The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Fitzpatrick a fair price for the threepeat

Golfer Matthew Fitzpatrick
Matthew Fitzpatrick on the seventh green at Crans on Thursday

There's just one round to go at the Omega European Masters and the two-time winner, Matthew Fitzpatrick, leads by two...

  • Fitzpatrick still clear at Crans

  • 54-hole leaders have a strong record

  • Hojgaard a possible alternative

09:40- September 3, 2023

Having led through rounds one and two, the pre-event favourite, Matthew Fitzpatrick, was matched at a low of 1.412/5 yesterday afternoon after four birdies in six on the front-nine of the third round of the Omega European Masters but he did have a little wobble after that.

A bogey six at the par five ninth was followed by a double bogey at the 13th hole. His price spiked to almost 3/14.00 but he responded perfectly with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15 before finishing off the day in style to take a two-shot lead.

Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 09:30.

Matthew Fitzpatrick -15 2.111/10
Ludvig Aberg -13 7.413/2
Alexander Bjork -13 8.88/1
Connor Syme -13 16.5
Nicolai Hojgaard -12 13.012/1
Alex Fitzpatrick -12 23.022/1
Romain Langasque -11 48.047/1
Eddie Pepperell -11 60.059/1
Kalle Samooja -11 80.079/1
Renato Paratore -11 85.084/1
Oliver Bekker -11 120.0119/1
-10 and 140.0139/1 bar

The 2019 and 2021 winners, Sebastian Soderberg and Rasmus Hojgaard, both trailed by four with a round to go and when Fitzpatrick won the first of his two titles in 2017, he was trailing the 54-hole leader, Scott Hend, by four so it's certainly possible to make up ground late on at Crans.

Jamie Spence, who now commentates for Sky, shot 60 in round four to win the 1992 edition in extra time so we can't rule out a closer taking the title but since 1996, 23 players have held a clear lead after three rounds and 11 of them went on to win. That's a strike rate of 47%.

Only seven of those 23 were leading by two strokes but five of the seven duly converted and there's absolutely no justification for opposing the leader at odds-against. He was a single-figure price before the off and he should be odds-on now.

Fitzpatrick was the last of those seven, when he defended in 2018, but his 67 in round four was nearly not enough. Lucas Bjerregaard had begun the final day in third and trailing by four, but he shot 63 to match Fitzpatrick before losing to the Englishman in extra time.

If I had to pick an alternative to the treble-seeking frontrunner it would be Nicolai Hojgaard who will have designs on winning to match his twin, who won here two years ago, and to catch Luke Donald's eye, if he hasn't already, but all things considered, Fitzpatrick is a perfectly fair price.

21:10- September 1, 2023

Having been tied for the lead after a seven-under-par 63 on day one of the Omega European Masters, the pre-event favourite, Matthew Fitzpatrick, was matched at a low of 2.0621/20 this morning as he played the back-nine at Crans in five-under-par (his first nine holes of round two).

The two-time winner looked like building a considerable halfway lead but he cooled off on the front-nine to post a level-par 35 and he goes into the weekend leading by a stroke. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 21:00.

Matthew Fitzpatrick -12 2.6413/8
Alexander Bjork -11 7.26/1
Romain Langasque -10 15.5
Alex Fitzpatrick -10 18.017/1
Ludvig Aberg -9 14.5
Adrian Meronk -9 16.015/1
Renato Paratore -9 50.049/1
Nicolai Hojgaard -8 25.024/1
Joost Luiten -8 50.049/1
-8 and 60.059/1 bar

As highlighted yesterday, a slow start can be overcome at Crans but many a winner has got a shift on in round two to put themselves in pole position and 36-hole leaders have a great strike-rate.

In the 23 editions since 1999, nine halfway leaders have gone on to win and two have been beaten in playoffs. A strike rate of 39% for 36-hole leaders is impressive so odds of around 13/82.63 about the leader look very fair indeed. Especially when we consider that he's the best player in the field by some distance and that his closest challenger - Alexander Bjork - has an awful record in-the-mix.

Bjork could only finish 14th at the Czech Masters last week after leading by a stroke at halfway but that wasn't a surprise given how poor he is in-contention.

Bjork in Switzerland.jpg

That was the 12th time in his career that he's been inside the top-three places at the halfway stage, and the only occasion he went on to win was at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in 2016.

That was Bjork's sole success on the Challenge Tour and his only victory on the DP World Tour was at the China Open five years ago. He's one to oppose in-the-mix.

I'm happy to have Romain Langasque onside after backing him after round one yesterday at 32.031/1 and he still looks fairly priced now given he only trails by two but the one that looks a fair price at halfway is the giant Pole, Adrian Meronk.

The pre-event 25.024/1 chance was matched at just 3.55/2 today as he threatened to break 60 but a bogey at 17 and a lost ball off the tee at 18, which led to a double-bogey six, took the edge of what was a fabulous knock under the circumstances.

As detailed here, Meronk is one of five players in the field this week that can still qualify for the European Ryder Cup team and that's just enough to put me off.

He looks over-priced, and very much so in comparison with the impressive young Swede, Ludvig Alberg, who could be in with a shout of a wildcard pick in Luke Donald's team, but I'm happy to leave the event alone for now and see what tomorrow brings.

20:35- August 31, 2023

After birdies at his last three holes this afternoon, one of Dave Tindall's three First Round Leader fancies, Masahiro Kawamura, ended the day tied for the lead at the Omega European Masters with five others but it's the two-time winner and pre-event favourite, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who also began the event in the afternoon, that dominates the market after he too posted a seven-under-par 63 around Crans.

Fitzpatrick now trades at just a shade over 3/14.00 and that looks a fair price given his course record, but he wasn't the only one to trade at less than 4/15.00 today.

The pre-event second favourite, Ludvig Aberg, hit a low of just 4.57/2 after he'd birdied five of his first six holes, but he cooled off after that, parring the next 11 holes in-a-row before picking up a birdie four at the par five ninth to sign off. Tied for seventh and trailing by a stroke, the talented young Swede now trades at around 9/110.00.

As highlighted in the preview, I thought Fitzpatrick was fairly priced before the off and if he can successfully navigate his first four holes tomorrow morning - 10, 11, 12, and 13 - which all averaged over-par today, I can see him shortening up.

The first and second 12 months ago, Thriston Lawrence and Matt Wallace, were inside the top-three places all week long and Lawrence was in front after rounds one and three but somewhat bizarrely, he's the only first round leader or co-leader go on to win since Ernie Els in 2003.

That may not sound too strange, but Els was the fourth winner in-a-row to end the first round in front and the three winners before him all won wire-to-wire.

Both Rory McIlroy and Scott Hend have lost playoffs having led after every round and Tyrrell Hatton and Matteo Manassero have both finished third after leading on Thursday night but Lawrence broke a poor run for first round leaders and co-leaders that lasted 20 years so I wouldn't give up hope if your picks are slightly off the pace.

The 2021 winner, Rasmus Hojgaard, sat tied for 33rd and eight off the lead, Richie Ramsay trailed by six in 2012 and five of the last 15 winners have trailed by five after round one.

With that in mind, I'm happy to have a couple of small early in-running plays on a couple of players trailing at juicy odds - Romain Langasque and Simon Forsstrom.

Langasque has missed four of seven cuts here when he's started slowly but when he shot his best opening round of 68 here, he finished seventh, having tied for the lead after a 63 in round two.

Given he trails by just two after this afternoon's five-under-par 65, and that he starts nice and early tomorrow, I thought 32.031/1 looked fair for the Frenchman.

Forsstrom, who sits three off the lead after round one, is a far more speculative play at 200.0199/1 but he was a very impressive winner of the Soudal Open in May and the last three winners of the event, like Forsstrom this year, were playing in the event for the first time.

Although he's tied for the lead, the Made In Denmark runner-up, Nacho Elvira, who did very little wrong before finally losing to Rasmus Hojgaard in extra time in Denmark, is also a big price at in excess of 40.039/1 given he clearly loves the venue.

He hit the front during round two here last year before eventually finishing ninth and that playoff defeat last month may have installed some grit and belief.

Omega European Masters Pre-event Selection:
Robert MacIntyre @ 40.039/1

In-Play Picks:
Romain Langasque @ 32.031/1
Nacho Elvira @ 46.045/1
Simon Forsstrom @ 200.0199/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2u Thriston Lawrence @ 110.0109/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
2u Pablo Larrazabal 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
1u Shubhankar Sharma 230.0229/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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