With just a round to go in Vegas, 20 players are within five strokes of the lead and last year's winner won from seven back, so is it as wide open as it looks? Read what our man makes of the current state of play here...
“I can see the three leaders stuttering today but trying to pick out an alternative looks almost impossible and given I’ve already thrown a number of darts already I should probably leave the event alone now but I’ve decided to throw one more.”
12:30 - November 06, 2016
David Horsey and Bernd Wiesberger have both put pressure on the clear leader in Turkey, Thorbjorn Olesen, but with just three holes to play the Dane leads by three and looks home and hosed. I'll have more on that event in the De-brief tomorrow but for now I'm going to concentrate on the action on the PGA Tour...
There was much change on the leaderboard during round three of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and its 36-year-old Lucas Glover that now shows the way. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 12:20.
Lucas Glover -15 5.79/2
Rodney Pampling -14 14.5
Brooks Koepka -14 4.3100/30
Russell Henley -13 11.010/1
Geoff Ogilvy -13 18.017/1
Scott Piercy -12 17.5
Harris English -12 25.024/1
James Hahn -12 27.026/1
Charles Howell -12 32.031/1
Adam Hadwin -12 38.037/1
Pat Perez -12 48.047/1
-11 and 29.028/1 bar
Although last year's winner came from seven back with a round to go, winners of this event are nearly always right in the van with a round to go. Prior to Smylie Kaufman's success 12 months ago, four third round leaders in-a-row successfully converted and we have to go back to 2005 before we find someone that won from outside the first three places and more than two strokes back. Those stats suggest we should be concentrating on the front three on the leaderboard but none of them make any appeal to me...
For the second week in-a-row, Lucas Glover finds himself right in the thick of it with a round to go. Last week he dropped from tied third, and just a stroke back after round three, to tied fifth and five back with a jaded final round of 70 and even though he leads, he's not one I want to be with here. His putting is definitely better than it's been of late and so far this week he ranks ninth for Strokes Gained Putting but I have reservations about it holding up under pressure today.
Brooks Koepka bogeyed the first two holes yesterday and he dropped another stroke at the sixth but after a brilliant recovery on the back nine, despite a double bogey on the 17th, he's once again the firm favourite and the man they all have to beat but I'm still happy to swerve him. Everything I wrote about him yesterday still stands and his start yesterday perhaps highlights his vulnerability in-contention.
Rod Pampling failed to break par in round three and I see no reason to suspect he'll fare much better today. As highlighted yesterday, his record in-the-mix is nothing to write home about and he's another I'm happy to swerve.
I can see the three leaders stuttering today but trying to pick out an alternative looks almost impossible and given I've already thrown a number of darts already I should probably leave the event alone now and shout on James Hahn and Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Adam Hadwin, but I've decided to throw one more.
Vegas native, Scott Piercy, was my sole selection in this event 12 months ago and he was on the shortlist this year so I'd be cross if he won un-backed. He won't lack for support today and he's more than capable of going really low if he gets on a roll so I've thrown a few pounds at him at 18.5.
I'll be back tomorrow with the De-Brief.
09:20 - November 05, 2016
The second round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open hasn't quite finished but the only person that can alter the look of the leaderboard before the third round begins is 20-year-old South African-born American, Aaron Wise, who still has four holes to play, so here's the current state of play with prices to back at 09:10.
Rodney Pampling -14 11.521/2
Brooks Koepka -13 3.55
Aaron Wise -12 (thru 14 holes round 2) -12 15.5
Chris Kirk -11 8.27/1
Keegan Bradley -10 17.5
James Hahn -10 23.022/1
Pat Perez -10 50.049/1
-9 and 28.027/1 bar
Last year's winner, Smylie Kaufman, came from miles back to win. He was trailing by seven strokes after round two and he was still that far back with a round to go but that looks like a one-off. Looking back over the last 10 years, the nine winners that preceded Smylie were all inside the top-five places at halfway and they were all within three strokes of the lead suggesting that this year's champion is highly likely to be listed above.
Current leader, Rodney Pampling looks opposable. The 47-year-old Aussie won from the front on the Web.com Tour last year and he has two PGA Tour titles to his name but even in his pomp he was always a player to take on.
His first title, in 2004, came at the now defunct tournament, The International, which was an event that used the Stapleford scoring system, which is quite different to stroke play, and his only other victory, at the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational, came courtesy of an appalling collapse by Greg Owen. I'm working from memory as he's not been in-the-mix for so long but he was a player I always looked to take on and I'm going to do so again here.
Brooks Koepka looks to have an outstanding chance to double his PGA Tour tally but his performance at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May is still fresh in my memory and that puts me off. He had that title in his pocket and was matched at just 1.132/15 in-running but he finished the event off tardily to let in Sergio Garcia before finding water off the tee in a playoff. That could be a one-off of course but I'd like to see him show some mettle in-the-mix before I go backing him at a short price.
It's going to be interesting to see how Wise finishes up in round two but I suspect winning the event is beyond him. He's a winner on the PGA Tour of Canada but this is just his fifth start on the PGA Tour and I'd be surprised if he's there or thereabouts at the finish.
Chris Kirk was a bit disappointing last week when failing to convert a 54-hole lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship but he's clearly playing well and I like the look of him at over 7/1 and I've also thrown a few pounds at James Hahn at a nice price.
Although his form is patchy and he's missed lots of cuts, Hahn has won twice in his last 40 PGA Tour starts so he's prolific enough to look over-priced at 23.022/1. On both occasions, at the Northern Trust Open last year and the Wells Fargo back in May, he was very impressive under the gun and I see no reason why he's so much bigger than the twitchy Keegan Bradley on the same score.
My main pre-event fancy, Jon Rahm, was a big disappointment yesterday. Having begun on the back-nine, he was going well in round two after a sticky start and he was matched at just 7.613/2 when sitting on ten-under-par with eight to play but he failed to birdie another hole and bogeys at the third and the very easy par five ninth have seen him slip out of contention. He's more than capable of going really low over the weekend but as already highlighted, despite last year's result, this isn't usually a great venue to play catch-up.
The third round of the Turkish Airlines Open is now underway and live on Sky Sports 4.
16:20 - November 04, 2016
Thorbjorn Olesen set the new course record in round two of the Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort today and he's going to take some catching now. Recording four birdies and an eagle over his last six holes, the Dane recorded a nine-under-par 61 to stretch six clear of the field and he's now the odds-on favourite to win. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 16:15.
Thongchai Jaidee -9 11.010/1
Adrian Otaegui -9 28.027/1
David Horsey -8 24.023/1
Joakim Lagergren -8 26.025/1
Matteo Manassero -8 40.039/1
Haotong Li -8 40.039/1
Jorge Campillo -7 80.079/1
David Drysdale -7 80.079/1
Bernd Wiesberger -6 28.027/1
David Lipsky -6 100.099/1
Pablo Larrazabal -6 110.0109/1
-5 and 80.079/1 bar
I was quite surprised with what I found when I examined the record of six-stroke 36-hole leaders on the European Tour. I didn't expect a lot to have been in such a strong position at the halfway stage and there weren't many but I expected them to have fared better...
Of the four players to have led by six at this stage over the last 20 years, only one, Martin Kaymer at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in 2008, went on to win. The other three all finished second and the last one to flop was Ian Poulter at this event (albeit at a different venue) only two years ago.
Rather ominously, Olesen has led at halfway four times previously and failed every time. He led by a solitary stroke through 36 holes on the Challenge Tour back in 2010 and finished 14th and he's also twice led by just one on the European Tour before finishing eighth at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and second at the Mauritius Open last year. And at the Lyoness Open in 2012, having led by three after rounds two and three, he shot 74 in round four to finish fifth - beaten by five.
If you fancy diving in at odds-on then I wish you luck but having read those stats, he's definitely not for me. That said, I wouldn't want to be laying him at around the 4/5 mark when the Sportsbook are going 4/9!
I could very easily move on and leave the event alone but instead I've made a couple of small plays to maintain a bit of interest. If Olesen is going to crack, then the tough-as-teak Thai, Thongchai Jaidee, looks far and away the most likely to take advantage. Jaidee has developed into something of a prolific winner and if he sniffs a chance I can see him taking it.
The other player I've sided with is Joakim Lagergren, who I backed before the off last time out at the Portugal Masters. He didn't get any TV coverage today as he skipped round in a bogey-free 64 but if he's playing golf like he did in Portugal, he too could give Olesen a run for his money. I followed him quite a bit in Portugal and was very impressed with his neat and tidy game. He's yet to win on the European Tour but I suspect it's only a matter of time before he does and from off the pace is always the easiest way to break your duck.
Over in the States, a clerical error by the PGA meant that a bumper field of 144 lined up for the Shriners Hospital for Children Open so there were too many players to get around before daylight faded and those that began yesterday with an afternoon tee time have had to return this morning to finish up. And it will be the same today, so it will be mid-afternoon UK time tomorrow before we have a halfway leaderboard to peruse.
My sole selection in Turkey has been poor so far and it looks like my only hope in Vegas is now headline fancy, Jon Rahm. He's one of those that had to return this morning. He parred his last two holes of round one and he's only just begun his second round but he's already over-par so it's a very disappointing start. I'll look at that event in more detail in the morning and if I get involved I'll post an update.
Turkish Airlines Open Pre-Event Selection:
Andy Sullivan @ 16/1 (Sportsbook)
Thongchai Jaidee @ 11.010/1
Joakim Lagergren @ 27.026/1
Shriners Hospital for Children Open Pre-Event Selections:
Jon Rahm @ 29.028/1
Jimmy Walker @ 50.049/1
Ryan Blaum @ 180.0179/1
Ben Crane @ 200.0199/1
Chris Kirk @ 8.615/2
James Hahn @ 23.022/1
Scott Piercy @ 18.017/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter