With a round to go at the BMW International Open in Germany and the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, our man takes his final look at the in-play markets on both tours...
“Having the pre-tournament favourite lead wire-to-wire is the worst thing that could have happened for me this week so I’m actually fairly pleased my book doesn’t look worse. No doubt it would look better if I hadn’t been trading sporadically and haphazardly last night but I’ve no complaints. ”
10:50 - June 25, 2017
Sergio Garcia and Richard Bland are tied at the top at the BMW International Open and the US Masters champ is a justifiably short-priced favourite to win. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 10:40 UK and Ireland time.
Sergio Garcia -13 1.9420/21
Richard Bland -13 7.413/2
Joakim Lagergren -12 9.08/1
Andres Romero -10 32.031/1
Thomas Detry -10 32.031/1
-9 and 27.026/1 bar
Ernie Els, who was tied with Alex Noren and Alex Levy through 54 holes in 2013, is the only third round leader or co-leader to break 70 at this venue since Miguel Angel Jimenez calmly closed in 2004 with a final round 66. James Morrison led here by two strokes in 2015, the last time the tournament was played at Golfclub München Eichenried, but limped home to finish tied 11th after a five-over-par 77 and he's far from alone. Ten others have shot rounds of 70 or more and that includes the 2007 winner, Niclas Fasth, who fired a 70 to win by two and Martin Kaymer, who eventually won a playoff after he shot 75 to give up a six stroke margin lead through three rounds in 2008.
Six of the last seven players to hold a clear lead have been beaten (Kaymer the wobbly exception) so it's a tough place to get the job done from the front and a case for taking on Bland is simple enough to make.
The 44-year-old Englishman has played on the European Tour 410 times previously and he's still in search of that elusive first victory. This is the first time he's led or co-led on the European Tour through 54 holes but he's co-led four times previously on lesser tours - once on the Asian Tour and three times on the Challenge Tour - and he's been beaten every time. Making a case for backing Bland is damn near impossible.
I've often felt Garcia is opposable in-the-mix, especially in bigger tournaments, but his record when leading or co-leading through 54 holes is strong, and getting stronger. He was very impressive in Dubai in February when he converted a three-stroke lead into a three-stroke victory with the minimum of fuss and he was tied for the lead through three rounds at Augusta when he eventually got the better of Justin Rose in a playoff, so he's two from two this year and his overall record reads 15 from 30.
Joakim Lagergren is the only other player within three of the lead but he's hard to fancy. At only 25 and in his 84th European Tour event, it's conceivable that he can put a few flaky in-contention performances behind him and I'd much rather play him than Bland if I was looking for an alternative to Garcia but I think that could be a pointless and costly exercise.
Given the record of third round leaders here, I thought I'd be certain to take on anyone at odds-on with a round to go but Garcia is going to do well to mess this up. David Lipsky can go silly low when he gets in the mood and recent Nordea Masters winner, Renato Paratore, could be sporting alternatives to the favourite at 50.049/1 and bigger from four off the lead but I'm going to leave the event alone for now.
Over at the Travelers Championship, having made back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14, pre-event favourite, Jordan Spieth, finished round three by birdying three of the last four holes and he'll take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
Just to reiterate what I've been doing this week, I began the week by laying everyone priced at below 80.079/1, apart from Bubba Watson, who's missed the cut, and I've been tweaking my book ever since. I was out last night so I did say that I'd try to resist trading blind but fortunately, I wasn't able to and I started by backing Spieth back at 3.9 before he'd finished playing the first hole and before I'd even left the house.
Spieth actually moved to over 4.03/1 for seemingly no reason at all and I'm glad I backed him back. After that I layed a number of players throughout the evening (the highlight being Charley Hoffman at 5.69/2) and things look a lot better than they did at halfway. Below are the current standings, prices to back at 10:50 UK and Ireland time and how each player currently stands with me financially.
Jordan Spieth -12 1.768/11 -£362.86
Boo Weekley -11 8.88/1 +£197.97
Daniel Berger -9 9.89/1 -£323.61
Paul Casey -8 14.5 -256.61
David Lingmerth -8 25.024/1 +£881.97
C.T Pan -8 50.049/1 +£881.97
Danny Lee -7 75.074/1 +£881.97
Keegan Bradley -7 90.089/1 +£881.97
David Hearn -7 120.0119/1 +£881.97
-6 and 130.0129/1 bar
Having the pre-tournament favourite lead wire-to-wire is the worst thing that could have happened for me this week so I'm actually fairly pleased my book doesn't look worse. No doubt it would look better if I hadn't been trading sporadically and haphazardly last night but I've no complaints.
As detailed in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, we've seen all sorts of shenanigans during round four in this event of late so although Spieth looks a good thing (he's held a clear 54-hole lead eight times and converted on six occasions) anything could yet happen...
The third round leader or co-leader has gone on to win only three times in the last 13 years. Seven of the last eight 54-hole leaders have been beaten and some of the winners here have come from absolutely miles back.
Russell Knox won from three adrift after the clear odds-on leader, Daniel Berger, shot a disappointing 74 to finish tied fifth last year but many a winner has come from much further back.
Marc Leishman trailed by six four years ago, as did Bubba in 2010, and the two he beat in the playoff (Verplank and Pavin) came from six and eight shots back respectively!
When Brad Faxon won in 2005 he was trailing by 12 at halfway and by seven after three rounds. Phil Mickelson won from five back with a round to go in 2002 and Notah Begay and Woody Austin, like Knox, have both won the event this century from three off the pace. Duke sat in a tie for 6th and was trailing by two four years ago and Streelman was four back and trading at 55.054/1 in 2014.
Those historic results give me hope but I fancy tonight is going to be a case of damage limitations. My Cash Out figure at the moment is -£141 and it's mildly tempting to take it. I know the tournament stats are against Spieth but it's hard to see him getting beat. I layed £100 on Boo Weekley at 7.26/1 last night, so I've kept him as a small winner for now but I'm not hopeful.
I'll be back in the morning with the De-Brief.
11:00 - June 24, 2017
We look set for an exciting weekend's action in Germany where the first four in the betting before the off at the BMW International Open are all in with a chance of winning. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 10:50.
Joakim Lagergren -9 18.5
Joël Stalter -9 36.035/1
Sergio Garcia -8 3.953/1
Henrik Stenson -8 4.216/5
Rikard Karlberg -8 27.026/1
Thomas Detry -8 27.026/1
Richard Bland -8 34.033/1
Matthew Southgate -7 70.069/1
Hennie Otto -7 110.0109/1
Niclas Fasth -7 150.0149/1
Anthony Wall -7 240.0239/1 (54 holes played)
Jorge Campillo -7 330.0329/1 (54 holes played)
Bernd Wiesberger -6 13.012/1
Tommy Fleetwood -6 15.5
-6 and 42.041/1 bar
Joakim Lagergren and Joël Stalter show the way after 36 holes but for how long? The latter is clearly inspired by his US Open debut last week where, although he missed the cut, he fared quite well, shooting a respectable 72 in round two. The Frenchman wasn't in great form before then and he's now missed eight of his last ten cuts so he's very hard to fancy.
Regular readers will know I've followed Lagergren off a cliff, climbed back up again and jumped several times more and I'm a bit miffed to see him up there this week without a penny on. Especially given he was matched at as high as 420.0419/1 before the off! He's a very classy, if a bit streaky, player who is more than capable of winning on the European Tour but he has a habit of flattering to deceive. He's a big price given his ability and that he's tied for the lead but this is traditionally a hard place to lead, he's wobbled badly almost every time a chance has presented itself and the chasing pack is strong.
Of the two big guns tied for third, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, the market just favours the former and that makes sense. He's been in better form than Stenson and I think he's the most likely to win. Garcia has had his misfortunes here and he'll fell he should have won back in 2011 when he lost a playoff to his compatriot, Pablo Larrazabal, at the fifth extra hole.
Defending champion, Stenson, has won this title twice before (here in 2006 and at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof 12 months ago) but he's also given up a couple of great chances to win here and has drifted out of contention a couple of times. The reigning Open champ was third last month at Wentworth but he's missed five of his last eight cuts and I can see why he's weaker than Sergio in the market.
Bernd Wiesberger and Tommy Fleetwood are next up in the market but they have a bit of ground to make up and if they start slowly at all today they'll have an awful lot to do and neither makes any appeal at the prices.
I've toyed with laying the front four - Garcia, Stenson, Wiesberger and Fleetwood - as funny things can happen here. We've seen winners and beaten playoff protagonists come from a long way back and it's often been a good event to trade but after much deliberation I've decided to leave it alone.
I wouldn't put anyone off Sergio. At nearly 3/1 he looks a very fair price given the course clearly suits and that he really should be more reliable in-contention now he's a major champion but I'm happy to leave him alone at that price. This is a very tricky event still but I thought Rikard Karlberg represented a tiny bit of value at 28.027/1.
The 30-year-old Swede beat Martin Kaymer in a playoff in Italy two years ago so he knows he's capable of beating elite European Tour stars on European soil and I thought he might just hang around and be there at the end.
Low scores are clearly out there today and we've already seen two six-under-par 66s from very early starters - Jorge Campillo and Anthony Wall.
Over at the Travelers Championship, pre-event favourite, Jordan Spieth, will take a one-stroke lead into the weekend and he's clearly the man to beat still.
As highlighted in the preview, I began the week by laying everyone priced at below 80.079/1, apart from Bubba Watson, who's missed the cut, so having the pre-tournament favourite make the running from the get-go is far from ideal. Below are the current standings, prices to back at 10:50 UK and Ireland time and how each player currently stands with me financially.
Jordan Spieth -8 2.8815/8 -£720.09
Patrick Reed -7 8.07/1 -£600.45
Troy Merritt -7 40.039/1 +£750.27
Wesley Bryan -6 36.035/1 +£750.27
Daniel Summerhays -6 36.035/1 +£750.27
Chase Seiffert -6 55.054/1 +£750.27
Boo Weekley -6 75.074/1 +£750.27
Daniel Berger -5 24.023/1 -£32.24
Graham DeLaet -5 36.035/1 -£453.24
Jim Furyk -5 48.047/1 +£750.27
Danny Lee -5 48.047/1 +£750.27
Smylie Kaufman -5 55.054/1 +£750.27
Chez Reavie -5 55.054/1 +£750.27
Padraig Harrington -5 80.079/1 +£750.27
Beau Hossler -5 130.0129/1 +£750.27
-4 and 44.043/1 bar
Everything pretty much hinges on what Spieth does today for me. If he runs away from the field and shoots a really low round I'll be paddleless and a long way up the creek but I'm not going to start fretting just yet. He's playing well this week but I can see why he's drifting in the market. This is an event where lots tends to change and the winners have come from some way off the pace of late with only one of the last seven winners leading at this stage.
Spieth has held an outright lead five times and gone on to win twice so all things considered, I'm happy to be against him. I fiddled about in-running again last night and I had every intention of tweaking things further with my book but Patrick Reed's final hole birdie messed that up. I had intended to back him back but when I saw him drive into the bunker at the 18th I (wrongly) assumed a par at best. I momentarily left it be, only to return to see he'd played a great second shot and holed for birdie from 13 feet.
I'm out tonight so I won't really be monitoring play. I won't be able to stop myself form checking the scores on my phone but I'm going to try not to trade blind as the chances are, I'd only make things worse. It's a bit of a nuisance having to go out but other people seem to find Saturdays a convenient night for frivolity (Tuesday's would be far more favourable for me!) and it's not fair on the nearest and dearest to never go out on a weekend is it?!
22:25 - June 22, 2017
I had no intention of kicking the blog off until tomorrow but I didn't think I'd be getting involved so early at the Travelers Championship.
As detailed in the preview, I'm playing the PGA Tour event a bit differently this week and I began the tournament laying everyone under 80.079/1. I did think I'd be waiting a bit longer before getting involved but with Jordan Spieth starting fast I felt I had to lay him further at an average of 3.39/4 when he raced to five-under-par after just eight holes. it looked a decent move when he bogeyed the ninth but he's just birdied the 13th and 14th and he's been trading at less than 3.02/1 so I perhaps should have waited.
I've also layed Rory McIlroy and Graham DeLaet further at 11.010/1 and 21.020/1 respectively and you can see the latest (sorry) state of my book below. I've removed Bubba Watson (who I had a tiny bet on before the off) from the calculations as he's miles back and has no chance after a very poor start.
The market leaders have started well at the BMW International Open too, where Sergio Garcia trails early leader Wade Ormsby by two. The Masters champ is now just a 4.84/1 chance and Henrik Stenson, who's a stroke further back in a tie for sixth, is just 6.05/1. They both look short enough to me and I toyed with laying them too but after much deliberation I've decided to leave them alone for now.
One of my pre-event picks, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, has started well and he sits alongside Stenson and I've added a couple of in-play picks too. I backed Thorbjorn Olesen at 20/1 with the Sportsbook and I've added recent winner, Alvaro Quiros at 150.0149/1.
I'll tweet any significant lays at the Travelers Championship tomorrow and I'll take a more detailed look at the BMW International Open after round two.
BMW International Open Pre-Event Selections:
Pablo Larrazabal @ 30.029/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 44.043/1
George Coetzee @ 46.045/1
Brandon Stone @ 65.064/1
Dean Burmester @ 70.069/1
BMW International Open In-Play Picks:
Thorbjorn Olesen @20/1 (Sportsbook)
Alvaro Quiros @ 150.0149/1
Rikard Karlberg @ 28.027/1
Travelers Championship Pre-Event Book:
Worst Case Scenario -£387.20
Field baring the 17 players layed +£501.78
Bubba Watson +£1,078.39
Travelers Championship Current Book:
Worst Case Scenario (Spieth) -£582.28
Field baring the 17 players layed +£651.26
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter