The Punter's In-Play Blog: Can Stenson buck the trend in Boston?

Henrik Stenson – the third round leader in Boston
Henrik Stenson – the third round leader in Boston

Henrik Stenson has hit the front at the Deutsche Bank Championship and he's all the rage at a shade of odds-against but our man thinks he's well worth taking on. Read the Punter's final in-running thoughts on the week's golf here...

“Third round leaders have an appalling record at this event and the last eight solo 54 hole leaders have all been beaten.”

10.05 - September 7, 2015

With a two-under-par final round 69, Lee Slattery has gone on to win the Russian Open by a stroke over Estanislao Goya. The pair looked to have the event between them as they entered the back nine yesterday and the pivotal moment came at the penultimate hole when Slattery chipped in for birdie to stretch ahead by two. Goya managed a birdie four at the final hole but Slattery was able to keep his nerve and hole out for par and the win. He'd looked a bit nervous after bogeying holes two and six but he played the back nine in three-under par and was the deserved winner.

Over at the Deutsche Bank Championship, halfway leader, Charley Hoffman, started perfectly by rolling in a 19 foot birdie putt at his opening hole in round three but he struggled badly after that, bogeying seven of his next ten holes. He's tumbled out of the top-ten now and he trails the third round leader, Henrik Stenson, by six strokes. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 10:00.

Henrik Stenson -13 2.166/5

Rickie Fowler -12 4.03/1

Matt Jones -11 12.5
Sean O'Hair -11 14.013/1

Russell Knox -10 23.022/1

-8 and 38.037/1 Bar

Stenson, the 2013 winner of the event, was popular with punters before the off, tightening up from 22.021/1 to 16.015/1, and he'll be all the rage at odds-against now but he's not for me, for a couple of reasons.

Third round leaders have an appalling record at this event and the last eight solo 54 hole leaders have all been beaten. Olin Browne and Steve Stricker were both tied for the lead when they won in 2005 and 2009 but it's now 11 years since a clear third round leader went on to convert. That alone is enough to put me off Stenson, but add in his performance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March and I'm heading for the lay button.

The Swede held a two-stroke advantage at Arnie's gaff and he was trading at around 1.75/7 before the final round began but a lightning fast start by Morgan Hoffman soon had him on the back foot. Stenson missed some very makeable putts and was clearly wobbling but he was handed another chance when nerves got the better of the rookie Hoffman. Having been handed the initiative, Stenson hit a low of 1.111/9 in-running but he finished poorly - playing the final six holes in one-over par - and when Matt Every edged past him with a birdie at the last, Stenson couldn't respond.

Given that he only trails by one, and that he's already won the Players Championship and the Scottish Open this year, Rickie Fowler is an obvious choice to get the better of Stenson and at 4.03/1, he looks very fairly priced but I'm not going to try and be clever, I'm just laying Stenson.

I have had a couple of tiny bets on two players much further off the pace though - Daniel Berger and Hunter Mahan. The young rookie, Berger, came from off the pace to get into a playoff at the Honda Classic in March and Mahan has won from off the pace a couple of times already.

12:00 - September 6, 2015

The Russian Open is coming to a conclusion live on Sky right now and with umpteen players within a couple of strokes of the lead all morning it's been an extremely tricky one to call but Argentina's Estanislao Goya and England's Lee Slattery have just edged ahead of the pack, with the Argentine showing the way. I've not got involved in-running with this one and I'm happy to continue that stance. And I'm also happy to stick with what I have in the States.

For the first time in his short career, Jordan Spieth has missed his second cut in-a-row and with world number one, Rory McIlroy, firing a disappointing 74 in round two of the Deutsche Bank Championship, to sit 14 strokes off the lead, Jason Day has been given a great opportunity to climb to the top of the world rankings. All he has to do is win the tournament but with Charley Hoffman six clear of Day and three clear of the field, that isn't going to be easy.

Since 1996, someone has led a 72 hole stroke play event by three on the PGA Tour 66 times and on 22 occasions they went on to win. So with one in three converting, the 4.84/1 on offer about Hoffman looks fair but it's never that simple. We have to consider that Tiger Woods has a 100% strike rate when three clear, making up 18% of those victories, and that Hoffman has never held any sort of clear lead at halfway before. He's been tied at the top at this stage twice but on both occasions he got beat.

Hoffman has a very obvious liking for TPC Boston and he won here in 2010 so it would be daft to dismiss him but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him tread water today and he's not for me. I'm happy to stick with my Day wager for now and reassess again tomorrow.

08:45 - September 5, 2015

Veteran Welshman, Bradley Dredge, who is without a win since 2006, takes a one stroke lead into the weekend at the Russian Open. England's Lee Slattery sits second with another experienced player, Daniel Gaunt, a further stroke back in third.

Slattery's sole European Tour success came at the Madrid Masters back in 2011 and Aussie Gaunt, who like Slattery, is 37-years-old, is still looking for his first victory on the main tour, although he has won twice on the Challenge Tour.

It looked like a tough event before the off and it doesn't look to be getting much easier. Two of my three pre-event picks missed the cut and the one that made it through, Jazz Janewattananond, is miles behind so I'm out of the game here and I'm more than happy to keep it that way for now.

Dredge has experience of being in-contention fairly recently, having finished sixth at the Made In Denmark a fortnight ago and he contested both that event and the Czech Masters this time last year but there are so many players three, four and five back - including pre-event favourite, Maximilian Kieffer and the last two winners of this event, Michael Hoey and David Horsey - that I'm more than happy to leave it alone.

If absolutely forced to pick one I'd go for Dredge but given he gave up a four stroke halfway lead in Denmark last year and that he's led at halfway 11 times in his career yet only converted once, I'm in no rush to go flying in at 3/1. This looked an event to be wary of before the off and it still does.

Over at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the red-hot Jason Day is the man to beat, despite a disappointing finish to his opening round. Looking for his third victory in-a-row and his fourth in five starts, the world number three blasted out of the blocks with three straight birdies.

Having played the back-nine first, when he stood on the 5th tee with just five holes to play he'd reached five-under par for the tournament and he'd already been matched at just 3.211/5 but bogeys at five and nine took the shine of his performance and he trails first round leader, Brendon de Jonge, by three strokes.

Zimbabwean, de Jonge, who is still seeking his first win on the PGA Tour, is two clear of a pack of nine players in second that include Sweden's Henrik Stenson and a resurgent Rickie Fowler. World number one, Rory McIlroy, is five off the lead and tied for 26th but Jordan Spieth, who only briefly jumped ahead of Rory at the head of the official standings (for one week after the USPGA Championship), has followed last week's missed cut at The Barclays with yet another dreadful effort.

The two-time major champion drove the ball quite well yesterday but his iron play was off and his putting was very poor (33 putts) as he struggled to a four-over-par 75 that sees him languishing nine off the early lead in a tie for 80th.

My sole selection, Bubba Watson, fared only fractionally better than Spieth, shooting two-over-par, and if either of them is to figure they need to get their skates on fast. As highlighted in the preview, last year's winner, Chris Kirk, trailed by ten and was matched at 1000.0 after round one but that was very much against the grain. A fast start is usually essential here and every other winner has broken par on day one.

With an early tee time, Stenson looks the most likely early market mover today but the value is surely with Day. If you were even remotely tempted by the 7.413/2 before the off, then his current price of 5.79/2 has to be gobbled up.

I really do think we can discount de Jonge, who has failed to get across the line umpteen times, and with Spieth disappointing and Rory two behind Day, the Aussie looks a very fair price to me now. He took his time to warm up last week before powering home by six strokes and I can see him cracking on again today.

With four of the front six in the market (the aforementioned Stenson and Fowler, as well as Dustin and Zach Johnson) all having early starts today, Day could find himself some way back by the time he tees off so he may well drift. In normal circumstances I'd follow the market closely and not dive in right now but I'm out and about all day today and I can't be that diligent so I've had a small wager now at the 5.79/2 and I'll reassess the situation tomorrow.

Russian Open Pre-Event Selections:
Carlos Del Moral @ 85.084/1
Jose Manual Lara @ 100/1 (Sportsbook)
Jazz Janewattananond @ 100/1 (Sportsbook)

Deutsche Bank Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Bubba Watson @ 26.025/1

Deutsche Bank Championship In-Play Bets:
Jason Day @ 5.79/2
Henrik Stenson layed @ 2.166/5
Daniel Berger @ 140.0139/1
Hunter Mahan @ 330.0329/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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