The Punter's In-Play Blog: Poulter looking to defy the stats at Hilton Head

Ian Poulter – one clear on the PGA Tour
Ian Poulter – the third round leader at Hilton Head

There's just a round to go at both the Open de España and the RBC Heritage so read our man's take on the two tournaments before their final rounds here...

“If recent history is anything to go by, in front is not the place to be at Hilton Head - four of the last five winners have trailed by four strokes with a round to go and the odd one out, Branden Grace, trailed by three. ”

11:00 - April 15, 2017

Paul Dunne still leads at the Open de España but the gap at the top has closed and there are a pair of Spaniards hot on his heels. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 10:50.

Paul Dunne - 17 3.02/1
Nacho Elvira -16 6.05/1
Jon Rahm -15 2.747/4
Henric Sturehed -15 27.026/1
Brett Rumford -14 30.029/1
Andy Sullivan -13 30.029/1
-12 and 75.074/1 bar

After a six-under-par 66 in round three, Jon Rahm now heads the market and rightly so. Paul Dunne has led after every round and holding off the field for a fourth day is going to be tough. It's never easy to win wire-to-wire and it's going to take a monumental effort for him to hang on.

It's a tough one to call and Rahm probably should have the class to get the job done from just two adrift but he'll be feeling the pressure in front of his home fans. It looks a difficult enough event to bet on and I wouldn't want to get stuck in to either of the short-priced market leaders, or put much faith Nacho Elvira.

The 31-year-old Spaniard is still looking for his first European Tour success, so he'll definitely feel the heat. The Spanish don't have a great record in this event and those that have won it have been the very best. Seve, Sergio Garcia, Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez are the only four to win it since it became a European Tour event.

It's not absolutely inconceivable that Dunne runs out of steam and that the Spaniards feel the pressure of winning their national title so I've thrown a few pounds at Andy Sullivan at 32.031/1. He's found his form over the last two days and a third low round in-a-row might just take him to the top of the leaderboard.

Over at the RBC Heritage, halfway leader, Bryson DeChambeau had a horrible day yesterday, misfiring his way to a four-over-par 75 and it's Ian Poulter that now shows the way. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 10:55.

Ian Poulter -13 3.613/5
Luke List -12 5.69/2
Si Woo Kim -12 5.79/2
Billy Horschel -11 11.010/1
CT Pan -11 17.016/1
Kevin Kisner -10 12.011/1
Chesson Hadley -10 19.018/1
Rory Sabbatini -9 55.054/1
-8 and 46.045/1 bar

If recent history is anything to go by, in front is not the place to be at Hilton Head. As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, four of the last five winners have trailed by four strokes with a round to go and the odd one out, Branden Grace, trailed by three.

With this in mind, I was always going to play a couple from off the pace and I've plumped for Matt Kuchar and Ryan Moore, who both trail by five. I was tempted to play Kevin Kisner too but I didn't feel he was quite big enough at around the 13.012/1 mark.

Pre-event pick, Si Woo Kim is still bang there and just a stroke off the lead so I'll be cheering him on too and I'll be looking to get onside any movers from even further back than Kuchar and Moore.

With bad weather forecasted, the starting times have been brought forward and the leaders here will tee off only an hour and a quarter after the leaders in Spain begin their final rounds.

09:55 - April 14, 2017

Paul Dunne followed his opening 66 at the Open de España with a seven-under-par 65 to open-up a three-stroke lead and he's clearly the man to beat at halfway. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 09:45.

Paul Dunne - 13 2.982/1
Nacho Elvira -10 16.5
Callum Shinkwin -10 24.023/1
Brett Rumford -10 42.041/1
Jon Rahm -9 3.7511/4
Marc Warren -9 40.039/1
Robert Rock -9 50.049/1
Henric Sturehed -9 170.0169/1
Thorbjørn Olesen -8 28.027/1
Pablo Larrazábal -8 28.027/1
Andrew Johnston -8 32.031/1
-8 and 70.069/1 bar

The last two players to lead a European Tour event by three strokes at halfway were both beaten. This week's leader, Dunne, won the British Masters back in October, after Tyrrell Hatton blew a three shot advantage and Chris Hanson messed up from the front at the Czech Masters in September but prior to that, the conversion rate wasn't far off 50%, suggesting anyone taking around 3.02/1 about Dunne is getting a fair deal.

Jon Rahm is the obvious danger. The pre-event favourite and world number four is far and away the best player in the field but he displayed his immature petulance at times yesterday when frustration threatened to bubble over and I just wonder how patient he can remain with the bumpy, soft and slightly unpredictable greens.

It can't be easy coming straight from Augusta to a track that was basically a municipal a couple of weeks ago and Rahm has been struggling to accept the odd bobble and swerve. He's more than capable of going super low over the weekend to take his national title but if forced to pick one of the market leaders I'd side with the Irishman.

If Dunne continues to play like he has for the first two days then only an on-song Rahm can get to him, but should he stumble, given the presence of Rahm on the leaderboard, there are some juicy prices to be had at halfway. My man, Thorbjørn Olesen, is yet to drop a shot and he too is more than capable of a run of low scoring and I've also added the defending champion, Andrew Johnston, who sits alongside Olesen.

Over at the RBC Heritage, Bryson DeChambeau has hit the front after a seven-under-par 64 but with low scores aplenty and 20 players within four of the lead, the tournament is absolutely wide open. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 09:50.

Bryson DeChambeau -10 6.25/1
Ian Poulter -9 9.89/1
Si Woo Kim -9 12.5
Brandt Snedeker -8 13.5
Luke List -8 13.5
Chesson Hadley -8 19.018/1
Rory Sabbatini -8 26.025/1
-7 and 23.022/1 bar

Of the top-seven players listed above, four shot seven-under-par 64s yesterday and my man, Si Woo Kim, shot 65. Low scores are perfectly possible here but low scores from the leaders aren't commonplace...

Halfway leader, Brian Gay, kicked clear to win by ten in 2009 but that was unusual. The last three winners have trailed by at least four strokes at this stage and the last seven winners trailed by at least two. Making the running here is notoriously hard and off the pace winners are the norm so I'm going to leave the event alone for now and look again tomorrow.

08:50 - April 13, 2018

The second round of the Open de España is underway and I'm yet to get involved in-running. Paul Dunne and Marc Warren led after the opening round having both shot six-under-par 66s, but with as many as 12 players tied for third, including the favourite, Jon Rahm, and a further nine two off the lead and tied for 14th, patience looks worth employing.

Mike Norman's each-way fancy, Alexander Bjork, was amongst those tied for third and I'm quite hopeful that pre-event pick, Thorbjørn Olesen, and each-way fancy, Matt Wallace can get involved over the weekend. Olesen who was amongst the group tied for 14th after round one and Wallace was tied for 23rd and three off the lead.

I mentioned in the preview that I'd missed out on backing David Horsey at 100.099/1 but I managed to get him onside at 90.089/1 before the off. He shot level par yesterday afternoon so I'm sorry I did now!

Horsey came on to the radar after Gary Murphy (fifth here in 2009) steered me towards form at the Himmerland Course in Denmark and although Horsey struggled, Gary was clearly right about the possible correlation. Like the 2015 Made In Denmark champ, Horsey, joint first round leader, Warren, won at Himmerland in 2014.

A lot is going to depend on what Rahm does this afternoon. He was pleased and surprised with how he performed yesterday and if he keeps finding so many greens (ranked first for Greens In Regulation after round one) he's going to be tough to beat. It's a congested leaderboard at this stage though and he looks short enough at around the 9/4 mark.

Over at the RBC Heritage, one of Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner picks, Rory Sabbatini, has already hit the first lay target and that's hardly a surprise given he leads by two after a seven-under-par 64 in round one.

My picks have had a mixed but reasonable start. Austin Cook and William McGirt could only fire level par 71s but Kevin Streelman finished well to scramble under par and both Si Woo Kim and Cameron Smith are only four off the lead after three-under-par opening rounds.

I came close to backing Harris English before the off so I was happy to back him last night at 60.059/1 after an eye-catching four-under-par 67 which started with a double-bogey six and ended with a three-putt bogey.

Matt Kuchar heads the market after an opening five-under-par 66 but pre-event favourite, Dustin Johnson, trades at only slightly bigger after an opening two-under-par 69. I layed DJ in the top-10 market before the off but after the preview was published at 2.26/5 and I'm still happy to have done so. He's currently tied for 20th but I'm far from convinced this venue suits him.

Open de España Pre-Event Selections:
Thorbjørn Olesen @ 48.047/1
Matt Wallace.@ 50.049/1
David Horsey @ 90.089/1 (added after the preview was published)

In-Play Picks:
Andrew Johnston @ 32.031/1
Andy Sullivan @ 32.031/1

RBC Heritage Pre-Event Selections:
Cameron Smith @ 34.033/1
William McGirt @ 90.089/1
Si Woo Kim @ 120.0119/1
Austin Cook @ an average of 148.0
Kevin Streelman @ an average of 160.0159/1

Dustin Johnson layed in the Top Ten Market @ 2.26/5

In-Play Picks
Harris English @ 60.059/1
Matt Kuchar @ 50.049/1
Ryan Moore @ 55.054/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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