The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Scheffler all set to win again

Golfer Scottie Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler in action at Hilton Head in round three

There's just one round to go at both the RBC Heritage and the Corales Puntacana Championship, so Steve Rawlings is back with his latest in-running thoughts...

  • Course specialist chanced in the RBC Heritage

  • US Masters front three in-the-mix

  • Bryan still leads the Corales Puntacana Championship

10:00 - April 21, 2024

Having won his third event in four starts and his second Green Jacket last week at Augusta, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, really should be mentally exhausted but he just keeps rolling and with a round to go at the RBC Heritage, he's odds-on to win his tenth PGA Tour title. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:50.

Scotties Scheffler -16 1.834/5
Sepp Straka -15 8.07/1
Collin Morikawa -14 9.08/1
Ludvig Aberg -13 14.5
Sahith Theegala -13 24.023/1
Patrick Rodgers -13 50.049/1
Patrick Cantlay -12 32.031/1
-12 and 75.074/1 bar

Mentally and physically tired, US Masters contenders tend to struggle at this event but that hasn't been the case this year.

Scheffler, Ludvig Aberg and Collin Morikawa finished first, second and tied third in the year's first major last Sunday and all three are back in-the-mix here but will one of them kick on for the win?

Matt Fitzpatrick won last year having led by a stroke with a round to go but in front is not the place to be here and the majority of 54-hole leaders have been caught lately...

Stewart Cink also won from the front three years ago but he was five strokes clear and Webb Simpson was tied for the lead with three others after 54 holes when he won four years but off the pace winners are common at Hilton Head.

Trading at 22.021/1 and trailing by three in a tie for ninth, Jordan Spieth, shot 66 in round four in 2022 before beating Patrick Cantlay in a playoff and prior to Simpson's victory in 2020, we hadn't seen a 54-hole leader convert since 2012. And like Spieth two years ago, the winner had come from outside the final pairing every time.

CT Pan, in 2019, was the seventh winner in-a-row to come from at least a couple of strokes adrift and although he was quite close to the lead compared to some winners, he was still unfancied and a 36.035/1 chance after three rounds.

Since Carl Pettersson converted from the front in 2012, and prior to Webb's win in 2020, the winners had trailed by four, four, four, three, four, six and two strokes.

In addition to the seven results before 2020, Brandt Snedeker beat Luke Donald in a playoff in 2011, having trailed by six after 54 holes, but Cink easily trumps them all.

Back in 2004, when wining the second of his three titles, he came from an incredible nine shots back to win.

The calibre of the leaders this year makes it hard to envisage an off the pace winner but we definitely can't rule it out.

Scheffler has been machine-like and he must be feeling invincible but given the stats, I'm not interested in playing him at odds-on and I've had a tiny bet on the course specialist, Patrick Cantlay, who trails by four.

Cantlay has course form figures reading 3-7-3-MC-2-3 so he clearly loves Hilton Head and I thought he was a fair price at 32.031/1.

Over at the Corales Puntacana Championship, Wesley Bryan still leads but it looks like a tough event to call with a round to go. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:55.

Wesley Bryan -17 4.216/5
Kevin Tway -16 6.05/1
Taylor Penrith -15 6.611/2
Justin Lower -15 7.26/1
Billy Horschel -14 8.615/2
-13 and 28.027/1 bar

Winning wire-to wire is tough but I'm happy to stick with the leader, who I backed after round one.

The experienced Billy Horschel is a big danger in fifth and just three strokes off the lead but in eight previous editions of the event, two strokes is the most any winner has trailed by after three rounds and four winners have either been leading or tied for the lead.

In search of his second win on the PGA Tour (won the RBC Heritage in 2017), Bryan is highly likely to feel the nerves today but the same can be said of all the contenders.

Kevin Tway is in search of his second PGA Tour title too (won the Fortinet Championship in 2018) and Taylor Pendrith and Justin Lower are yet to win.

Pendrith has twice led with a round to go on the PGA Tour, but he hasn't threatened the judge.

He let a three-stroke lead slip in the Bermuda Championship in 2021 (finished fifth) and he finished second at the Rocker Mortgage Classic in 2022 (beaten by five!) having been tied for the lead after three rounds.

Lower led the Fortinet Championship by a stoke in 2022 but finished fourth and his third place finish at the Mexico Open from off the pace in February is his best finish on the PGA Tour.

11:20 - April 20, 2024

Soft conditions and light winds have rendered Hilton Head Golf Links defenceless and at the midway point of the RBC Heritage as many as seven players have already got it to double digits under-par. Here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 11:10.

Collin Morikawa -11 6.05/1
Sepp Straka -11 12.011/1
J.T Poston -11 12.5
Tom Hoge -11 16.015/1
Ludvig Aberg -10 6.611/2
Mackenzie Hughes -10 32.031/1
Patrick Rodgers -10 44.043/1
Patrick Cantlay -9 11.010/1
Sahith Theegala -9 23.022/1
Scottie Scheffler -8 7.613/2
Byeong Hun An -8 60.059/1
Rory McIlroy -7 30.029/1
-7 and 50.049/1 bar

We need to be concentrating hard on the leading pack at the midway point of the vast majority of PGA Tour events but not this one.

Collin Morikawa at Hilton Head 2024.jpg

Stewart Cink was five clear at halfway when he won here three years ago and Webb Simpson had led by a stroke when he took the title 12 months earlier but 11 of the last 13 winners were trailing by at least two strokes at halfway.

Matt Fitzpatrick sat tied for 18th and six off the lead 12 months ago and the man he beat in extra time, Jordan Spieth, had sat tied for 10th and five strokes back.

Year after year we see winners at Hilton Head come from off the pace after rounds two and three so there's every chance that the winner isn't listed above.

Masters contenders, Collin Morikawa, Ludvig Aberg and the winner, Scottie Scheffler, dominate the market but can they continue to go low over the weekend or will they run out of steam? History suggests the latter.

As highlighted in the preview, most winners here haven't contended in the year's first major the week before and that makes sense. Maintaining a challenge all week at Augusta is mentally draining and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Morikawa and co cool off a bit over the weekend.

With all that in mind, taking a chance on a few players at big prices just off the pace makes a lot of sense so I've backed Sungjae Im, the recent Cognizant Classic champ, Austin Eckroat, and the only man to finish in front of Scheffler in the last month or so, the Houston Open winner, Stephan Jaeger.

All three are only four off the lead in a tie for seventh and all three are trading at much bigger on the exchange than they're priced up at on the High Street.

Over at the Corales Puntacana Championship, the first round leader, Wesley Bryan, finished his second round in style, with an eagle and two birdies to keep his nose in front but he's only one clear of Justin Lower and he's the new favourite. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 11:15.

Wesley Bryan -15 4.67/2
Justin Lower -14 3.412/5
Greyson Sigg -11 11.010/1
Charley Hoffman -10 25.024/1
Pierceson Coody -10 40.039/1
Kevin Tway -10 40.039/1
Bill Haas -10 100.099/1
Davis Thompson -9 22.021/1
-9 and 30.029/1 bar

Dominic Bozzelli won the inaugural edition of the event in 2016 having sat fifth and four off the lead at halfway and Nate Lashley won the second edition having sat eighth and five back a year later but since it's been a PGA Tour event (2018 onwards) all six winners have been within three strokes of the lead after 36 holes and three of them were in front.

In contrast to the week's main event, up with the pace appears to be the place to be here so the front two may well take some catching given they're four ahead of the rest.

09:00 - April 19, 2024

J.T Poston leads the RBC Heritage after an eight-under-par 63 around Harbour Town Golf Links but US Masters contenders, Collin Morikawa and Ludvig Aberg, are tied at the top of the market - trading at 8.615/2 - after round one.

J.T Poston at Hilton Head 2024.jpg

Morikawa sits tied for second on -6 and Aberg tied fourth on -5 but as highlighted in the preview, US Masters contenders have a poor record, and a slow start can be overcome at Hilton Head.

Since Matt Kuchar won here ten years ago, having been tied for the lead after round one, we've seen victors trailing by four, six (three times) and even nine strokes after the opening round.

As many as five of the last nine winners have sat tied 32nd or worse after round one and the 2018 winner, Satoshi Kodaira, was tied for 82nd!

It makes sense to show some restraint and wait until halfway before taking a deep dive into the leaderboard at Harbour Town but I'm happy to take a chance on the frontrunner in the Dominican Republic.

One of those off the pace winners at the RBC Heritage was Wesley Bryan, who sat tied for 35th and six off the lead at Harbour Town back in 2017 and that remains his only PGA Tour title to date.

Greatly hampered by shoulder and wrist injuries, Bryan has lost his way since that success which is why he was a largely ignored 500.0499/1 chance before the off, but he looks worth chancing this morning at 14/115.00 with a three-stroke lead.

It's a bit of a mixed bag looking back at previous results of the Corales Puntacana Championship and three of the first eight winners have started slowly but since it became a PGA Tour event in 2018, two first round leaders have gone to win, last year's winner, Matt Wallace, sat third and just one off the lead and the 2021 victor, Joel Dahman, sat second after the opening round, one off the lead.

Bryan claimed he'd been 'hitting it nicely leading up to this week' so he wouldn't have been totally surprised by his brilliant start (tying his lowest ever round on the PGA Tour) and he looks a fair price given he has that victory at Hilton Head to draw upon.

There's every chance yesterday's round was a flash in the pan but I'm happy to take a chance at 14/115.00 given he leads by as many as three strokes and that two of the last six winners were in front at this stage.

RBC Heritage Pre-event Bets:
Russell Henley @ 48.047/1
Tom Kim @ 70.069/1
Chris Kirk @ 85.084/1
Sam Burns @ 85.084/1

In-Play Picks:
Sungjae Im @ 130.0129/1
Austin Eckroat @ 150.0149/1
Stephan Jaeger @ 150.0149/1
Patrick Cantlay @ 32.031/1

Corales Puntacana Pre-event Bets:
Ben Martin @ 38.037/1
Thriston Lawrence @ 75.074/1

In-Play Pick:
Wesley Bryan @ 15.014/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Chez Reavie @ 160.0159/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
Austin Cook @ 220.0219/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
Hayden Buckley @ 240.0239/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.