The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Odds-on jollies look hard to oppose

Golfer Adam Scott
Adam Scott - chanced at [36.0] by The Punter

Thriston Lawrence still leads the Joburg Open and Min Woo Lee has eased three clear Down Under. Can either leader be taking on?

  • Min Woo Lee three clear in Australia

  • Lawrence takes control of the Joburg

  • Scott chanced at Royal Queensland

17:55 - November 25, 2023

Thriston Lawrence has led the Joburg Open from the start and Min Woo Lee has eased three strokes clear at the Australian PGA Championship and both men look very difficult to oppose. Here are the 54-hole leaderboards at the two tournaments with prices to back at 17:50.

Joburg Open
Thriston Lawrence -15 1.728/11
Dean Burmester -12 3.953/1
Jacques Kruyswijk -11 15.014/1
Nikhil Rama -11 34.033/1
Zander Lombard -10 26.025/1
Darren Fichardt -9 90.089/1
-8 and 160.0159/1 bar

Australian PGA Championship
Min Woo Lee -17 1.3130/100
Rikuya Hoshino -14 7.87/1
Curtis Luck -13 19.018/1
Adam Scott -11 36.035/1
Lucas Herbert -10 90.089/1
Connor Syme -10 200.0199/1
-9 and 160.0159/1 bar

I'm going to leave the Joburg Open alone now.

I've fancied Lawrence since Monday, but I wasn't prepared to back him at the 20.019/1 he went off at and I've turned my nose up at his odds in-running up to now so I'm not prepared to go in at odds-on with a round to go.

He's far and away the most likely winner and he's not too short at around 1.758/11 but I very rarely back anyone at odds-on in a golf tournament and I'm not about to change tact now.

Dean Burmester is the very obvious and perhaps only realistic alternative to the leader but I'm happy to wait for other opportunities.

Like Lawrence, Min Woo Lee leads the Australian PGA Championship and it's hard to see him stumbling in round four but I'm happy to take a very small chance on Adam Scott at 36.035/1.

Trailing by six after today's disappointing level-par 71 around Royal Queensland, Scott will need a low round and some help from the leader but with only three men ahead of him, I thought he was just worth chancing at a juicy price.

Scott was five adrift with a round to go when he was beaten in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship two years ago, he was seven back after three rounds when he lost a playoff at the MasterCard Masters in his homeland in 2003, and he won the Barclays in 2013 having trailed by half-a-dozen strokes after 54 holes.

He's more than capable of posting a six, seven or even eight under par round to finish off the event and if Lee stutters in front that could be more than enough. He looks fractionally overpriced at 36.035/1.

18:50 - November 24, 2023

We've reached the halfway stage of both this week's DP World Tour events - the Joburg Open and the Australian PGA Championship - so here are the 36-hole leaderboards with prices to back at 18:40.

Joburg Open

Nikhil Rama -13 11.521/2
Thriston Lawrence -12 2.6613/8
Dean Burmester -10 3.8514/5
Jacques Kruyswijk -10 13.012/1
Zander Lombard -9 11.010/1
Jaco Prinsloo -8 70.069/1
Darren Fichardt -7 80.079/1
Christiaan Bezuidenhout -5 38.037/1
-5 and 60.059/1 bar

Australian PGA Championship

Min Woo Lee -12 2.1411/10
Adam Scott -11 3.3512/5
John Lyras -10 40.039/1
Lucas Herbert -8 14.013/1
Curtis Luck -8 42.041/1
Joel Moscatel -8 170.0169/1
Rikuya Hoshino -7 70.069/1
Cameron John -7 170.0169/1
Cam Davis -6 22.021/1
-6 and 70.069/1 bar

It looked for much of the morning as though the first-round leader, Thriston Lawrence, would head into the weekend in front.

After a slow start, he eagled the fifth and birdied the sixth (his 14th and 15th holes round two) to get to 12-under-par for the week and he was matched at low of 1.768/11 but afternoon starters, Nikhil Rama and Dean Burmester, both posted eight-under-par 62s and the picture's a bit foggier than it might have been now.

In the eight events played at Houghton since 1997, the furthest any winner has trailed by at halfway is three strokes so I'm in no rush to put anyone off the frontrunners.

It's difficult to fancy the confident 22-year-old leader, Nikhil Rama, given he's the 1,214th ranked player in the world, but he reacted brilliantly to his hole-out eagle two on the par four third today by almost making another eagle at the fourth!

The pre-event 1000.0999/1 chance is only in the field this week courtesy of a tie for fourth at the recent Vodacom Origins of Golf Finals, which matched his best result on the Sunshine Tour, so victory this week would be a huge step up on anything he's achieved to date but he was very impressive today.

Lawrence is the only one of the leading pack that didn't go super-low today and he's very much the man to beat.

I was very tempted to play him at around the 6/42.50 mark and I even considered doubling him up with Min Woo Lee Down Under but after much consideration, I'm swerving both of them and playing a couple of outsiders in the Joburg.

All eight winners may have been up with the pace here since 1997 but Paul Lawrie lost a playoff here 20 years ago having sat tied for 37th and eight adrift at this stage so it's possible to come from some way back here.
And it helps that there isn't an awful lot of traffic in front of those trailing by up to eight strokes.

Like fellow South African, Jacques Kruyswijk, who sits tied for third, 48-year-old veteran, Darren Fichardt, earnt his DP World Tour card at the Final Stage of Q School less than a fortnight ago.

Both are running free this week and Kruyswijk is certainly in the argument but at a big price, I quite like Fichardt, who trails by six in solo seventh.

This is just the sort of course that suits Fichardt so 80.079/1 looks big enough and the other one I've chanced is Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who in a tie for eighth and eight off the lead, has a bit more to do.

It's going to take a sensational weekend for Bez to lift the trophy, but he really is top-class and if he were to win it wouldn't be the first time he's made up plenty of ground over the weekend. He trailed by six at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2020 before going on to win by four!

Should Lawrence kick on and win this weekend I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised, and I'll have regrets about not playing him before the off but I'm more than happy to swerve him at just 6/42.50 now.

And at odds-against, Lee looks a fair price in Australia but I'm happy to let him go unbacked too. Backing anyone at less than 2/13.00 with two rounds to when week after week we witness all sorts of drama is a risky way to go about things.

16:25 - November 23, 2023

I have no intention of losing any sleep watching the Australian PGA Championship this week but looking at the first-round leaderboard, I'm surprised to see the defending champ, Cam Smith, has shot a two-over-par 73 in round one to sit tied for 109th!

Smith was matched at as low as 4.03/1 before the off so it's a bit of a surprise to see him trailing by ten strokes after just 18 holes.

Spain's Joel Moscatel leads after an eight-under-par 63 around Royal Queensland but it's the New Zealander, Min Woo Lee, who dominates the market.

The pre-event 10.09/1 chance trails Moscatel by just a stroke and it's hard to make a case for laying him at around the 3.412/5 he trades at now. And the same can be said about the favourite in South Africa after round one of the Joburg Open...

I tried to back regular play, Thriston Lawrence, at 27.026/1 on Monday but he never traded any higher than 24.023/1 and he went off trading at around the 20.019/1 mark.

Thriston lawrence joburg.jpg

Obviously, I'm kicking myself now for not following Matt Cooper in (he backed him each-way at 18/119.00), given Lawrence has kicked off the event with an eight-under-par 62 to lead by three, and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see him kick on and take the title like last year's first round leader, Dan Bradbury, but I'm happy to let him go unbacked at just a shade over 2/13.00.

The finishing line is still a long way off so I'm going to see what tomorrow brings but that could well be a mistake. Lawrence has a strong record when starting nicely and I could easily wake up to see him in a commanding position in round two.

He won this event two years ago having been tied for the lead after round one and although that renewal was reduced to just two rounds, he's since also won the European Masters and the South African Open after he's ended the first day in front.

I may well look back on Sunday evening and kick myself twice. Once for not taking the shorter price than I thought ideal before the off but also for letting him go unbacked before round two.

I'll be back at the halfway stage tomorrow.

Australian PGA Championship:

Adam Scott @ 36.035/1

Joburg Open In-Play Bets

Christiaan Bezuidenhout @ 38.037/1
Darren Fichardt @ 80.079/1

Joburg Open Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:

2u Daniel van Tonder @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
1u Matteo Manassero @ 290.0289/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
1.5u Dale Whitnell @ 350.0349/1
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.