21:40 - November 11, 2017
The third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge has been completed and we're left with a fascinating leaderboard with a round to go. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 21:30.
Scott Jamieson -8 4.77/2
Victor Dubuisson -7 3.711/4
Branden Grace -5 5.69/2
Martin Kaymer -5 8.415/2
Francesco Molinari -3 23.022/1
Haydn Porteous -3 42.041/1
-2 and 36.035/1 bar
Once again, Scott Jamieson is enjoying himself in South Africa. His sole success came at the now defunct Nelson Mandela Championship back in 2013 and he's been in contention numerous times there. He's led or been tied for the lead three times with a round to go and two of his three 54 hole leads were in South Africa, although he didn't fare well...
The Scot led the Volvo Golf Champions (another defunct event) by five strokes in January 2013 but Louis Oosthuizen beat him by one and he had a torrid time at the Tshwane Open back in March when he went from tied at the top through three rounds to tied for 22nd after four! His only win came in an event reduced to 36 holes because of the weather and I'll be surprised if he's still leading at the end of the day tomorrow.
Victor Dubuisson trails by one but he heads the market and rightly so. His rounds have gotten progressively worse and after a solitary bogey on Thursday and two on Friday, he recorded three today so whether he's a good thing at less than 3/1 is debatable.
Martin Kaymer and Branden Grace sit three off the lead and tied for fourth and of the two I much prefer the latter. It's more than three years since Kaymer won his second major, the US Open, and incredibly, given his obvious talent, that's his last win. I don't think he's ever recovered from losing a ten stroke lead in Abu Dhabi at the start of 2015 and we've seen some really shaky efforts in-the-mix since. Almost by default, Grace is the value.
The fact that the Pretorian is even in-contention is testimony to his tenacity and if Victor has an off day, Grace looks the likeliest winner but waiting to play him in-running might make sense. He played the front nine in one-under-par today, in one-over-par on day one and a whooping six-over-par on Friday. In contrast, he's played the back-nine in 11-under-par for the week so far. It doesn't really make a lot of sense backing him now and I'm going to see how the final round pans out before getting too involved.
Someone wanted to back Jamieson for a top-ten finish at 1.222/9 so I've layed that and I've also thrown a few pounds at Ross Fisher, who is one of the seven players tied for seventh and six off the lead. He shot a course record 61 at St Andrews to chase down Tyrrell Hatton at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last month, having trailed by eight with a round to go, and he came up a shot shy of Hatton in Italy the following week after firing a 63 in the final round, having trailed by five after 54 holes. Quite clearly, he's better from off the pace than on it and he might just go well again tomorrow.
10:40 - November 11, 2017
The third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge is well under way and live on Sky Sports Golf. Victor Dubuisson still holds sway and I'll be back later with a look at the event once they've finished for the day but for now I'm concentrating on the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where the second round is yet to be completed.
Play was stopped yesterday for two and a quarter hours and when darkness fell and play was eventually suspended, some players had as many as nine holes of the second round still to play but the tournament still looks like its taking shape. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 10:35.
Patrick Rodgers -11 (played 15 holes) 7.613/2
Rickie Fowler -10 (played 15 holes) 2.68/5
Patton Kizzire -10 10.519/2
Brian Gay -9 27.026/1
Brandon Harkins -9 38.037/1
Martin Piller -8 (played nine) 36.035/1
Si Woo Kim -7 36.035/1
Oscar Fraustro -7 180.0179/1
-6 and 46.045/1 bar
Having birdied four holes in-a-row before the cessation of play, Patrick Rodgers would have wanted to play on with a torch! He'll return today with the par five seventh, the straightforward par three eighth and the par four ninth to play and he's more likely to increase his lead than drop a shot. Rickie Fowler on the other hand, has three tricky holes to negotiate...
The par four 16th was the hardest hole on the course on Thursday - averaging 4.33 - and the par four 18th ranked as the fourth hardest hole. The 17th isn't so tough but Fowler looks too short to me given what he has left in round two and that he never just runs away with it.
The world number ten has already been matched at 1.9210/11, before he bogeyed the 14th hole yesterday, and he looks one to swerve this morning at just 2.68/5. The winners tend to be up with the pace here - Pat Perez was five back at halfway last year but that's the furthest any winner has trailed - but I still think Rickie's short enough at around the 6/4 mark.
Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Brian Gay, has already met the first lay back target and he could hang around all weekend but the one I've chanced this morning is Martin Piller. He's a multiple winner on the Web.com and in theory, with the easier front nine to play when play resumes, he has a great opportunity to make a move. He birdied his first four holes yesterday so I've had a small bet at 40.039/1, hoping he'll repeat the feat today.
17:45 - November 10, 2017
The second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba is well underway and I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the state of play at halfway but I have had one in-running play already. I backed Si Woo Kim after he'd played the back-nine today but he did nothing after that until he birdied the eighth hole (his 17th) so it looks like a stray bullet. A few of my picks have done OK so far but for now I'm going to concentrate on the Nedbank Golf Challenge, where Victor Dubuisson leads by two after 36 holes.
Lightening put pay to play with the leaders still having three holes left but they eventually came out and finished up so here are the current standings with prices to back at 17:35
Victor Dubuisson -6 5.14/1
Lee Westwood -4 9.89/1
Darren Fichardt -4 32.031/1
Tyrrell Hatton -3 7.06/1
Alex Noren -3 9.08/1
Ross Fisher -3 9.28/1
Scott Jamieson -3 46.045/1
Martin Kaymer -2 29.028/1
Charl Schwartzel -2 18.017/1
-1 and 24.023/1 bar
It was an interesting, mainly tough, and long second round. A troublesome wind caused havoc early on and scoring was erratic before play was suspended. The day one leader, Bernd Wiesberger, had an horrific day, shooting a five-over-par 77 to drop to a tie for 17th and Branden Grace, who sat tied for second behind the Austrian after round one, played his first eight holes in six-over-par! He's now just a stroke better than Wiesberger and that was thanks to a terrific finish. He shot 42 on the front-nine and 33 on the back-nine.
Dubbuisson dropped a shot at the last hole but he's been very impressive up to now, playing some very neat and tidy golf in the worst of the winds. This is the first time he's held a clear lead at halfway but he's been tied for the lead through 36 holes three times previously.
He ran away with the Turkish Airlines Open in 2013 (his first title) but failed on the next two occasions - losing a playoff at the Nordea Masters to Thongchai Jaidee in 2014 before losing his way badly at the Open de France in 2015. He eventually finished 12th in Paris, beaten by 11 strokes.
I'm not convinced we can read anything in to that last poor effort in-the-mix and he looks fairly priced given how well he's playing but this isn't an event to get stuck in to. Dubuisson is a notoriously unpredictable character who'd much prefer to be fishing than playing golf and there are a number of players within three of his lead that look dangerous.
Lee Westwood has won here twice before so has to be respected but he's a very poor putter nowadays and Darren Fichardt is surely out of his depth in this company. He only got in at the last minute when Anthony Wall withdrew with a bad back yesterday morning so he's running free but he's not great in-contention and I fully expect him to fall away. The dangers to Dubuisson look to be looming a bit further and three of the four players on three-under-par all look ominously placed.
Tyrrell Hatton was disappointing after a fast start in Turkey last week but after back-to-back wins last month he's clearly in form and Ross Fisher, who finished second to Hatton on both occasions, can't be dismissed lightly. Apart from his strange week in China a fortnight ago, Fisher has been playing superbly and he loves the course. And so does Alex Noren, who won by six 12 months ago having trailed by six with a round to go.
Throw in the proximity of past winner, Martin Kaymer, and the two big South African guns, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, and we've got a wide open event that looks one to avoid at present.
Nedbank Golf Challenge Pre-Event Selections:
Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 40.039/1
Dylan Frittelli @ 65.064/1
Ross Fisher @ 42.041/1
Scott Jamieson layed for a top-10 @ 1.222/9
OHL Classic at Mayakoba Pre-Event Selections:
Chesson Hadley @ 28.027/1
Zach Johnson @ 38.037/1
Russel Knox @ 80.079/1
Brian Stuard @ 150.0149/1
Fabián Gómez @ 500.0499/1
Si Woo Kim @ 46.045/1
Martin Piller @ 40.039/1
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