/1

Shane Lowry -7 8.27/1
Bradley Dredge -7 30.029/1
Robert Karlsson -7 32.031/1

Marc Warren -6 30.029/1
Andy Sullivan -6 30.029/1
Fabrizio Zanotti -6 40.039/1
Lee Slattery -6 40.039/1
Mikael Lundberg -6 75.074/1

Graeme McDowell -5 23.022/1

-5 and 40.039/1 Bar

It was a frustrating end to the second round for yours truly. Mikael Lundberg, backed at 500.0499/1 before the off, was just a stroke off the lead with two to play but he finished bogey-bogey and my in-play pick, Jaco Van Zyl, bogeyed two of his final four to slip from two off the lead to four back. They're not quite out of it yet but the scruffy finishes could be a sign of what's to come.

Søren Kjeldsen heads the market as well as the leaderboard and I can see why. He's led or been tied for the lead six times in his career and he's gone on to win on four occasions. After two rounds, he ranks 15th for Driving Accuracy, second for Greens In Regulation and 13th for Putting Average so his game's in tip-top order. What puts me off is the fact that the last time he led, at the KLM Open last month, he played poorly and finished tied 12th and he was also disappointing last week after a great start to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He's the worthy favourite at this stage but on such a crowded leaderboard I'm happy to overlook him and the same can be said of the other co-leader, Matthew Fitzpatrick...

It's going to be a big weekend for Fitzpatrick and he may well go on to claim his first European Tour event but winning for the first time's a big deal. Doing it in your own country and wire-to-wire is an even bigger deal and again, given how cluttered the leaderboard is, he just doesn't represent any value either.

Pre-event favourite, Shane Lowry, hasn't been quite finding enough fairways or holing enough putts to win so far but he's only two back, has made just one bogey all week, and he could very easily sharpen up his game that extra couple of percent to take the spoils. If I had to back one of the market leaders at this stage it would be him but fortunately I haven't got to.

I'm slightly frustrated not to have Kiradech Aphibarnrat onside and if he goes on to win it will be very annoying given I backed him last week at 160.0159/1 but I'm going to continue to overlook him. I didn't back him from the off because I didn't feel he'd be accurate enough off the tee and because his record at Wentworth, a course I thought very similar to Woburn, is poor. After two rounds he ranks 105th for Driving Accuracy and he's only where he is thanks to a very hot putter. It's more likely that the putts will stop dropping than he starts finding lots of fairways so I'm leaving him alone, even though witnessing him winning un-backed would be very irritating.

I don't feel able to commit to any of the market leaders and I can easily see one or two players from four, five, six or even seven shots back shooting up the leaderboard tomorrow. It's still a devilishly tricky puzzle to solve and I was sorely tempted to continue my ultra cautious stance but one player that looks over-priced is David Howell.

The 40 year-old, former BMW PGA Champion at Wentworth, finished his second round strongly to get to five-under-par, despite not putting brilliantly, and he'll feel Woburn owes him one. He led this event through two and three rounds here back in 2001 before eventually losing a playoff and so he clearly loves the venue. He's no bigger than 40/1 anywhere on the High Street so he's over-priced at 70.069/1 and I'm more than happy to throw a few pounds his way.

I'll be back sometime tomorrow with another look at the Presidents Cup and I'll take a look at the state of play at Woburn after three rounds tomorrow evening or first thing Sunday.

10:10 - October 9, 2015

With the Presidents Cup being played out throughout the night, I haven't seen much of it at all and having backed the International team from the outset, after the opening day I was wondering whether my interest in the event was over before it even began.

The first day ended with the Internationals trailing the Americans 4-1 and it wasn't a surprise to see them drift out to as high as 8.88/1 but they've fought back valiantly today, winning the session 3 ½ -1 ½. Putting Korea's Sangmoon Bae and Korean-born, Danny Lee, together now looks an inspired piece of captaining by Nick Price and if the Internationals go on to win, the birdie putt on 18 (below) by Bae will be seen as the turning point.

The American pair of Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker were two up after three holes but were pecked back to all square on the 10th and the match remained tied until the final hole, so Bae's putt to win and to close the gap to just a solitary point was massive.

I'm hoping the Internationals can keep it tight tomorrow and if they do, I'll be setting the alarm early on Sunday morning to watch the singles.

Day two of the British Masters is well underway and live on Sky and what looked like a tricky event before the off now looks just as hard to fathom!

Paul Krishnamurty's each-way selection, Matthew Fitzpatrick, ended the first day in front after an opening seven-under-par 64 and he extended his lead with a birdie at his opening hole this morning but he's now been caught by Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Welshman Bradley Dredge.

There are no surprises on the leaderboard and few notable absentees. I liked Fitzpatrick myself (although not his price) and the likes of Shane Lowry, Marc Warren, Søren Kjeldsen, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Luke Donald, who are all in the thick of it already, were all considered carefully before the off. I'd love to get stuck into someone in-running at this early stage but it just looks too competitive for now so I'm keeping the powder dry.

I did back Jaco Van Zyl - another I'd looked at closely before the off - as he played the back nine of his first round yesterday morning but he bogeyed the last and the afternoon starters fared just as well as those that started early. It's usually advantageous to play in the morning, especially on the first day, but the early starters averaged 70.69 yesterday and the afternoon starters averaged 70.65.

The forecast suggests very little wind all day today so I don't see any reason for any sort of bias today either and it's perfectly possible that the late starters will be able to make up ground this afternoon.

I'm going to watch as much as I can today (it's live on Sky all day until 17:30) and I may get someone else on side in-running but I can't help but feel this is an event that requires a lot of patience so I'll be back tomorrow with an in-depth look at the state of play at halfway.

British Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Paul Dunne @ 100.099/1
Thomas Aiken @ 110.0109/1
Mikael Lundberg @ 500.0499/1
David Drysdale @ 12/1 Top-Ten (Sportsbook)

British Masters In-Play Picks
Jaco Van Zyl @ 120.0119/1
David Howell @ 70.069/1
Luke Donald @ 14.013/1

Presidents Cup Pre-Event Selections:
International Team (outright) @ 3.412/5
Patrick Reed (Top US Scorer) @ 9/1 (Sportsbook)
Danny Lee (Top International Scorer) 12/1 (Sportsbook)
Thongchai Jaidee (Top International Scorer) 16/1(Sportsbook)

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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