The Punter's In-Play Blog: Berger poised to win again

Daniel Berger – poised to win for the second time in two months
Daniel Berger – poised to win for the second time in two months

Daniel Berger has sprinted clear of the field at TPC River Highlands but is he a good thing at odds-on? Read Steve's take on the latest state of play on the PGA Tour here...

“We’ve seen some odd results here and we’ve seen winners come from four, five, six and even seven strokes back so this isn’t a done deal quite yet and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing a player or two from off the pace at a big price.”

10:55 - August 07, 2016

Alex Noren is a strong favourite to beat Anthony Wall in the final of the Paul Lawrie Match Play tournament today and I see no reason to oppose him. The in-form Swede is looking for his sixth European Tour title and following victory in the Scottish Open last month, he's on the verge of winning twice in two months. Wall on the other hand, is looking to win just his second title and his first for over 16 years! Noren was a well-fancied 15.014/1 shot before the off. Wall was matched at 120.0119/1.

James Morrison is taking on Oliver Fisher in the third place playoff and if I'd been forced to plump for a bet in the tournament I'd have taken Fisher at 6/5 in a match of little importance that could go either way. Their tie kicked off at 10:50, the final begins at 11:05 and it's live on Sky shortly at 11:00.

Over at the Travelers Championship, it's gone from looking a wide open affair at halfway to a done deal after 54 holes and that's not good for me and my lay book! I was daft enough to get involved yesterday afternoon when trying to do other things at the same time and it's all a bit of a mess. I layed Russell Knox at 3.7511/4 and had I left it at that I'd have been fine now but I didn't, I layed third round leader, Daniel Berger, a couple of times at 4.1 and below and I now look certain to lose.

Berger was sensational on the back-nine, firing in five birdies to saunter clear of the remainder and he's well positioned to win his second PGA Tour title, very soon after his first. He broke his duck in June at the FedEx St Jude. Here's the third round leaderboard with prices to back at 10:50.

Daniel Berger -15 1.9210/11

Russell Knox -12 6.25/1
Russell Henley -12 8.07/1
Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 15.5

Patrick Rogers -10 46.045/1

Brooks Koepka -9 25.024/1
Paul Casey -9 36.035/1

-8 and 100.099/1 bar

The stats suggest that out in front isn't the best place to be here. The third round leader or co-leader has been beaten in six of the last seven years and 54-hole leaders and co-leaders have a strike rate of just 28% going back to 1996. Three men have led by three strokes and two of them got beat. And they weren't rank outsiders. Major winners Justin Rose, in 2010, and Mark Calcavecchia, ten years earlier, have both flopped here from three clear with a round to go.

Overall on the PGA Tour since 1996, 106 players have led a 72 hole event by three strokes after 54 holes and 56 (53%) have successfully converted. The last to succeed was a certain Daniel Berger in Memphis in June.

If I was looking at this event for the first time this morning (and I wish I was!) I'd be happy to lay Berger at odds-on given those stats - even though he was impressive enough at the FedEx St Jude - but given I'm already in a deep enough hole I'm going to put the spade down for now.

We've seen some odd results here and we've seen winners come from four, five, six and even seven strokes back so this isn't a done deal quite yet and I wouldn't put anyone off backing a player or two from off the pace at a big price. I don't fancy my chances of showing a profit and it's going to be a case of making the best of a bad job later but I'll be back tomorrow with my de-brief whatever the outcome.

09:00 - August 06, 2016

I've been a bit caught out by a change in the schedule at the Paul Lawrie Match Play. Last year the semi-finals, the final, and the third place playoff were all played out on the Sunday but this year the semis will follow the quarters today. I'm told the timetable has been changed because high winds are forecast tomorrow so it all makes sense.

The schedule change hasn't made any difference to me. I was mildly tempted by Oliver Fisher at 11/8 to beat Max Kieffer but not enough to back him and I couldn't see a bet in any of the other matches either. I've made plans for this morning so I won't get to see the early play but I'll try and catch some of the later play with a view to picking out a wager in the semi-finals and if I do get involved, I'll tweet any bets.

Over at the Travelers Championship, 43 players are separated by just four strokes and it looks impossible to call at this stage. Bubba Watson was two clear at halfway when he won last year but the man he beat in a playoff, Paul Casey, was six off the lead and tied for 20th at this stage and the eight winners and beaten playoff protagonists between 2010 and 2014 were all way off the pace at halfway.

In 2014, Kevin Streelman sat tied for 39th and eight adrift through 36 holes when he won and a year earlier, Ken Duke had sat tied for 32nd and seven off the lead. Duke beat Chris Stroud in a playoff and Stroud had been five strokes adrift at halfway. Marc Leishman won from three back in 2012 and a year earlier, Freddie Jacobsen had trailed by four at this stage but in 2010 all three playoff protagonists came from miles behind. The eventual winner, Bubba, had been seven back and the two men here beat in extra time - Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank - had been five and ten strokes adrift at halfway.

Daniel Berger is one of four men tied at the top and he's the new favourite but I've been more than happy to go in again and lay anyone trading at under 40.039/1 again. That's meant I've added a few that weren't layed before the off but it's also brought my potential losses down. I've updated the figures below.

Whether I'll get involved in-running later or not I've yet to decide. With bad weather forecast, play gets underway at midday (UK and Ireland time) and I perhaps should get stuck in and lay anyone that trades shorter than I think they should be in-running but I've been taking it really easy so far this week and I might just give myself another day off. Whatever I decide to do, I'll be back tonight or in the morning with a further update.

09:35 - August 05, 2016

Despite a spirited fightback, that saw his first round match with Richie Ramsay go up the final hole, my each-way fancy at the Paul Lawrie Match Play, David Howell, tumbled at the first hurdle but my only other fancy, Marc Warren is through to round two and currently beating Magnus Carlsson.

I quite fancied Alvaro Quiros to beat James Morrison in round one but I wanted odds-against so I didn't play him and that was a lucky escape. The main reason for fancying the Spaniard was the poor form Morrison had shown of late but the Englishman opened up their match with five birdies in the first six holes and he went on to win comfortably 6&5.

I've had a good look at the second round matches and I quite like Germany's Max Kieffer to beat Mikko Ilonen at 11/10 with the Sportsbook. Ilonen took his time to beat the woefully out-of-form Jin Jeong yesterday whereas Kieffer played really well to beat the determined Edoardo Molinari. The Italian birdied three of his first six holes but he was no match for the German who fired in seven birdies to win 3&2. The match kicks off at 10:15.

Over at the Travelers Championship, I've gone in again and tweaked my book ever so slightly by laying everyone at less than 40.039/1 this morning (including pre-event pick Bubba Watson) and I've updated the figures below.

19:30 - August 03, 2016

I wrote in my Travelers Championship preview that I'd had success in the event previously when laying the market leaders before the off and taking it from there and I've decided to have a crack at it again this time around.

After a couple of busy weeks trading the majors, I'm not going to be monitoring play much until Saturday at the earliest so I'm taking it fairly easy from the get-go. I've layed some of my Bubba wager back and I've layed every player that's trading at less than 100.099/1 so here's how my book looks at present.

Bubba Watson +£1,195
Everyone in the field at 100.099/1 and above +£433
Players layed at less than 100.099/1 lose between -£309 and -£444

Just to clarify, if I didn't do anything in-running and Bubba defended his title, I'd win £1,195 and if anyone that began the event trading at a triple-figure price won, I'd win £433 but if anybody else won I'd lose between £309 and £444, depending on who it was. I've layed Brooks Koepka to lose the most and Marc Leishman is my smallest loser.

I plan to do very little else early on and see where I stand going into the weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to add others to the book as they come into contention but it may just turn out to be a damage limitation exercise if none of the outsiders get involved and Bubba has a poor week.

Other than my each-way pick, David Howell, I haven't added to my wagers at the Paul Lawrie Match Play (previewed here) but I was close to backing Alvaro Quiros to beat the woefully out of form James Morrison at evens in the their first round encounter.

Travelers Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Bubba Watson @ 15.5
Lay Book best case scenario w/o Bubba +£433
Lay Book worst case scenario -£444

Updated after round one
Bubba Watson +£1,158
Lay Book best case scenario w/o Bubba +£503
Lay Book worst case scenario -£490 (John Rahm)

Updated after round two
Bubba Watson +£1,254
Lay Book best case scenario w/o Bubba +£690
Lay Book worst case scenario -£386 (John Rahm & Marc Leishman)

Updated after round three
Lay Book best case scenario +£1,046
Lay Book worst case scenario -£492 (Daniel Berger)

Paul Lawrie Match Play Pre-Event Selection:
Marc Warren @ 42.041/1

Round Two Wager
Kieffer to bt Ilonen @ 11/10

I'll be back tomorrow night or Friday morning with my next update.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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