The Punter's KLM Open In-Play Blog: Wobbly Rafa well worth taking on

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – one to take on according to The Punter
Rafa Cabrera-Bello – one to take on according to The Punter

Steve takes a look at the state of play at the KLM Open with just one round to go. Will we get another off the pace winner at Kennemer? Read what our man thinks ahead of today's final round here...

“Cabrera-Bello is notoriously weak in-contention, having failed to convert his last five 54-hole leads, whereas Slattery has led three times previously and he's converted every time. I’m more than happy to favour the Englishman in their two-ball market at 13/8 on the Sportsbook and I've also taken on Rafa in the Top 5 Finish market at 1.528/15.”

08.45 - September 13, 2015

With the halfway leaders stuttering at Kennemer, rounds of 63 by Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Lee Slattery and Paul Lawrie and 62s by Thomas Pieters and Mikko Ilonen, transformed the complexion of the KLM Open. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 08:35.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello -16 3.814/5
Lee Slattery -16 5.24/1

Paul Lawrie -15 6.25/1

Thomas Pieters -14 8.27/1

Mikko Ilonen -13 18.5
Morten Orum Madsen -13 25.024/1
Wade Ormsby -13 29.028/1

Max Kieffer -12 30.029/1

-11 and 42.041/1 Bar

We've witnessed six editions of the KLM Open at Kennemer since 2006 and we've seen three third round leaders triumph and three winners from off the pace.

Darren Clarke converted from three clear in 2008, Joost Luiten was a stroke in front after 54 holes when he beat Miguel Angel Jimenez in a playoff two years ago and Ross Fisher had been tied at the top after three rounds when he won in 2007. In the six editions, eight men have led or co-led and three have won, so that's not a bad return, but it's certainly possible to win from some way back.

With Romain Wattel tamely giving up a 54-hole three stroke lead, Paul Casey won 12 months ago having trailed by four. Simon Dyson won the 2006 edition having been three back through 54 holes - beating Richard Green, who had trailed by four in a playoff - and he won here again three years later having been fully six back with a round to go. We saw yesterday how much change can occur here and I don't think we can write off anyone within six or maybe even seven so it's a tricky one to assess.

Cabrera-Bello is trading as favourite ahead of the other joint-leader, Lee Slattery, and they're the wrong way round for me. The Spaniard is notoriously weak in-contention, having failed to convert his last five 54-hole leads, whereas Slattery, the winner of last week's Russian Open, has led three times previously (twice on the European Tour and once on the Challenge Tour) and he's converted every time. I'm more than happy to favour the Englishman in their two-ball market at 13/8 on the Sportsbook and I've also taken on Rafa in the Top 5 Finish market at 1.528/15.

The Spaniard fell from the first to ninth the last time he led, dropped to third the time before that and at the BMW Masters in 2013 he tumbled to eighth, so I thought he was worth taking on with Slattery and opposing at odds-on in the Top 5 Finish market. If he fails to break par today he'll almost certainly finish outside the frame.

With two of my three pre-event picks recovery well yesterday I'm in with a shout of a decent week - Paul Lawrie shot 63 to move back up to third and my each-way fancy, Mikko Ilonen, managed one better to climb back into the top-five. The least said about my in-play pick, Joost Luiten, the better and I'm going to stick with what I have for now.

It's an incredibly open looking heat still and as already stated a plethora of players are still in with a shout but if forced to name one to side with now I'd go for Thomas Pieters. The Belgian bomber, who won his first title, the Czech Masters, just two weeks ago, has shortened up considerably since the close of play yesterday though and there isn't any value left now at just 8.415/2.

I'll be back this evening or maybe tomorrow with my De-Brief and I'll be previewing the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoff, the BMW Championship tomorrow afternoon.

strong>10.00 - September 12, 2015

At this stage yesterday, I'd given up on my strongest fancy this week, Eddie Pepperell, but he finished round two with a flurry of birdies to get to seven-under-par and he's now only five off the lead. That was as good as it got though - the afternoon was a complete disaster...

My two outsiders, Paul Lawrie and Mikko Ilonen, who were both right up there after round one, both shot one-over-par 71s to slip down the leaderboard, and Joost Luiten, who I backed yesterday morning at just 7.06/1 was especially disappointing. And just to rub salt into the wound, the man sitting atop of the leaderboard at halfway is Søren Kjeldsen, who I toyed with backing but didn't! Not a great day but I'm not giving up just yet, as highlighted in the preview, this is a venue where it's quite possible to make up a lot of ground and there's still a long way to go.

Richard Green shot 62 here in 2006 to move from 62nd to fifth in round three, before he went on to lose in a playoff, and Paul Casey moved from 32nd to third with the same score 12 months ago before going on to win. Could we see someone come from deep to contend again this year? I think we might so I've had a tiny top-up on Joost Luiten and I'm going to watch the leaderboard closely today to see if there are any movers.

At the head of the market, Kjeldsen looks short enough to me now at around 4.57/2, considering Darren Clarke is the only halfway leader to win in the last six renewals here, and I'm not that keen on any of the front runners. The 14.5 available on James Morrison, who sits just two behind Kjeldsen, looks fair enough and I'd have him favourite over David Horsey in their two-ball but after yesterday's dire day I'm leaving it alone for now.

09:40 - September 11, 2015

With the wind picking up in the afternoon, the morning starters on day one of the KLM Open were advantaged to the tune of 1.22 strokes but that didn't stop Wade Ormsby from tying the lead with one of my three picks, Paul Lawrie, and it didn't prevent Estanislao Goya from getting a tie for fourth...

Goya was one of Dan Geraghty's four picks in his brand new First Round Leader column and if he's as sharp in that market as he is with his three-ball bets, he's going to be well worth following. Goya has got the ball rolling very nicely given he was a 125/1!

Along with Lawrie, my each-way selection, Mikko Ilonen, has also stared brightly but I've just about given up on Eddie Pepperell. He was a late starter yesterday and is currently just one-under par for his second round and fully five off the lead.

I toyed with backing Søren Kjeldsen after round one as the rejuvenated Dane has been in fine fettle this year, and given he won the Irish Open at a blustery links venue he was one of many on my far from small shortlist but with the forecast suggesting the wind will drop this afternoon, it looks like he may have been hampered by the draw.

The market quite rightly considers course specialist and home favourite, Joost Luiten, the most likely winner and I can see why. He has a mixed bag of results at Kennemer having missed three of six cuts but when he's made the weekend he's fared brilliantly...

He was runner-up as an amateur back in 2007 and he finished fifth last year when defending the title he bravely won in a playoff over Miguel Angel Jimenez. There's plenty of players in-contention but with the forecast possibly favouring today's afternoon starters, given his great course form and undoubted class, I thought Joost represented a bit of value at 7.06/1 and I've added him to the portfolio.

Pre-Event Selections:
Eddie Pepperell @ 38.037/1
Mikko Ilonen @ 125/1 (Sportsbook)
Paul Lawrie @ 200/1 (Sportsbook)

In-Play Picks:
Joost Luiten @ 7.06/1
Lee Slattery to win his two-ball @ 13/8
Rafa Cabrera-Bello layed @ 1.528/15 - Top 5 Finish

I'll be back again at the halfway stage, either this evening or first thing tomorrow.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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