Clear leader impossible to oppose in Europe
Scheffler favourite to head to East Lake with the lead
Fitzpatrick and Scheffler tied at the top
09:45 - August 20, 2023
After a three-under-par 67 around Galgorm Castle, Daniel Brown enters the final round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational with a six-stroke lead and he's going to take some beating.
There's an early start there and the final three-ball tees off at 10:40 but it looks like a done deal now anyway.
Brown is the 22nd player to take a six-stroke lead into the final round of a DP World Tour event since 1996 and 18 of the previous 21 went on to win.
The 1.232/9 Brown trades at doesn't look too short although the in-from Alex Fitzpatrick, who trades at 15.014/1 and the big-hitting South African, Wilco Nienaber, who's a 17.016/1 chance, will give it a go form tied second but if there is to be a danger to the leader, it may well be the more experienced, Adrian Otaegui, who trails by seven.
Otaegui is trading at around 20.019/1 and it's 150.0149/1 bar.
Over on the PGA Tour, having putted poorly for months, Scottie Scheffler needed only 25 strokes with the wand in round three of the BMW Championship yesterday and after my in-play pick, Matthew Fitzpatrick, dropped his only shot of the day at the tough par four 18th, the pair will head into today's fourth and final round tied for the lead. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 09:40.
Scottie Scheffler -11 2.486/4
Matthew Fitzpatrick -11 5.39/2
Brian Harman -10 8.415/2
Max Homa -9 12.5
Rory McIlroy -8 12.5
Viktor Hovland -8 17.5
-7 and 40.039/1 bar
It's probably not a coincidence that the two at the top of the leaderboard haven't been too fixated with their positions in the FedEx Cup standings.
Scheffler claimed after his third round that he didn't really pay attention to what's going on with the leaderboards, especially when it comes to projections, and although he's currently projected to start next week's Tour Championship inside the top-five, given he started this week in 40th place, Fitzpatrick hasn't yet started counting his chickens.
"Yeah, there's no guarantee I'm in Atlanta yet." Said Fitzpatrick after his four-under-par 66 around Olympia Fields.
Whether the pair can maintain such a relaxed demeanour with so much on the line today is debatable but it's the same for everyone in contention and the two looked to be priced up correctly.
I'm happy to be onboard Fitzpatrick but Scheffler is most certainly the worthy favourite this morning - provided the putter behaves.
Having begun the final week of the FedEx Cup Playoff Series on top of the standings last year, Scheffler traded at a low of just 1.132/15 to win the Tour Championship, and therefore the FedEx Cup, when he began the final round with a six-stroke lead 12 months ago so he'll be very keen to head to East Lake in front this time around to make amends.
The 6/42.46 on offer about him finishing the job off here looks fair given he's as low as 11/102.08 on the High Street but the value this morning looks to sit with the 36-hole leader, Max Homa, who would still be leading if it wasn't for one very bad hole yesterday.
That missed double-bogey putt from just two feet is hard to watch. It will need to be forgotten quickly by the world number seven, but he'll focus on how well he's playing this week and the 12.5 on offer looks very fair.
Despite that horror putt, Homa heads into the final round ranking first for Putting Average and I'm happy to get him onside.
10:45 - August 19, 2023
Despite a bogey at the par three 16th, late starter, Max Homa, fired a five-under-par 30 on the back nine around Olympia Fields to post a course record eight-under-par 62 and a midway total of 10-under-par at the BMW Championship.
That's quite a difference to the 2020 edition at Olympia Fields when Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay were tied for the lead on -1.
Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:40.
Max Homa -10 3.259/4
Chris Kirk -8 13.5
Brian Harman -7 12.5
Matthew Fitzpatrick -7 13.5
Scottie Scheffler -5 9.417/2
Rory McIlroy -5 9.89/1
Rickie Fowler -5 27.026/1
Justin Rose -5 46.045/1
Harris English -5 65.064/1
Patrick Cantlay -4 22.021/1
Xander Schauffele -4 30.029/1
Sungjae Im -4 70.069/1
-3 and 70.069/1 bar
Rory McIlroy was matched at a low of 3.02/1 yesterday but he endured a frustrating day on the greens before finding water off the tee at the par five 15th to post a level-par 70 and the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, sits alongside him in a tie for fifth after another two days of tee-to-green excellence and poor putting.
At the halfway stage, Scheffler ranks number one for Greens In Regulation, Scrambling and Strokes Gained Tee-2-Green, seventh for Driving Accuracy and second for SG Off the Tee but only 37th for Putting Average and 43rd for SG Putting. It's been a similar story for weeks now and it must be driving him to the point of despair.
Even if he continues to struggle on the greens, Scheffler's accuracy is going to keep him in the game as the course dries up over the weekend and the expected tougher conditions will also help the leader.
After rain in the lead up to the tournament, Olympia Fields has been playing softer and much easier than it did three years ago but as the week wares on, it's likely to get tougher as it dries out and that might hinder McIlroy, who at the midway point, ranks last for Driving Accuracy.
Homa already has six PGA Tour titles to his name and with victories at Quail Hollow, Torrey Pines, TPC Potomac and Riviera, he's already demonstrated his liking for a tough layout.
Homa is finding fairways and greens (ranks second for DA and eighth for GIR) and nobody is putting better so he's going to be a tough man to dislodge from the top of the leaderboard.
He's led at the halfway stage of a PGA Tour event twice before and he's fared well on both occasions. He won the Fortinet Championship in September last year having been tied for the lead at halfway and he didn't do much wrong at the Genesis Invitational in February when he shot 69-68 over the weekend to finish second to Jon Rahm.
As always, there's the doubt that he'll be able to back up yesterday's low score (something that's never easy to do) but odds of around 9/43.25 look fair.
If the conditions do get tougher, that really should suit last year's US Open winner, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and he's my idea of the value at halfway.
Fitzpatrick needs a high finish to make it to East Lake next week (currently projected to finish 17th) so he needs a decent start today to make sure of his place in the line-up next week but if he can put that to bed today, I can see him kicking on and taking the title.
And with his brother Alex currently sitting second at the ISPS Handa Invitational, it could be quite a week for the Fitzpatrick family.
I'll be back tomorrow morning with another look at both events.
09:20 - August 18, 2023
The second round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational has only just finished, and we already have an odds-on favourite! Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 21:10.
Daniel Brown -11 1.865/6
Alex Fitzpatrick -5 9.28/1
Angel Hidalgo -5 15.014/1
Adrian Otaegui -3 13.012/1
Connor Syme -3 23.022/1
Eddie Pepperell -3 24.023/1
Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen -3 36.035/1
John Parry -3 60.059/1
-2 and 40.039/1 bar
After a 17th at the Made In HimmerLand in Denmark and a seventh place finish in the States in the co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship in his last two starts, Daniel Brown was fairly well supported before the off - going off at around 65.064/1 - but he's considerably shorter now, heading into the weekend in Northern Ireland with a commanding six-stroke lead at the ISPS Handa World Invitational.
Brown is only the ninth player to lead by half-a-dozen at halfway on the DP World Tour since 1996 but if the small sample size can be relied upon, it's perhaps not wise to go diving in at odds-on.
Dale Whitnell successfully converted a six-stroke lead at the Scandinavian Mixed in June - going on to win by three - but four of the previous seven to lead by that many strokes through 36 holes were beaten.
That wouldn't be too surprising if the list of four contained inexperienced rookies but that's far from the case. The four to fail from the front are Sam Torrance (1996). Michael Campbell (2001), Ian Poulter (2016), and Rasmus Hojgaard (2022).
At the age of 28, Brown is seeking his first DP World Tour title but given he's eight clear of all but two players, I'm in absolutely no rush to oppose him.
Like the leader, Angel Hidalgo and Alex Fitzpatrick in tied second are also looking to win on the DP World Tour and other than the pre-event 25/126.00 chance, Adrian Otaegui, who sits tied for fourth and eight adrift, none of the chasers were particularly well fancied before the off.
All things considered, Brown is a fair price and I'm happy to leave the event alone for now.
Over at the BMW Championship, my sole pre-event pick, Jon Rahm, has played his way out of the event with a very grumpy and disappointing four-over-par 74 and Alex Fitzpatrick's brother, Matthew, is tied for second, just one stroke behind Chris Kirk on -8.
Rory McIlroy is only two off the lead after 11 holes and he's at the head of the market at present but I'll be back in the morning with a look at that event.
BMW Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Jon Rahm @ 12.011/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick @ 14.013/1
Max Homa @ 12.5
ISPS Handa World Invitational Pre-event Selections:
Robert MacIntyre @ 16.015/1
Grant Forrest @ 55.054/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2u Tom Lewis @ 110.0109/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
2u Jonathan Caldwell @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter