Ten players within two at the top
Kim looks to go back-to-back
Svensson chanced at a juicy price
12:45- October 15, 2023
With several frontrunners stuttering, there was much change on Moving Day in Vegas with the defending champion, Tom Kim, moving up 25 places to tie the lead with a nine-under-par 62 in round three of the Shriners Children's Open. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 12:35.
Tom Kim -15 3.7511/4
Adam Hadwin -15 6.05/1
Lanto Griffin -15 11.521/2
K.H Lee -14 13.012/1
Taylor Pendrith -14 16.5
Vince Whaley -14 20.019/1
J.T Poston -13 15.5
Adam Svensson -13 22.021/1
Callum Tarren -13 38.037/1
Isiah Salinda -13 75.074/1
Cam Davis -12 34.033/1
-12 and 44.043/1 bar
Smylie Kaufman won the 2015 edition of the Shriners from seven back thanks to a 61 on Sunday before the weather turned against the 54-hole leaders but in every other edition since the tournament was reduced to four rounds back in 2004 has been on the premises with a round to go.
Every other winner over the last 20 years has been inside the top six places and four strokes is the furthest any victor has trailed through 54 holes. If that trend continues, even the players tied for seventh and just two off the lead are out of it so concentrating on the leaders looks the way to go.
Having been tied for the lead at this stage 12 months ago, following another Saturday 62, Kim shot 66 on Sunday to win by three and he's a perfectly fair price to repeat the feat at almost 3/14.00.
Although very disappointed with Cameron Champ's awful third round (shot a three over-par 74 to slip from tied first to tied 24th!), K.H lee is still on the premises, thanks in no small part to this near albatross on the par 16th, and I've added one more at a decent price.
Canada's Adam Svensson is one of the three players tied for seventh and just two back and he looks fractionally over-priced at 22.021/1 given he ranks third for Driving Accuracy and fifth for Strokes Gained: Off the Tee so far this week and that the winners tend to rank highly for Driving Accuracy.
Just one stroke further adrift and within three of the lead, the straight hitting Joel Dahmen has the abilty to go low, should the putter unexpectedly start working well, and he too looks a little big at 75.074/1.
20:40- October 14, 2023
As highlighted this morning, Matthieu Pavon's record when leading at halfway on the DP World Tour had been horrendous and he looked like someone to oppose but after a five-under-par 66 around Club de Cambo, he heads into the final round of the Open de España with a two-stroke lead. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:30.
Matthieu Pavon -16 2.6413/8
Nathan Kimsey -14 5.14/1
Romain Langasque -12 11.010/1
Mike Lorenzo-Vera -12 27.026/1
Alfredo Garcia-Heredia -12 28.027/1
Zander Lombard -12 19.018/1
Marcus Helligkilde -11 25.024/1
Eddie Pepperell -11 32.031/1
Julien Guerrier -11 34.033/1
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano -11 120.0119/1
-10 and 100.099/1 bar
Although he bogeyed the par three 17th for the second day running when he missed the green, the pre-event 120.0119/1 chance, Pavon, played very well today, and it was impossible not to be impressed.
Having finished runner-up to Jon Rahm 12 months ago, the Frenchman's clearly very comfortable here and he spoke after his round of having family in Spain and a grandfather from Madrid so it's perhaps not surprising to see him play so well here but how well will he stand up to the pressure tomorrow?
This is the first occasion that he's held a clear lead with a round to go on the DP World Tour but he was tied at the top at the Portugal Masters through 54 holes when he finished tied second behind Thomas Pieters in 2021.
He's been trough the mill and nobody could begrudge him getting off the mark but he's not for me at around 6/42.50, despite the very good record of 54-hole leaders at Club de Campo.
Since this event was staged here in 1996, we've seen ten players enter the final round leading by between one and seven strokes and only two have been beaten. Padraig Harrington was beaten in the Open de Madrid in 2002, having led by a stroke and Paul Casey threw away a four stroke lead in the same event 12 months later.
My in-play pick, Nathan Kimsey, is the closest challenger to Pavon after a bogey-free six-under-par 65 but he rode his luck a little. He holed a bomb from 60 feet for a birdie at 13 before making a ridiculous up-and-down for another on the par five 14th after a terrible second shot.
I'm happy to be onboard but I'm hopeful rather than confident.
Trailing the leader by four, another of my in-play picks, Zander Lombard, will accompany Pavon and Kimsey in tomorrow's final three-ball so I've got chances ahead of round four but it's a tough one to call.
If the front two get jittery with their first victory in sight, the event will be blown wide open so I wouldn't count anyone inside the top-25 out just yet. There are a dozen players in tied 14th and seven adrift and one or two of them will go low tomorrow.
That group might be just a little too far back but I have added one more outsider ahead of tomorrow's final round.
The Spanish veteran, Gonzalo Fernadez-Castano, who won the last of his seven DP World Tour titles almost exactly ten years ago, has played in his national open 14 times previously without ever bettering his tied 30th in 2010.
A victory for the 42-year-old tomorrow would be a tremendous way to cap a distinguished career and I thought he was worth chancing at a huge price given how well he's putting this week.
08:55- October 14, 2023
The defending champion and pre-event favourite, Jon Rahm, bogeyed the opening hole of his second round at the Open de España yesterday and that pretty much set the tone.
His tee game was ragged and his putter cold and he goes into the weekend trailing the halfway leader, Matthieu Pavon, by eight strokes. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:40.
Matthieu Pavon -11 6.05/1
Shubhankar Sharma -10 9.08/1
Wil Besseling -10 15.5
Mike Lorenzo-Vera -9 22.021/1
Alfredo Garcia-Heredia -9 24.023/1
Nathan Kimsey -8 17.016/1
Romain Langasque -7 19.018/1
Antoine Rozner -7 26.025/1
Grant Forrest -7 30.029/1
Marcel Siem -7 36.035/1
Eddie Pepperell -7 38.037/1
Jon Rahm -3 18.017/1
-7 and 40.039/1 bar
Rahm has plenty to do but the pre-event favourite layers can't entirely relax just yet, as a slow start can be overcome at this venue.
In the 11 events staged here since 1996, nine winners have been inside the top-ten at halfway, but Steen Tinning won the Open de Madrid in 2002, having trailed by six at this stage, and Ricardo Gonzalez trailed by 11 at halfway and by six with a round to go 12 months later.
All three winners of this event have been within three at halfway but none of them were leading and I really don't fancy this year's 36-hole leader.
Although a two-time winner on the Alps Tour, way back in 2014 and 2015, Pavon has played in more than 200 events since and he's yet to taste victory on any of the bigger Tours.
He led the Turkish Airlines on the Challenge Tour by two strokes in 2016 but finished second and he's been hopeless when leading at halfway on the DP World Tour.
He led the Oman Open by two in 2018 but finished 31st and he was tied for the lead at the Irish Open a few months late but finished 10th.
One could argue that those two efforts were a long time ago now and they were, but he was also two strokes clear at this stage of the Italian Open in May this year and he finished 32nd!
He's extremely hard to fancy given his record and he's one to take on in the Top 5 Finish market, the Top 10 Finish Market and he may even fail to finish inside the top-20 again if nerves get the better of him.
None of the leaders make much appeal so it's hard to see an alternative to Pavon but I thought Nathan Kimsey was worth a small bet at 18.017/1 and I've also played a couple of South Africans from further back.
Kimsey doesn't have the scar tissue of the five men ahead of him but with as many as 11 players tucked in just behind him on -7, it's a wide-open event.
I wouldn't put anyone off chancing a few longshots from six. seven, eight or even further back and the two I've backed for tiny stakes are Zander Lombard, who I mentioned in the Find Me a 100 Winner column, and the promising Deon Germishuys.
Germishuys caught the eye at the KLM Open back in May, where he finished third, and after a string of missed cuts he looks like he may have found his game.
He signed of last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a pair of 66s to finish 44th and so far this week he ranks first for Greens In Regulation and fifth for Strokes Gained: Approach.
Both he and Lombard have plenty to do on -6, trailing by five, but the frontrunners all look opposable.
Over on the PGA Tour, JT Poston was matched at a low of 2.6613/8 when he looked like posting a round low enough to see him head into the weekend in front at the Shriners Children's Open but a scruffy finish saw him settle for a two-under-par 69 that sees him sitting tied for fourth with yesterday's in-play pick, Cameron Champ, and the 2019 Houston Open winner, Lanto Griffin, tied at the top. Here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 8:50.
Cameron Champ -12 7.06/1
Lanto Griffin -12 12.011/1
Henrik Norlander -11 17.016/1
Nick Taylor -10 14.013/1
JT Poston -10 8.415/2
Sam Ryder -9 19.018/1
Beau Hossler -9 19.018/1
Alex Noren -9 20.019/1
Luke List -9 23.022/1
KH Lee -9 24.023/1
Cam Davis -8 25.024/1
-8 and 36.035/1 bar
We've seen the odd winner from off the pace here when the weather's been a bit funky, but it's a frontrunners track when the weather's fine.
There's a bit of wind predicted for this afternoon but not enough to cause any issues and Sunday looks like being a very calm day so we probably can't scan too far down the leaderboard given the stats...
Last year's winner, Tom Kim, was trailing by two at halfway but the three before him were leading or tied at the top at this stage and as many as nine of the last 16 winners have been in front at halfway.
With that in mind, I'm more than happy to keep the faith with Champ but I've felt compelled to add a small wager on last week's fancy at the Sanderson Farms Championship, KH Lee, who missed the cut in Mississippi.
I'd be kicking myself if KH became the third Korean in-a-row to take the title having been onboard the week before so I've had a tiny wager to ease the pain should he oblige, and I've also chanced one that really should have too much to do according to past results.
Adam Long trails by four in a tie for 11th so he has ground to make up, but I was happy to chance him at a big price.
Long's only previous victory on the PGA Tour was at the Desert Classic in 2019 when he got the better of Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin by a stroke in 24-under-par.
A low scoring birdie-fest in the desert clearly suits the 36-year-old and I thought 120.0119/1 was just too big to ignore.
10:10- October 13, 2023
The second round of the Open de España is underway, and I'll be back later with a look at that one once we've reached the halfway stage.
The pre-event favourite, Jon Rahm, is still trading at around the 5/23.50 mark following his four-under-par opening round on Thursday morning and the whole market hinges on what he does in round two this afternoon.
He played nicely enough yesterday but a cold putter held him back. On the two occasions he's won here he's putted well so it will be interesting to see what this afternoon brings. He was in-contention at halfway two years ago but couldn't get the putter to work and he ended the week tied for 17th.
Over on the PGA Tour, the opening round of the Shriners Children's Open was suspended due to darkness with six groups yet to finish their opening rounds.
LPGA Tour star, Lexi Thompson, is amongst the players with holes still to play and she's up against it to make the cut.
The 28-year-old will return to the course this morning facing a 20-foot par save at 17 to avoid moving to +2 for the tournament so she's got her work cut out with the leader, Beau Hossler, showing the way after a nine-under-par 62.
Cameron Champ caught the eye last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship and he's carried his form forward to Vegas if yesterday's eight-under-par 63 is anything to go by.
He sounds like he's in a really good place at present and I was happy to chance him modestly at 13.012/1 this morning.
The three-time PGA Tour winner has an early tee time today and his stats were excellent yesterday. So far this week he ranks second for Greens In Regulation and Driving Accuracy and first for Scrambling.
Open de España Pre-event Selection:
Jon Rahm @ 3.45
Nathan Kimsey @ 18.017/1
Zander Lombard @ 75.074/1
Deon Germishuys @ 240.0239/1
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano @ 120.0119/1
Shriners Children's Open Pre-event Selection:
Si Woo Kim @ 25.024/1
Cameron Champ @ 13.012/1
KH Lee @ 25.024/1
Adam Long @ 120.0119/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2u Thriston Lawrence @ 100.099/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
2u Martin Laird @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 12u @ 2.01/1
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