Connor Syme sets the pace in the Celtic Classic and Si Woo Kim has gone two clear at the Wyndham Championship. Our man takes a look at both events before their fourth and final rounds here...
“Kim’s reliable in-contention, he loves the course, and he’s clearly playing incredibly well. He’s going to be hard to beat.”
11:20 - August 16, 2020
Thomas Pieters was matched at just [1.79] during the third round of the Celtic Classic but a triple-bogey at 15 and a bogey at 16, saw him tumble down the leaderboard and he goes into today's fourth and final round trailing by four. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:10.
Connor Syme -15 [3.9]
Sam Horsfield -14 [3.9]
Sebastian Soderberg -13 [12.0]
Thomas Detry -12 [8.4]
Andrew Johnston -12 [12.5]
Adrian Meronk -12 [23.0]
Thomas Pieters -11 [13.5]
Callum Shinkwin -11 [40.0]
-10 and [60.0] bar
After a sensational bogey-free 63 in round three, 25-year-old Scotsman, Connor Syme, whose sole bogey this week came as long ago as the seventh hole on Thursday, leads by a stroke and it will be interesting to see how he copes under the stresses and strains of a Sunday in-contention.
Syme won the Turkish Airlines Challenge last April on the Challenge Tour, when he came from fifth place and three off the pace to beat Francesco Laporta in a playoff, but he's still in search of his first European Tour title and this is the first time he's ever led with a round to go on any tour.
Syme, who was matched at [110.0] before the off, sat third and just one off the lead at the Austrian Open last month but a final round 72 saw him slip to fourth (beaten by three) but aside from his win in Turkey, that's still his best other effort in-contention. In addition to that win in Turkey and his fourth in Austria, Syme has been within three strokes of the lead with a round to go on five other occasions and he went backwards in round four every time, finishing 45th, eighth, 13th, and ninth twice.
In the seven editions of the Wales Open here, between 2008 and 2014, four outright 54-hole leaders went on to win and Jeppe Pape Huldahl won in 2009 having been tied for the lead through three rounds so third round leaders have a strong record at the venue but I'm far from convinced that Syme is the value this morning at around the same price as Sam Horsfield in second.
With the recent success in the Hero Open fresh in the memory bank, Horsfield should be the man to beat today and I'm more than happy to be onboard at [4.7], although there's plenty of strength just behind the leading pair.
Sebastian Soderberg won last year's European Masters in a playoff so he has a European Tour win to his name and my pre-event pick, Andrew Johnston, is one to consider, if he can start better today. He's one-over-par for the front-nine so far this week and 13-under-par on the back-nine!
Poland's Adrian Meronk, who led the Turkish Airlines Open through three rounds when Syme won, did manage to get off the mark on the Challenge Tour at the Open de Portugal in September so he knows what it's like to win and Thomas Detry, Thomas Pieters and Callum Shinkwin should all be better suited to coming from off the pace, although no winner here has come from any further back than fourth after 54-holes.
Other than the five 54-hole leaders to convert, Gregory Bourdy won from second place and three adrift here in 2013 and Graeme McDowell won the 2010 edition of the Wales Open having sat fourth and four strokes back.
I'm going to stick with what I have here and see how the final round pans out. Horsfield looks the man to beat and I'll look to profit from Johnston, if I get the chance. And it's a similar story at the Wyndham Championship, where I have pre-event [120.0] chance, Doc Redman, tied for second and two behind in-play [22.0] pick, Si Woo Kim. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:15.
Si Woo Kim -18 [2.44]
Doc Redman -16 [6.0]
Rob Oppenheim -16 [13.5]
Billy Horschel -15 [6.6]
Mark Hubbard -14 [23.0]
Jim Herman -14 [50.0]
Webb Simpson -13 [16.0]
Peter Malnati -13 [110.0]
-12 and [60.0] bar
Si Woo Kim was in terrific form yesterday. He hit seven approach shots to within seven feet and he very nearly made TWO holes-in one.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, in the 12 renewals at Sedgefield since the Wyndham returned to the course in 2008, eight 54-hole leaders have gone on to win and that's not really surprising. It's a relatively easy track offering up lots of low scores so making up ground on a Sunday is hard, although rather strangely, the four winners here that weren't in front, have trailed by at least three strokes with a round to go. Ryan Moore, Camilo Villegas and Davis Love III all trailed by four and last year's winner, J.T Poston, was three adrift.
If Kim has an off day, we may get another winner from off the pace but it's hard to make a case for taking him on today. Kim could only finish fourth at the Texas Open last April, having led by a stroke with a round to go, but he converted a four-stroke lead here in 2016 and he was tied for the lead with a round to go when he won the Stonebrae Classic in extra time on the Korn Ferry Tour back in 2015. He was beaten in a playoff at the RBC Heritage two years ago, having led with a few holes to play but he was rock solid at the Players Championship in 2017 when he went from two back with a round to go to win by three. Kim's reliable in-contention, he loves the course, and he's clearly playing incredibly well. He's going to be hard to beat.
This is the third week in-a-row that I've gone into the fourth round of the PGA Tour event with a big outsider in-contention so I'm hoping it's going to be third time lucky with Redman. Brendon Todd, who was backed at [200.0], led the WGC-FedEx St Jude at TPC Southwind two weeks ago and [300.0] chance, Cameron Champ, went into last week's final round at the US PGA Championship trailing by one. Both came up short but as highlighted in Monday's De-brief, profits were made by laying them both in-running and I've done the same here with Redman here, laying him back at [6.0].
If Kim is going to stutter, and if Redman flaps, the dangers look to be course specialist, Webb Simpson, and South Carolinian, Kevin Kisner. They trail by five and six strokes respectively so they look to be too far back really but both love it here and both are capable of ridiculously low scores. I'm going to stick with what I have for now but they're the two I'll have my eye on in-running.
11:55 - August 15, 2020
With poor weather forecasted, the final third round three-ball at the Wyndham Championship will tee-off today at 14;00 UK time, some 50 minutes before the final third round two ball at the Celtic Classic so that's probably the best place to start.
Since the Wyndham returned to Sedgefield in 2008, half of the 12 winners have been in front at halfway but that really doesn't help an awful lot given there are four players tied for the lead on -10!
Si Woo Kim, who I backed yesterday at [22.0] is one of the four leaders and one of my pre-event picks, Doc Redman, is one of the five players one back and tied for fifth. There are seven players tied for tenth, including course specialist and pre-event favourite, Webb Simpson, and with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Kevin Kisner amongst the big bunch tied for 17th and only three off the lead, anyone confident of picking the winner from here is deluded. I'm going to have a go though...
I'm more than happy with Redman's performance so far this week. He ranks number one for Driving Accuracy, fourth for Greens In Regulation and first for Scrambling but he can certainly improve his putting. He missed a number of short ones yesterday but if he keeps playing like he has over the first two days, he will keep giving himself chances and one other who's stats hint at the possibility of a decent weekend is the RSM Classic winner, Tyler Duncan.
Duncan ranks ninth for Driving Accuracy and first for GIR and like Redman, he just needs a bit of improvement with the flat-stick to really figure. He's amongst those tied for 17th and three off the lead and with five places still up for grabs with the Sportsbook, the 66/1 on offer looks worth chancing.
I went through the contenders at the Celtic Classic over and over again yesterday and I went to bed content to sit it out from here and wait until the end of round three.
Somehow, despite a triple-bogey in both rounds one and two, pre-event pick, Andrew Johnston, is only two off the lead and tied for third alongside Thomas Detry and Callum Shinkwin. He trails Thomas Pieters by a stroke and the halfway leader, Sam Horsfield, by two, so he has a great opportunity from here. None of the players one and two strokes behind Johnston make any appeal and I was happy to leave it alone and see what today brings but an overnight drift on the leader has tempted me in.
Horsfield, who was the impressive winner of the Hero Open just two weeks ago, was the only player on the leaderboard I was interested in backing yesterday but at around [4.2], he was just fractionally shorter than I wanted so now that he's drifted this morning, I'm happy to get him onboard at [4.7].
Horsfield made a triple-bogey of his own on the 17th yesterday before bouncing back with an eagle three at the 18th and he lost his way during round three at the Forest of Arden two weeks ago, playing the back-nine in 40 after he'd shot clear, so he most certainly has a clanger or two in the locker but I'm always happy to oppose the Belgian pair of Detry and Pieters. Detry is yet to win on the European Tour and Pieters is more than capable of getting in his own way.
Although he had a wobble in the Hero, it was impossible not to be impressed by his performance in the heat of battle on Sunday and all things considered, Horsfield looks the most likely winner and a very fair price at [4.7].
I'll be back in the morning with a look at both events before the fourth and final rounds.
11:20 - August 14, 2020
The second round of the Celtic Classic is well underway and other than throwing a few pounds at Guido Migliozzi in-play, I'm leaving the event alone for now. My pre-event picks have all been disappointing, although I did have hopes for Andrew Johnston prior to this morning.
Beef performed a minor miracle to remain in-contention and to post a four-under-par 67 yesterday after this bunker shot led to a triple-bogey six on the par three 13th yesterday but he began his second round earlier with a triple bogey seven at the first! Oh well.
I'll take a good look at halfway and update the blog tonight or first thing tomorrow but for now I'm happy to remain cautious at Celtic Manor. And the same goes for the Wyndham Championship, where poor weather stopped play before the first round could be completed yesterday.
The locals are faring well so far with both Harold Varner and Tom Hoge tied at the top on -8, alongside Canadian outsider, Roger Sloan. Those three are two strokes clear of Harris English on -6 and a group of eight players on -5.
Varner was born in Ohio but he was raised in North Carolina and he went to college at East Carolina University and Hoge was born in Statesville, North Carolina. I'll explore this more on Monday in the De-brief but it's interesting to see the locals doing well again this week and it's starting to be a bit of a theme while the crowds are absent.
Course specialist, Webb Simpson, who sits four off the lead, is vying for favouritism with Varner but with two other previous winners, Patrick Reed and Si Woo Kim, ahead of Simpson and tied for fifth, this looks wide open and very tough to call.
Ryan Brehm, Hank Lebioda and Talor Gooch are all on -5 and yet to finish their first rounds but the one I like at the prices available this morning is Kim at [22.0].
A fast start is usually key here and in the 12 renewals of the Wyndham Championship since the tournament returned to Sedgefield Country Club in 2008, nine of the 12 winners have shot a five-under-par 65 or better in round one. And two of the three to overcome a relatively slow start are major champions...
The first exception was Simpson in 2011, who went on to win by three having sat tied for 14th after an opening 66. Sergio Garcia then won by two strokes a year later, having sat tied for 20th and five off the lead following an opening 67 and the third man to overcome a slow start was Kim in 2016. The Korean sat tied for 41st and five off the lead after opening up with a pedestrian two-under-par 68 but he flew through the field on day two with a ten-under-par 60. He's much closer to the lead this year after yesterday's 65 and I thought [22.0] was fair.
Celtic Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Kurt Kitayama @ [32.0]
Alexander Bjork @ [50.0]
Chris Paisley @ [55.0]
Andrew Johnston @ [75.0]
Guido Migliozzi @ [27.0]
Sam Horsfield @ [4.7]
Wyndham Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Brendon Todd @ [44.0]
Tom Lewis @ [95.0]
Doc Redman @ [120.0]
Kyle Stanley @ 125/1 (each-way - Sportsbook)
Aaron Wise @ [160.0]
Christiaan Bezuidenhout @ [170.0] - added after the preview published
Fabian Gomez @ [270.0]
Si Woo Kim @ [22.0]
Tyler Duncan each-way @ 66/1 (Sportsbook)
Doc Redman - layed @ [6.0]
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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