The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Outsiders chanced from off the pace

Golfer Max Homa
Max Homa on the 18th hole on Thursday

There's just one round to go at both the Nedbank and the Bermuda Championship so our man's here with his thoughts on both events before tomorrow's final rounds...

  • Hot Homa up by one at the Nedbank

  • Can lightning strike twice in South Africa?

  • Noren still in front in Bermuda

20:10 - November 11, 2023

Matthieu Pavon was matched at a low of 3.052/1 when he led the Nedbank Golf Challenge with just four holes of round three to play but back-to-back bogeys followed his birdie four at the par five 14th, leaving the halfway leader, Max Homa, in front with just one round to go. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:00.

Max Homa -13 2.111/10
Matthieu Pavon -12 5.95/1
Thorbjorn Olesen -11 8.27/1
Nicolai Hojgaard -11 8.88/1
Dan Bradbury -10 24.023/1
Ryo Hisatsune -9 32.031/1
Sebastian Soderberg -8 110.0109/1
Tommy Fleetwood -7 55.054/1
Jorge Campillo -7 200.0199/1
-6 and 200.0199/1 bar

Homa has already been matched at 1.910/11 and he's a short enough favourite now at around the 11/102.11 mark given the poor record of 54-hole leaders at Sun City.

As highlighted in the preview, the last five winners have trailed by six, three, three, six and three strokes with a round to go and players going odds-on and getting beat is common.

This is the first time Homa has held a clear lead through three rounds but he's been tied for the lead with a round to go twice before. Although looking back to those instances really doesn't help...

On the first occasion he sat tied through 54 holes he shot 67 in round four at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019 to claim his first PGA Tour title, but he then finished 21st at the 2021 American Express after a dreadful 76 in round four.

Homa is clearly the most likely winner but given the stats, I'm more than happy to chance a couple from off the pace and the two I like best are the recent Open de France winner, Ryo Hisatsune, and the hat-trick seeking, Tommy Fleetwood.

Paris National form pops up at this track repeatedly, so I did consider the Japanese before the off and I'm happy to chance him now at 34.033/1.

Hisatsune was trailing by four and trading at 32.031/1 with a round to go in Paris in September so could lightning strike twice?

Fleetwood is always a better bet when he's trailing than he is when up with the pace. He was six back and tied for 12th when he won the title for the first time here in 2019 so he wouldn't be setting a precedent if he were to go low and take the title tomorrow. I thought 60.059/1 was fair.

And finally, Justin Thomas has plenty to, trailing by seven, but he was that far back when he won the US PGA Championship last year so I was happy to throw a few pounds in his direction at 200.0199/1.

Over on the PGA Tour, the third round of the Bermuda Championship has just finished, and Alex Noren is still in front after a four-under-par 67. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:00

Alex Noren -19 2.77/4
Camilo Villegas -18 6.05/1
Ryan Moore -17 9.89/1
Matti Schmid -17 10.09/1
Stewart Cink -16 22.021/1
Adam Scott -15 20.019/1
-15 and 42.041/1 bar

Noren is the firm favourite with a round to go and his record when leading through three rounds is solid.

Alex Noren on teh 16th hole in Bermuda.jpg

This is the 14th time in his career that he's gone into round four leading or tied for the lead, and he's gone on to win seven times.

That's an impressive record but there are reasons to think he's opposable. He's looking for his first PGA Tour title, victory would get him back into the world's top-50, which would secure him a place in the US Masters, he's been in front after 18, 36 and now 54 holes, and winning wire-to wire is never easy. And finally, the stats and the weather could be against him...

We've only had four previous renewals so it's a tiny sample size but last year's winner, Seamus Power, who was tied for the lead with Ben Griffin, is the only third round leader or co-leader to take the title.

The inaugural winner, Brendon Todd, sat solo second, trailing by two, Brian Gay trailed by three in a tie for fifth in 2020, and Lucas Herbert sat third, four off the lead, in 2021.

After two fairly benign days, the wind picked up a bit today and it's forecasted to blow harder again tomorrow so we may well see one or two players from slightly off the pace contend tomorrow, as it's always easier to make up ground in trickier conditions.

Adam Scott at in excess of 20/121.00 is a tempting price but the only one I've added is the 2018 Heritage winner, Satoshi Kodaira, who came from six back to win at Harbour Town.

Both Stewart Cink and Camilo Villegas have hit their first lay back target prices for the Find Me a 100 Winner column so it's all ready been a profitable week but given Cink sits fifth and Villegas tied second, fingers crossed, it could get even better.

07:50 - November 11, 2023

With a couple of groups yet to finish their second rounds at the Bermuda Championship, we haven't quite reached the halfway stage, but the stats show that the PM-AM side of the draw has had the better of it.

We haven't seen much wind, and certainly nowhere near as much as normal for Port Royal, but it did pick up fractionally yesterday afternoon and we look like getting a draw bias in favour of Thursday's late starters of around 1.5 strokes.

Despite being drawn on the wrong side of the draw, first round leader, Alex Noren, has backed up his opening ten-under-par 61 on Thursday with a five-under 66 yesterday afternoon to lead the Bermuda Championship by two strokes. With all the leaders safely in the house, here's the current state of play with prices to back at 7:40.

Alex Noren -15 3.39/4
Ryan Moore -13 11.521/2
Satoshi Kodaira -13 21.020/1
Ryan Brehm -13 34.033/1
Camilo Villegas -12 21.020/1
Aksay Bhatia -11 13.5
Brendon Todd -11 14.013/1
Matti Schmid -11 28.027/1
Stewart Cink -11 48.047/1
Doc Redman -11 60.059/1
DA Points -11 200.0199/1
Adam Scott -10 21.020/1
-10 and 38.037/1 bar

This is just the fifth edition of the Bermuda Championship, so we don't have an awful lot of data to look back on but for what it's worth, the inaugural winner, Brendon Todd, is the only victor to be leading or tied for the lead at the halfway stage.

Like Todd, this year's US Open winner, Wyndham Clark, was tied for the lead at halfway in 2020 but he was beaten in extra time by Brian Gay, who had trailed by four after 36 holes and the last two winners have been four and two adrift at this stage.

In the four editions to date, seven men have led or been tied for the lead at this stage, but Todd is the only one to go on to win and Clark isn't the only major champion to fail from the front either. World number one, Scottie Scheffler, was tied for the lead with Todd and Harry Higgs in 2019 but he went on to finish third.

Although he's in search of his first victory on the PGA Tour, the experienced 41-year-old Swede, Noren, has won ten times on the DP World Tour.

He's led at halfway ten times previously on various Tours and he's gone on to win four times so his record is more than fair.

He's actually converted four of his last five 36-hole leads, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He was two clear at the Nedbank in 2016 before going on to win by six but after a 75 on Saturday, he was trailing by six after 54 holes!

Noren is sure to feel the nerves today as a victory on the PGA Tour would cap off a tremendous career but given the calibre of the chasing pack, he's a fair price at more than 2/13.00 and although I'm in no rush to back him, I can't imagine anyone onboard at his pre-event price of 27.026/1 is laying much off at that price.

My sole pre-event pick, the 2019 winner, Todd, is on the premises and all three Find Me a 100 Winner picks have made it through to the weekend so it's been a decent event so far.

Stewart Cink, who trails Noren by four, has already been matched at the first lay back target of 10.09/1 and Camilo Villegas finished his second round nicely to get to within three but I'm happy to add two more to the portfolio. And both have won the Puerto Rico Open...

Ryan Brehm, who won the Puerto Rico Open last year by six strokes, looked a bit big at 34.033/1 given he trails by just two and trailing by four, the 46-year-old three-time PGA Tour winner, DA Points, who won in Puerto Rico back in 2017, is a huge price at 200.0199/1.

16:40 - November 10, 2023

World number eight, Max Homa, has been in cruise control so far this week at the Gary Player Country Club. Ranking first for Scrambling and second for Greens In Regulation, he's yet to record a bogey on what is a tough layout and at the halfway stage of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, he's most certainly the one they all need to beat. Here's the 36 hole leaderboard with prices to back at 16:30.

Max Homa -10 3.02/1
Matthieu Pavon -10 8.07/1
Dan Bradbury -9 15.5
Thorbjorn Olesen -8 15.5
Nicolai Hojgaard -8 16.015/1
Hennie Du Plessis -7 34.033/1
Richie Ramsay -7 40.039/1
Tommy Fleetwood -6 12.011/1
Justin Thomas -6 21.020/1
Vincent Norrman -6 32.031/1
Matt Wallace -6 48.047/1
Julien Guerrier -6 75.074/1
Sebastian Soderberg -6 80.079/1
Matthew Jordan -6 140.0139/1
-5 and 90.089/1 bar

At first glance, odds of around 2/13.00 about Homa look very fair but there are several reasons to hang fire.

Max Homa round two Nedbank.jpg

Since the field sizes were increased ten years ago, only one 36-hole leader (Alex Noren in 2016) has gone on to lift the trophy, the last four winners have all trailed by five strokes at this stage, and there are plenty of quality players withing touching distance.

The Danish duo, Nicolai Hojgaard and Thorbjorn Olesen, both look dangerous from just two back and Tommy Fleetwood, who's looking to win the event for the third time in-a-row, and Justin Thomas, are both still in the argument from just four back.

Fleetwood made a nice move today with a five-under-par 67 and Thomas shot 66, which was bettered by nobody and matched by just two players - Matthieu Pavon and Olesen.

There's still a very long way to go so I can see why Homa's steadily drifted since the end of play today.

There are plenty of players still in with a chance but the one I like is Matt Wallace at 50.049/1.

The Englishman started really nicely today and, beginning on the back-nine, he was five-under-par after just seven holes before a bogey at 17, after he'd driven into the water, halted his progress.

He'll be frustrated to have finished round two with a three-putt par on the par five ninth, but he can use that as inspiration to kick on tomorrow and given he's no bigger than 35/136.00 on the High Street, I thought he was a very fair price at 50.049/1.

15:50 - November 9, 2023

The first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge has just finished, and four men are tied at the top - Max Homa, Vincent Norrman, Nicolai Hojgaard and Dan Bradbury.

Homa, who's playing Sun City for the first time this week, is now the firm 4.57/2 favourite after his bogey-free six-under-par 66.

The defending champion, Tommy Fleetwood, who's looking to win the event for the third time in-a-row, recovered from a slow start on the back-nine with birdies at 10, 13 and 14 but a double-bogey at the last saw him slip back to just one-under-par so he's got his work cut out now.

My two pre-event picks, Ryan Fox, and Rasmus Hojgaard, both finished the day on -3 and they're very much in the tournament but they were both a bit frustrating to follow.

Fox was matched at a low of 5.69/2 after he'd raced to six-under-par through 11 holes, thanks in part to this eagle three at the ninth, but the wheels fell off after that and he needed to birdie 17 and to hole a ten-footer for par on 18 to post -3.

Rasmus recovered really well late on, birdying four of his last five holes to sit tied for 14th alongside Fox at the close of play but it could have been so much better for the Dane.

The putter was ice-cold early on today. He missed two putts from eight feet, one from five, and two from three feet on the front nine alone so it was a case of what might have been, and he might be a fair price now at odds in excess of 40.039/1.

Adrian Meronk, who sits tied for fifth and just one off the lead, played very nicely today. He looks fairly priced at 12.011/1 but the last three Nedbank winners have trailed by seven, six and five strokes after day one so it's very early days and I'm going to sit on my hands for now.

The day one morning starters are just finishing up at the Bermuda Championship, where scoring is super low in the benign conditions.

At the time of writing, Sweden's Alex Noren leads on -10 after a ten-under-par 61 but my Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Stewart Cink, is only three back with two to play.

Nedbank Golf Challenge Pre-Event Selections:
Ryan Fox @ 21.020/1
Rasmus Hojgaard @ 46.045/1

In-Play Picks:
Matt Wallace @ 50.049/1
Ryo Hisatsune @ 34.033/1
Tommy Fleetwood @ 60.059/1
Justin Thomas @ 200.0199/1

Bermuda Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Brendon Todd @ 25.024/1

In-Play Picks:
Ryan Brehm @ 34.033/1
D.A Points @ 200.0199/1
Satoshi Kodaira @ 75.074/1

Bermuda Ch' Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2u Patton Kizzire @ 110.0109/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
2u Stewart Cink @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
2u Camilo Villegas @ 160.0159/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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