The Punter's In-Play Blog: Is Si Woo set for wire-to-wire win?

Golfer Charley Hoffman
Charley Hoffman – can lightening strike twice at San Antonio

Si Woo Kim has led the Valero Texas Open from the start but can he convert a one-stroke lead with a round to go at San Antonio? Read what Steve thinks with his final in-running update of the week here...

“We’ve had nine previous renewals of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio and six of the nine winners were in front with a round to go. A great sign for Kim backers and one that suggests he really isn’t short at around the 6/4 mark.”

10:30 - April 7, 2019

A bogey at the first was immediately cancelled out with a birdie at the second for halfway leader, Si Woo Kim, and he kept his card clean after that - firing a three-under-par 69 in round three to lead the Valero Texas Open by a stroke with a round to go. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:25.

Si Woo Kim -15 2.68/5
Corey Conners -14 5.04/1
Charley Hoffman -13 5.24/1
Jhonattan Vegas -11 15.014/1
Kyoung-Hoon Lee -11 26.025/1
Scott Brown -11 34.033/1
-10 and 50.049/1 bar

Si Woo Kim has only ever led or been tied for the lead with a round to go twice before. He was tied for the lead at the Stonebrae Classic on the Tour in July 2015 and he was four clear after 54 holes at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour 13 months later. He went on to win both titles. He beat Jamie Lovemark and Wes Roach in extra time at the Stonebrae Classic and he won the Wyndham, his first PGA Tour title, by five.

I've been banging on about the need to be up with the pace in this event all week and that doesn't change now. We've had nine previous renewals of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio and six of the nine winners were in front with a round to go. A great sign for Kim backers and one that suggests he really isn't short at around the 6/4 mark.

Something that really is noteworthy though, is that the 2016 winner, a certain Mr Charley Hoffman, is one of the three to take the title from slightly off the pace. Charley sat third and he trailed by two three years ago and look what we have today - a little bit of Déjà vu.

Hoffman has been playing some pretty ropey golf of late so this week is a bit of a surprise, even if he did have the most obvious course form, and yesterday's eight-under-par 64, which ended birdie-birdie-eagle, is the lowest round of the week. He does need to back that up today though, now that he finds himself in with a great chance of victory, but what ever happens later, he'll be over the moon to have found his game before next week's US Masters and he really needs to considered in the First Round Leader market at Augusta.

Hoffman has a great record at Augusta and he has an especially good record of starting well. He's played in the US Masters five times previously and after the opening day's play he's sat 64th, second, 13th, first and fourth. Let's now see if I can forget all about that in a space of a couple of days because I'm kicking myself for not snagging the man in second here - Corey Conners!

In the preview I noted that the Sony Open and the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship are two events that could be worth looking at that correlate with this one. Conners sat second in the later before a poor final round last year and he finished third at the Sony Open in January, so he was a feasible option on a course correlation angle but what I'm really kicking myself about is that I missed the fact that he Monday qualified this week.

I can't beat myself too hard as I've been busy preparing for next week's Masters, but I'm going to be pretty miffed if he gets past Kim having wrote about following him closely in the Sony Open De-brief here. I just hope one or two others were on the ball as he was matched at a very tasty 420.0419/1 before the off!

I'm just going to leave the event alone for now and cheer on Kim, who I backed as he finished up his second round, but I'll be back this evening with my US Masters preview and again tomorrow with the De-Brief.

09:25 - April 6, 2019

For much of yesterday's second round at the Valero Texas Open, we looked set to ponder a very congested halfway leaderboard. Rickie Fowler was matched at just 2.915/8 as he and Si Woo Kim edged ahead of a large group on -8 and it looked like the 30-year-old American might just steal a march but he finished his round off poorly.

Fowler bogeyed 15 and 16 before birdying 17 but he then found water with his second at 18 and needed a seven-foot par save to post -8. Kim, on the other hand, went to the par three 16th with a two-shot lead and did this!

Kim had a bit of bunker trouble at 17 but he played the most exquisite pitch to the hole with his third to save par before missing a chance to birdie the last but he still leads by four with just two rounds to go. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 09:15.

Si Woo Kim -12 3.3512/5
Rickie Fowler -8 6.411/2
Jordan Spieth -8 9.08/1
Adam Schenk -8 32.031/1
Harold Varner III -8 34.033/1
Corey Conners -8 40.039/1
Kyong-Hoon Lee -8 40.039/1
Byeong-Hun An -7 18.5
-7 and 42.041/1 bar

I won't beat about the bush, I backed Si Woo Kim at 3.55 last night and anything over 2/1 looks more than fair. As highlighted yesterday, four of the nine previous winners at San Antonio were in front at halfway and since 1996, when Greg Norman blew a four-stroke lead at Augusta (was six clear after three rounds!) we've seen 45 other players lead a PGA Tour event by four shots and 19 of them went on to win. That's a strike rate of 41.3%, including Norman, suggesting Kim, who's already a multiple PGA Tour winner and a Players Champion at the age of 23, is very fairly priced.

Of course, we do have to consider that the leaderboard is pretty bunched below Kim and that Fowler and Jordan Spieth are very clearly capable of catching and passing the Korean but all things considered, I like the look of Kim at the price and I'm happy to side with him.

10:15 - April 5, 2019

With the US Masters just days away, this week isn't just about who wins the Valero Texas Open, it's also about seeing if anyone's rounding off nicely ready for Augusta and two big names, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, both impressed and shortened up in the US Masters market but it's the Korean enigma, Si Woo Kim, that shows the way after day one in Texas. Here's the first round leaderboard with prices to back at 10:00.

Si Woo Kim -6 15.5
Abraham Ancer -5 12.011/1
Jhonattan Vegas -5 17.016/1
Brian Stuard -5 55.054/1
J.T Poston -5 40.039/1
Rickie Fowler -4 8.88/1
Jordan Spieth -4 11.010/1
Ryan Moore -4 25.024/1
-4 and 25.024/1 bar

This is the 10th renewal of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio and we're yet to see a first-round leader go on to convert. In fact, we're yet to see anyone trailing by just a stroke after round one go on to win but it doesn't look like we can scan too far down the leaderboard. As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, none of the nine previous winners have been trailing by many strokes at any stage.

Adam Scott recovered from being five adrift after the opening round in the inaugural tournament here but that was in very wet conditions on a brand-new course and that year can be disregarded to a certain extent. Only two of the other eight winners were as far as four adrift and two trailed by three but the other four were only two strokes back after round one. And given there's a group of 11 players tied for sixth and two back this morning, it's odds-on that - that run could extend.

I don't know what happened this week, whether it was the fact that we only had one event to concentrate on, or whether it was more punters coming to the market in anticipation of next week's major, but we didn't see the usual Wednesday drifts this week and one player I wanted to back - Scott Stallings - just didn't budge. He was shortened up on Monday form an initial 150.0149/1 and I really wanted 130.0129/1 at least but he remained firm before the off so I didn't get on. I've backed him this morning at 46.045/1 though - he's one of those tied for sixth and two back.

It was an irritating day for my picks. Graeme McDowell shot three-under-par in the marginally favourable afternoon conditions (71.58 AM 71.22 PM) and both Jim Furyk and McKenzie Hughes shot two-under in the morning but it was more last week's fancies showing up a week late that frustrated. I can easily accept the hugely-talented Mexican, Abraham Ancer, playing well after being a losing each-way bet at the WGC Match Play -especially given he rewarded each-way First Round Leader players that followed Dave Tindall in - but it was somewhat galling to see Brian Stuard play so well a week after missing the cut when backed at a course far more suitable to his game.

Other than the small Stallings wager, I'm going to leave the event alone for now but it may well be worth monitoring play later today. Not only to look for movers in the US Masters market but to also back one or two to win this event given how strong the in-running trends are...

Adam Scott in 2010 and Martin Laird three years later are the only winners here not to be inside the top-three places at halfway and six of the first nine winners at San Antonio have been no more than a stroke off the lead at halfway. Getting with one or two tonight before the market sorts itself out might make sense.

Pre-Event Selections:
Jim Furyk @ 36.035/1
Graeme McDowell @ 110.0109/1
Luke Donald @ 150.0149/1
Mackenzie Hughes @ 200.0199/1
D.J Trahan @ 270.0269/1
Scottie Scheffler @ 500.0499/1

In-Play Picks:
Scott Stallings @ 46.045/1
Si Woo Kim @ 3.55

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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