09:20 - August 21, 2022
Last week's FedEx St Jude Championship winner, Will Zalatoris, was forced to withdraw from the BMW Championship with back pain after four holes of his third round yesterday and the well-fancied, Rory McIlroy, slipped down the leaderboard with a one-under-par 70 around the South Course at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware.
Inside the top-ten and within a stroke of the lead at halfway, Open Championship runner-up, Cameron Young, and multiple major winner, Jordan Spieth, both shot over-par rounds and Cam Davis, who was within two of Adam Scott's lead after 36 holes, shot three-over par, so we have a very different leaderboard to survey this morning.
As others faltered, the defending BMW champion and reigning FedEx Cup champion, Patrick Cantlay, matched the lowest round of the day, a six-under-par 65, to hit the front. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:05.
Patrick Cantlay -12 3.412/5
Xander Schauffele -11 5.14/1
Scott Stallings -11 11.521/2
Scottie Scheffler -10 6.411/2
Adam Scott -10 13.5
Collin Morikawa -9 14.5
Aaron Wise -9 28.027/1
Joaquin Niemann -8 38.037/1
Corey Conners -8 50.049/1
Rory McIlroy -7 46.045/1
-7 and 100.099/1 bar
For the fourth day in-a-row, close friends, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, who teamed up to win the Zurich Classic back in April, will be playing alongside each-other in the BMW Championship and the comfortable pairing has clearly helped so far as they head into Sunday sitting first and second.
Cantlay, who will go into the final FedEx Cup Playoff Series event - next week's Tour Championship - at the head of the standings should he win today, is bidding to become the first player to win back-to-back FedEx Cups since the Series began back in 2007.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only two multiple winners but neither have achieved the feat back-to-back.
Cantlay is clearly timing his run nicely, and his 65 yesterday included a brilliant eagle three at the par five 14th as well as umpteen missed putts, including three from inside five feet! It really could have been a super-low round.
Clearly playing beautifully, Cantlay is the worthy favourite and he was tied for the lead after round three before going on to win this event last year but I'm happy to swerve him.
He hasn't won an individual event since being crowned the FedEx Cup champion last year and the last time he was paired with his mate Xander with a round to go he played very poorly, shooting 76 at the Travelers Championship in June to fall from one back and second to nine adrift and tied 13th.
In contrast, following victories at the Travelers and the Scottish Open, Xander is in search of his third title in three months and at odds in excess of 4/1, he looks a better bet but this remains a tough tournament to untangle.
The world number one, Scottie Scheffler, is just two off the lead and clearly dangerous, Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Scott Stallings, can't be ruled out given he trails by just one and I certainly haven't given up on my in-play pick, Collin Morikawa, who's back in the picture after his 65 yesterday.
The course looks perfect for Rory McIlroy and he can't be ruled out, despite trailing by as many as five, and all things considered, it's a really tricky puzzle to solve.
I've had a very small bet on Xander at 5.14/1 as that looks just fractionally big given his fine record when playing alongside Cantlay but I could have very easily left the event alone now and just enjoyed the spectacle.
Matt Cooper will be back tomorrow with the Debrief as I'm having a couple of days off but I'll be back on Tuesday with next week's previews.
15:20 - August 20, 2022
It's a very different picture at the Czech Masters now that the event has been reduced to just 54 holes and this is how the market looks after the announcement of a reduced event.
Gavin Green -14 2.6413/8
Thomas Pieters -11 5.04/1
Richard Mansell -11 6.86/1
Marcel Schneider -11 11.521/2
Max Kieffer -10 24.023/1
Louis De Jager -10 34.033/1
-9 and 46.045/1 bar
The last four players to lead by three with a round to go have gone on to win on the DP World Tour and since 1996, we've seen 136 players lead by three through 54 holes and 96 of them went on to win.
That's a strike rate of 71% so although Green has already shortened up by more than a point (see last night's prices below), he's still a big price if we just looked at the stats.
It's never that simple though and we need to bear in mind that there are three men tied for second and one of them is the pre-event favourite, Thomas Pieters, who's looking to win the event for a third time.
Green now has an extra 24 hours to sweat over his lead and I'm happy to stick with Pieters, even though he's drifted as a result of the event's length reduction.
13:50 - August 20, 2022
We've reached the halfway stage of the BMW Championship and the South Course at Wilmington Country Club is proving a sterner test than most expected.
Adam Scott, who's been matched at a low of 4.03/1, is the only man to have reached double-digits below par but a double-bogey six at the 17th in round two has brought him back to the field and the leaderboard is very condensed.
Here's the current state of play through 36 holes with prices to back at 13:40.
Adam Scott -8 12.011/1
Scotties Scheffler -7 6.86/1
Cameron Young -7 9.617/2
Jordan Spieth -7 12.011/1
Corey Connors -7 16.5
Rory McIlroy -6 9.08/1
Patrick Cantlay -6 13.5
Xander Schauffele -6 15.014/1
Cam Davis -6 32.031/1
Scott Stallings -6 55.054/1
-5 and 29.028/1 bar
The first-round leader, Keegan Bradley, and the favourite after round one, Justin Thomas, along with my in-play pick, Collin Morikawa, all shot over-par rounds yesterday to change the complexion of the tournament.
Scottie Scheffler, who appears to have found his touch on these huge bentgrass greens, is now at the head of the market after an impressive four-under-par 67 and Rory McIlroy is very much on the premises after back-to-back three-under-par 68s.
With ten of the best players in the world within two strokes of the lead and as many as 21 within four, the tournament is absolutely wide open and I'm more than happy to sit on my hands for now and see where we are after round three.
As this is the first PGA Tour event at the venue, we've got no historical data to refer to and having seen the leaderboard change as much as it did yesterday, I'm more than happy to take a cautious approach.
In addition to eliminating the irritating short misses on the dancefloor that afflicted him last week, Scheffler's approach play was most definitely on point yesterday and a continuation of that form will see him maintain his position at the head of the FedEx Cup standings heading into next week's Tour Championship at East Lake.
He's a worthy favourite at halfway and at the other end of the scale, Kurt Kitayama is an interesting runner at a triple-figure price. He hit the lowest round of the day yesterday and trails by only three so could make for a decent trading vehicle at 130.0129/1.
Over on the DP World Tour, heavy rain has put pay to today's play at the Czech Masters and the event is now a 54-hole tournament.
I'll be back in the morning to take a look at the state of play at the BMW Championship after 54 holes.
21:20 - August 19, 2022
We've reached the halfway stage of the Czech Masters and a week after leading by three strokes in Singapore on the Asian Tour, Malaysian, Gavin Green, leads by the same margin in the Czech Republic, thanks largely to four eagles over the first two days.
This is the second time Green's led around the Albatross Course after 36 holes. He shot rounds of 64 and 68 to hold a one-stroke lead at this stage on debut back in 2018 before going on to finish third behind Andrea Pavan.
Green returned in 2019 to lead after round one, following another eight-under-par 64, but he lost his way after that, firing rounds of 75, 70 and 75 to finish 58th and he missed the cut here last year so although he clearly likes the track, he's been a little in-and-out here.
Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 21:10.
Gavin Green -14 3.953/1
Thomas Pieters -11 4.47/2
Richard Mansell -11 7.26/1
Marcel Schneider -11 12.011/1
Max Kieffer -10 22.021/1
Louis De Jager -10 30.029/1
-9 and 29.028/1 bar
Since 1996, 69 players have led a DP World Tour event by three strokes at halfway and 31 of them went on to win.
That's an impressive 45% strike rate, suggesting odds of almost 3/1 about the leader are very fair but I'm happy to swerve him.
Green failed from the front last week (the second time he failed to convert a three-stroke lead) and he's only three from nine when leading at halfway. He's converted just one of his last six 36-hole leads (the 2017 Taiwan Masters) and he has the added pressure of never having won on the DP World Tour.
The very obvious alternative to the leader is the two-time winner and pre-event favourite, Thomas Pieters, and he's my idea of the value at halfway.
There are negatives. At the halfway stage, Pieters ranks in the 80s for both Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy so he isn't hitting it well off the tee, and he sat third and just two off the lead at halfway here in 2018 before fading to finish ninth - beaten by ten strokes - but given he's already won the title twice, and that he's looking to win his third DP World Tour title in ten months, I was happy to take a small chance at 4.57/2.
I'll be back in the morning with a look at the BMW Championship at halfway.
10:10 - August 19, 2022
The second round of the Czech Masters is well underway and the two-time winner and pre-event favourite, Thomas Pieters, is the man to beat again.
Playing in the afternoon on day one, the big-hitting Belgian fired a seven-under-par 65 to sit second behind South Africa's Louis De Jager and he's hit the ground running this morning.
At the time of writing, Pieters is two-under-par for his second round through ten holes (still trailing De Jager by a stroke) and he's already been matched at a low of 2.767/4. I'll be back later today or first thing in the morning with a look at the state of play at halfway.
Over on the PGA Tour, the 2018 surprise winner of the BMW Championship, Keegan Bradley, shows the way after an opening seven-under-par 64 around the South Course at Wilmington Country Club but it's the world number seven, Justin Thomas, that heads the very open market with three rounds to go.
Thomas' opening 66 sees him trailing by two in a tie for third and he and Xander Schauffele are the only two players who started the week inside the top-ten in the FedEx Cup rankings to end round one in the top-12.
Rory McIlroy, the current second favourite, was matched at a low of 4.03/1 when he raced to six-under-par through 14 holes but he hit the buffers at the par three 15th.
Last week's winner, and the man at the top of the standings, Will Zalatoris, fired a disappointing one-under-par 70 to sit tied for 34th, Scottie Scheffler, who began the week in second spot, grinded well on the back-nine to get to -3 to sit alongside Rory in a tie for 13th, and my sole selection, the well-backed world number five, Jon Rahm, looks out of it already after a two-over-par 73.
Viktor Hovland is alongside Rahm but the biggest surprise on day one had to be the dreadful six-over-par 77 by Tony Finau, who's bubble appears to have burst.
Sitting at number five in the FedEx Cup standings following back-to-back victories and a fifth placed finish in the FedEx St Jude Championship last week, Tony has demonstrated perfectly that unless you're Tiger Woods in his pomp, form is always temporary in this game. And that's why I'm backing Collin Morikawa this morning at 17.5.
Morikawa has endured a poor season by his lofty standards, which is why he began the Playoff Series in 22nd place compared to the first and second that he'd entered the Series at in each of the last two years.
In 2020, having won his first major - the US PGA Championship - he finished sixth in the FedEx Cup Playoff Series, and he slipped to 26th place last year having won the Open.
Both were tired finishes to brilliant campaigns whereas this time around he looks set for a strong finish to a disappointing season following his tied fifth in Memphis last week.
Struggling with his swing all year, having lost his signature fade off the tee, Morikawa's caddie, J.J. Jakovac, spotted the issue while they were in Scotland for the Scottish Open and the Open Championship and having put in the work with his trainers back in Vegas, Morikawa's fade is back in play.
"It was so nice to see that ball fall back right," Morikawa said after last week's event. "It just felt like my game."
And Jakovac has endorsed his man after yesterday's first round.
"When he's swinging that clean, like he was today, it's almost hard for him to not play well."
Given he sits tied for sixth and only three off the lead, I was more than happy to take 17.5 this morning.
Czech Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Sean Crocker @ 34.033/1
Wilco Nienaber @ 38.037/1
Thomas Pieters @ 4.57/2
BMW Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Jon Rahm @ 16.015/1
Collin Morikawa @ 17.5
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 2u Trey Mullinax @ 190.0189/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
2 U Tom Lewis @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 2 u Borja Virto @ 160.0159/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter